Getting Things Done my way
Together with other many buzz words that rule the world, you probably may have heard something about GTD. But… What is Getting Things Done all about?
GTD is a methodology to help you to achieve your goals by acquiring a routine that will be incorporated in your daily life and will stay forever
There is a lot of literature out there to enable to understand this methodology (please check the references at the end of this post) and amongst all the authors, the father of GTD is an American guy called David Allen. Allen, a guy who is a living example of diversity (he went through 35 different jobs before he was 35 and he enjoys the company of his fourth wife, Kathryn), is the founder of the David Allen Company, focused on productivity, action management and coaching.
If it’s worth to expend the time reading his most popular book “Getting Things Done” is something you should decide, I did it, but I really find there are very important gaps on it. That’s why I’ve called this article GTD my way, I take the best from David Allen’s dogma and I adapt it based on my personal experience.
Key messages of GTD:
- Avoid procrastination!
Procras… what? Procrastination is the practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones, or doing more pleasurable things in place of less attractive ones. In other words, what the Americans call “cherry picking”.
Procrastination usually leads you to frustration and anxiety. The reason for this is pretty obvious, you delay stressful tasks in benefit of more attractive ones. As a result, at the end you will still have to cope with the tasks you delayed but with less time to complete them, a feeling of guilt for not having finished them when you had the chance and a great dose of anxiety, just to mention the most relevant and negative feelings you could experience.
How to get rid of procrastination?
Nobody said it would be easy, nevertheless there are some hints that could help you to avoid it:
1) Start facing the less attractive tasks. You will find, many times, they turn out to be not so disgusting.
2) Keep your deadlines. Even if you have agreed them only with yourself, keep the dates you thought to deliver that task. Meeting your inner expectations comes with the reward of a higher self-confidence.
- Keep your inbox empty
In GTD, inbox means the entry point for your list of tasks. Sometimes this term could lead to confusion because many people tend to think this term refers to the e-mail inbox. Although GTD’s inbox could be the same as the e-mail inbox, it doesn’t have to be always like that. You can keep an inbox in a physical folder, in a paper agenda, in a virtual agenda or in the format that best suits your needs.
- Get rid soon of the quick tasks
GTD dogma stays that if you have a task that will take you less than 2 minutes to complete, you shouldn’t postpone it. Despite this statement could apply in almost all cases, there will be times when you will have to face this 2-minutes tasks more in detail and go for a longer period. On the other hand, if you have two urgent and important tasks in your inbox waiting to be done, you should go for them and deal with the ten 2-minutes tasks pending later.
- GTD is applicable for your work and personal life
If you stick to this methodology, you’ll find that its benefits are not only valid for your daily work but also for your personal life. I like very much the idea to have a place to keep the wish list or ideas to be accomplished sometime in your life such as doing a 1 month photography journey to India or taking your kids to Disney World. GTD gives you interesting suggestions to keep everything in order and a routine to review them with criteria that make sense.
Down points of the official GTD methodology:
- It’s not very practical
The implementation of it suggested by Allen is not practical. It adds too much complexity for something you would like to have as new and life-standing routine.
- It’s not the Holy Grail,
GTD tends to very dogmatic and it is a kind of cult for its followers. I personally believe you should trust your personal experience and your instinct above all.
- Writing does not get in conflict with thinking
One of the biggest outcomes you are supposed to get out of Allen’s book is that when you write down everything you “empty” your mind of those ideas and you no longer have to think about them. Nevertheless, ideas and thoughts can be in two places at the same time. It is possible to put everything that you need to do to a complete task in your “bucket” and still find you are thinking about it.
Take the best of GTD and make it yours, as I did. Do not expect GTD will solve all your organization problems, I prefer to see it as methodology that complements other existing ones. GTD has some important gaps when talking about priority, the way to implement it is too complex and, as I mentioned before, it doesn’t offer you the keys to Heaven.
On the other hand, if it makes you reflect about the way you deal with your daily activities and tasks and help you identify some of the bad behaviors we all have with that, you will be in the track to fix them and some of the ideas proposed by Allen and his followers will bring some light for sure.
There is much more information out there about GTD. Check the references section if you feel curious about it.