As a long-time Getting Things Done (GTD) follower, I love it and I hate it. I love it because it’s simple, powerful, and flexible. I hate it because it’s too flexible. I’ve had a hard time getting a specific workflow down and sticking to it. GTD doesn’t have rigid “props” for me to use as mental queues like many other systems (with the Franklin-Covey systems, you can “ground yourself” to the daily task list – with GTD, there are a number of lists).
Part of my new year reset is to try to streamline my use of GTD and establish better rituals to help me keep up a consistent approach to evaluating my choices, scheduling, etc. (if you’ve visited here in the past, you’ll know that this sort of thing is a recurring theme for me – I’m a bit of a GTD binge user).
If you have experiences or resources that have helped you create a set of daily habits for GTD, please let me know.
I have had a similar experience with GTD. You end up with a lot of projects and next actions especially if you use the GTD plug-in for Outlook. You can end up doing a lot of things in a day but not getting anything tangible done. I found a little GTD hack that has really worked for me. I wrote about it last April and I though I would share it again this year. The additional step goes like this…
As an avid fan of David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” process, I’ve found some tweaks that make it much more useful for tech work. When I first read David’s book I spent two days going thru my 1100 e-mails and overfull inbox. I purchased his Outlook plug-in and converted e-mails to projects. This was amazing to say the least.
I now have a manageable in-box and a great project list. With David’s technique of identifying the “next action step” and his GTD Outlook software I am able to sort action steps by area (phone calls, computer, errands, etc). This has really helped identify the steps but it can lead to doing a lot of little things and not really “accomplishing” anything.
With some trial and error the following procedure has evolved that helps me stay on track much better.
Projects are identified as “tasks that require more than a day to accomplish”
Accomplishments are identified as “project steps that can be done in a day”
Action Steps are the individual steps to complete the project.
To complete my process I use a “Hipster PDA” from the 43folders website as a place to list and mark-off accomplishments. My daily ritual consists of perusing my projects list and coming up with milestones or “accomplishments” that can be done in a day. I ask the question “What is the Next Accomplishment?” I list the accomplishment at the top of an index card and then numerically list the next action steps down the card. I post the card prominently on my desk or work area so I am reminded of the “action steps”. I check off the individual steps as they are completed. When I go from place to place, it’s easy to put the card(s) back in my hipster and take them with me. I have found that adding the extra category of “accomplishments” has really helped me focus on getting something tangible done everyday.
This process still works well for me a year later. I find a standard desk pad also works well for the “accomplishment’s list” and is a nice place for notes. When I’m done for the day I can open the GTD software in Outlook and update my project lists in a matter of minutes and print out a new list for the next day. The real secret to fully implementing the GTD system is to try different things and see what works for you. It’s a simple yet incredibly powerful system for time management.