GTD: One Year Later

I wrote, just over a year ago, about discovering GTD…that’s a misnomer. I didn’t discover it. It was required reading. But…I mean, it’s kind of discovering?

Not the point.

A year ago I wrote about being new to the concept, new to the practice, and now, with little time to write these days and even less capacity for new ideas for this blog, I am reviewing my last year in GTD. In my typical fashion, no less.

First, my confession. I royally sucked at All The Things for most of the last year. It’s a hard thing to learn. Especially for someone who has random thoughts throughout the day, some of which might be worth capturing, but the vast majority of them not really…tangible or worth making not of. I swung wildly between extremes. I wrote everything down, but then I would exhaust myself going through all the stuff. So then I scaled back, but I scaled back too far. And frankly, after Zoe passed, there was about a month of me just trying to stay above water at all.

Even through the struggle and the sucking really bad at following the really clear directions provided, I adopted small things that worked really well for me. Organizing ideas, to-do’s, etc. by project? Super helpful. In a way that I thought would be overblown, but it made it clear just how dis-organized my prior organization had been. What is a project? Anything that is more than one task. Well that makes it really simple to identify a way to categorize projects. That and…you know…managing projects as my job.

I tried not to beat myself up about it too much because, from conversations with others who had started out with GTD brand new, there’s often a time of off and on again.

 

But I did beat myself up about it. A lot. And frequently. Like anything else, it’s something that I knew I needed to devote more time to, devote more energy to, and so I would try, but when I failed, I failed hard. Or at least I thought. I was trying to mimic, in every way, other people’s processes.

And then in November things kind of clicked into place. I wish I could say there was a sudden shift or some specific thing that happened that made it all clear, but there wasn’t. I just realized that I couldn’t do things exactly like other people. Even the book makes it clear that there are levels and different ways of doing things – the concepts are what matter, not the tactics.

So I gave myself one goal. Every day I needed to review OmniFocus. I put no restrictions on myself in terms of when that happens or in what context, but each day, I need to review OmniFocus.

What a difference that made. Instead of trying to force myself to do X, Y, and Z, I just said “do this one thing.” The rest sort of fell into place.

Because I knew I would be checking OmniFocus, I started entering important things there. Sometimes as a generic capture-to-inbox thing, and sometimes as a go-to-the-project-and-spell-it-out thing. No pressure. And if I was in between back-to-back things and didn’t put it in immediately, that’s ok because I’ll be checking it later, anyway, and I can add all of those little extra things then.

That’s really the point. It’s not about following the “rules” or step-by-step instructions. It’s about freeing yourself of having to remember all the things. I don’t have to remember all the things. I just have one goal, every day, and if I’m consistent with that, the rest falls into place.

Still not perfect. Still forget some days. But it’s better, and I think that’s all we can ever ask for.

GTD Newb

I didn’t make a huge announcement, but those that know me probably already know that I made a change and joined the team at Arkus, Inc. So hooray for that.

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via GIPHY

One of the best things about starting with them is that they have a structured onboarding process, and it involves reading and implementing David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology. GTD for the initiated.

I read the book before my official start date, and it was eye-opening. To quote one of the Arkus founders, “geeks love it.” I can confirm that. Anyway…I read the book, and me being me, I wanted to drop literally everything and implement it immediately.

That is not realistic during the holidays. There’s stuff to do. Hours in the car. Family gatherings. Festivities. New video games.

So instead I did the holidays thing, and then I did the starting a new job thing. GTD sat in the peripheral, staring at me, poking sometimes, even. I took on some of the “quick win” type things right away; I made lists of actions, had a list of projects, emptied my mind every couple of days. That alone made a difference.

This past weekend, I talked the husband into implementing GTD at home, and the entire weekend was focused on that implementation. We went through our upstairs home office, gathered all of the Stuff and then we processed it. We determined what our ongoing process will look like.

Can I be honest? This is my blog. I’m going to be honest. I don’t know if it’s going to be a stellar success at home. Not for any other reason than I’ve read the book, and the hubs hasn’t. Also he’s extremely action-oriented. He basically has been doing GTD for years, just…without calling it that.

Enter me, his wife, a whirlwind of paper and ideas and aimless, but still voiced and well-intentioned, goals that are forgotten as soon as they’re spoken aloud. Opposites attract.

Anyway.

Day 2 was me getting down into the nitty-gritty for the job things. I’m blessed because Arkus provided OmniFocus to me, the tool for Mac users that helps manage the GTD process. I captured Stuff; I created projects and assigned next actions; I set up some key commands. I am as a ready as I’m going to be. I even set up an action item, deferred to a month from now, to review my process and how I’m using it.

I’m excited.

I’m still new to all this, but I was talking to my mom this morning, and she said “you sound so less stressed. Even a month ago, you sounded so much more stressed out.”

And I really am.

There are a lot of reasons for that – good news about health of friends and family members, making some priority changes, the #ohana…and yeah, some of it really is because of this GTD thing.

It’s so weird for me to write that. You have to understand just how jaded I am about “life hacks” and planners and productivity and self-help and whatever. eyerollI’m the person that looks like RDJ when Cap proudly announces that he understood that reference.

I am not about to sit here and shout to everyone that they need to implement GTD because it changed my life. It has not changed my life. It is a new aspect of my life that is part of a greater change that has happened, and I enjoy it. It helps me; it makes sense to me. Frankly, so does Nerdforce’s great new admin leveling app idea! I can’t wait to build that and potentially expand on it.

Because it is becoming part of my life now, it’s going to pop up occasionally in this blog. If you are interested in GTD – what it is, trying it out, what-have-you – then feel free to search tags for it, go to the sources listed below, or reach out and ask. I will stumble through whatever answers I might have.

And in the meantime, I can cross this off of my action list. Done.