I have a confession to make. I think I’m one of the most disorganised, chaotic and un-disciplined people I know. Or at least I would be, given half an excuse.
The good news is, about eight years ago I acknowledged that I had a problem and decided to bloody well do something about it. And that something was to start using David Allen’s stress-free productivity system: GTD.
Here’s a short video of David at a TED Conference (I think 2005 or 2006), explaining the essential problem faced by most of us and outlining the basics of his solution:
I bought a copy of David Allen‘s book Getting Things Done and I don’t think it’s too hyperbolic to say that it changed my life. I learned that said life didn’t have to be a maelstrom of mess and unfinished business, because now I had a systematic method with which to take control of my commitments, make effective decisions about priority actions and generally Get Things Done.
And yes, GTD really is incredibly liberating. It really does enable you to get a sense of perspective, take control of your life and find a way to move forwards. I suppose in that sense it’s similar to other recovery programmes designed to help people facing life-affecting problems.
Which brings me to another confession. Over the past eight years, I’ve fallen off the GTD wagon, several times. Oh, I’ve always known what I ought to be doing, and I’ve still always pad lip-service to the idea that I was a GTD’er. But the actual practice of GTD takes organisation, order and discipline to maintain on a regular basis. Just like anything else worthwhile, any other positive habit or lifestyle change that you want to effect, you have to stick with it. And I haven’t always done that.
So, here’s the plan: this week I’ve drawn a line in the sand. I’m going back to the start of the process, taking a fresh perspective and re-booting my personal GTD system. I’ve given myself permission to spend as much un-committed time this week as I need to going over the first principles of the GTD Workflow:
- Collect – Get everything I currently have on my mind out of my head and onto paper and into a physical or electronic collection system.
- Process – Identify the projects, outcomes and next actions for each actionable item in the inbox.
- Organise – Assign contexts to actionable items. Sort and file non-actionable items in a system I can rely on for future reference.
- Review – Assign time for a Weekly review of projects. Re-establish my ‘tickler file’ system and set reminders to check it daily.
- Do – Get Things Done.
I’ll be talking about the process involved and offering a progress report in a future post or two.
I may have fallen off the GTD wagon, but I’m getting back on it, and this time I aim to stay there. As David Allen says, at least I already have a wagon to clamber on to…
(I’m not affiliated with David Allen, DavidCo or a GTD re-seller. I’m just someone who makes use of the system and uses it to prevent my head exploding on a regular basis.)