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Getting Things Done system
Old 11-16-2011, 10:24 AM   #1
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Getting Things Done system

I read the book Getting Things Done last week and started working with the system this week, and I'm shocked at how much of a difference it's making.

The book is from the late 90's and I'm sure the author (David Allen) made millions going into companies and giving seminars so there must be people out there who went through it.

For those not familiar, it's mainly about creating a systems of lists and files to capture and keep track of everything you're working on or planning to do in the future - work, home, travel plans, anything. The thing that's critical is that there is a place for absolutely everything in the system so that you don't have to hold it in your head. Which means you can focus a lot better on whatever is in front of you.

I know, I know, cue the jokes from those who are retired and trying to do as little as possible. Nonetheless - Has anyone here tried this? What did you think? How long did you stick with it?
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Old 11-16-2011, 11:12 AM   #2
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I was a classic "mess-a-holic" and another organizing book changed my business and personal life -- "The Organized Executive" by Stephanie Winston. Principles are similar to what you describe in Allen's book.
For those of us that are chronically disorganized, having such written plans makes a big difference. I find parallels in this to having a budget, but I'm budgeting my time instead of $$$.
I'm still working, but I still use a paper checklist To-Do list to keep my work priorities on track, and I use a less formal variant for my personal life.
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Old 11-16-2011, 11:36 AM   #3
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I use a piece of software based on the GTD system. It helps me organize my thoughts and break down large projects into "bite-size" tasks that make those projects less overwhelming to me. I think it has been helpful.
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Old 11-16-2011, 11:59 AM   #4
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What software package do you use? I have been searching for one that I think will work, but so far they seem to simple or to complex. Nothing in the middle which is what I need.
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Old 11-16-2011, 12:06 PM   #5
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I use Omnifocus. It has limitations for sure, but it syncs across all my devices (desktop, iPhone, iPad) and that makes it a winner for me.
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Old 11-16-2011, 12:26 PM   #6
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I used to have tons of lists in my back pocket. Then a PDA, and now a smart phone. Everyone knows it's my memory. I'd be a total blank without it.
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Old 11-16-2011, 12:41 PM   #7
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This is my system:



But seriously, I just put that book on hold. Looking forward to it, thanks.

I find that the iPod Touch app, ShopShop works great because the iPod is always within reach. It's super simple and fast to add a to-do item, and I can have several lists.

todo.PNG
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Old 11-16-2011, 02:07 PM   #8
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Interesting replies so far. I set up Allen's system with google calendar for my calendar, a handful of google docs for daily, monthly, project, and someday/maybe lists, and I'm using a notebook for my action items. Blank notecards and a pen for capturing thoughts and ideas when I'm away from the computer.

Reading the book, I imagined that anyone with a smartphone would use that instead of my notecards.

Edit to say that I am someone who is naturally organized and have never had trouble getting things done, which is part of the reason I'm so surprised at how much better this is. I think because it's really not so much about being organized as about holding the organized stuff on paper rather than in your head. I wondered how someone who isn't organized, doesn't like lists, etc., would fare with it.
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Old 11-16-2011, 02:24 PM   #9
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I was just thinking of this yesterday. A former coworker loved it, and I usually have so much going on that I forget things. I may give it a shot.
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Old 11-16-2011, 02:32 PM   #10
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Quote:
...cue the jokes from those who are retired and trying to do as little as possible.
+1
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Old 11-16-2011, 02:36 PM   #11
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I'm a devout fan of "Getting Things Done".

In addition to reading the book I bought the GTD Outlook add-in which I've been using for about five years. Before GTD my life (both work and personal) was chaotic. Too much to do, not enough time, blah, blah.

The book opened my eyes - I didn't have too much to do, I just didn't have my stuff organized into actionable tasks (I was previously a list person).

Once I found the Outlook add-in the system fell into place. Today I can put in a task that won't occur until Sept 1, 2014 (for example), and on that day the task will come to the front, the task will get done and there was no stress involved in remembering it. It's all about getting stuff out of your head and into a system.

But the best part for me is that by the end of every work day I have fewer than 5 emails that must be read/actioned because they've been dealt with using the GTD system throughout the day (I tend to get 100+ emails/day).

So YES, I LIKE IT A LOT!!!
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Old 11-16-2011, 06:13 PM   #12
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I read quite a bit about GTD. Allen has a site and free newsletter, that is interesting.

The primary thing I adapted was doing things right away, when the time to complete them is short (as in a few minutes).

I tried an iPhone app, but discarded it, as I am too old to change.
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Old 11-16-2011, 09:17 PM   #13
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I am struggling to fully implement this into my work and personal life. My troubles are mostly because (a) I suspect I'm not fully trusting of the system (even though I've read the book and it all made sense), and (b) because I don't understand how to work the system with job where I have maybe 50-100 things to do every day, all of which are important but few of which have a definitive date on which or by which they need to be done.

I'm also probably adult ADHD and have a serious problem with focusing on one thing at a time, as well as making sure I do the organizing first and the doing later. I start organizing and then end up taking action before I'm done organizing.

I have done some major parts of the system, and those parts do seem to help. I plan to re-read the book soon and see if a second time through helps more.

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Old 11-16-2011, 09:23 PM   #14
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thanks for posting this. I never heard of this so have it on hold at the library.
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Old 11-17-2011, 06:41 AM   #15
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I have been using GTD for several years now and it has made a big difference. Very hard to go through that first step (as are most new things) and have fallen off the wagon a couple of times. But got back on with no problem.

It takes discipline and a backbone (for the intruders/disrupters in the workplace) but i have found it makes a big diffference in keeping track of things and deadlines.

Training yourself (and others) to actually define the "next step" takes practice.
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Old 11-17-2011, 07:56 AM   #16
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The to do lists I use at work are effective, the ones I create for home life get created, but too often the items remain undone
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Old 11-17-2011, 08:10 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by DFW_M5 View Post
...the ones I create for home life get created, but too often the items remain undone
This prompted me to dig out the To Do list I made prior to retiring 6+ years ago. I made great progress the first few months and completed more than half the list - but haven't crossed off a single item in the past five years.

Priorities change...
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Old 11-17-2011, 09:57 AM   #18
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This prompted me to dig out the To Do list I made prior to retiring 6+ years ago. I made great progress the first few months and completed more than half the list - but haven't crossed off a single item in the past five years.

Priorities change...
Done a whole bunch of retirement planned items.

Still haven't cleaned up the garage some 3 years on now. Putting it on a list may help if there is a memory or visibility issue probably not if there is a psycholigical barrier.
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Old 11-17-2011, 10:00 AM   #19
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Putting it on a list may help if there is a memory or visibility issue probably not if there is a psycholigical barrier.
Or if you're lazy - like me!
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Old 11-17-2011, 10:15 AM   #20
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I had a great idea for a "getting things done" system, but I never got around to it. The product FD uses - Omnifocus - looks interesting and I may look into it. If I ever get around to it, that is.
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