Productivity and GTD

The Five I's of GTD

AUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
Blog focus

A few days ago, GTD Times — the official blog of the David Allen company — published a very interesting 3-minute video 1 where David Allen talks about the five stages in the GTD lifecycle. He calls them The Five I’s:

  1. Information. You have just heard about GTD and think “What a cool thing!”. You probably read the book or just read about it. You try to get information.
  2. Inspiration. You get inspired by reading the book, hearing a speech and deepening into the details of the matter. You think it could produce great results and also realize you could do that.
  3. Installation. You realize that it doesn’t just happen by itself so there are some things that you have to do. You need to actually start to capture stuff, you need to build the system for organizing your lists, etc.
  4. Implementation. Once you’ve installed the basic tools and the framework then you need to populate the appropriate information. You do a mind sweep and then go through all that stuff, clarify and organize them so you get your projects up and running. Here you also start establishing some of the basic behaviors: the two minutes rule, cleaning up your in-basket regularly, etc.
  5. Integration: GTD becomes part of your life and work style. You don’t even think about it, you just use it. At this point you can call it a habit.

Where are you in The Five I’s?

1 Here’s the video and the transcript thereof:

You know in GTD we talk about the five I’S. It is a common sense way to think about how people learn and implement what they learn. And at one point we really realize that there is five fairly distinct things that people get in a sequence.

First of all, is information: I just heard about GTD, what a cool thing! and they may read the book or they may read about it and so they get information. So there is information and then there is inspiration.

They may get inspired by reading the book or they hear a speech or they hear something and think it’s cool and they can potentially do that.

Then there is installation. Now I’ve heard that, I’ve got some information, I think I can do it. Usually that’s where the inspiration will come from with the sense of thinking this is something I could do and it could be cool producing great results. And then I need to install it so it doesn’t just happen by itself there are some things that you have to do. So there is installation I need to actually start to capture stuff, I need to build the system for capturing my lists and software: the installation piece.

Then there is the implementation which is once I’ve installed the basic tools and the framework and the blueprint then I need to populate the thing. I need to actually implement it with the appropriate information and I need to make sure I do a mind sweep and then go through all that, clarify and organize that so I’ve got my projects and so forth. So that’s the implementation piece as well as starting some of the basic behaviors: the two minutes rule, cleaning up your in-basket fairly regularly and that’s the implementation piece.

And then there’s the integration and that’s where this becomes part of your life and work style, you don’t even think about it and you just use it. So as opposed to focusing on the GTD process you are just using the GTD process. At that point you can call this a habit.

So we have got these five stages of how people integrate this information. Frankly there is a lot of value in each stage. Just getting the information about GTD and understanding that there is a methodology in case someone ever wants to use it and what it is and what it means has a lot of value. A lot of people read the book and just get that information. The inspiration piece, certainly people love it. A lot of what GTD produces is hope making people think that is something I can do and it looks very good. So the inspiration piece is also useful. As a matter of fact we have had a lot of clients, companies and people saying they just needed hope and this gave them that. Whether I am going to implement it or not or need to implement it or not right away may not be as important as just knowing I now could and there is light at the end of my tunnel. And then there is the installation part which is of course, were a good bit of the work goes on and your role up your sleeves and do the mind sweep and manifest the system itself and then the implementation of it which is now I’ve got a working system and I’ve actually started to do some of the basic blocking and tackling, the best practices of it. The integration then is when you feel uncomfortable not getting stuff out of your head and not doing a mind sweep and of course, that can take as long as it takes to build those kind of habits.

3 comments

8bb2c9a97155fbcffcc91ca918d103c7
Commented almost 3 years ago Cyrus

The five step process is similar to what I went through. What is missing is the 6th and final step: Improvement. Once you learn the basics and master the advanced steps, you reach a plateau and ask yourself "where do I go from here?" The answer is an exciting one: anywhere you want to. Properly equipped with the right tricks, fortified with the right behaviors, and are disciplined enough to keep your productivity system healthy, it's time to look for better ways to get things done. We must continue to grow and improve or our success becomes stagnant.

8bb2c9a97155fbcffcc91ca918d103c7 Cyrus

The five step process is similar to what I went through. What is missing is the 6th and final step: Improvement. Once you learn the basics and master the advanced steps, you reach a plateau and ask yourself "where do I go from here?" The answer is an exciting one: anywhere you want to. Properly equipped with the right tricks, fortified with the right behaviors, and are disciplined enough to keep your productivity system healthy, it's time to look for better ways to get things done. We must continue to grow and improve or our success becomes stagnant.

Fcb879f1bc70aa0f661b842011f280fb
Commented almost 3 years ago Francisco Sáez

Hi Cyrus, you should propose the inclusion of the sixth "I" -- Improvement -- to David Allen ;)

Thank you!

Fcb879f1bc70aa0f661b842011f280fb Francisco Sáez

Hi Cyrus, you should propose the inclusion of the sixth "I" -- Improvement -- to David Allen ;)

Thank you!

8bb2c9a97155fbcffcc91ca918d103c7
Commented almost 3 years ago Cyrus

I did, actually, Francisco. The company's response was something equivalent to "Thanks for your feedback and interest. We are very pleased to hear that GTD is working for you!" Which was a pretty canned response.

In all seriousness, we must continue to innovate. I'm not suggesting we change our system every 6 months (which would be very anti-productive), but we should always be on the lookout for ways to "Improve".

8bb2c9a97155fbcffcc91ca918d103c7 Cyrus

I did, actually, Francisco. The company's response was something equivalent to "Thanks for your feedback and interest. We are very pleased to hear that GTD is working for you!" Which was a pretty canned response.

In all seriousness, we must continue to innovate. I'm not suggesting we change our system every 6 months (which would be very anti-productive), but we should always be on the lookout for ways to "Improve".

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