Productivity and GTD
How to Start Implementing GTD When You Are Too Busy
“It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” ~ Henry David Thoreau
Although expressed in different ways, this is a frequently asked question by many FacileThings users:
“I need to get organized and I know GTD can be the solution to my problem but I’m not a specialist in management and don’t have spare time. The amount of things I must be aware of in order to organize myself with GTD is overwhelming, and I can’t see the way of putting all the pieces together and get on with so many things at the same time. I would appreciate any advice you could give in order to clarify and simplify the process.”
Those who raise this kind of problem are really busy people—entrepreneurs, small business owners and executives in big companies—who find it very hard to get out of their daily routine and spend enough time building the necessary habits which would allow them to have a solid base to do GTD and enjoy its benefits.
My answer most of the time is, more or less, as follows:
1. Start up
First of all, forget about defining the perspective levels (vision, areas of responsibilities, big goals, etc.) until you have under control the day-to-day. It may take you some months, but it would be nonsense thinking further when you still have not embraced the habits that will allow you to be efficient in your daily work flow. If you live in a stressful situation, trying to cover everything from start will only add more stress.
Therefore the starting up of your GTD system will consist of only one step:
- Load your system with all the tasks you now have in place, both at work and in your personal life.
The ideal thing is to do a complete mind sweep, but if you have a real problem in regards to time, concentrate on those things that are now concerning you. The rest will rise at the appropriate moment.
For that you will have to book a couple of hours in your calendar, if it’s possible in a quiet day in which nobody will bother you. Dedicate this time to go through your inbox (emails, papers, to-do lists, etc.) and think about all those things you’re doing or need to get done.
Put all those tasks in the system. If you need more than one action to achieve an outcome, create a project. But don’t complicate yourself too much with projects, you don’t need to plan anything. The only thing you need to do is to indicate the immediate next actions that you have to do in the project.
Okay, you have already done the hard work and you’ve only needed a couple of hours. It wasn’t that hard, right?
Once you have everything that worries you in the system, you have to spend little time maintaining it. In fact, you only have to do these things:
- When something new rises—a task, a project or even something undefined—capture it. There’s no need to get into FacileThings to do it. You can write these things down wherever and, every so often, you can spend five minutes putting them into the system.
- Every now and then process everything you have captured. Once a day, every two days… whichever frequency you feel good. Use the FacileThing’s processing tool so that you don’t leave out any details.
- Check off the tasks you’ve already done. No need to do it immediately, but it would be good to spend five minutes a day to eliminate what is already done from your Next Actions list. If a task belongs to a project and is not the last, make sure you have the next action to advance the project in the system (create it if not.)
- Once a week, review your system.. This is extremely important to always maintain the system up to date with your reality, and because it will help you focus on the following week. The FacileThing’s Weekly Review tool will guide you and allow you to do it quickly and effectively. In addition, the time spent here will allow you to gain peace of mind and save time during the week.
If you get used to regularly carry out these activities, in a few months these habits will be perfectly embedded in your life and you’ll be able to have total control over your day. Moreover, the “always being busy” feeling will disappear. Once everything is under control, it will be time to think at a higher level.