Thursday, March 30, 2006

GTD, 16 months later
In Dec04, I began practicing GTD-do (GTDo?), the way of Getting Things Done. Three houses, four offices, three jobs later, I'm still working through the way I follow this path. I'm still not satisfied that I've figured out the best use of my asap contextual lists/folders, and I haven't locked down on the Weekly Reviews, but I've still gotten so much out of David's approach.

My view of the process of work has been fundamentally changed. Practicing GTDo has built the habits of mind that make me think incrementally and next-action-ly about each project. This alone would be worth the price of the book. I've had some fairly massive projects in the last 16 months, and big reason I survived was the next-action approach. In my most overwhemled days, I was able to gain momentum by taking seriously baby steps towards the goals. This may seem the self-evident way to do things. It certainly seems so to me, but getting my brain to, by default, think about the next tiny increment of movement forward was a huge retraining for me.

The other major difference in how I approach work is in how I view the stuff that comes across my attention's field of vision, whether it's digital or physical. The discipline of categorizing things according to David's workflow has been very helpful. It's enabled me to process a whole lot more stuff & information than I used to be able to do. Actionable? Y - Do, Delegate, Defer; N - Eliminate, Incubate, Reference. I find this to be key in keeping the stuff & information flow moving.

In terms of working with folks colloboratively, I am less tolerant of business meetings/discussions that don't end with actionable outcomes. I'm fine if the outcome is deferred a long way off, but I know that unless we agree on what we decided to do, and who is responsible to do it it probalby won't get done, and that meeting was probably a waste of my time. Not to say that I'm mean about it, just that if no one else asks, I'm going to ask, "Ok, are we agreed to do A? Then my understanding is that John will do 1, I'll do 2, Jane 3, and then we'll meet again so we can put it all together for A. Is that right?"

Moving to a black-belt level in GTDo will involve building the discipline to actually do Weekly Reviews, er, weekly. I think once I start doing that, I'll finally be able to sweep up to the 5,000 feet, 10,000 feet & stratosphereic views of my work to make some top level decisions about long-term goals and such. The great thing about GTDo, though, is that I can get work done, done well, and have a good sense of accomplishment, even if I don't have any major life goals planned out in advance.

But, seriously, that Weekly Review would be so helpful.

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