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Trust your GTD System


Several blogs note the ongoing battles one can have with your Getting Things Done system.  Half the battle is getting things figured out in the first place and determining the best set up for yourself.  Whether it involves index cards, a labeler, a Moleskine, a great pen to write with, an online GTD app or simply modifying Outlook with a plug-in, there is no mistaking some set up time is required.  And then comes a potential trap – never being satisfied with your plugin or app.

There is Things, iGTD, OmniFocus, etc., etc., etc.  Because of the adoption rate by techies, GTD is an often updated and modified system.  I went through many apps myself, so please learn by my mistakes.  I’m not here to preach what works best for me will work for you – you have to figure that out as I did.

 What I will preach about or rather will prophesy is THAT day you will start letting go.  It’s coming, so if it hasn’t yet, it will.  The system you trust with all of your to do’s, tasks, projects, meetings, etc. – it WILL lose its lustre.  It’s anyone’s guess why this happens, but it does appear to be nearly universal.  My theory is simple – you don’t just chain your ways overnight.  Being in business for over 20 years, is it realistic to expect you’ll change your ways in less than 3-6 months? 

So, when that day comes, try these steps:

Step back.  Take a deep breath – because when you start letting go of your GTD system, that is usually a good sign that you’re sliding back, you are panicking and you are doomed to failure.

Grab your journal or Moleskine.  Trace back to where you started giving up and putting your old plan in front of your new system.  Determine what went wrong.  Was it the sheer number of projects on one day?  Was it a lack of planning that spun out of control?  Check this out:  When you review your Moleskine or journal, did you notice you stopped taking notes?  When you stop getting things out of your head, you can really feel the downward spiral because it takes its toll on the sub-conscious as various items attempt to play with your internal hard drive – and ultimately it will do as before and fail you.  Whatever the reason, take the time to figure out where it went wrong.  AND THEN WRITE THAT DOWN.  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results.  But, hey, we’re human.  Chances are if you let your GTD system down once, you will do it again unless you understand the reasoning and avoid it the second time around.

Weekly Review time is in order.  Is your in-box piled high?  Is your email out of sync?  Are your task lists and projects behind?  Chances are good that you let things go and like a failed diet plan, you grabbed the chocolate cake with a 2-liter of Mt. Dew, metaphorically speaking.  Re-sort that office, clean it up and do a much needed Weekly Review.  The psychology behind getting things back in order will make you fall in love again with your old friend, GTD.  

Plan ahead.  Let’s assume you’ve just completed your Weekly Review on a Friday.  Look at your calendar or tasks for the following week and write down the first 3 items you have to get done on Monday.  Then when you come in on Monday morning, you’ll see these and have that extra reminder to Get Things Done.

Extra bonus tip time.  Taken from the 4-Hour Workweek, I have a quote that is on a vertical note clip on my desk:  “Am I inventing things to do to avoid the important?”  This simple statement is great to refer to as my center.  When my mind reminds me I’m probably not doing something that is on my GTD list or that I’m chasing a few dead ends, I can look at that statement and get re-focused.  Try it.

If anyone has other ideas you used to get back to your GTD system, please let us know.


One Response

  1. For implementing GTD you might try out this web-based application:


    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, schedules and a calendar.
    A mobile version is available too.

    As with the last update, now Gtdagenda has full Someday/Maybe functionality, you can easily move your tasks and projects between “Active”, “Someday/Maybe” and “Archive”. This will clear your mind, and will boost your productivity.

    Hope you like it.

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