Categories | Best Practices of GTD | Coaching Secrets | Getting Started | Implementation
GTD Secrets: True Confessions of a GTD Coach – Episode 4
One of the things that I have seen over the years is a lot of incomplete Project Lists. And I think some of it is because we have a tendency to have a narrow view about what a project is. Years ago, David said in a seminar, “Hey folks, you don’t have problems; you have projects.” And one of the things that I see is people not necessarily bringing their “problems” into their GTD system. It just doesn’t really occur to them, and it was the same with me. When I’m coaching people now, and they start sharing about their “problems”, I’m like, “Look, it sounds like you’ve got a possible project with some actions.” And they’re like, “Wow, I’ve never thought about it that way.”
I thought that I would share a personal example that really supported me in terms of making a very difficult situation into a successful outcome. Years ago, I had a situation with a family member that was very challenging and very difficult, and it got to the point where we weren’t speaking. Needless to say, the family really was not happy about this, and neither were we. I was losing a lot of sleep over this. I was very stressed, and obviously it was on my mind. It never even occurred to me to bring it into my GTD system. And so one day I realized, “Wow, I really think that I have a project here.” And I actually decided not to make it a project at first. I actually put it on my Someday/Maybe list because I wasn’t ready to move forward on it. And every week in the weekly review, I would review it, and say, “Nope, not this week. I’m not going to do anything about this.”
After doing this for about a month and a half, I decided that I was ready to turn this into a project with a successful outcome. Not a negative outcome, but a really successful outcome to resolve this relationship. I had a next action on my Home List, which was to write a letter to this person. I was procrastinating on it, and again in the weekly review, I was reviewing it and realizing that I couldn’t even write the letter. I needed to talk to somebody first, and really get a clearer picture of what I wanted to say. So that got moved to my Agendas List, then I had a conversation with somebody, and it eventually got moved back to my Home List. I wrote the letter, sent the letter, and the letter went on my Waiting For List, because I was waiting to hear back from this family member. And all through this, I was no longer losing sleep over this. That was the power of really understanding how GTD can transform the way so many of us think in terms of problems into thinking in terms of outcomes and Actions. And so eventually I heard back from this person. And about eight months later, we resolved this relationship, and I was able to check this project off as “done.”
Ever since that time, the minute I start thinking, “Wow, I’ve got a problem here,” I am really quick to say, “Wait a minute, I don’t have a problem– What’s my outcome? What’s my next action?” And it has just transformed my life. Sometimes I look around and see people continuously thinking in terms of problems. And I just thought that I would really share this with you, because in all my coaching, when people have that concept of “I’m really trying to resolve this problem here.” I say, “Okay, let’s do a paradigm shift and look at this in terms of outcomes and actions.”
So I hope that maybe you’ll take a look at your project list and say, “Have I missed identifying any open loops that are keeping me up at night or causing me stress?” You can have emotional open loops, like I just shared with you. You can have physical open loops. I fell on the ice a couple of years ago, and had to go into some physical therapy for my shoulder, and that was a project. You can have mental open loops. You can have spiritual open loops. I hope this gives you some insight into creating a very robust personal and professional Project List.
Listen to the audio version of Meg’s post.
Learn more about Meg and her coaching work for the David Allen Company.
Check out all of the episodes in Meg’s GTD Coaching Secrets series.