Categories | Community Contributions | Getting Started | Inspiration
A few months ago, a new GTDer named Michael started sending me his experiences of reading Getting Things Done. He read a chapter a week and would recap what he learned. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading these, as it’s been fun to see GTD through a newcomer’s eyes. He just finished the book and sent his final summary. I thought you might all enjoy this.
Over the past few months, I’ve gone through Getting Things Done (GTD) with the proverbial fine-toothed comb, reviewing one chapter each week. During this time, I’ve completed a second draft of a novella and moved into a new apartment.
At the very least, GTD prepared me to fully complete these two tasks and any other task that I might happen upon. The novella is a complete story, beginning to end. I’ve organized my new apartment into a livable space, and I’m completely unpacked. Learning how to identify a task and follow it to completion has been a key element of my GTD learning experience.
Most important GTD tool for me has been defining actions. For example, I know what action I need to take in regard to my application to a writer’s workshop is to “complete the required components, print, and mail by March 31” makes the process much easier. First, I know the parameters of the task. Second, I’m confident that following this task will get my application to the right place, at the right time. I don’t need to worry that I’ll miss a scholarship or fellowship, either of which could save me a lot of money
What GTD really gives me is confidence. I know that as long as I do my weekly review and keep everything on a list, nothing is going to fall through the cracks. However if something does, I am in a better position to deal with problems, as I know where everything else stands and when events are happening.
Some of the tips in GTD are very helpful, and I would not have tried them, if I had not gotten so much benefit from the rest of the book. At the top of this list is the labeler. When I first read about the labeler, I was convinced it was just an expensive toy. Frankly, I’m still convinced it’s an expensive toy, but I’m also convinced that it works wonders, anyway. I don’t know why the labeler works better than handwriting, it just does.
What got me started in GTD was a simple Google Search for “Getting Started in Life.” I was attracted to GTD because I already had the book, which means there’s a lot more to this book than just reading it or owning a copy. The work required to implement GTD to its effectiveness is a lot. It’s something I had to think about on a constant basis:
What is my relationship to my work?
What do I want to accomplish?
When do I want to accomplish it by?
Why does this need to be done?
How am I going to do it?
Which should I do first?
These are questions that GTD does not answer, but it helps me create an environment in which I can answer these questions. The beauty of GTD is that it allows my brain to prioritize by controlling the flow of stuff that needs to be processed. I still scan, look to see where the fires are, but I can identify fires before they light, now. I can look at something and say: This will take five minutes now or five hours two weeks from now. I can deal with it accordingly and somewhat in advance.
I still have room for improvement. The filing system I have at home still needs work. Specifically, I’m short on hanging folders, and my cabinet just becomes a pile of mess if it doesn’t have hanging folders. I still have large projects, like write a screen play, which are ambiguously defined and have near deadlines in comparison to the amount of work they require.
By in large, next month looks like it’ll be better than this month. And, I get the feeling that I can keep improving month after month. This has a lot to do with GTD and organization.
Kelly, thanks for reading all my emails over these past months. For April, I’m turning my attention to Script Frenzy, which is to write 100 pages of script in a month. I hope to move on to Ready for Anything and Making It All Work very soon. These past two or three weeks especially, I’ve been doing just a little more than I feel comfortable with—probably only because of GTD that I can do that.