Nathaniel Stott brings his unique perspective to GTD by focusing on families and kids. He is a father of 3 and GTD enthusiast.
Nathaniel Stott brings his unique perspective to GTD by focusing on families and kids. He is a father of 3 and GTD enthusiast.
Time for clearing the cobwebs and a spring clean
In a household with kids our house is lived in. Sand and dirt collect in the hallway and stairs, then gets its way around the house. Everything settles and collects in corners or piles. “Papa where are my shoes?” “I need my Russian books, I had them last night!” Just an example of the daily questions. But over time stuff collects to a point where a big clean up is needed.
Not the daily sweep up, washing, cooking and dishes: a Spring clean. And we did that yesterday!
Now this is not only good for finding those long lost CD’s, papers or school books (under the pile of papers on your desk or in the corner next to the Lego). A spring clean means sorting out the winter clothes and everything that is too small and making space for a new look. It means a clear view.
A quick focus on what we wanted to achieve during breakfast – the big picture and goal setting for the day. A review of tasks and areas of focus – what needs to be done. Some groans, some questions. And who wants to clean the windows? “Me… me… me… me!”
Clean the windows!
I had forgotten what a difference clean windows makes. “How long has that tree been there Papa?” Clean windows means being able to take a fresh look at the world outside. A clear view.
Because its now Officially Spring Time, a chance to get back into Gardening with a passion too. Some of that gardening I will be done at the office. Trimming dead files. Dumping completed projects to the archive and making plans for an improved work space on two levels – sitting and standing.
I find the way I use GTD an active way of working. Jumping up to make a cup of coffee… then filing the project papers… helping the kids… checking the mail… making notes for an ongoing project (and putting it in the right place to continue later)… a phone call or two. Not to mention the wash, cooking, shopping and everything else.
Clear vision and a weekly review.
I will have to describe a typical week sometime soon, I sometimes I don’t realize how much I do get done with GTD during a week. Especially when my attention gets stuck on what is not working. It is hard to remember that which gets done in auto-pilot – like the phone call or conversation in the car and then the question “did you see that sign back there Papa?” No! Good habits are great to have and to learn, like a regular review of current status, which is a big help to remind me of where I am and what I want to achieve. The weekly review.
Clear vision! It’s like seeing the clear blue sky after a long period of dull weather. And then to have clean windows too, brings back the connection between the runway and my higher goals.
How do you do your Spring cleaning? What great ideas did you get this week? What stuff did you discover after thingking it forever lost? GTD gives me clear vision and the kids love helping there too!
David Allen describes himself as a very lazy person. This laziness was the impetus to develop what is now known as “process improvement”. David devised a number of “tricks” to more easily succeeded in and develop his career.
Two basic elements of GTD that he quoted during his interview are:
He got the advice that the publication of a (bestselling) book would make a significant strategic step forward for the expansion of his business. It took another 4 years for Getting Things Done to appear on the market.
David had to first learn what it meant to write a book. He had never written a book before nor had he developed a business plan around that. After learning these things, he needed a year to find a publisher and another year to write the first draft of Getting Things Done-The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. Then came the second draft and work on the title and graphics.
David did all this in addition to his regular full-time job. But that’s “not recommended” he says!
GTD it is easy to understand and to implement because it starts from our own concrete experiences – that is the reason why GTD is so successful according to David Allen himself.
What’s unique about GTD, is the fact that it takes the position not of starting from what we think we should be doing, but rather from how we can simply and effectively improve how we think and how we do things.
Thanks to GTD, you get immediate control (back) over your thoughts and actions. In this way you can then develop your productivity.
The immediate effect of GTD in David’s own life was of relaxation. Thanks to his own techniques, David Allen succeeded in emptying his head ["mind like water"].
David describes himself as a researcher and educator. He had 25 years to acquire the knowledge that allowed him to become who he is today. The next 25 years will be focused on the dissemination of this knowledge.
In the accompanying audio track you hear a piece of David Allen’s life philosophy, guaranteed a great tip for you. Enjoy!
David Allen will give his public seminar in Amsterdam on February 19: GTD Seminar Making It All Work!
Posted by Bert Verdonck on www.lifehacking.nl (translation Nathaniel Stott) on February 3, 2009
Consider this: While personal productivity tends to be low, room for productivity improvement in the average employee is high; on a scale of 1-10 the average score is 4.8.
In these circumstances, use of David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology shows a minimum of 20% improvement in personal productivity and effectiveness. This was shown in a recent Productivity Scan research study conducted by Life Architect and set up in collaboration with the David Allen Company.
Productivity consists of four core elements: effectiveness, focus, control and balance. Overall productivity being the sum of these four components. Productivity is about the desire to achieve certain goals and how effectively they are attained. Control in your own work sphere is therefore instrumental in stress control.
The Life Architect Productivity Scan shows a significant difference between the personal productivity of people living in the Netherlands (5.5) compared with other countries (3.9). The scan also shows that implementation of David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” or “GTD” strategy improves personal productivity by 20%. The Dutch who use GTD, scored an average of 6.1 (still room to improve here too, but an average point higher than other people).
Productivity Effectiveness is measured with statements like: “I keep working harder but the loose ends keep piling up” and “I achieve all my goals”. The highest score of 5.3 was given to “I always find everything I need when I need it”. The biggest differences between the statements were found in this section. For example, the Dutch score 6.5 on the previous statement, yet only manage a 4 in response to the statement “work is always on my mind in the evening”. Dutch non-GTD users scored an average 4.5 compared to 5.7 for GTD users.
The Productivity Scan showed that many respondents do not know what they want to achieve or how they want to achieve it. The average score for productivity focus is a 4.8. Several respondents indicated that they have conflicting interests scoring a 5.
The question “My goals are in line with my work / daily activities” was given a 6.6 by Dutch people compared to 3.1 outside The Netherlands. This is a relatively low score especially given the fact that half the total participants in the scan are in a senior or managerial position.
There is much talk about the overloaded e-mail inbox, but our research, whilst indicating this a problem area, revealed a score of 5.3, e-mail is certainly not the biggest problem.
The lowest score of 4.8 was given to the statement “I want to clear my head”. Noticeably the Dutch scored a 3.6 compared to a 6.5 for people outside The Netherlands. Apparently the Dutch have a greater need for a “clear head”. Another noteworthy difference is that the Dutch see an empty workspace as an incentive (8.1) compared to a 2.7 for other people. Dutch GTD users score an 8.8.
“I feel that I spend my time on the right things” scored low with an average of 4.6 and the statement “I have time left for the things that are important to me” scored a lower 4 5. However considerable differences are found between GTD users and non-users.
GTD users scored a 5.3 on the statement ” I feel relaxed and in control” while non-GTD’ers scored a 4.1. There also appears to be a link with the question “I know what my passion is” which scored an average of 5.2. The Dutch showed a higher 6.9.
The unexpectedly low scores on this personal Productivity Scan also indicate that the respondents have completed the questions honestly. Many people do things without thinking of the desired outcome, the objectives to be achieved, or the impact and importance of their work. People may think about it but do not take the steps to effectively set priorities or next actions.
Especially in the light of current events and the world economic crisis, the importance of productivity in organizations is also dependent on the same factors described in this Productivity Scan. David Allen author and originator of GTD,says that now more than ever is the time to “get in control of what we can, with the right people at the right time”.
GTD changes the way we work in terms of personal and organizational productivity and effectiveness. This Scan shows that GTD helps to maintain control and perspective at home and at work, quickly delivering a 20% increase in personal productivity.
Would you like to be learn more about GTD (Getting Things Done) with David Allen and meet the man in person? He will be in Amsterdam on 19th February 2009 to give the GTD seminar “Making it All Work”. Registration on GTD seminar Amsterdam or http://www.davidcom.com/.
Would you like to know more about the current status of personal and organizational productivity in your organization, please contact Elise de Bres of Life Architect for the Life Architect Productivity Scan.
New translation of David Allen’s “Making It All Work”
David Allen’s latest book “Making it All Work” is now available in both English and Dutch (same title, from February 23rd)
754 people completed life Architect’s Productivity Scan. Of the respondents, half indicated that they had a management or leadership role in their organization, and 28% were female half of which used GTD. Respondents were Dutch (436 people) or other Nationals (308 of which slightly less than a third from Belgium and the rest from countries including USA, Australia, Chile, Brazil, South Africa, Finland, Germany, Austria, UK etc).
The Personal Productivity Scan has been prepared on the basis of 23 statements in the form of a questionnaire. Five points of individual productivity and three additional points were measured.
The statements could be answered on the basis of a sliding scale (strongly agree; agree; neutral; disagree; strongly disagree). Where a positively formulated statement was filled in a response was given the following values: +2, +1, 0, -1, -2. This was reversed where statements where negatively stated.
All scores were added together and divided by the number of respondents. Thus the average was determined. Final scores were divided by 4 and rounded to 2 decimal places. For a full report on findings, please contact us via the web site. Use or publication of these findings is permitted with full reference to Life Architect.
Everyone has a purpose in his life. A successful business or career, a loving and happy family life, time for the important things and events, space for creativity and less stress. In order to achieve all that you want to, you need a plan, or blueprint. Life Architect helps you achieve more with less stress, helps you to improve your life—helps you to make, identify and interpret your life’s plan.
A Community Contribution from Nathaniel Stott
At this time of the year we are all greeting one another with “Happy New Year!”
How happy are you? And what difference does being happy make to you and your work? Or life with your children for that matter?
GTD helps give me more time for fun. GTD helps me to achieve balance and meaning in life. For me, GTD is about making the right choices for my life and work. At least that is what I am working towards even though I sometimes fall off the wagon.
I’ve resolved to do more with GTD in 2009. To reach new heights (thanks Oliver) and achieve even greater happiness.
I also recommend taking a closer look at the Authentic Happiness testing center. Measure your overall happiness, your current level happiness and your approach to happiness. You might also find it interesting and useful to test the character strengths of yourself and your children—I found this particularly insightful—I am curious and have an interest in the world.
Finally, be sure to take a listen to the happiness anthem!
GTD makes me a happier person! Here’s hoping it does the same for you! And wishing you all a very Happy 2009!
“Work and play are words used for the same thing under differing conditions” —Mark Twain
All good things come in three’s—just like the steps of the weekly review:
Getting work done
First get clear. Collect everything in one place—the loose bits of paper, assignments, toys, (school) books and randomly ordered thoughts. Put it all in one place, like the IN basket. Then work it down until you get it is empty.
Doing this for myself regularly keeps me in control. Similarly with my children, the effects are most obvious when I am not asked where the clean socks or trousers are—the wash-IN basket is empty.
Or where that missing library book is to be found. And when my daughter has the conversation with me about doing less English at school so that she can concentrate more on her Russian. (We speak German together at home).
The balance between work and play
Then get current. Connecting with everything and identifying what to do with or about it, is a balancing act.
This is most obvious to me in the moment of now. In reviewing everything, I know how and when to keep in balance. That careful balancing act between work and play.
“The richest and fullest lives attempt to achieve inner balance between 3 realms: work, love and play. That to pursue one realm to the disregard of the other is to open oneself to ultimate sadness in older age. Whereas to pursue all 3 with equal dedication, is to make possible a life not only with achievement but with serenity.” —Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Doris Kearns Goodwin on learning from past presidents | Video on TED.com
How often do you get to play?
Get creative. Creative ideas seem easy for kids. Wild outrageous and seriously fun things are so easy for kids because it’s most like play.
Sometimes it is also important to do just nothing. Sit out in the garden and enjoy the view of how the seasons change. Or enjoy a coffee in your favorite café—doing nothing. Not even with your notebook. Just doing nothing can be the most productive time of the day. Kids do it (almost) all the time.
“Hey what are you doing?” — “Oh? Nothing!”
Yes! I fell off the wagon this summer—I just had too much going on in my head. The summer holidays swept me away—not just the flooding we had in the cellar or even the rain and spectacular heights of the Swiss Alps—I simply had a lot of things going on. A lot to get done with more than the usual interruptions.
The kids at home
Why and how did I get into GTD? “Getting Things Done” was such an interesting book title, that it was the title alone that grabbed my attention. And that in combination with a huge period of changes—just moved, settling into a new country and then separation and divorce. Alone and at home with the kids.
There was more, but I needed to focus on the essentials.I have a lot to do and GTD gives me the peace of mind just to get on with it. That is why I think falling off the wagon is such fun–I mean when else do you get to roll in the grass? Or take a hike up the mountains. To really experience what it is like at high altitude. Breath taking!
Forgetting and remembering
Summer holidays are a time to reflect and to forget. By falling off the wagon—by forgetting everything—I get the chance to review everything anew. The kids get to do this too. They fall off all the time. And climb back on. And sometimes just run allongside the wagon. In fact it is part of the expected rhythm of a the year. Intensive periods of learning and of rest. The summer holidays are a time to forget everything and do something altogether different.
Wow! what a time in your life! The school day and week is fully organized and structured and then there are 6 weeks of chaos. Nothing. Actually the weekend can be a bit like that too.We have been back at school for 3 weeks now. And what a refreshing way to take stock and a new look at everything.For example our weekly review takes on a new perspective. Also new importance as commitments and structure take hold again. New projects are appearing everyday! Class trips to London, plays, music lessons and choir and then of course The Circus! The twins joined the Circus last year…
In growing up we acquire responsibilities and independence. Charlotte is taking on a review all by herself. Organizing her week, homework and practicing her violin. With some help new steps can be taken to independence.That is why we need time to play! Next summer I will jump off the wagon and roll in the grass. I remember now how much fun it is to play and just forget about things for a while.Where are you making time for fun?
Doing the wash is just a few minutes has started some discussion with friends. Most of all the question: how do you do it?I am simply inspired by others.In the video here (explained in the classic GTD 2 minutes) you will see how a t-shirt can be folded in 2 seconds.
Now this is something you can try at home with the kids! We had fun learning this 2 second trick
David Allen starts the RoadMap seminar: “GTD is all about the lazy way of getting things done”.
That got me thinking. Getting things done – that means everything done. Yes even the wash. Done. Getting the wash-IN basket to empty can be done in 2 minutes. Each stage in the process need not take longer – be that collecting or processing, organizing, doing or reviewing.
Doing the wash, even big piles of it which comes with living with 3 kids, takes me (us) a couple of minutes at each stage. The piles grow (quickly) everyday, especially with children. Mostly things just get dumped on the floor. I find things in the oddest places too, like a left sock under the car seat or a sweater next to the sofa and a hat on the kitchen table.
A visiting friend once pointed out “this house is lived in!”.
Collection is a continuous and daily task. Everything gets to the wash-in basket – and it never takes more than 2 minutes to get to done.
Process - organize and color code “What is this?” Processing the wash-in basket gets done quickly. Involving the children can make this a really fun task. It also takes the mystery out of what happens to my dirty trousers, and gives understanding to the question: “where is my favorite shirt?” Or a clean set of underwear.
Delegate it. I delegate tasks for the children. In fact they organize their own lists of who does what each week (more on lists in another posting). Collecting and putting away the wash for example are great habits to foster.
Learning by doing: In a situation where learning by doing sometimes means not doing anything, I recently shared the experience of not having any clean underwear with my son. This came came about when the collection step was missed. Puzzled as I had done all the wash, dried it and folded most things – I helped see where the problem was. Sure enough several discrete piles were discovered. None had been placed in the wash-IN basket. After reviewing this “awakening” together and agreeing who does what in the process of doing the wash my son had a better understanding of how “not doing” resulted in a result also – though not the desired result to be sure.
Having fun. Of course with kids, making things fun – even something boring like the wash is key to engaging their minds and making the lessons stick. By incorporating the principles of GTD into doing the wash with my kids we see that this chore can be done 2 minutes at a time and we can even have fun in the process.
The GTD weekly review is a great habit. Almost everywhere I read about the importance and effects of regular reviews. In my everyday activities I notice the effects too - amidst the chaos of everyday life, the payoff of committing myself to conducting regular reviews results in having the appropriate response to whatever comes up.
I also read about the struggles we (can) have. A recent lecture at my children’s school helped me understand why I struggle and how I learn new habits.
Learning new habits
A habit is something we all have plenty of. Learning a new one takes time. Whatever it is. Yes even “bad” habits take time to learn.
Children are quick to learn. And like me need time to make what they have learned really their own.
It takes something like 4 weeks to acquire a habit.
Every day or week, diligent repetition of a task helps make that task a habit. And the learning continues. It takes something like a year to make a habit a part of me. A skill. Good reason to continue until that habit reaches a level of perfection.
Music lessons and the music of GTD
My children each play their own instrument. Charlotte the violin, Judit cello and Thomas piano. The daily rhythm of playing is important to establish. Weekly lessons support the practicing habit.
Orchestra and ensemble rehearsals, regular concerts and just playing bring joy to music. That moment of concentration. Those nervous moments waiting. Deep breath… One. Two. Three. Four. Pure music to the ear. And the applause! Wow what a feeling.
And that is just me as father listening! The hardest thing I love to do, is watch the children growing up.
We now have summer concerts at the end of the school year. Later in the year Christmas street concerts are not only great fun, but raise extra pocket money too.
Goals and projects making music
“Papa! I want to play every weekend at the Market!”
I ask: What do you need to do to get there? When can you play? Who do you want to play with? Which instrument? How many songs do you know? Which songs are fitting for Christmas or just fun to listen to? Which piece are youM going to learn next?
Focusing on goals like these means we often forget that we are learning about habits. And suddenly habits become something else. Its just about having fun!
GTD is like making music.