Implementing Getting Things Done

As many of you may already know I am an avid social network user.  I have my cell phone and instant messenger programs connected so I can quickly type a short blurb and have my statuses, tweets, and profiles all updated in a few quick seconds.  I tend to lean toward sending an answer to “What are you doing now?” for most of my updates.  

A month or two ago I sent what I thought was an innocent status update.  “Working like crazy to get lots of things done before I head home from the office…” One of my co-workers caught this on Yammer and soon replied with a link to Wikipedia and told me that maybe this would help.  It certainly has.

After reading the book and doing a little research online I decided I needed to try to implement this system for myself.  Being the nerd that I am, I could not see using paper, file folders and desk drawers.  I needed to be completely mobile enabled.  I have implemented GTD this way:

2 Day mind sweep / gathering – I began by going through my house with a notepad and just listing everything around the house that I wanted to do.  After this I headed to my office and did the same.  Next was my personal e-mail box. 

Turned off Outlook notifications – One thing that I realized through this was that Outlook was seriously distracting me.  Even when I was doing the gathering exercise above I continued to be distracted with new items.  I turned off the sounds, pop-up notifications and tray notifications so that I have to manually open outlook and click my inbox to be able to see new messages. 

MyLifeOrganized – I found this great program which allows me to keep ALL of my projects and tasks organized by context, synchronized between computers as well as my cell phone.  This definitely satisfied my nerdy side.

Weekly 2 hour review – I honestly thought David Allen was crazy when he suggested that you set aside at least 2-3 hours each week to regroup on everything.  I believe what he suggests is actually too little time for most people.  I blocked off 2 hours every Friday afternoon to review everything and prepare for the weekend.  I constantly find myself running out of time or needing some extra time for this on Saturdays.  You should definitely take this seriously and make sure you have proper time to review.  It will pay off big time!

David Allen describes a nagging feeling that’s always in the back of your mind when you don’t get it all out of your head.  I can definitely identify with that.  Since using this methodology I definitely feel that I am more in control of my destiny.  Each day I feel that the things that are most important are moving forward.  I’m even receiving compliments from friends, family and co-workers that I seem to be more on the ball lately.

Personally, I love that all of my inboxes are clean and I can keep my desk much neater.   Turning off notifications in my Outlook has allowed me to focus better and not be distracted by all of those electronic interruptions.  It’s great to be confident that if I tell someone I will do something for them, it will get done.  It may not be this moment, but I will eventually get to it.

I am definitely an infant when compared to folks that have used this methodology for years, but I know that with practice I will eventually get to the “mind like water” state that’s described in the book.  The areas that seem to trip me up so far are fairly minor.  Many times I look at my list of tasks and still feel a little overwhelmed by the length of the list.  My natural tendency is to want to clear the entire list.  This is definitely not possible and sometimes that causes me to need to remind myself just to focus on what’s most important.

Initially I had a difficult time making sure my list was updated whenever I got a call or e-mail.  I would need to spend a large portion of my weekly review time looking at my sent items and call histories to remind myself of which items needed to be added to my “Waiting For” list as well as adding follow up calls to my list.

All-in-all I’m extremely happy with the results of implementing this methodology and I look forward to continually growing in this area to the point where I can help guide and mentor others so they can reap the same rewards.

More again soon….