Monday, February 8, 2010

Working on my GTD System

I first became exposed to David Allen when the Mountain State YPO Chapter brought David to Charleston to present his public one day seminar. I’m guessing this was in 1994. I brought about 6 or 7 employees from Pray Construction Company hoping his system would sweep through PCC.

I’m pretty sure his system didn’t really stick at Pray, but I bought in and continue to practice. I later spent some one-on-one time with David and his wife Kathy on an YPO cruise. David gave me a few telephone coaching sessions with Meg Edwards and she really helped me tune up my Outlook based system. I think I did perhaps two sessions and then went on about my business.

I likely stopped about 2 sessions too early!

Anyway….I lived with my system. Essentially, I used tasks to collect my next actions (calls; e-mails; read; meet with; waiting for, etc). So, let’s say someone sent me an e-mail and this e-mail stimulated a response (that took more than 2 minutes) so I’d drag this mail into the left column in Outlook and into the task folder. When you do that, the mail explodes. You can then input text in the subject line (i.e. 304-744-1111 Jack Jones and then select @calls from your custom designed menu in categories in the lower right corner).

So… have the context (@call) and the next time you have time and or desire to make calls, they are all there together. A few things going on here.

1) You can stop thinking about what you need “to do”…in other words your personal RAM is not being bogged down trying to remember all your stuff.
2) I like the electronic system as it is easy for me to keep portable. I use an iPhone and an app called iMExhange. This app syncs up my tasks from Outlook, so again, when I have an appropriate spare moment, whip out the iPhone, see what calls I might make and then make one.

What I was also doing was sorting by due date, which reminded me to make that call on a particular day. So, this also drove me to review my tasks more or less daily and change the date on a number of tasks as they did not get accomplished that day…..and that happened almost every day.

Fast forward to about a month ago when I thought perhaps it might be time for me to pony up and buy some consulting. So, I interfaced with Davidco and hired Julie Ireland to do some telecoaching. Using Go to Meeting, Julie was able to spend an hour with me and look over my shoulder. Essentially she said, “Well…this is very non-GTD”.

Yikes! But wait…I thought I had this all figured out!!!

So…the illumination was as follows:

If it MUST be dealt with on a day, that task goes on the calendar. (In Outlook, launch an appointment, put your to-do in the subject, click all day event, show time as free, and add any supporting stuff below).

So…when you start to Do Work, you look first at your calendar. (If something is going to happen at a specific time, clearly put the time in and don’t select all day event).

Now…..when you look at your calendar, Julie suggested be sure it’s not too clogged up. Three booked hours in a day is about tops. OK…sure…there are going to be exceptions, but if your calendar is booked from start to finish, then you better start learning how to say no.

OK….now my tasks are no longer sorted by date. So, I open up my tasks segregated by categories, and all my stuff to do (say @office), is all together. Based on my appetite and other in-coming I can now choose what to do.

Anyway…….my system was pretty broken and I had more or less learned to accommodate, but was always feeling like I had way too much to do. I was wasting time sorting my tasks by date and then feeling like every day I was not getting done what I “should” have been doing.

If you haven’t given GTD a look……I suggest you consider buying the book and then sticking your foot in the water with implementation. We are all expected to perform at a high level. This helps me get a lot done (i.e. perform) and I feel good while doing so.

And I have my second telecoaching hour with Julie booked for next week.

1 comment:

dannielo said...

For implementing GTD you can use 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.