I started reading David Allen’s book Getting Things Done three weeks ago. I didn’t have a crisis of all-of-this-is-crushing-me-and-I-can’t-breathe or some other catastrophe that forced me to seek a higher state of organization. Nothing precipitated this other than reading about David Allen in a recent edition of Wired magazine. I’ve read ramblings out and about on the internet for years about GTD this and GTD that and never gave it much interest. I’ve always been a disorganized, list-weary procrastinating fool.
But no more.
Early on during my read of the book, the GTD approach found a resonance within me and I quickly grew ever more excited. All of my countless previous efforts at getting organized led to the same discouraging conclusion: calendars buried under stacks of stuff never to be referenced again and countless lists dispersed so widely in my personal milieu that I was unable to remember how many there were, let alone where they might be.
The approach of GTD made so much logical sense to me that I couldn’t wait to implement it in my life. Jennifer got on board and over a weekend we generated eleven bags of garbage. We reduced our four drawer filing cabinet stuffed full of unorganized and questionably important stuff into one tidy drawer’s worth of easily findable stuff. I reduced my inbox with nearly 13 thousand emails down to zero by sorting it into about 90 folders. During the process, I found nine emails that needed my attention (a few requiring it a few months ago, apologies again to those folks).
The net result is what David Allen professed: the weight has been lifted. My mind is clearly free to worry about getting some thing done, not about the mountain of things waiting to get done. I’ve identified about 450 actions that I need to do in the near future. Four weeks ago, the mere thought of knowing that number would have made me hurl. Armed with a strong approach for getting those things accomplished, I’m not afraid of them anymore and I know that my productivity since implementing GTD has never been better.
If you haven’t heard of GTD, consider picking up a copy of the book and give the first few chapters a read. If you’ve heard of it and looked into it a little but aren’t sure it’s right for you, I’m another in a large chorus of voices singing out to you that it rocks.
The system is exceptionally hackable and there are many variants of the system, some worthy of their own published book. GTD itself can be implemented using anything that works for you from pen and paper to elaborate software. I’ll write up more about my “recipe” for implementing GTD in a while, after I’ve given it a while to settle into my routine. Until then, I have one recommendation: read through the book before wandering off into variations of GTD. I think it’s worth focusing on the original intent to see if you also resonate with it before branching off.