Wednesday, September 27, 2006

GTD - The Five Steps

Okay, here is my version of the most common way to explain GTD -- the five steps.

1. Collect. This is the phase where you gather all stuff into inboxes of various kinds. "Stuff" is any item there is yet to make a decision about. Things that aren't yet neatly organized into your system and life, like mails in your inbox or papers lying around. Internal things also goes into this category, stuff on your mind. Just write it on a paper and put it into the inbox.

2. Process. Everything in your inbox should be put through a certain series of questions in order to decide where it belongs. There is a useful flowchart to aid this process. Where does an item belong? Well, it can go into a filing system if it's reference material, or a calendar if it's an appointment. (There are more categories.)

3. Organize. Actually, a big chunk of the organizing was done in step two when you decided where every item belongs. But I guess some organizing can still be done within each category.

4. Review. For the system to work, you need to review it regularly. All your projects and "to do"s are in the system, and you need to be reminded of them often enough. So, some part of the system should be review daily, and some part weekly.

5. Act. It's not enough to keep track of your projects, you need to work on them too. D. Allen has some useful advice on how to choose what to do, which I won't go into here.

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

GTD, psycho-epistemology, trusted system

One of the great benefits of GTD is that it is based on, and teaches, sound psycho-epistemological principles, although David Allen doesn't word it as such.

An example would be the idea behind the use of the 'trusted external system'. The idea is that it is bad to store "open loops" (as he calls it) only in your mind. (What's an open loop? Basically, it's a yet unfulfilled purpose. Things you need to get done.) Why? The mind just isn't very good at handling that task, and what follows is pressure, stress and possibly failure. What pressure? The pressure of having to keep track of everything, having to remind yourself what needs to be done, having to worry about forgetting, having to remember stuff that relates to your purpose, and so on. But that's not, some would say, how people do handle stuff - after all, people already use external helpers such as calendars and "to-do"-lists. That's true, and to that extent the mind is relieved from some pressure, but most systems people use are incomplete in many ways. GTD is the system to end all systems. It basically works as an extension of your mind. (It wasn't that long ago I begun doing it, but I'm already a cultist.)

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

GTD - Order out of Chaos?

I've started to use the GTD (Getting Things Done) system. It is a system to organize the activities required to fulfill your projects (whichever they may be).

It includes things such as getting all important information into an external system you trust (such as a suitable computer program), filing everything appropriately, having a system for reminding you of important events, and so on.

The best thing about GTD isn't perhaps any specific idea it contains, but the way it all fits of them together into a nice closed system that covers all the activities in your life (in an overview-ish kind of way). And that it is fairly simple in its principles (always a good thing). It also leaves a lot of room for tweaking and personalizing.

It has helped me realize (again?) that a big reason for my own disorganization is indecision (which itself isn't news to me or my readers - indecision is my nemesis. One of them. Yes, I have many nemesis..es - ha! Ten point to whomever gets that reference!)

Indecision, how? Well, I let things pile up with the idea that I decide what to do about it later (e.g. should I answer this email? Let's decide later. Should I print out that info, or just throw the file way? I'll keep the file for now and decide later. Etc). And I used the same place for different purposes (the mails in my inbox would serve as reminders, containers of information - such as addresses needed in a few days, or reference material I might sometime need - and so on.) A similar pattern was/is present in other areas than my inbox.

And then new stuff arrives all the time, and it gets worse and worse until you force yourself to re-organize some (or all) of it. However, then the process of disorganization starts again, and chaos starts to build up. The secret is to organize it once and for all and then see to it that it never gets out of hand again. And that's what GTD will help you with.

GTD helps you establish a system which you then can apply to every new stuff that arrives in your life (whether it comes from within or without).

A funny detail - I don't think I really understood until now the crucial part incoming stuff plays in the creation of chaos.

To learn more, just search on GTD - Getting Things Done - and the author of the book, David Allen.

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