Chris Sells pinged me today to ask about GTD. Actually, it was kind of funny... he sent me an email with the subject line “You've done this, what can you tell me?“ And the body was a link. That's it. When I first saw the subject line I thought it was spam, or even <gasp> porn spam. Chris sure does know how to pique your interest with a headline, doesn't he? Heh. Anyway, I've been meaning to post an update, so thanks Chris, for the questions!
I'm impressed with the GTD system, but as a practical matter it doesn't give me more time in my day to do the work. Once I figure out how to clear away some of the meetings for focused work time, I'm thinking it will be a leap forward. The biggest “aha” for me was learning to think about the next action every time I touch something. I used to leave stuff in my email inbox that I "needed to deal with." Of course it quickly got out of control, and it was totally overwhelming because it was just "stuff". Now, whether it's replying to an email or a project task I'm doing, I think “What's the next thing I need to do?” as I finish it - on the email: do I need to create a waiting for task (which the addin makes incredibly easy) with a reminder in two days or do I need to delete the original, and on the project task: is it make a call to someone or prepare for a meeting? Storing the next action makes it easy to deal with things in context, for example 1:1 agenda items. Or phone calls. The task list that got created from all the email that I cleaned out of my inbox is long, but it's not as unapproachable as my old inbox was, because I know what the next action that I need to perform on every single one of the tasks is. The decision tree for next actions really makes sense to me, and I'm deleting a lot more than I used to. The set-up cost for this is high, but in my opinion, worth it. Someone who didn't have the mess that I did when I started would have an easier time of it.
Here's what has changed, even without there being more time: