Tuesday, June 19, 2007

It's true, I do love systems


I drank the juice.*

Waaay back in the day, I found Hijabman’s post on GTD and immediately got excited. Y’all know how I love systems. I won't explain GTD exactly but just tell you about my experience with GTD.

I'm borrowing Hijabman's summary since it is more succinct than anything I could come up with:

Get everything out of your brain and organized into a system. If the system is good, you trust the system, and you don’t have to think about the bazillion things going through your head. This way you are more productive.

I put off the implementation but finally got around to it in April.

I collected. During the 'collection' phase, I gathered all my documents from all over the house and wrote down everything floating in my head on index cards. Each idea/task was on a separate index card. When I processed the idea/task, I just crossed it out and put the index card in my recycle bin. When I am feeling overwhelmed, I pull out my stack of already used index cards and re-use them.

I processed the information and then organized the information.

I set up the tickler file.

I started out with a notebook but have now settled on the ‘Amish Hipster PDA’ (index cards on a ring binder, with a pen attached). The index cards are split up into four sections:
  1. Daily Routines & Most Important Tasks to be done in one day
  2. To-Do, which is further broken down into sections: Calls; Emails; At Computer; Errands; Store/To-buy list
  3. Not tabbed but I took advantage of the already separate color index-cards to create a ‘Not-urgent’ section. This is also further broken down into the following sections: At computer (which has things like ‘research container system for recycling’) and; At home tasks (which has items such as ‘mend quilt’).
  4. Projects – This is a list of long-term projects that I’d like to do, some I'm actually doing and some I'm considering. I will probably put the inactive projects under a ‘someday/maybe’ pile.
I also have a small calendar that I use for appointments only (no tasks).

I’m really, really happy with GTD – even though I’m still trying to figure out how to incorporate ‘routines’ and big projects into the program. It's a work in progress but I am enjoying the results already. My email inboxes are almost always empty. I still have too much to do but I am closer to being able to say no to new projects. Before, I said yes to all interesting projects because I didn't realize how much work was involved. I plan on cutting out projects in the future.

If you want to try this out yourself, I suggest buying the book. The system can be implemented without it but I don't think I could do it without the book.

On a side note, don't go shopping before you've actually implemented this program. I read the book on and off for about a month, then it took a few months before I actually geared up and implemented the system. The book, a paper and a pen are enough.

Heck, you don't need the book right away either. It was helpful for me because I didn't quite understand GTD at first. DON'T buy a PDA, don't invest in software, just use what you have. Buying and setting up new gizmos is procrastination.

Hijabman has a good summary of GTD on his blog and subsequent posts that discuss his progress.

I think the best thing about GTD is that I get everything out of my head and in a centralized location. I get all the little ‘to-do’ lists that usually clutter up my little brain and make way for the more interesting things (to me, anyway) that floats around my brain. I also get the ideas out of my head and on a piece of paper. This way, I can decide whether I want to pursue it, keep it on file for later or just toss it.

This is still a work in progress for me – but I recommend it to others who aren't naturally organized or are just looking for a new organizational system.

I check these sites on a regular basis:
zenhabits - Start with this post first: Beginner's Guide to GTD
GTD forum

Go on, drink the juice.*

*I am hesitant about using this phrase because I googled it and it refers to the mass suicide from poisoned kool-aid. But let’s all just pretend that it’s light-hearted and just about my being really happy about GTD and not joining a cult, which I would never do because I have enough people telling me what to do.


omg said...

I am confused, but I think I get the general idea. I won't go for it just yet, though, as I am not particularly good at implementing other people's systems, but am very good at ignoring my own orders.

Absolutely love the postscript comment about your reason for not joining a cult. :-D

homeinkabul said...

The wiki article describes it the best, I think: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Getting_Things_Done

I was feeling pretty out of control last year, so I am happy to have found this...

gtdfrk said...

Hi, I just added a link to your post to my list of contributions to my GTD meme about "My Killer GTD Setup". Although not officially 'tagged' (yet), your post fits right into my GTD meme. Thanks to Jennifer George of Lifemuncher for discovering it! And thank you for writing about your GTD setup; it never ceases to fascinate me to read about (and see!) other people's GTD setup.


HijabMan said...

You are doing better than i am, buddy!

:-) Well. glad i have a buddy. You are definitely upping the ante. I feel left behind! :)

Frida said...

I'm a fairly organised person by nature and spend most of my time working on letting go of my lists and systems. But I like this one, it is simialr to my magic diary into which everything goes, from to do lists to ongoing health and fitness projects, to notes from work meetings.
Don't drink the juice dude!

Beecher Street Neighbor said...

oooooh, I haven't read through all of this yet. but spotting the pics with your colorful bedspread, I immediately got a vision of one of your earliest posts - a pic of your cupboard.. and recall the discussion that ensued as we all examined the inside of your cupboard...

must link back and find that early post... memories, memories..

Anonymous said...

Yuke drank the juice!

homeinkabul said...

gtdfrk: You're welcome and thanks for stopping by.

Hijabman: No, I definitely have my problems with the system (and have plenty of problems staying on the system). But it's helpful.

Frida: I used to put everything in one list but that would always become hard to manage and then I'd get stressed from the list. :)

bsn: I thought of that post also. Hamesha really enjoyed that, if I remember correctly. The quilt was a gift from my friends on the rez.

Anon: Heh. I guess i did. :)

SuperfluousA said...

This GTD thing is confusing to me right now but I'll check it out later. My only thing to say is that a few weeks ago I watched a History Channel show about the kool-aid people...Not to be morbid but the only thing people know about Jonestown is the kool-aid but some crazy shit went down. The point is...I watch too many documentaries.

Kristin Ohlson said...

I'm so bad at this kind of stuff. I buy books like this and feel sort of virtuous about it, then increasingly miserable because I don't read them. Too boring; I'd rather read novels.

I make lists of things to do every day, but really, the only thing that seems to help me get anything done is deadlines-- that dreadful certainty that my career/life/etc will crash unless I complete this task.

But that means that I never get around to daily yoga, meditation-- all those things I want to incorporate into my life.

homeinkabul said...

I'm so overwhelmed right now that this post is mocking me everytime I look at it...Oh well, it's a work in progress