Friday, March 13, 2009

Best Practices to Good Habits: Can I Make GTD Stick?

Live blogging from the GTD Global Summit.

Panelists: Meg Edwards, Dean Hering, Alan Nelson, Jim Whitton

Moderator: Danny Bader

First hearing about the panelists and how they got started with using the GTD methodology.

Hearing common themes throughout the conference such as "it's easy to fall off the wagon, but easy to get back on as well" and "the weekly review is the hard but essential part of GTD"

Why keep it going? We know why...but let's talk about how to keep it going?

"The Brain that Changes Itself" - Book recommendation from Jim. 3 preconditions to remap brain: (1) Thing has to be relevant, (2) Some feedback mechanism to see positive try from negative try, (3) There have to be multiple tries.

Relate to these three things to make it stick. Jim has started doing a mini daily review (just going through project lists). Breaking weekly review into three chunks. Trying to get more iterations.

What are the biggest challenges/obstacles? From her coaching, saw patterns over the years where people were getting stuck. Tool hopping a big problem (trying to find the perfect tool rather than doing).

What is critical to staying on the wagon? Dean - Having the ability to adapt is going to keep you sane. Then build the habits that will make it stick.

Bundle your 2 minute tasks or you'll spend all 24 hours a day doing 2 minute tasks.

Add some artificial constraints.


Meg - Make a distinction between scanning e-mail and processing e-mail. Scan with purpose. Don't fool yourself...that's not processing.

Alan - Puts a date after every next action (to see how long its been on his list).

Another common theme. You have to keep reevaluating your commitments with yourself.

What's so scary about really doing GTD? Feeling of overwhelm. Meg suggests making sure to separate the 5 phases of workflow to avoid that.

Jim - Having fun with constraints has made it an enjoyable process. Alan - so that made it relevant for you.

Tips & Tricks

Dean - Does the subject of the mail tell the person what it means and what the next action is? Use EOM tactically. Think of what's not just in it for us, but subtly influence by introducing to others.

Meg - Look at your project list. Is there a verb on each item on the project list? Without a verb, can't see what done looks like. Another tip: On next action list, same idea...need an action verb so you don't have to rethink what it is you have to do.

Alan - Answer the principles question. Answer the wild success question. Use tools that you like (folders, where you do your review, etc.). Ruthlessly eliminate things that produce drag.

Q&A Time:

Where is there insistence on A-Z file system with manila folders? Meg - People have a tendency to create very complex, elaborate systems that take to much thought. (Makes me think about the same thing from an e-mail perspective. I eliminated using folders in e-mail a few years ago to eliminate drag in my processing). David is just writing best practices. Flexibility is OK if it works for you.

You can have more than A-Z system. If something can go under more than one, you have to pick.

Jim - Paper files. If I were to look for something, what would I look under? Jim...same as me...uses search rather than filing.

How to keep 2 minute task from moving beyond that? Dean - Need to adjust your behavior if you find yourself consistently going over. If you get into something and it's taking longer, it's OK to stop.

Jim - Keeps a radar list. Things I need to do this week. Not A-B-C but allows me to focus on functional priorities.

Meg - You can have more than one Someday/Maybe list

What about the weekly review? Alan - it's time to do it when you need to. Want to change the terminology from weekly review to regular reflection. Thinking about what it all means.

How do you get GTD to stick beyond your workspace? Dean - First answer to that is to model the behavior.

Alan - Makes his team do GTD without actually imposing or calling it GTD. Asks for list of things they are working on (projects), an "Alan" list (agenda) and a list that basically captures areas of focus.

This is the protocol that is required if you are going to work with me.

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