So you’ve been reading along and you want to implement GTD for yourself, but you don’t know where to start. I’ve been there before. More than once. I’ve started, then stopped, then started again. What do I tell people to do?
First, Collect Everything. Go through your entire life: your email, mail, closet, garage…everything. Put it all in an inbox. Make a list of everything on your mind and put that in your inbox. You want to get everything out of your mind and into your system. Now that you have it all in once place, you’ll:
Get All Inboxes Empty. Take everything off the top and process it as we went over in the process post. No exceptions. You may not pay that bill right now (but if it takes 2 minutes you should), but you’ll have it in your system to do it later.
Decide Your Yes. you now have a big list. You were saying “no” to quite a bit of that list, so it’s not going to be any different than it was before. Only now you’re going to be conscious about it. So what do you want to do someday? What do you want to do now? What are your focuses? Put the things you want to focus on in a list with your name. I have a michael list.
Share and Delegate. Do you need to do everything? If not, create another list and share it with that person. Talk with them about your joint goals and get agreement on what to do next and when. Set due dates and follow up. I have a “home” list for home projects with my wife, and a “money” list for financial stuff that needs to be done with my wife. At work I have a list for every project I’m working on and share with the people who are on that project. Not everyone updates or is involved, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how receptive people are to having a project plan right there for them to think about.
Review Regularly. Set recurring tasks in your task manager to review your lists or a calendar if you don’t think you’re going to check it. Reviewing is key to the GTD methodology so do something that will get you looking at it.
Keep Saying No. Every day you’re going to say no to stuff. You should get comfortable with that. The minute you think “I don’t want to do that today” and it’s due today, change or remove the due date! You have the power to make your task manager show reality, and by all means let it show you reality! Don’t settle with wishes when reality is just a few edits away.