*phew* boy was this a tough assignment or what! I found it difficult mostly because I just hated the content. I can’t believe I wrote this. Then shared it publicly!
Anyway. I learnt a LOT in this exercise.
In my first draft itself I was able to make the article:
– more readable
– more helpful
I got my passive sentences down to 1%. Yay!
My words per sentence to 9.2
Flesch Reading Ease to 80.8
Here is the edited blog post with my score below it:
5 Steps to Begin Learning GTD – A Guaranteed way to Save Hours from your Workday.
Ali and me have written a lot about GTD in earlier blog posts.
We’ve covered a bit of what GTD is all about. Some of our topics are:
– How GTD makes traveling easier thanks to a Travel Checklist
– How to use a Tickler file in GTD
– GTD and present moment awareness.
In this post I’ll guide you. I’ll take you through all the steps to learn GTD. This post, you will give you access to all the GTD resources you will need.
Dive into this material. You will cover enough of the basics of GTD to get you cruising.
So how does GTD Work?
Question: When are you the most productive, most efficient, best?
Answer: When you are relaxed.
Yup, that’s how it works. Similarly you are the least productive, least efficient, when you are stressed. Look back at your life. When were you able to conduct a successful negotiation of a purchase of anything. Be it, your salary, buying property or even vegetables. (In India we even negotiate when buying of vegetables). Was it when you were in a hurry and frustrated? Or was it when you were Mr. Cool. When time was on your side. You could play this negotiation game all day long.
It’s the same for everything that we attempt to do. We get the most done, when we are calm, relaxed and focused. Athletes call it “the zone”. Time disappears when in the zone.
Being relaxed doesn’t being in-attentive. In fact you’re super alert. In total control and simultaneously not-stressed about a single thing.
We’ve all experienced being in the zone. And (boy oh boy) have we experienced being off the zone.
The question is how to get back to that state once you’ve fallen off? Well, that’s where the magic of GTD comes in.
1. Tell me where does it hurt
I’m a hopeless GTD fanboy. GTD is really an amazing system to:
– organise your life
– get you charged in achieving your purpose in life.
However, to get the most out of GTD, you’ve got to REALLY want it. Not just kinda want it. Then GTD is not going to help you. It takes discipline and a little bit of work to get there. To be motivated to take on the work, you’ve got to feel the pain. The pain of either being disorganised. Or the pain of not reaching your goals. The pain of constantly feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Pain…pain…AAARGH OMG the PAIN! It’s just too much!
It’s only when you find the pain so unbearable. That you can’t take it anymore will GTD seem like the elixir of life.
So identify a pain area in your life. What is it that’s not working for you? At work or in your personal life?
As boring and mundane as it sounds, my pain area was filing. I would get totally stressed when it came to filing. I had stuff all over the place. I just didn’t know what to do. Just walking to my workstation would get my heart racing. I couldn’t get any work done because there was so much stuff in my face. I couldn’t even get any thinking done. I just had to do something. That’s when I came across GTD.
Your pain area could be that your emails are overwhelming you. Because of which you are missing important commitments. Or it could be that you may be super organised at Work, but it’s stuff at home you could use help with for eg. You might be missing to pay the bills, or your personal health is not getting enough attention etc.
GTD is the ultimate time-management and stress-management system.
If you have issues on:
– Focusing at work
– Organising home/work space
– Identifying priorities
– Finding your purpose on this planet
GTD can help you.
It’s the true swiss-army knife set of skills. It will have you the most prepared no matter what situation you are in.
However if the pain is not that great. If your pain is kinda bearable. Then be warned. You just may not be motivated enough to implement GTD to its fullest. So identify the pain area. Picture it with complete clarity. Feel it in all its agony. Then go looking for a solution in GTD.
2. Various GTD resources for Beginners
I wish I could run through all the basics of GTD. GTD is easy. It is simple. But not that simple, to summarise it in one blog post. However I’ve scoured the internet. Below are the top resources that would give you a good working knowledge of GTD.
1. Chapter-wise Summary of the GTD Book: This is probably the next best thing to the book. The nice folks at Black Belt Productivity have summarised each of the 10 chapters of the book. They have done summarised it as individual blog posts. It’s bit of reading. It would not compare to the book. Yet, it has all you need to get you started right now.
2. Wired Magazine: This is a good one page summary of GTD. Good to refer to after reading the above summary.
3. This is a REALLY good one page summary of the various GTD Models. It would be more useful to visit this page once you’ve begun implementation. It’s great for reference. Not for learning.
4. Finally, here an official GTD instructor from David Allen Co lists 10 habits of that beginners take-on to adopt GTD, which would quite useful reading when first learning GTD.
Ofcourse, nothing beats the Book. Want to learn about GTD? Learn it from the master himself. Buy the book, Getting Things Done by David Allen. Having that said, I implemented GTD a lot before picking up the book. I did it by learning from the various materials available on the internet. So if you’re not in the mood to make Jeff Bezos richer for now, the above links has enough info to get you going.
3. Set up your GTD System
Okay, now you know what it takes to GTD. Now, hold your horses. Don’t go about emptying your head and making lists yet. You first need to set up your GTD system. Invest in some cool gear. Below are some general guidelines to help you:
i Carry a Pocket Notepad and pen with you always.
ii Set up your A-Z Filing System. Do you deal with a lot of paper? Then this is a must! You will feel so rewarded doing this before implementing GTD. Also don’t stop at work. Have a filing system at home too. Must!
iii Have an in tray. At office as well as at home.
iv You’ll need a system for lists. It can be paper, digital or a combination of both. I use my Blackberry and Microsoft Outlook. This is the heart of your system.
Your success of implementing GTD is directly proportional to:
– how motivated you are to enter stuff into your lists
– refer to it multiple times a day.
Whatever system you adopt, see that it’s fast and it’s portable.
So if you need to enter something, then to:
– whip it out
– enter that thought
– put it back
should take no more than 10 to 30 seconds.
Here are some links that can help you set up your list GTD system:
– Paper Based GTD system:
David Allen’s recommendation on how to set up a Paper Based System. (Note: This site requires you to register before downloading).
The Hipster PDA. A Paper Based System using 3×5 Index Cards
Another Paper Based GTD system using Index Cards
– GTD System Using Outlook:
Official David Allen WhitePaper on setting up a GTD system using Outlook, (this costs $10.00 and it’s so Worth it!)
– Online Systems for GTD:
If you are online most of the time during the day. You may consider an online GTD system. The few popular ones are:
Remember The Milk
So which GTD System should you go for?
– Well if you can type fast, then go for a list manager on your computer. Say Microsoft Outlook or the Online systems listed above.
If you write faster than you type, then start with a paper based system.
If the above Paper based systems sound a little difficult to setup, then all you need is:
– a notebook with Dividers,
– some post it flags
4. Ready, Steady, Go!
Okey dokey. Now you can finally start cracking.
That would mean you can begin on the first stage of the Five Stage process of Getting Control. Which is Collect. You would have already learnt about the “Collect” Stage when learning about GTD in the above links.
If you want a refresher, below are certain links that cover the Five Stage Process of Getting Control:
– You can refer to the David Allen Article on this here.
– Another one page summary of the 5 stages here.
5. Keep on Learning
It took me two years of studying & implementing of GTD till I got a hang of it. So if this is the first time you would be studying GTD, give it time. The good news is that not only is it really easy, the results are very immediate and tangible. You actually can feel and quantify the difference in the quantity and quality of your work and life. It’s this immediate gratification that I got every time which propelled me to continue learning more tips & tricks of GTD.
Wish you all the best folks. Do feel free to post any questions you have in the comments.
I’d more than happy to answer them.