I have been practicing Getting Things Done methodology for over a year, with some success. Looking back at the experience, I now feel more confident that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m more confident of handling multiple projects.
However, I haven’t picked up GTD as quick as I expected. After a year, I still feel that I have only scratched the surface. So I read the book again after more than year since the first time I read it. In this post, I have presented a criticism of my implementation.
A collection bucket serves as the entry point, in a physical form. I can keep documents that need to be archived, magazines, receipts and even physical reminder notes in the collection. I do not have a collection bucket. The absence of a collection bucket is forcing me to making an entry into the next actions or project list hastily. One obvious solution is to have a physical tray at home and also keep a blank paper in my HPDA. Once I start using the collection bucket, I need to ensure that it is emptied regularly. Too much stuff in it is a sign of its ineffectivenesses.
When I identify an action item, I rarely consider delegation as an option. As per GTD when I identify an action, I need to ask myself “Am I the right person to complete this action?”. Since I do not delegate I do others task. I then start assuming that they are not working, lower my opinion about them; indirectly I’m promoting inefficiency. I also never consider delegating “upstream” i.e. to my managers.
After I delegate a task I follow the methodology and add an entry in the waiting for list. This gives me a reference to know that I’m waiting for person to complete an action.
I was having the someday list as a dumping ground for all the projects I wanted to complete, but knew I will never have the motivation to complete any project. Two examples: joining an open source project and learning Chinese. I used to mix some achievable projects like reading a book, watching a movie within the someday list. If possible the someday list should be categorized. For example I would prefer having the lists: To Read, movies (maintained in Netflix), weekend get aways, interesting topics and people to watch.
Minimum Lists required
Any decent GTD system should have the following lists: Project List, Project Plan, Calendar, Next Actions, Waiting For and Inbox. All these lists needn’t be present in a single physical/digital location. I maintain my office project list in my office collaboration tool (Lotus Notes) and my next actions in my HPDA.
An important success factor for GTD is the weekly review process. It ensures that the all “open loops” are reviewed and there are entries in the system to complete it.
The review will ensure that all projects have next action defined. After the completing the only action for a project, I may forget to add the subsequent action for the action; thereby leaving the project without any action item.
The someday list can become irrelevant quicker than others if unattended. The weekly review should include a feasibility study of all the entries in the someday list to convert the entries into a project. But I’m not sure if it is advisable to keep some projects in some day list and add entires into next actions.
It would help if a checklist can be prepared for the weekly review. Coupled with a scheduled time in the week end, the checklist will the confidence that the review has met its objectives.
When I identify a new project, I make an entry in my project list and enter a few actions into my actions list. When I read GTD for the second time, I realized that brainstorming and clarifying the project is very important. In the rush to complete the project I do not spend enough time to clarify the end result and the steps to achieve the objective. It is also important to capture all our thoughts on a project in the project. Most of the times the notes may seem trivial, but I believe it is worth the effort to maintain consistency and developing a trust in our system.
Personal Mission Statement
This is not mentioned in GTD. But I find a strong coherence between Steven Covey and David Allen’s methodologies. Without getting into specifics, I find the personal mission statement as the main bridge linking the two famous productivity systems. When I have a personal mission statement, it is easier for me to make decisions. I have a base to reference myself.
David Allen’s Seminar
David Allen’ Webminar
Steve Palvia on focus areas