I recently read this awesome book while I was on vacation. (I should say up front that I purchased this book with my own money, I was not compensated in any way for talking about this book.) It is called Getting Things Done by David Allen.
I don’t know about some of you all but I have to admit that sometimes I feel like I get bogged down by all the minutia that life throws at me. Sometimes I find myself spinning my wheels, working hard but seemingly getting nothing done. It can be downright frustrating. I am the kind of person who likes to have goals. I enjoy working toward those goals and finally accomplishing them, however long it may take. When I am at the point where I am spinning my wheels, I feel like I am making no progress toward my goalsEven though I work at home, information management and flow is a key ingredient in getting a household to run smoothly. I had read about the book a year ago while I was surfing around Amazon, looking for a good title on productivity. This particular title kept coming up in my searches and I probably read every single customer review about the book and a great deal of the info that David Allen has on his website about using his system. In fact, I actually tried implementing the system to some extent without having read his book because I really liked the method he uses and I thought it wouldn’t be all that difficult to start doing “GTD” in my own household. His method to capture, track, and catalog all the different pieces of information that come into our lives is pretty simple and straight forward. Bottom line: limit the information flow by keeping it collected to process daily in a central (trusted) location. This is the inbox and it is the place where every appointment reminder, phone message, shopping list, husband’s bright idea, my bright ideas, mail, and anything else you can think of will be collected. This alone solves the organizational problems that a number of us have with our current piling systems. Notice earlier that I said the inbox must be trusted. This is very important and I think it is one of the reasons why so many people resort to a piling system. They are afraid that if it gets put out of sight, it will also be forgotten by them because they have so much on their minds in the first place.
The first step I did in beginning the Getting Things Done (GTD) process was to get out a blank sheet of paper and a pencil and write down everything that was floating around in my mind. I mean everything! I listed things that worried me, things that bothered me, appointments that I was trying to remember to make/ have/ keep, projects I had left undone, good idea bombs that were just waiting to go off, and anything else that was cluttering my mind. I came up with 84 things and probably half of those were short-term items that needed to be accomplished in the next month if I wanted to be productive. 84 is way too many things to keep running around in your head all at once. Sure, I used a calendar and wrote down major things. I wrote out shopping lists before going to the store. I also did a number of other things to help keep our family’s life running smoothly but the problem was that it was taxing my mental energy too much and it was causing me to feel stressed out.
By doing a good brain dump and getting everything written down, I felt immensely more clear-headed and ready to tackle some of those 84 things. Brain dumping is a great exercise and can be extremely helpful in productivity improvement if it is used the right way. In the GTD system, you work on building the system so that you trust it enough to keep track of things for you that you would normally let run around in your head. In the next post, I’ll discuss where I went with this system after the brain dump. If you are considering implementing something like GTD in your own life, I highly recommend getting David’s book and checking it out for yourself as he does an excellent job of explaining each aspect of the system and how to work it into your life/ work. Please excuse me, I need to go sort through my inbox!