With the new year and many new goals for the year I have found that it is very important to have a system to manage all of these expectations I put on myself. By nature I am a very low prudence person which translates to - I am not all that organized. But I am low adjustment which means that I beat my self up when I fail at something and I'm always trying to improve. Add the fact that I have a very high level of curiosity, maxed out ambition and probably a little ADD - I need some help.
About 6 years ago my friends Dwayne Melancon (@Thatdwayne), who writes a great blog over at www.GenuineCuriosity.com, and Gene Kim (@RealGeneKim) introduced me to Getting Things Done or GTD. If you ever find yourself stressed at trying to manage all the things in your head and keep your head above water you should give this a look. At the time I was leading a finance department which requires a level of organization. My natural tendencies as described above made that stressful for me and I am an eternal improver. So my friends gave me the 8 or so CD's from David Allen's seminars on GTD. I went through these and started to get some immediate benefit. Over the years I have continued to implement and re-implement the system. I have found that the more you go back and review the principles the more you find works for you over time. I also have found that some of the areas he suggests just don't work for me (yet).
If you start to implement this system get the audio CD's or book - they will give you so many tips and tricks you will get benefit very quickly. If you have the means hire a GTD coach do so - I would love to do this. They will come in and walk you through the entire process and force you to make the hard decisions you don't want to make. They will tell you there is no magic tool out there so figure out something that works for you and start using it. You will find after some time what works and what doesn't. This is where the process takes time. By doing something you are better off but you will continue to improve it over time. This system works for paper based people as well as digital people and everyone in between.
The best part of this system is just getting everything out of my head. When you have a system you feel like you can trust and you use it you can stop worrying about forgetting something. You also get much more efficient with your time. If you get good at this you could only check your email a couple times a day and actually feel good about that and be more productive that you have ever been.
The most important piece of this for me is the weekly review. You will have weeks that are very productive and some that suck. The good news is that you can start over fresh every week - every day if you need to. The weekly review is the time you take some time to sit down and review all your projects, the associated tasks and the status of all of them. You can get organized and give yourself a roadmap for the week. This way when the week turns crazy you have a clean list of what you should be doing. Some people look at the new year as a time to start over fresh. I look at every Sunday at 2 as a time to get a fresh look on everything. I have 3 kids ages 5,3,1 so life is very busy with some little people who love to have my attention. I take an hour or two during their naps on Sunday to go up to Starbucks so that I can focus on this review. I stay off the internet and focus. My wife hates Sundays because I used to get stressed about thinking about what I needed to do for the week (my Sunday Syndrome) but if I do this weekly review it helps tremendously.
Chip Kelley the University of Oregon Football Head Coach said something recently that really resonated with me.
"Pressure is what you feel when you don't know what you are doing."
This is how I feel about the weekly review and the GTD system overall. It greatly reduces the feeling of not knowing what you are doing.
I found benefit 6 years ago from GTD and the cumulative benefit has been growing more and more over time. If you need something to get your new year in order then you should take a look at this. So many people that I talk to want to have grand visions for their life but they feel like they are missing some basic building blocks that allow them to see that vision and make it possible.
Do any of you use a system that works for you? Do any of you use GTD? Would you recommend it?