Notes From Re-Reading Getting Things Done After 18 Months

I re-read David Allen’s Getting Things Done after having lived with the GTD system for a year and a half. These are just random observations on my implementation of the GTD specs. I will probably post a couple of installments on this.

The Book: GTD is about capturing things you want or need to do “in a trusted system outside your mind” (p. 13), so you can avoid thinking about them until the time comes to do them. “Trusted” is the key word. And to keep the system trustable you need to “review [it] regularly” (p. 13).

Me: One thing I haven’t done is the weekly review. Sure, I’ve done reviews, but mostly because I’ve found myself in a state of distrust of the system, when I haven’t felt sure about keeping track of everything I need to do. (Usually, my inboxes have been full of stuff.)

The Book: For each project you should “describe [...] your intended successful outcome” (p. 14) in a single sentence.

Me: This has been something I have avoided, as I’ve felt it to be too ambitious. But I suspect I might have misunderstood it. I think I’ve understood it as being about stating exactly what the project should produce, although in a single sentence. But perhaps this is merely the same thing as the name of the project, but phrased “actively”, as with the actions? As in “Clean out the closet and throw/give away all clothes I never use” and not “Closet neat and well-organized”.

The Book: “Your mind will keep working on anything that’s still in that undecided state.”

Me: True. Which happens when I haven’t reviewed the system for a while, and for things I haven’t captured into it.

The Book: Collect, process, organize, review, do – “separate these stages” (p. 24-25).

Me: Another lesson relearned. I’ve usually let these bleed into each other.

The Book: You should have “as few collection buckets as you can get by with” (p. 29).

Me: Inbox Thinking.

The Book: “The calendar should be sacred territory” (p. 41).

Me: I keep loads of stuff as all-day events in iCal, many of them recurring to remind me to do things. When re-reading the book it occurred to me that many of these could be moved to daily checklists instead. But I’ll have to think about that.

The Book: The “Someday/Maybe” bucket should be reviewed weekly (p. 42).

Me: I realized that my “Someday/Maybe” bucket had deteriorated into stuffness. I throw things in there and never looked again. So it is pretty useless.

Now I see “Someday/Maybe” as somewhere where you offload projects and actions that you decide to not work on now, at least not until the next weekly review. So you’ll move things between “Someday/Maybe” and the bucket for everything current (ie. this week), as you decide to do things now or not.

I’ve tried this for a week or two and I really like it. No more things on my @context list that are months old. Only things I’ve decided to do this week. And instead of containing stuff, “Someday/Maybe” only contain things I seriously think I might do someday (so the “maybe” part has been de-emphasized a bit, but it was a very weak “maybe” before).

The Book: Things to review weekly: next actions, agendas, waiting fors, Someday/Maybe (p. 46).

Me: Nope, haven’t done this. But now I will.

The above was posted to my personal weblog on August 11, 2006. My name is Peter Lindberg and I am a thirtysomething software developer and dad living in Stockholm, Sweden. Here, you’ll find posts in English and Swedish about whatever happens to interest me for the moment.


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