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u/kaidomac · 3 pointsr/gtd

Also, if someone could walk thru how they would handle getting a task done using the method. I would like to apply it to reading the book Getting Things Done, what steps would someone use or is this a bad example?

OK, this is an easy one for me because I just helped a friend get started with GTD. So at a very very very basic level, this is the GTD process for a new task:

  1. What is it?
  2. What is my desired outcome for this task?
  3. What is the very next physical action required to mark this task as complete?

    What is it?

    GTD is an action-management system that is taught through a book written by David Allen. It teaches you how to be personally productive. If you have problems being organized, staying on-task, and getting things done, this is the book for you.

    What is the outcome desired?

    The outcome desired is to study the book, learn the system, and implement it into your life so that you can get stuff done like a pro.

    What is the very next physical action?

    The very next physical action is to purchase a copy of the book so that you can start studying it. I have the audio book, the Kindle book, and the paperback book. I highly recommend the paperback book over the other two versions because you are going to want to flip through it a lot; it is a very dense book and paper is the easiest way to study it, imo. The latest version is available for $12 straight from Amazon via this link: (if budget allows, actually do it - go buy it, right now - this is your very next physical action step required to move your GTD project forward!)

    Okay, so there you go - that's an example of how you would walk through getting a task done, at least from a very high level (there's more to GTD, including asking the question of should you be doing this or should it be deleted to someone else, is this is a wishlist item for the future that you want to remember but maybe not do right away, and so on). Nothing has physically changed in the real world (at least, not yet), but you've done a tremendous process of defining a to-do item - you've converted it from something undefined to something actionable: "I want to learn GTD" becomes "I need to purchase the book" - and that will open the door to doing more next-actions related to your project of studying GTD.

    Now, expanding on how you would apply it to reading the book - in GTD, there are next-actions, and then there are projects. A project is simply defined as any task that requires more than one next-action item. That's a little bit different from how a project is traditionally defined, but it makes sense, because anything that is going to take more than one step needs to be tracked somehow so that you don't forgot to keep working on it. So as far as creating a book project, this is simply how I would approach it - note that this is not GTD "canon" or anything, it's just the way I personally deal with approaching the study of educational texts:

  4. Create a digital document (Word, Google Docs, whatever). Spend an hour going through the GTD book, page-by-page, and writing down each section heading. When you start studying the book, you will put your notes underneath in bullet points. And that's as complicated as my digital note-taking system gets...I don't make it so fancy that it requires a whole separate system to have to manage. I simply get the book, identify & write down a name for each section (or chapter name, if it's like an "intro" section for the chapter), and then that's "it" for the first next-action required.
  5. Decide on a schedule. If you are really serious about studying it & getting it implemented, then set aside some time every day. This is a 352-page book full of dense information; you are not going to learn it overnight. But, you can learn it over time. You can approach it a couple of ways: first, you can decide to study either a section or a chapter per day, or second, you can pick a time frame to work on it each day, like either 15 minutes or an hour. I personally like the "section a day" approach because I don't have the mental capacity to do an entire chapter a day or to study for a whole hour straight lol. But, I can do a few pages in just one section per day, and some sections are longer (or more wordy) than others & thus take longer (or shorter) depending on the section in question. So for example, you could setup a recurring alarm on your smartphone at lunchtime to study just one section at a time while you eat lunch. Or by context, i.e. after work. Anything so that you know (1) what days you're going to study, and (2) when during the day you're going to study.
  6. My procedure for studying a section is to get a piece of paper (notebook is fine) and a pen. I draw a mindmap for each section. So draw a bubble in the middle with the name of the section, and then skim through the section and draw lines out for each concept you see. Then actually read through the section and draw more lines out for the details of each concept. This gives you something physical to actually do to help you download the data into your brain, rather than just staring at the words on the paper. Now, if you're good at studying straight-up, then do it your way & more power to you! But I struggle with studying, so doing a mindmap is a really big help for me.
  7. So you've got your doc file with allllllll of the section titles list. Then you've got your schedule figured out, and now you're working on today's section at your specified study time. Then you create a mindmap for that section as you skim & read through it. So studying pretty much breaks down into two parts: comprehension & memorization. You have to understand it, and you have to remember it (or implement it, if it's something actionable - like in the case of GTD, one of your first projects will be to decide on a capture system, so you need to decide if want to carry around a notepad or maybe have an app on your smartphone, and if so, which app?). The mindmap kind of helps your brain flesh out the comprehension portion of studying. The next step is to convert that mindmap to short notes. That's where you open up your document file and do your bullet points - convert all of the little legs of your mindmap into written notes, line by line, under each section heading. The physical action of doing this will help jog that information through your brain because you've had to both physically draw it out & then digital type it out again. By the time you're done, you will have a nice bullet-point list of all of the important stuff from that section. I've found that this approach works pretty well for me!
  8. As part of my notes, I also write down the "next actions required" as well. GTD is going to have you do various tasks, like setup a workspace with a filing system, get an on-the-fly capture system setup, and so on. You will need to actually DO those things if you want to get your personal GTD system up and running. As you learn more about GTD, you will learn more about how to deal with those next-actions required, so don't fret about this too much, just kind of deal with the implementation as you go through each section. Your goal, as you finish studying the book for the first time eventually, is to be fully implemented by the time you finish the book.

    On some quick tangents:

  9. I don't like "big pushes". I don't like instant results, I don't like cramming, I don't like having to work for long hours on something that I don't really want to work on to begin with. It's one thing to spend 6 hours playing a video game to beat a particular level or boss, and it's another thing to try to cram an essay into 6 hours of work the night before it's due. That's why I recommend taking it slow & steady when studying the book. If you are mentally able to read through 300+ pages of comprehensive information within the space of a few days, go for it, but most people start to read it, and then skim it, and then forget about it, and their GTD system never really gets implemented. The best approach, imo, is simply what I outlined above - make a notes docs, decide on a study schedule & setup a reminder for daily progress, and then use a couple studying procedures to burn through each section every day. I mention this because there's a gem of a reddit post called "no more zero days" that talks about exactly this idea - when you're seriously working on something, especially something that is going to fundamentally change your life, like eating a good diet or exercising or going to college or studying GTD, you don't want to rush things - you need that daily, iterative progress to help you grow over time, rather than trying to do it all in one big shot. Read up here:
  10. Aside from going through the physical acts of creating a mindmap & writing out short notes per section, one of the reasons I like ending up with shorts notes is because of the memorization technique I use. This is not required for what you are doing & I am merely mentioning it as a future tool that is neat to look at. Anyway, the system teaches you how to memorize basically anything, and memorize as much data as you want. I have used this since college and it has helped me tremendously. The procedure is not exciting to follow and it does take a fair amount of time, but that time could also be wasted by having your eyes glaze over staring at the textbook or staring at your notes unproductively for hours on end, and this procedure actually gives you results, so if you are willing to buckle down & work through the mundane procedure, it will yield great benefits. Read up here:

    Anyway, looping back to the "study the GTD book" project: you'll spend an hour or so typing up the headings, and a few minutes figuring out a schedule, a few seconds to setup a recurring reminder alarm on your phone (or watch, or calendar, or whatever), and then you have a couple procedures (mindmap + short bullet-point notes) for actually buzzing through each section. Over the next few weeks, you'll make tremendous progress through the book and will start to understand how GTD works. So that's how I would approach it, at any rate. Do whatever works best for you, of course - if you have a great personal studying system or a photographic memory or whatever, adapt it to your situation. For me, I absolutely need to break big projects like studying an entire book down into small, bite-sized tasks that I can work on day after day after day, because I just can't absorb that much information that quickly, especially not without getting distracted partway through.

    So go buy the book & report back! lol
u/codemac · 7 pointsr/gtd

You're neglecting it for some reason, but these look a lot like self improvement ideas plus chores, which I know I don't like to process. They require taking action about yourself, which can be hard.

Peter Drucker has a great point about effective decisions - they must include an action, or they are not decisions at all.

Also at 7 things a day, with 100 things until you clear it out - that means you only clear out your inbox every 2 weeks, which sounds like you're not doing the weekly review!

Here are some tips I can give you, based on your example inbox items:

  • Do the weekly review, promise yourself you'll do one. Split it into two steps: one where you process your whole inbox to 0, and then another step where you do your traditional review. Hey, at least you'll be doubling your throughput.

  • Truly process your inbox from random dumping ground to projects, actions, data, and junk - if you haven't gotten to a project with at least one next action, then you aren't done thinking about it. Take some time, walk in a circle, let yourself think. In the case of "make fitness your #1 priority" - this could take some time. It's ok!

  • Use someday/maybe liberally if you don't think you'll do anything about them this week. If you trust you'll review them in a week anyways, it essentially deferring to review again in a week. "You should explore the city more on weekeds" is a great example of something you may not need to think about again this week.

    The GTD podcast has a guided weekly review which can be helpful if you're struggling to do them as well.
u/sonsofaureus · 2 pointsr/gtd

>How do you guys handle reference material in your GTD systems? Do you use any applications? Do you have any advice or recommendations on how I could improve my setup? I am looking forward to any suggestions.

DA's recommendations regarding filing cabinets requires a pretty hefty investment of space. I think it requires drawers with bottoms so you can just put manilla, not hanging folders in them, and a way to prop them all upright in the back. this one fits the bill.

I have filing cabinets like that, but I now use a folder based organization system for digital files like you. In terms of expandability, there's no comparison.
I keep Project reference files, Reference files, and a whole bunch of other stuff in dropbox, and organize projects and reference files using some conventions regarding file names. For example, I have folder names like:

"Project - replace tires" this would be an ongoing current project
"Ref - 2018-2019 Receipts" this would be reference materials
"Ref - Project - plan picnic due (2019-03-04)" this would be a finished project, project files saved for reference

I place whatever files needed into the appropriate reference or project folders.

I think it's important for reducing friction that the right reference and project folders be easily accessible from the next actions list. I use 1 long text file to store all my @nextactions and Project tasks, using the Taskpaper convention.

Good thing about having it all in dropbox is you can obtain a share link for each file/folder and copy and paste that link to whatever task/project management app you use for reference, so it's a click away. I can do the same with gmail links - I think there's a chrome plugin for generating links for individual gmail threads - which I copy and paste into my next actions list regarding projects.
The bad thing about keeping everything in dropbox is security, especially regarding sensitive personal information.

If you only have a few papers to store, I would recommend a document scanner to turn it all digital. Just name the files descriptively so you can search for it later - ex. not "financial_aid.pdf", but "2018-2019 financial aid application_due/submitted yyyy-mm-dd.pdf" It'll do duplex (2 sided scanning) and includes an automatic sheet feeder. Included software for this model can also encrypt PDF files with passwords for some additional security when storing files in the cloud.

If you have the funds and space and/or need, Fujitsu ScanSnap ix1500 is the heavy duty version of the same thing.

u/homemadetools · 1 pointr/gtd

Paper GTD'ers represent! TBF I do use Nirvana now, but I was an all-paper GTD'er for a long time (been using GTD since 2005). A nice mini leather-bound pocket notebook still works better than anything else for ubiquitous capture. This one: . Cut the front and back covers of 3x5 paper refills to fit them in, and a collapsible pen goes in the spine. Writing something also seems to help people internalize it better than typing; not sure why this is.

Interestingly, I have a whiteboard on my garage wall with a separate GTD implementation for house and car projects. I sectioned it off into various GTD sections (waiting for, next actions, projects, etc.). It's really satisfying to be able to stare at all of my GTD categories in one look. Backing it up is as simple as photographing it.

u/Hashi856 · 2 pointsr/gtd

Well, if you're actively working on Mr. Smith's case or file or whatever, I would do the two minute task. As I said, if it's important to log your progress for a project, I would definitely do it. If you have a template that you use for many customers, I would personally create a checklist and then attach a copy of that checklist to every person's file. That way you can see whether or not you've done X or Y for any given customer. I'm a huge proponent of checklists. If you're interested, I would seriously recommend The Checklist Manifesto.

u/3asin3speech · 3 pointsr/gtd

How about a Hipster PDA?

If you want more space, then a 5x8 notebook (like the common Moleskine) is a workable option. For even more space, a 3-ring binder with 8 dividers is wonderfully useful, if not pocketable.

For simplicity, it is difficult to beat using paper for your "dashboard". Capturing thoughts on 3x5 cards carried in a pocket is a cheap, simple, and fast approach. For a physical inbox, I used a poly file pocket to carry loose notes until they were processed. A similar one carried my "Action Support" when I was on the go for errands and such.

If you prefer digital and have a smartphone, it is easy enough to set up a free Evernote account. You can create individual notes per task/project, or simple have a few notes that you edit as things change.

u/musingsofmadman · 3 pointsr/gtd

Living Forward by Michael Hyatt is a very good book for this purpose. He is also a follower of gtd.

u/bro_ham · 2 pointsr/gtd

I use an alphabetized accordion folder like this one.