Year with GTD – One Year Review and Looking Forward

by Steve Fisher on December 29, 2009


Getting-Things-Done-BookThis year for me has been one of renewal and re-direction. I started this year challenged with trying to pay off debt, find a new direction for my career and working on a film project that was only on paper at the time. Needless to say, there was a lot on my plate and if I realized that 2009 was to be a year of setting new directions, learning new disciplines and acquiring new skills. One of those skills was this productivity thing called “Getting Things Done” or what many of us affectionately call GTD. I have used other systems and compared them to what I really needed to focus on – maximizing my productivity. Seven Habits was more high level with roles and scheduling at its core. GTD was about getting the idea or thing out of your head and recording immediately so you can process it later.

I had the book (cover picture to the left) all through 2008 and had flipped through it getting some basic concepts down. Knowing that I there was much that I hoped to accomplish in 2009, I took some time during the 2008 Christmas Holiday season to re-read the book and ask a friend of mine who is a big GTD user about setting up my system. His bottom line advice was to “keep it simple” and this is because when many people start using GTD they feel a compelling need to get ultra-organized. They usually add too many layers which can make the system unwieldy and you would easily give up on it.

2009 – A Year With GTD

I decided that in order to commit myself and have accountability I began learning the GTD system and tracking my progress over the year. Many GTD gurus say it takes about two years to truly master the system and at the end of year one, I agree with them. My first order of business was setting up my system and I kept it to three simple areas – work, personal and movie. These were the three distinct sections of my life that needed separation. I then took my friends recommendation and the GTD book on what the call contexts “phone, computer, office, home, errands”. For a while that was working but after a few months of choppy and unpredictable processing I fell of the wagon and went back to my old ways. I was using software from Omnifocus but I was mobile so much I had a hard time recording things. Since I didn’t have anything for my phone I used two Moleskine books – one for work and one for the movie. This helped me capture things and review it later.

About six months in and my work load was increasing with new clients and the film was in the middle of production many people would have felt overwhelmed. I have to say that listening to GTD podcasts and audio CD’s along with the GTD book on MP3 for review burned in me the absolute necessity to do a weekly review. As this started to make things easier I realized that I needed to implement a physical filing system. I had been trying to get away with this all digitally but I really couldn’t in order to process things faster and more effectively.

Around October I got an iPhone and added the Omnifocus iPhone app which synced to my desktop version making my inbox and capture process along with processing tasks with due dates MUCH easier. This was the final element that put my system together and have it run at maximum efficiency.

Lessons Learned

There are five major things learned in 2009.

1.) The Weekly Review is the Key to it All

2.) If it is more than one task, you need to create a project

3.) You really need to delegate or delete it, you can’t do it all

4.) The simpler you make it the faster you can process it

5.) You will fall off the wagon but it is easy to get back on

2010 – Sharpening the Saw to GTD Mastery

I have learned so much about myself, how I work and just how productive I can become. I know that I would not have been able to operate at the level I needed to and accomplish everything I set out to do this year with using GTD. Now I look to the future and a new decade so borrowing a concept from Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, I am looking to take the GTD concepts which are ingrained in me now and take it to the next level. I see two areas for me personally that I can do this:

1.) Maintain and Improve My Relationships with People – I read this post from GTD Times on developing and maintaining successful business relationships and it got me thinking… I have good handle on the things coming across my desk and processing tasks but how do I improve the value of the relationships I have worked hard to establish? The recommend in the article that “The GTD system recommends that you have a series of lists you review on a regular basis. One list you should have is a relationship “hit list.” This is a list of your 10-15 most important business contacts. You should review this list monthly to make sure you “ping” each of these contacts (send them a note, call them, take them to lunch) at least once per month.” I am going to try this in 2010.

2.) Adapt my Selling and Customer Management Process to Fit in the GTD Framework – I was inspired by this article in the GTD Times on Adapting GTD to Managing Sales and Clients. Advice that the author gives shows that GTD works very well for when you are in salesperson mode.

From the article:

  • Prospect calls need to be treating differently than your @Calls
  • Each potential sale is its own Project
  • Each Client-Project has a top-sheet that summarizes all activities, and supporting documents go underneath it
  • Client-Projects have a completion and need to be moved to Archives or out of your Active area when they either stall or conclude (i.e. you either win or lose the sale)
  • All next actions go into your overall GTD system to keep them integrated with the rest of your life

Are you Thinking of Using GTD? Are You Using the GTD System Now?

Have any of you used GTD? Have you tried it and abandoned it? Why was that? Are you using it now and can’t imagine functioning without it? Any recommendations to take it to the next level? Leave a comment. See you in 2010 for GTD System 2.0.

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    • http://inkyjournal.blogspot.com/ Woodworker

      Great post! I am in the same position here. Looking forward what GTD will bring in 2010 for me, when I become a master in the system ;-)

    • http://inkyjournal.blogspot.com/ Woodworker

      Great post! I am in the same position here. Looking forward what GTD will bring in 2010 for me, when I become a master in the system ;-)