Friday, June 18, 2010

GTD Date...It's on the calendar and everything!

Okay, I've made the commitment: On July 1st and 2nd 2010 I will be...collecting and processing. That's right, the first two steps in the five step process of GTD, collecting and processing. Two consecutive days. Back to back. Collecting. Then processing. It's a little daunting from this vantage point, spending about 16 hours with myself and my stuff but I think it's a worth while investment. In fact, I see it as a necessary investment.

As of recent I have been exploring some really cool things. Like business networking. Oooohhhh Ahhhh. It doesn't sound as much fun as it really is. This week I went to a Green Networking event and met some really groovy people doing some really groovy things - both in the marketplace and for the environment. It was inspiring. And I began to see what networking is all about - the natural desire to help out others who believe in what they are doing. The human instinct to support each other and to make good things happen for each other. Networking is quite beautiful.

So, this is why I see the time investment of July 1st and 2nd very necessary: Because I want to grow and have new projects in the works (like building my business network). I don't want to start any new endeavors without having clarity first of all the commitments I have already made (collection) and a clear road map (which begins in the processing portion) to show me where I am going and what I am doing next.

So now, we have a date. It's you and me GTD. July 1st and 2nd. I can hardly wait.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Clash of the systems: GTBO vs GTD

Last week I came up against a dilemma, one I have not yet faced in my time as an organizer. I came up against the question of methodology: "Which approach do I take with this client?"

You see...the process of organizing comes quite naturally to me. I see a big jumble of things and I get very excited because I know I am capable of bringing order to the things. I am not afraid of clutter. And thus far, my instincts have guided me through every organization session I have ever had with a client. My instincts have served me and my clients very well through our sessions.

BUT THEN CAME ALONG DAVID ALLEN! And now...well... his voice (again I have been listening to him via his audiobook) is echoing through my head. And my instincts don't know what to do with themselves.

I did an assessment last week for a potential client (this is customary for new clients - I meet with them for an hour to see in-person the size and scope of the project and also to gauge whether or not I am the right person for the job). This woman was amazing. Truly. She had a large number of really cool creative projects in the works and she was managing a family. Not small tasks. She wanted to get out of vagueness and disorder and get into peak-level performance. And I wanted to help.

But I found myself shy. Why? Because I didn't want to use the methodology I have used before with clients. I wanted to use David Allen's methodology. And I realized that my old model and David Allen's don't jive. Simply stated, my methodology takes longer and doesn't solve the pending issues that David Allen's methodology addresses.

Here's what I mean: This has been my process:
In 4-hour blocks
1) Start with the area that is causing client the most duress
2) Sort through items: put like-items together, discard stuff that is no longer needed, find a new home for those items that the client wants to keep.
3) Devise systems for keeping those items in their right place.

It's a sound process. It works to relieve stress and it brings even the most cluttered environments to rest.

But David Allen's approach is different. He recommends taking out 2 consecutive days (8 hours each) to work. Then this is the process:
1) Create a large, central "In basket" - find all the items (ALL OF THEM) and put them in the basket. DO NOT SORT.
2) Process the In Basket (one item at a time) and decide which items are actionable, which are projects, and which items can be discarded.

By this methodology, the sorting that I do with clients would be considered a "project" and could be done at a later date. Thus, David Allen's approach seems to bring more overall relief more quickly. And then, it seems to provide a REAL way to continue after the organizing session is complete.

Does this make sense? It's hard to describe because in someways the differences in methodology are subtle. But in other ways, my approach and his are diametrically opposed.

That said, I felt like a deer in the headlights with my new client. I wanted so badly to say "Yes! I have an answer for you!" We are going to do the David Allen approach, it is everything you are asking for and more!

But I couldn't say that.

Know why?

Because it is a fundamental promise I made to myself when I embarked on this David Allen project to not attempt to implement his method with clients UNTIL I had done it for myself first. Over and out. How could I possibly say to a client "This is really going to work for you! I read it in a book!". No, no, no. I must have experience with it myself to be an effective David Allen Method "Transmitter".

Soooooo....I have some work to do. I have to take out two 8 hour days and put myself to some GTD work. Sigh. Working for myself is never as much fun as working for others. But ultimately I know this is what needs to be done. In order to Get Things Done.

I'll keep you updated.

P.S. My email inbox is still empty ;)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Handling email the GTD way

Today I am endeavoring to follow directions. Directions about how to handle emails. Oh thank you God! I get a heavy load of emails daily (in spite of the fact that I have great SPAM protection) from both my personal and my professional contacts. Add to this the fact that I have 3 email accounts to manage and...well...I get overloaded. Then my eyes cross and I don't end up processing the emails. I just open, shut, open, shut my internet browser. By that time the best action I can think of taking is a long nap. zzzzz.....

But no more! Mr. Allen has a plan and it goes a little something like this:
1. Create 3 Folders within your email account
a) "@ Actions" (for emails that require actions that take longer than 2 mins. to process)
b) "@ Contacts" (for emails which contact important contact information to be entered at a later time)
c) "@ Waiting" (for emails which are waiting on a response from another person)

If you are wondering what the heck that "@" symbol is doing in front of each of those folders, you are not crazy. Mr. Allen suggests that you use that symbol (or similar) to bring the folders to the top of your folders list (if your folder's list is organized alphabetically, a symbol such as "@" will come before the letter "a")

2. Empty your Inbox by processing each email (EACH ONE, IN ORDER, FROM TOP TO BOTTOM).
Emails that can be handled in less than 2 minutes, handle. Those that require more time, go into one of the 3 folders listed above. These 3 folders are to be reviewed (and/or their contents processed).

Et Voila! A new approach.

For me, it's just kind of odd looking at a completely empty Inbox. I don't think I have seen one of those in a LONG, LONG time ;)

I'll keep you updated on this email thing. Until then...