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 ;)

1 comment:

  1. grats on the inbox.

    but you may have to marry your two methods. I am not sure if you have heard the part about his garden shed yet. Dave does not deal with all clutter. And probably in you work you would have to deal with all of it and not just simply ignore what you feel like is okay to ignore.

    Once you hear about the garden shed you will totally get it.

    David has spoken at Channel Islands and UCLA and I was lucky to attend both times. So far I have gotten his live words of wisdom free. But I would be willing to pay. It is simply delightful to hear him speak an meet other GTDers.