We live in an era of increasing complexity where change is ever present and overwhelm can become the order of the day. We used to think of ‘change’ itself as being a constant. It’s now at the point though where ‘ever increasing rate of change’ seems to be the constant. And, for most of us mere mortals, this spells danger in terms of our stress levels.
The human mind was never designed to operate under the kind of pressures we currently experience and, whether it’s here to stay or whether it’s just that we have yet to adapt our work practises effectively to the impact of modern technology, most people do not see an easy way out any time soon. We therefore find ourselves accepting the status quo and just doing our best to keep our heads above water.
But does it have to be this way? Is it fait accompli that we have to accept being utterly overloaded and overwhelmed or can we, in some way, take back control?
This conundrum is one that faces most people at some stage in life, particularly when they start to juggle multiple responsibilities, whether personal or work related and the expectation is there from yourself and others that you will somehow cope & deliver!
I know myself that despite all good intentions to deliver what was asked of me, there came a point when I had to say enough is enough and some form of intervention became critical to my own state of mind. In a way, I had to admit to having the problem, before I went looking for ways to deal with it.
And so a search started for the latest time management practises that quite quickly narrowed down into one procedural framework for dealing with overload and overwhelm … one that I have become quite passionate about because I have seen the real change it was able to create in myself and others.
My go-to framework for handling the fast pace of the modern workplace has been the ‘Getting Things Done’, or GTD, methodology of David Allen. David Allen has published his approach in his best selling book of the same name and it can be purchased in both paper and audio versions.
A challenge with learning a new methodology though is that you are already overwhelmed and so, finding the time to read a book or listen to an audio book, simply adds to your already overloaded to-do list and, well, usually nothing happens and we remain where we are, constantly at the mercy of a busy world.
My reason for writing about the GTD methodology on this site is driven by my belief in the power of the approach and that, if you can possibly be persuaded to invest the time into looking at it, the pay backs will be there for you a million times over in both time savings and reduced stress levels.
- Being able to lift the veil of pressure that you often feel in your life due to the constant demands of your work and personal lives.
- Leaving work each day content that you handled the most important matters timeously and that nothing is slipping through the cracks.
- Knowing that you are up to date with everything in your life and, where things are not happening as quickly as you would like, that you are completely at peace about them.
- Not waking up half way through the night with a flood of work-related thoughts.
- Being able to focus on a conversation with work colleagues, family or friends without having your mind constantly dragging you to some other item in your brain that is demanding your attention.
- Being able to work on a task and get completely lost in that task without having other responsibilities constantly interrupting your thought flow.
If any of the above sound like things you have tucked away on some distant wish list, long since abandoned, then you seriously owe yourself the time it takes to explore the GTD methodology.
There are many ways to get to grips with the GTD methodology and you will find numerous resources on the web in addition to David Allen’s highly recommended ‘Getting Things Done’ book.
My reason for writing the articles on this website are really just to share my own personal passion for the approach and to provide you with an “in” to the methodology. I am hoping that my own, personal, GTD journey that I describe on these pages will be enough of a mental prod to prompt you to at least look into it.
One of my strongest motivations for using the GTD approach is not just the fact that it works, but that it works from a really fundamental level, addressing the heart of the overwhelm problem that we all encounter. It does not just try to patch an already unworkable approach to your workflow management but to fundamentally change how you engage with your world so that you do not get yourself into the kind of fixes that you currently find yourself in.
Some questions that might be on your mind right now:
- Does it require effort to implement?
- Heck, yes, anything worthwhile always does!
- Does it require you to change some of your day to day behaviours around workflow management?
- Yes again!
- But were you really expecting real, lasting change to happen without doing a few things differently?
- Does it take a long time before the benefits become apparent?
- If you learn the process steps and implement them faithfully, you will start to feel like you are taking control back almost from the word go.
- And don’t gloss over those words ‘implement faithfully’ … learn the process before you even contemplate modifying it!
- Does it require me to understand highly complex theories in order to implement?
- You will very quickly understand the steps in the process and, to tell the truth, on first look, they don’t don’t tend to look earth shattering. But as you implement them you will gain many ‘ahas’ along the way and have a series of ‘light bulb moments’ about how your previous approaches were simply compounding an already bad situation.
- It is also crucial that you practically get busy with the process though. Don’t sit back and think it through to try and understand the benefits, you will only ‘get it’ when you ‘do it’. If there is any advice you take to heart on this entire site, let it be that one.
- Does GTD require me to do a bunch of things that I don’t currently do?
- Funnily enough, you can answer this question with a no!
- This may sound contradictory but GTD is, as much as anything, about doing what you already do, just in a different order. I can ensure that you that none of the process steps will be new to you. I know, strange but true. Keep reading!
- After understanding the process, can I get started immediately?
- The intention of this site is to share my learning on implementing GTD so that you can get a quick start and some early wins. I would highly recommend that you read David Allen’s book or listen to it in audio format. What I have on this site is the core information you need. You will certainly benefit enormously from learning from the author himself!
To get started, read the other articles on this site under the menu option for ‘Personal Productivity’:
- Overview of the Philosophy of GTD
- The Key Principles of GTD
- The 5 Step GTD Process
- Software: My Choice For Implementing GTD = MyLifeOrganized (MLO)
- Useful GTD Links
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Note: GTD® and Getting Things Done® are registered trademarks of the David Allen Company.