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My top 10 GTD tips

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

So, after being a GTD acolyte for several years now, I thought I'd share some tips about what has worked best for me, along with some of the quagmires I've learned to avoid.

1. Start anywhere
Anything you can do to make yourself more productive and more effective is worth doing. If you can't process everything in your life in one sitting when starting out, don't sweat it. Start from scratch and then make a tiny dent in your backlog each day.

2. Find the real next action and name it well
Make sure the next action for your project is a real next action - that is, a physical act that you can do in one sitting. Tweak your language so the notation for the action appeals to your desire to check off small accomplishments in rapid succession.

3. Process your inboxes frequently
You should process your inboxes every day. If you miss a day or two, you should feel bad and do it as soon as possible.

4. Keep a real projects list

Don't confuse your list of projects with your project reference material. If you rely on your reference material to tell you about what projects you have, you will inevitably miss some that don't have reference material yet.

5. Simplify
Your tools and processes should be as simple as possible. It has to be easy to work your system.

6. Don't obsess
Are you getting things done or are you obsessing about the subtle nuances of your system? If subtle nuance intrigues you, try obsessing about it by writing a novel, not caressing your action lists.

7. Observe and extend (feedback loops)
Consider the efficacy of your approaches at pre-determined intervals. Make sure your thoughts aren't wasted: come up with heuristics and procedures to make everything you do easier. The weekly review is a great time to do this.

8. Be forgiving
Not everyone in the world is a manic detail tracker like you. Don't be too upset when others don't fall right in line with your GTD regimen. Let them do it their way, but if you are waiting on something from them, be sure to track it diligently on your @waiting list. ;-)

9. Install once
If you follow GTD discussions too closely or too frequently on the web or on mailing lists, you will end up installing your system multiple times. Why waste time reformatting your life? Install once and run.

10. Escape GTD
I find it very relaxing and productive to completely escape GTD thinking on a regular basis (like on the weekend). This doesn't mean I'll completely shirk my duties for entire days, but I'll go into "organic" mode for several hours at a time, where I am not thinking at all about doing anything. Oddly enough, this is a good way to generate lots of ideas about how to do things better.

Posted by murt at 2:45 AM


Anonymous Rishabh R. Dassani said...
Thanks, that helps a lot!
4/14/2006 11:21 PM  

Blogger Dan said...
For implementing GTD you might try out this web-based application:

You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, schedules and a calendar.
A mobile version is available too.

As with the last update, now Gtdagenda has full Someday/Maybe functionality, you can easily move your tasks and projects between "Active", "Someday/Maybe" and "Archive". This will clear your mind, and will boost your productivity.

Hope you like it.
6/03/2008 12:43 AM  

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