Thursday, January 28, 2016

How I'm Failing at GTD



I really want to do GTD (David Allen's Getting Things Done) but I can't seem to do it.  I've read the book.  I've watched videos and read articles.  I've read his information on how to set GTD up in a paper planner.  But I still can't do it.


I have ADHD and filing is something that's very difficult for me.  (In case you're wondering what filing has to do with GTD, stick with me and it will eventually make sense.)  When I'm trying to file something, I can think of four or five different places it could be filed.  For example, medical stuff could be filed under:

  • Blue Cross
  • Health
  • Medical
  • or the individual doctor

My husband's truck could be filed under:

  • Truck
  • Ford
The problem is that each time I handle a piece of paper relating to a specific topic, my mind comes up with a different category.  There is no consistency in my thought process. 

And that leads us to my current problems with GTD.  I've done several brain dumps since I started this process and never felt good about the list I ended up with.  There's always a nagging feeling that I've missed a bunch of stuff.  But I've put those feelings aside and proceeded to the next step - dividing the tasks into categories.  And that's the next place where I get hung up.  Choosing categories and putting tasks in categories is like filing.  No matter how hard I try, I can't do it. I've tried doing it on paper, with index cards and on an excel spreadsheet.  I can't do it.  I get overwhelmed and frustrated and walk away. 

On this page I was attempting to figure out what lists of next actions I should have.
You can see that  I was dividing them by category rather than context.



I tried using Wunderlist for this brain dump.  By the way, I have always been registered
to vote  (see task item above) but I need to register again since we moved.  
Here I tried making a list in excel.

I'm a homemaker so I spend most of my time at home.  My responsibilities include a lot of the same things done over and over and over (tidy the house, sweep the floor, laundry, etc.).  There's not a lot of variety.  My lists primarily contain those repetitive housekeeping tasks, some paperwork and some projects. And even though my schedule is completely unpredictable, my tasks are not!  

So I can't figure this out.  I can't get past the brain dump (which I've done multiple times because I'm never satisfied with it) and I can't create categories.  I'm stuck.

At this point, I can't decide if I should persevere or move on to something else.  Maybe GTD isn't for me and my routine life. What do you think?

17 comments:

  1. Re the filing and where to put something - I have a friend who uses a "finder binder", an address book with A-Z pages. For instance, if she had a medical paper as you mentioned above, she'd write it down on the B page for Blue Cross, with the actual location noted. Then she'd also add it to the H page for Health, the M page for Medical, and on the page for the actual doctor's name. No matter where it's filed, she can look in any place where it "might" be and find out the actual location.

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    Replies
    1. Good idea. I'll have to try something like that.

      Delete
  2. Patti, I ended up modifying the GTD system to suit my own situation. My household tasks are already scheduled by day, week, month, etc. i did that after studying Flylady and Marilyn's Way. When my husband was still self-employed, my business stuff was in two places -- at home or as errands. There were always things to distract me and my ADD just makes that way too easy. It took time and a conscious effort to make it all work.

    Business stuff -- all of it -- was kept in green folders and was done with basic categories: Vehicle, tools, fuel, mileage, taxes, permits, insurance, licensing, an more. Our personal records were held in red folders: Home, utilities, warranties, taxes, Upkeep, insurance, charity, investments (retirement planning), Medical, Family, events, etc.

    Bills were separated by which of the major categories they pertained to work or personal. Business mail was dealt with daily; our personal stuff on Friday morning.

    When leaving the house for any reason, the outgoing mail was already in my "landing zone" and I grabbed it on my way out, stopping at the post office before continuing on to my destination.

    My planner and my phone were my "task masters" and they worked. My planner and phone are always in the office with me and accessible as I work. Paying bills was done online whenever possible. Items that were paid by check and mailed were slipped into the planner, then an alarm was set on the phone to prompt me to get it done.

    Household stuff is done in the morning. Work stuff is done in the afternoon. Planning is done in the evening before bed and on Sunday afternoons or the evening.

    When a home or work project needs attention, I add it to my tasks and schedule it.

    My Daily tasks are repeated every day, so they are completed quickly. Errands are run i the afternoon.

    But that's my basic routine. Yes, there are days when things do not go as planned. When that happens, tasks not complete are moved to their next occurance in the overall plan. Still, there are problems with some things not getting done.

    Color was the best thing I did to separate things. Very basic categories was the next best thing. Having a plan for my home was the first thing. With that handled, I began working on the work stuff. I created a household notebook for my home. I created an Office notebook for the work stuff. The planner holds only the day-to-day details (saved a lot of space). My planner and phone hold the task lists.

    My system may not work for you, but perhaps you can gain some insight and get to what you need to have for you.

    Dianne in the desert
    voices@npgcable.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing, Dianne. You always have really good suggestions. I'll think through and see if any of that would work for me.

      Delete
  3. Patti, I ended up modifying the GTD system to suit my own situation. My household tasks are already scheduled by day, week, month, etc. i did that after studying Flylady and Marilyn's Way. When my husband was still self-employed, my business stuff was in two places -- at home or as errands. There were always things to distract me and my ADD just makes that way too easy. It took time and a conscious effort to make it all work.

    Business stuff -- all of it -- was kept in green folders and was done with basic categories: Vehicle, tools, fuel, mileage, taxes, permits, insurance, licensing, an more. Our personal records were held in red folders: Home, utilities, warranties, taxes, Upkeep, insurance, charity, investments (retirement planning), Medical, Family, events, etc.

    Bills were separated by which of the major categories they pertained to work or personal. Business mail was dealt with daily; our personal stuff on Friday morning.

    When leaving the house for any reason, the outgoing mail was already in my "landing zone" and I grabbed it on my way out, stopping at the post office before continuing on to my destination.

    My planner and my phone were my "task masters" and they worked. My planner and phone are always in the office with me and accessible as I work. Paying bills was done online whenever possible. Items that were paid by check and mailed were slipped into the planner, then an alarm was set on the phone to prompt me to get it done.

    Household stuff is done in the morning. Work stuff is done in the afternoon. Planning is done in the evening before bed and on Sunday afternoons or the evening.

    When a home or work project needs attention, I add it to my tasks and schedule it.

    My Daily tasks are repeated every day, so they are completed quickly. Errands are run i the afternoon.

    But that's my basic routine. Yes, there are days when things do not go as planned. When that happens, tasks not complete are moved to their next occurance in the overall plan. Still, there are problems with some things not getting done.

    Color was the best thing I did to separate things. Very basic categories was the next best thing. Having a plan for my home was the first thing. With that handled, I began working on the work stuff. I created a household notebook for my home. I created an Office notebook for the work stuff. The planner holds only the day-to-day details (saved a lot of space). My planner and phone hold the task lists.

    My system may not work for you, but perhaps you can gain some insight and get to what you need to have for you.

    Dianne in the desert
    voices@npgcable.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. Patty, I love GTD and I'm always learning how to do it, you could get started with certain parts of it, and just focus on that for a while... I joined GTD connect (www.gtdconnect.com) in order to access their webinars. Once you get it, it will click. My advice would be to start small, I still have not completed a full filing system! But I love using the next action and context idea... First I visualize the project done, then I decide what's the very next step (next action)that I have to do to make it true? And you just put that on a list... my contexts are: call/email, computer, house, errands. Hope that helps...

    ReplyDelete
  5. Patti, it's been some years since I used GTD in its raw state, but I still use the parts that worked for me. Like Zero Inbox and Next Actions. My Master List (brain dump) has no tasks that are routine things I do, like housework and cooking, or bill paying, errands, etc. Only things that I need to do that aren't routine.

    If I didn't have outside things I did, like writing and other projects--redecorating a house, growing much of our food on the farm and storing it, I wouldn't have even wanted to learn about GTD.

    The resource files-- I used to create filing systems for offices, and I always used what I called "broad labels." Too many small files drive me crazy. "Medical" is my broad label for anything that concerns the family's medical care, and I have sub-files for each person, and a sub-file labeled Insurance.

    I also have a broad label, Automotive. Everything concerning our vehicles goes here with sub-labels identifying each vehicle.

    My writing broad label has sub-files for book/article titles, an ideas file, and things like correspondence and guidelines.

    I have a Home broad label, also Farm, one for Church, and Banking, Personal Papers (copies of our wills and our special needs son's trust).

    In the very front I have a folder labeled "Pending," for Waiting on info.

    I use backwards planning for next action. What is the end result for this task or project and then work backward to get the next action. As I said I use the Zero Inbox for email by using folders and not as much as I should for my physical inbox on my desk ;)

    Hope I helped a little anyway. Good luck. Make it work for you and don't worry about the "rules."

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wow, Dianne, I love your post. Very good ideas that are helpful to me, too. My whole thing this year is to doggedly stick to one system regardless of how frustrating I may find it. I watched a video about a man who lost limbs in a motorcycle accident and was fitted with prosthetics. At first he couldn't handle the prosthetics but in a year he was better and after a few years he knew how to use them to best advantage. People find a way. In 2-3 years they can often compensate much better than they ever expected. And I figured dang if people with those challenges can focus and learn and improve, then so can I with a stinkin' planner. In a year's time I hope to be using this format to my advantage in a way I can't imagine now. That's my planner intention this year. Patty, good luck with the GTD.

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  7. I use an index for filing (which helps me choose a category, like Ford, if I've already used it, even if I do think truck). For actions, I used contexts (meaning WHERE I'll do the task).

    But, really, it's too complicated for me. 4 college degrees. 1 doctorate level. A blogger about order and organizing.

    Too stupid to do GTD. That's me. :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. P.S. look at Zen to Done, it's the simplified GTD - here's the amazon link... Kindle version is $6.99
    http://www.amazon.com/Zen-Done-Ultimate-Simple-Productivity-ebook/dp/B001970HQU/ref=sr_1_1_twi_kin_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1454067309&sr=8-1&keywords=zen+to+done

    ReplyDelete
  9. Think you are making this more complicated than it needs to be....

    In your example, you can just file under 'Vehicles' which would allow you to capture all your vehicles info. Do you really need separate files? If you do, then make separate file for each one.

    However, GTD is more about how you manage your time for tasks and next actions. So that you don't miss doing something you need to do.

    Your filing system can be a separate system that works for you. Alphabetical, by subject, etc, whatever makes it easy/quick to retrieve info when you need it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm absolutely making filing more difficult than it needs to be - it's what my ADHD brain does.

      I don't think I explained things very well in the post. I get that GTD is about tasks but the filing defect I have also applies to GTD when it comes to deciding which list to put tasks on. Making that decision is stressing me. And even though it seems simple to someone without ADHD, it's not simple for me. Does that make sense?

      Delete