The “GTD Implementation Guide” Review

GTD Implementation GuideSince the $20 GTD Implementation Guide was released a week ago, we’ve been wondering what role it serves for new and veteran GTDers alike.  Fortunately, I have recently been feeling quite a bit out of control after getting married, moving, and I had yet to fully re-implement GTD.  So I started from scratch using the guide to walk me through the process.  In this review, I’ll share what it will do for you – and what it won’t do.

The Review

After purchasing the guide (here, not an affiliate link), I received an email with a link to the download.  The PDF is less than 1MB, so it doesn’t take but a few seconds until the download is finished.

What it Does

After a page full of legal references to copyright and trademarks, the table of contents, and an introduction similar to what’s on the product purchase page, the guide begins with a section on “Getting Started.”  Each section begins by detailing the amount of time it will likely take you to follow the section completely.  It then starts by outlining the major steps of that section, so you have a good idea of what you’re going to need to do should you choose to tackle that section now.

On the following page, we start with step one of the first section – in this case the “Getting Started” section.  The guide describes the amount of time this specific step should take.  It then breaks the steps down into very detailed action items.  Each is described very concisely – there is certainly not an ounce of fluff or filler content.  This is very much an straight-to-the point guide.

It’s made very clear that you should avoid stopping in the middle of the step.  Preparation is key.  In fact, the entire “Getting Started” section is about making sure you’ve equipped yourself with the time and the physical resources to capture, decide on, organize, review, and act on everything that has your attention.  This was incredibly useful to me, as too many times when attempting to get back on track, I’ve attempted to do so without all of the proper tools.

On each page, there is a relevant tip for that particular step that I found very helpful.  I’ve found many of the little tips and suggestions can help avoid big mistakes when walking through the guide.  For example, in the section on setting up your work area, it provides this tip:

Tip: Setting Up Your Workspace

Don’t share your work area with family members or colleagues.

In addition to these, the guide ends with articles by David Allen on getting email under control, general reference filing, and what is essentially a FAQs section.  These truly fill in the blanks when it comes to walking through the guide, as you’ll find the basic steps don’t necessarily capture every aspect of your workflow.

What it Doesn’t Do

While this guide is very specific and thorough on what to do, this will not teach you the thought process behind it – nor does it claim to.  You will also have to search for related resources, like a trigger list to assist your mind sweep in the capture phase, or suggestions on specifically how to put together your list management system, whether digital or analog.

For these things, you’ve got David Allen’s three books:  Getting Things Done, Making It All Work, and Ready For Anything (although they were not written in that order, that’s the order I recommend reading them in).  In addition, the company offers a subscription-based membership to what’s called “GTD Connect.”  This gives you access to whitepapers, discussion forums with GTD Coaches and other veteran GTDers, multimedia downloads, various guides similar to this one (only they tend to be shorter and for a more specific part of the GTD process), etc.

Also, feel free to visit us often for discussion on implementation, and the various tools that become available.  We’ll be adding reviews and comparisons for software and apps on all major platforms with our upcoming redesign this summer, including iPad, Blackberry, Android, etc.  You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.

Who Should Purchase This Guide

If you’re still reading this article, the most likely question going through your mind is, “Should I buy this, or shouldn’t I?”  That depends, and not on the factors you may think.  Whether you’ve been using GTD for years or are just now considering trying to use it in your workflow, I highly recommend purchasing this guide if you fit one of two categories:

1)  I’ve been using GTD for a long time, but I feel like I’m missing some aspect of it and I’m having trouble trusting my system.

For you, this guide is a very brief and concise way to run through the entire methodology to see what you’re missing.  For me, I discovered that I find myself too often without a capture tool.  I also need to have a more attractive and easy-to-use physical reference system.  I didn’t have to skim through over a hundred pages of text to find that once piece of the pie – it’s all here in this 43-page guide.  I see myself coming back to this guide again and again in the future as a checklist to make sure I’m staying on track.

2)  I’m considering implementing GTD into my workflow, and the book makes it seem overwhelming.

The book plays a vital role in helping you understand the how-to and the thought process of each individual piece of the GTD methodology.  I highly recommend reading it through at least twice before implementing GTD, because understanding the “why” about certain actions will eliminate much of the mental resistance to doing them consistently, allowing you to stay “on” longer.

Once you’ve read it, and have a general understanding of the “why”, this is a fantastically simple but thorough guide to help you get on and stay on.  Beyond that, it will be an ongoing aid for those times that you feel things are falling through the cracks.

That said, if you’re on your way to “black belt,” and are looking for a few tweaks here and there to put you over the edge and master “mind like water”, this guide is not going to introduce you to anything new or revelatory.  If anything it can be a trigger to dive deeper into a specific part of the implementation, but nothing more.

For help with tweaks and adjustments with your implementation – and for fine-tuning – I recommend trying out GTD Connect (disclosure: I am a member, but in no way profit by you becoming one.  There is a 14-day free trial) and seeing if someone has asked a similar question that’s been fielded by the DavidCo staff.  If not, use a trial to ask a question and see if you perceive value in the responses you get.  I definitely have.

If you have further questions or feedback on David Allen Company’s new GTD Implementation Guide, or aren’t quite sure if it’s worth purchasing, feel free to email me, or comment below.  Also, this probably goes without saying, but I’m sure the staff at DavidCo wouldn’t mind answering your questions as well.