What Would You Like To See?

I’ve come back many times to this project I started years ago. Finally, I’d like to seriously consider working on this, adding it to my daily routine. Originally the plan was just app reviews to sort through all the muck out there. Then by far my most popular post was reflecting on my major breakthrough in “An Epiphany: Why I Kept Failing at GTD”.

I do very much enjoy diving into the psychology, and helping individuals overcome mental roadblocks.

So, what are your thoughts? How can I best provide value to GTDers around the world? Thanks for your time!

EDIT:  Feel free to join the conversation over on Reddit, too!

The Future of GTD Reviews

Arriving At DestinationGTDReviews.com is alive and well.  Sure, there may have been about three years in between this post and the last, but let me assure you, my resolve for helping people thrive at Getting Things Done has never been greater.

So what’s next?  First up, we’re going to do a few articles to catch people up on the state of GTD software.  There have been some major revisions to all of the ‘big dogs’ of GTD apps, and now over the air syncing with mobile apps is becoming a standard.  This site definitely has a software focus, so we’re going to get on top of the reviews first.

This will also be a story about my ongoing adventure in falling off the GTD wagon, and getting back on it.  During our three year absence, much of that time was spent using my brain instead of organized lists and ubiquitous inboxes, and that was a huge mistake.  I’ve been back on the train now for a few months, and I’ve probably been more productive and focused in those last few months than in the preceding two years.

But let me ask you all a question – what is the greatest value I can provide, as a fellow GTDer and human being?  I have a passion for the topic, even more now that I’ve been without it for a period of time in my life.  What is missing, beyond reviews of software, that I can pour my heart and soul into?

I would love to hear from you!

Becoming a GTD Black Belt

Black Belt - Credit Greta Gabor on FlickrIn our recent review of the GTD Implementation Guide, I made mention of a category of GTDer that is “on their way to black belt,” and I’ve been asked to elaborate on what that means.  My goal in this update is to shed some light on black belt from my perspective, but more importantly share with you some resources that have helped paint the picture of what a GTD black belt looks like.

Black belt in most anything is the highest level of achievement, most commonly recognized in martial-arts.  This is the level at which adapting the styles and techniques of that art has become natural for the individual, and includes an understanding as well.  While the GTD methodology is very different from martial-arts on the surface, the similarities of thought process are astounding.

David Allen describes in the video below just how similar the two are in a visit to the Google campus.

 While I strongly recommend watching this entire video, you can skip ahead to 10:52-13:42 (2min 50sec of viewing) for info relevant to this post.

To elaborate on that in a way that made it more easy for me to understand: GTD is not meant to add extra steps.  In fact whether you realize it or not (and most don’t), all of the steps within GTD are steps that you already do, you just naturally do them dramatically less efficiently than your GTD system can do.  I know what you’re thinking, because I’ve thought it too:  “Implementing GTD is unnatural and even a bit uncomfortable, because I have to make a conscious effort to put thoughts into my system, and then take extra time to process and organize and review and do each individual action.”

Exactly.

Now let’s jump back over to martial-arts, taking a look specifically at karate.  Imagine signing up for a class in karate.  In your first few classes, they’ll discuss the thought process and mindset of karate.  Then they move into the implementation of certain basic moves.  At first, as you attempt the moves, they’re completely unnatural, and typically very uncomfortable.  It takes time, practice, and patience for those moves to become more natural and effective in their intended effect, right?

Then you start to get the hang of it.  Your body adjusts, becomes more flexible, stronger, and faster.  The moves become more natural, and you become a force to be reckoned with.  You no longer have to think about each individual move, but instead it’s just a swift flow of movement.  You can automatically react in the most powerful and effective way with these ingrained moves, and you’re now fully in control.

So you can see the picture I’m painting here.

When first implementing GTD, and even for some time, there are several steps that are unnatural and uncomfortable.  It’s also not nearly as effective as most people would like it to be at first.  Why?  Because they know they want to be a black-belt, but their body hasn’t even adjusted yet to be able to do an simple kick effectively.

So what does this mean for you?

Whether you’re brand new to GTD or have been working on your own implementation for a few months to several years, understand that it takes time, practice, and patience to become a black belt.  Just like with karate, if you stick with it through the belts, the end result can be magnificent.  GTD will no longer be an extra thought, but a natural part of  your work-flow that frees up your mind to think creatively about and focus on whatever is important to you.

Resources

To wrap things up on this topic for now, here is a 2-minute audio clip on the DavidCo.com website where David Allen describes what a GTD black-belt looks like.

Here is a post (#2) over on the DavidCo public forums quoting a DavidCo newsletter, detailing out textually the various belts and what each means.  This is a great way to see where you’re at now, and assess goals for reaching the next belt.

Lastly, if you have a GTDConnect membership, you have access to a three-part, four-hour webinar series that they just released called “The Road to Black Belt Webinar Series.”  I’ve listened to the whole thing twice now, and have tightened up ship considerably.  If you’re not a member, they offer a 14-day free trial.

So, GTDers, what belt are you currently?  What are your goals for the future?  Share in the comments below!

Capture Crayons in the Shower

Here on GTDReviews we are in the process of indexing and reviewing all the various applications made for GTDers. A lot of that is in the works, but in the meantime I’ve been reflecting a lot on capturing non-digitally. As I said in my last post, I’m in between phones and just moved to a new computer, so capturing thoughts has been somewhat haphazard lately.

Now before I go on, I realize that thoughts happen all the time (whether you know it or not, you’re mind is always working), and you can capture those thoughts with anything from a napkin to an email to yourself – but my point is that I found myself relying on a capture system for my thoughts with very particular tools, and once I lost that system I felt a little more chaos had entered my life.

But what happens when you’re in a place where a little notebook and pen won’t do you any good? Or you don’t have any digital device capable of recording, sending or saving any thoughts?

That place is the shower of course. My mind races while I’m standing there, starting to wake up, for the first five to ten minutes. I also find myself going in at least 1,000 directions within minutes as I distract myself from actually getting done with my shower, and on with my day. (Although, part of it may very well be the fact that the hot water keeps me from wanting to get out some days too) What’s really annoying is when I have a thought I need to process later, but have no way of capturing it.

I’ve tried lots of things to capture the shower thoughts: writing in the steam on the glass doors, repeating the thought to myself so I wouldn’t forget, etc. etc. But nothing really seemed to work consistently – until I found shower crayons. That’s right, crayons. The Crayola bathtub crayons to be exact. These are great for writing down thoughts on the walls of showers before they escape you. They’re also fun to doodle with.

The only downside is they don’t work too well on wet surfaces of the shower, so I find that one area of the shower wall that stays relatively dry throughout the shower to make my notes on. Another tip, if there’s something you’re trying to work on – perhaps some daily affirmations or goals – use these crayons to write them out when the shower is dry and they’ll stay on any surface fairly well regardless of how wet it gets.

Do you find yourself in that situation where you are in the shower (or bath) and unable to capture a thought? Let’s put our experiences together in the feedback below GTDers, and see what other solutions there are.

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.

Coming This Week: The “GTD Implementation Guide” Review!

Image Courtesy GTDTimes.comWe’ve downloaded the full GTD Implementation Guide and we’re excitedly pouring through this new resource.  The goal?  Determine its place and relevance in the implementation of GTD for newbies, as well as assisting current GTDers stay on top of their game.

If you’ve come to GTDReviews in search of such a review, thank you for stopping by!  Feel free to subscribe to our RSS feed, or visit us later this week for the full review.

Don’t forget, your feedback is vital to the ongoing development for the future GTDReviews.com, set to roll out this summer!  You can use our simple Feedback Form, or email me directly.  I’d love to hear from you and get to know you, as well as finding out how GTDReviews can meet your needs and keep you clear on your pursuit of “mind like water.”

David Allen Company Announces the New GTD Implementation Guide

Image Courtesy GTDTimes.comYesterday the GTD Staff at David Allen Company announced the availability of the new GTD Implementation Guide.  If you’re like us, you’re thinking “I wish this would have come out about 14 months ago…” since you’ve been on a journey of implementation since then.  We feel your pain.  In fact, that’s the main reason this site exists, as a resource to help you find the best way to implement Getting Things Done into your lifestyle.  Better late than never?  Without a doubt.

Upon review of the free sample of the guide, you find the table of contents, and the first two pages of the guide itself.  In classic David Allen fashion, the guide gets right to the point.  The first section lists everything you’ll need for a complete capture of all of the “stuff” in your life, from typical office supplies, to capture tools, to chunks of time that you need to allocate to the process.

While the majority of the information can be found in the book, the $20.00 USD pricetag is inarguably worth the convenience of an abbreviated guide specifically for this purpose.  Walk through the entire guide as a new GTDer, or use the table of contents to jump right to the area that’s currently causing the most friction in your current implementation.  The table of contents is as follows:

Introduction – pg. 1
GettingStarted:  Setting Up the Time, Space, and Tools – pg. 2
Collecting:  Corralling Your “Stuff” – pg. 7
Processing:  Getting “In” to Empty – pg. 11
Organizing:  Setting Up the Right Buckets – pg. 16
Reviewing:  KeepingYourSystemFunctional – pg. 24
Doing:  Making the Best Action Choices – pg. 28
Articles by David Allen – pg. 32
– Getting Email Under Control – pg. 32
– General Reference Filing – pg. 36
Frequently Asked Questions – pg. 38
Additional Resources and Contact Information – pg. 43

To take a look at the sample, or to purchase the guide for yourself, hit the link below:

“The new GTD Implementation Guide” at GTDTimes.com

When you’re overwhelmed with the options available to you today, from the Hipster PDA to the task tracking software of tomorrow, a simple guide such as this is a great way to get back on track.  I will personally be using it immediately, and will be reporting back on my success in the coming weeks.  We would love to

Give Up Control to Maintain Control

ControlCan you relate to this?

“This GTD thing is pretty awesome. I really enjoy getting all my thoughts out, being able to visualize them, and seeing where my priorities are. But dang, I still have a lot going on… and when I get off track for a couple of days it’s really hard to get back into the swing of things.

Maybe I don’t need to implement all of what the book teaches…”

If you can relate, then I feel your pain. When introduced to the GTD methodology about seven months ago, I was really excited about the prospect of getting my brain feeling a bit less cluttered with the barrage of information that was constantly flowing (speeding really) through it. Seriously. It was like I had an eight-lane interstate going through my head.

I still have an active mind, but the rush hour has calmed to a smooth flowing traffic – and I do a decent job of making sense of most of it. I attribute that to 1) understanding goal setting based on priorities (see pg. 51 of the book for details), and 2) an understanding of how to capture my thoughts and get them out of my head. One of my recent struggles with the whole thing is that I no longer have an iPhone (I’m using a Motorola Droid). That has caused some necessary adjusting, because OmniFocus isn’t available for the Android platform.

Now let’s not get into the debate of why an OmniFocus user on a MacBook Pro is using an Android handset now (if you really must know DM on Twitter). All-in-all, as someone that has done his best to immerse himself in the methodology, here is what I have found so far:

Capturing is key. Be it on a notebook, notepad app, scratch paper, sticky note, your hand, or whatever, make sure you get the stuff out of your head – all of it – and into your system for future processing. If you don’t, things will slip through the cracks.

Trust your system. I used to really like to know how everything in my life is working. While you can’t control everything (that job belongs to someone much higher up than you), you can have total control of your thoughts by developing a system that works for you (based on the book), and trusting that if you follow it your going to be okay. Try it out. See if I’m wrong.

Get high. Allow yourself to dream a little bit. Get up to that higher elevation of thinking – that 50,000 foot point of view – and make sure your basing your actions of today on where you want your dreams to take you. You’re still allowed to dream in this world, and act on those dreams – don’t let anyone tell you differently.

There is always a lot to learn when you’re completely revamping how you stay productive with the important things in life. Start with the basics and build up.

Question: What have you found to be the biggest part of adopting GTD into your way of life?

Choosing Your Perfect GTD System

“I want to use GTD in my workflow.  How do I decide what system is right for me?”  Our hope is that this site will make that as simple as possible.  However, before you can determine what tools will best support your system, it is important to understand the thought process behind setting up a system that will work best for you.

When it comes to proper thought process in implementing GTD, you have a few options regarding who to turn to.  First of all, there’s David Allen himself.  While he may be a difficult man to get 1 on 1 council with short of paying for his coaching services, he is accessible in a sense through his three books, Getting Things Done, Ready For Anything, and Making It All Work.  Secondly, there are the elite few whom David Allen has dubbed the official “GTD Coaches,” on staff at David Allen Company.  They too are accessible through their coaching program, or through the GTD Times blog.  Thirdly, there are other GTDers in the world, all with varying styles and levels of experience.  This includes us here at GTD Reviews, as well as a majority of the viewers of this site.

Fortunately, we have at our disposal a very relevant article over on GTD Times written by GTD Coach Kelly Forrester covering the questions GTDers should ask themselves when choosing their GTD system.  Head over to give it a read via the link below.  Take special note of the following, though, as I believe this is the most valuable nugget of wisdom new GTDers can come to understand in order to avoid a very long and inefficient process of finding their system:

Is there a perfect GTD system out there? Sure, it’s the one you trust and use so your mind is free.

How to choose a GTD system” by Kelly Forrester at GTD Times

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, and as always, we would love to hear your feedback on how we can provide you the most value in your implementation of Getting Things Done.

GTD Over The Years – What Changed?

The Passing of TimeI’ve been Getting Things Done since reading David Allen’s book a little bit over a year ago.  Already I’ve seen technology change the way people implement the methodology.  More apps have been released for iPhone, Blackberry, and Android, as the tech world moves its focus to mobile handsets.  Now with the release of the iPad we have a whole new platform onto which people are moving their list managers and productivity software.  The question I have is: What have you seen change over the years since you implemented GTD?

This may be the first time you’ve read a post on GTD Reviews, and we sincerely appreciate that you’ve taken the time to check us out.  This is a fairly new resource on the GTD scene, but we’ll become a one-stop resource for GTDers everywhere as we prepare for the release of the new GTD Reviews redesign coming in the following weeks.  This is a call to action, though.  There are other GTDers out there that need to hear from you, because nothing is as helpful as hearing from another real human being about what they’ve seen, experienced, and learned from their time using the methodology.

“Okay, how can I help?”  For starters, we’ve included a simple poll below.  Let us know how long you’ve been using GTD in your workflow.  Secondly, post in the comments, sharing what you’ve seen change since you first started implementing it.  How has technology changed things?  What has remained the same?  What has time taught you?

We’re excited to learn from you, and the GTD community needs to hear from you!  Share your thoughts, and don’t forget to vote in the poll below!

How longs have you been using GTD?

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