Getting Things Done (GTD)

I mentioned last week that I have implemented a new system of working to make sure I’m more efficient and productive in my life.  Back in March a friend of mine introduced me to David Allen’s GTD system.

Basically, I looked at the GTD diagram, I watched a couple of YouTube videos, my friend explained how he had implemented it into his life (how he structures his physical filing, electronic filing, calendars, emails etc) and suggested that if I did this, I’d be able to get more important things done instead of fluffing around and getting bogged down with all my day-to-day stuff.

For someone who prides herself in getting a LOT of things done and being very organised, I had come to a point in my life where I didn’t feel like I was accomplishing anything no matter what I was doing during the day and with that, the words, “Joy, you need to do this” prompted me to start this GTD journey.  5-6 weeks later, here I am.

I started implementing the system in the very week he told me about it.  I made a skeletal structure of my life and created folders in emails, electronic filing, calendars and started a task list on the cloud.  I then started populating the lists with tasks, thoughts, ideas and got them all categorised.

I love order and for anyone who says otherwise, I say, you’re lying to yourself.  Your entire body functions because of all the systems working in perfect order.  Any disorder in those systems = illness (system malfunction), disease (system dysfunction), cancer (rogue cells).  The public transport system, the internet – when anything doesn’t work the way its supposed to just watch how you react and you’ll know that you prefer order!

I once was speaking to an aeronautical engineer during my uni days and we were discussing plants.  I loved biology and he loved maths.  He told me that there are mathematical patterns that match how plants grow – where the leaves (and how many) sprout from the stem, where the petals (and how many) grow on a flower.  Plants are perfect examples of mathematical beauty, a flower is a beautiful expression of order and logic.  As Dr Demartini put it, “We live in an an ordered universe.”

So, order it is.  This is just the beginning but already I can actually feel the benefits of having implemented this system of working into my entire life.  This isn’t just for work, it’s for everything.  My favourite quote from T. Harv Eker is “How you do anything is how you do everything!”

A key part of that system is using a To Do list located on the cloud so it’s accessible from my phone or computer.  The list reminds me of tasks that need to be done for the day (instead of clogging up my calendar with reminders, I can leave my calendar for booking in events).

It’s great!!  I didn’t remember but last month, I’d set up a task for myself to clear all the SD cards, copy all the photos onto the computer and do a back up of them.  Yesterday it popped up on my list, so I’ve done it now!  It’s so much faster to do once a month rather than randomly once a year whenever I happened to remember or “have the time”.  Let’s face it, when do we ever have any time?

Also, we have a lot of laundry and every day since I started this task list, I have to do 1 load of washing and every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and either Saturday or Sunday, I have to do 2 loads.  Sounds crazy right?  It has to be done because the number of sweat soaked clothes and towels that we have every day when we both do Bikram Yoga regularly make it so.

Why do I mention this?  Because before I set up the task list to remind me, the laundry would actually pile up.  The wet towels would be washed and dried but everything else would pile up because I hadn’t regulated it in such a way that clothes would be dry before I did the next load and so I wouldn’t do another load because there wouldn’t be anywhere to hang them.  Next thing you know, the laundry basket is overflowing.

Now that even the laundry (and how many loads) is on the list to do each day, it gets done like clockwork!  Weekly chores, monthly chores, shopping lists, people visiting, all the tasks for our business, our meal plan for the week, it’s all in that list and we don’t have to think about it anymore.  There’s no more worry about remembering things because it pops up on the list automatically on the day we need to be actioning it!

It is a Godsend, it’s the new love of my life!  Even Tony’s using the lists too!  The best part is when I get to tick the thing off the list and watch as my list decreases each day knowing that I’d done something to move myself forward.

There are still things to tweak like sometimes I end up with 40 things on my list to do for the day which I know I can’t do and then I go into overwhelm but I think I’m finally managing the workflow better and learning to prioritise and spread the workload out more evenly.  I’m also learning where my limits are (time, energy, resources) and it really does break massive tasks down into small actionable steps.  So even if you don’t finish an entire project or task in one day, you can feel that you’ve accomplished something because you’ve chipped away at it and done a tiny bit of it leaving less to do tomorrow.

Strangely, it does what it says on the tin.  It does actually leave your mind clearer because you don’t spend your time constantly reminding yourself of things for today, for tomorrow, for next week and yes, things do get done!

One of the things I learned for helping someone to sleep was the “stream of unconsciousness”.  Simply, it is allowing your unconscious mind to say whatever it wants by writing it all out no matter how weird, crazy or stupid you thought it might be but to just write and write and write until you let it all out and your mind calms down.   You can then read it in the morning and often you’ll find some hints in there about your worries and what problems need to be addressed.

This process is just like that and your mind calms down very quickly because all the things you write down in your list are recorded, can be referred to and actioned today or in the future.   It is very reassuring and gives one a sense of calm and order.  Another Demartini-ism I’ve learned, “Energy goes where order flows!”

Just like yoga, this is one of those things you just have to commit to for the rest of your life because you know it’s good for you.  You don’t get it perfect every day but you do it anyway, you do your best and every day you’re one step closer to getting that Standing-Head-To-Knee done.

Guess what I can do now?  I can tick “write and upload blog” off my list!! Whoohoo!!  See you next week 🙂


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