GTD, my Write-Only Database

I had the same reaction as Susan Kitchens did when I heard David Allen tell Merlin Mann that it takes two years to really get the GTD system internalized. At once I thought “Damn, that’s a long row to hoe” and also “Alright, perhaps my screwing up the first three months isn’t so devastating!”

I’m right at the three month mark. I’m remaining fairly decent about capturing incoming information and keeping it organized with my Hipster PDA. What I’m not doing are the reviews, not the daily or weekly with any regularity. That sort of screws the whole thing up when you don’t return to the review often enough to keep the plates spinning on the stick. I have to get discipline on that, but it’s just not happening. For it to become habitual, I’m going to have to impose zero tolerance on myself. The daily review probably needs to happen first thing in the morning, right after the coffee pot gets turned on. I should probably be doing course correction reviews at several points during the day, to verify I’m doing the things I have identified as what needs done. The weekly one should happen early Saturday or Sunday morning without exception, before I do anything else. Without the reviews whittling down the next actions and keeping the priorities in line with reality, the whole thing turns into a drag. That’s where I am now, teetering on that brink.

In all this, I’ve never wavered on the theoretical goodness of this system. I just keep failing myself at bringing the proper discipline to my implementation of the system. It’s kind of frustrating to continually fall short, but I’ll keep at it. The email inbox is staying pretty low, and I have my “Next Action” box of stuff to go through. I’m treating my starred items in Google Reader as my “Next Actions” for the RSS reader, and ideally I’ll be walking through both lists as part of the daily reviews and seeing what needs action (blogging, email response, external action) in the near future.

I want to finally get straight on this. I think I’m approaching that mythical point where it would just be easier to do it right than wrong.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father. Member of the Podcast Hall of Fame class of 2022.

5 thoughts on “GTD, my Write-Only Database”

  1. I’ve NEVER done a weekly review. Ever. I even made it a new year’s resolution in 52 discrete segments. 52 weekly reviews. Didn’t do a one.

    After a fall that went all over the place (you witnessed the back problem, which was where September disappeared to– October included boyfriend’s mom’s hospitalization and death), I’m only now getting back on track. In fact, after one related errand today, I’m gonna be spending the day getting my GTD act moreso together.

    So. er, w/o making it another thing I’m not doing, I wouldn’t mind doing some sort of weekly review buddy system. A kinda check in: Didja do it? How’d it go? What got in the way, etc. Just to help us each get into that groove.

    Whachoo think?


  2. dave says:

    Susan, that is a great idea. I’m willing to go in on that if you are.

  3. Marlin Forbes says:

    You might consider using GTDGMail, a FireFox addon which turns your GMail account into a GTD system. I use it all the time, and it’s helped me tremendously.

  4. dave says:

    Marlin, others have suggested that as well. It seems to work for a lot of people but I’m still avoiding computer based solutions. I’m still liking the Hipster.

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