The biggest barriers to maintaining at GTD life, is maintaining your system. One of the beauties of GTD is its flexibility. It doesn’t matter if you use a digital organiser or a paper based one. GTD at its very core is a system. How are you implement that system is entirely up to you. This is great because it allows you to use whatever method you like and it doesn’t matter if you are an analog person or digital person.
For those of you familiar with GTD speak you will know that term” mind sweep” this refers to the initial process of setting up GTD when you empty your head of all the things that are on your mind. This often results in more than 100 tasks and 30 projects. (according to David Allen) once you have sorted through all these tasks and projects you will likely end up with task lists that make you feel overwhelmed. And it is this overwhelm that causes people to fall off the wagon somewhat.
Another problem many people experience was mentioned in a blog post written by David Sparks on his Mac Sparky blog, where he talks about people spending far too much time just maintaining their system. GTD should never take up too much time to maintain. If you do a proper weekly review, and a mini daily review lasting no more than 20 minutes every day, then your system should only be opened for adding new tasks and checking that you are getting the things done that you want done. The daily mini review is where you can add your inbox items to their appropriate projects. You shouldn’t be doing this throughout the day.
The weekly review allows you to make sure nothing has slipped through the cracks. If you follow these suggestions your system should only take up a few seconds periodically throughout the day.
I confess on a monthly basis I do tend to review my system. I look for ways of making my system more efficient, more automated and faster. You don’t have to do this and I wouldn’t recommend doing it in the early days as you’re learning your system, but keeping an open mind to improvements is always a good practice. But the day to day maintenance of your system should never be too time consuming.
It is true that as you grow with your system and as you learn to add things without thinking about it, the GTD process gets easier and more intuitive. Getting there can be difficult, but the time and effort to get there is worthwhile. The reduction in your stress levels is worth the effort on its own, but when you add the benefit of knowing everything in your life is organised and you know where everything is, just makes the learning curve well worth the effort.
Let it become a part of your life, but don’t let it become your life.
I strongly recommend you read the book, think about your own life and your own preferred ways of capturing things and just start from there. Let it become a part of your life, but don’t let it become your life.
Carl Pullein is the author of Your Digital Life: Everything you need to know to get your life organised and put technology to work for you, a book about how to get yourself organised in the twenty-first century.