12 December 2009


[Read to the end. There's something in it for YOU.]

I spent Tuesday downtown at a seminar, one that I forked over my own cash to attend. Let me start at the beginning. Back in 2002, not long after it was published, I happened upon David Allen's book, Getting Things Done. It seemed to be just what I needed to get my act together. I read it and knew it made a lot of sense. I tried to implement the system but failed miserably. I have re-read the book over the years, each time having the best of intentions but always lacking the 2 days it seemed I would need to get the ball rolling properly.

In the meantime, GTD has exploded in popularity. The best site for learning more is Merlin Mann's 43 Folders, named for the folders needed to create a GTD-esque tickler file.

Fast forward to October of this year, when I was once again feeling overwhelmed by everything on my plate. Time to get out the book and give it another whirl. I was looking at the company website, noticing what an industry the book had spawned. There was a deal on offer for a CD set. "Time to try something new if I want different results," I thought. I bought the CD set.

With the CDs came a discount on a seminar. I looked at the schedule. Yep. Pittsburgh, December 8. I later discovered I could get a bigger discount by telling them I work for a non-profit so I registered. And the CDs sat on my dresser, along with another copy of the book.

Last weekend I decided the seminar would be more helpful if I listened to the CDs. What I discovered was mind-blowing. I didn't *have* to find 2 days to do it right. I could make small steps in the right direction and that was okay. Holy moly. Unfortunately, I fell asleep about 20 minutes into the first CD. I decided not to take it as a sign.

So, Tuesday, I'm at a downtown hotel for the seminar. Found another copy of the book in my packet (can you see where this is going yet?). And for the next 8 hours I barely peeked at my iPhone. I was mesmerized by the ideas in the book coming to life. Apparently my reading comprehension is a bit lacking, and has been for at least seven years. Or maybe I'm just not someone who can learn from reading a book alone. Regardless, lightbulbs were going on for me.

On Wednesday I started putting one principle, getting one's inbox to zero, into practice on my email. My personal email inbox was at 1944. In 90 minutes I had it down to 37. By the end of the day it was under 10. My work inbox was over 500 and it was down to about 45 by the end of the day as well. Not to zero, but a serious dent was made in a relatively short time.

I have a long way to go but I'm moving in the right direction, on the way towards "not overwhelmed". I want to share the energy with my readers. If you would like your own copy of Getting Things Done just leave a comment by midnight on Thursday, December, December 17 and the random number generator will work it's magic Friday morning.


Stephen said...

Power to you... it always feels so good when one is in the GTD groove but it's easy to fall off over and over. Ask me how I know.

BUT even applying basics such as capture and lists makes a HUGE difference in having control. Good Luck!

David Kane said...

Sounds like something I desperately need!

Pam L said...

Whew! A need here!

Jenn said...

If nothing, I'm comforted in knowing I'm not alone in this need! Good work on the inbox pruning!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Nope, don't enter me, babe. I wanted to drop in to say not everyone learns from one educational source -- some people can hear things once and get it. Others need to be guided, step-by-step through. Others need to read it for themselves.

You get the idea.

So don't kick yourself. Just seize the small steps and keep going forward.

Suzy said...

Could some of this be genetic? Mom starting the Christmas pajamas and sweaters, staying up until the wee hours of Christmas morning and still some of us got boxes or yarn or fabric under the tree. I have a few half done things, with great intentions, but they won't be done in 12 days.

Linda said...

Okay, we do have something in common. I have attended the seminar and read the book. Most of the year it works fine, Christmas however is not one of those times. Makes a great yearly New Years resolution however

Matt said...

I have a great way to work through an email backlog:

(1) select all
(2) delete

You're done! Try it sometime. You'll be surprised at how little you miss.

andrea said...

I'm attempting to do this chip away thing on my own, having never read the book and with various degrees of success. I think I'm overthinking it.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if I should be glad you encouraged me to come comment here. Or insulted. ;)

Can't hurt!


Anonymous said...

I am a procrastinating type A personality. This book could be just what I need. I am intrigued.

Brooke said...

I'd like to give that book a read.

Lisa said...

I'm in! I have checked this out of the library at least 3 times and am so intimidated by it that I don't read it. I think it would work for me, if I'd give it a chance.

(Came here from Rude Cactus, btw.)

Kim said...

Like I'd have time to read this!