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The 5 Absolute Worst Months to Start GTD

The 5 Absolute Worst Months to Start GTD
    Some months are the worst...

    David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology is one of – if not the – most highly-touted way you can improve your productivity on multiple levels.

    But implementing it isn’t something that you can just “get done”.

    GTD can be dififcult for those stuck in their ways and trying to adopt it on their own. Sure, the David Allen Company provides resources that can help you get into it more efficiently and effectively, but it’s still a lot to wrap your head around.

    Many people have to adjust their entire way of thinking when they try to use GTD, and that takes a whole lot of time, focus and effort. So choosing when to start GTD is critical.

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    Rather than offer the best times to start (which I may do in a later post), I’m going to go a different way. I think that by suggesting the worst months to start GTD you might just stand a better chance of committing to a start date, as opposed to waffling on one or trying to start right now.

    1. July

    This month is a bad one to start GTDing because it basically begins the summer season (for those living in the Northern Hemishpere). It’s a time where people want to enjoy their time, and not spend it learning how to best spend their time. Distraction levels are high due to the warm weather and the fact the kids (if applicable) are out of school.

    Ask yourself this: Would you rather start to practice “Mind Like Water” or actually “be in the water” during the month of July?

    In July, get out of your head…and get to the beach.

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    2. March

    This is a month where traveling is a big thing. Spring Break for a lot of students, warmer weather in the tropics for those North Americans seeking refuge from the cold – March doesn’t even like a full month once you factor a vacation in there.

    When you’re thinking about getting away at this time of year, it’s best not to think about getting things done at this time of year.

    3. December

    Don’t you have enough to do during this month? Doesn’t everybody that you’ll need to communicate with have enough to do that you’ll have trouble even syncing up with them when you need to – even without GTD as your ally?

    The holiday season is stressful enough for many; don’t over-season yourself by tackling the adoption of a productivity system on top of things. You’ve got enough to do in this month without having to learn how to do it better.

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    4. September

    Another time of year that seems to slip away just as quickly as it arrived. Summer is over, school is starting up and everyone at the office is hopefully refreshed from a few long weekends over the last couple of months. September is a time best spent getting connected with where you’re at so far in the year as opposed to tweaking how you got there.

    The month may leave quickly because of all of the “starting” happening all over the place, but most people seem to take the entire month just to get back into a routine. So settle back into that routine while looking at it for what it is this month. Save the looking at it for what it could be for a month in the future.

    5. January

    This one may sound a bit odd, especially considering that most resolutions are made (and often broken) in January. But think about it. You’ve just come out a holiday season that basically has lasted for all of December (and those in the United States have been in that mode since Thanksgiving) and now you’re asking yourself to commit to putting a system in place to get things done – and you’re asking yourself to do this without any recovery time.

    And people wonder why resolutions don’t stick.

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    January is a better month to spend reflecting on the year that just passed, to prepare yourself for the year ahead and recover from the holiday blitz you’ve just experienced.

    The Big Idea

    The big idea behind GTD is that it will help you in your quest to get things done. The worst idea is to pick a month where you have less of a chance of completing that quest.

    So, during which of the 7 remaining months will you start GTD?

    (Photo credit: Close Up Calendar Page with drawing-pin by Shutterstock)

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    How to Fight Information Overload

    How to Fight Information Overload

    Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

    This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

    As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

    What you need to do is focus on these 4 steps:

    1. Set your goals.
    2. Decide whether you really need the information.
    3. Consume only the minimal effective dose.
    4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming too much information.

    But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

    The Nature of the Problem

    The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem. This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

    When we see some half-baked blog post we don’t even consider reading it, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it. We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

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    No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on. The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

    That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

    Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control. Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it. But first…

    Why information overload is bad

    It stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here. When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

    Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

    The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

    You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work, or enjoy your passion.

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    So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with your goals.

    1. Set your goals

    If you don’t have your goals put in place you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

    Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

    Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

    Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

    2. What to do when facing new information

    Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

    First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans then skip it. You don’t need it.

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    If it does then it’s time for another question. Will you be able to put this information into action immediately? Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks? Or is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away? If the information is not actionable in a day or two (!) then skip it. (You’ll forget about it anyway.)

    And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

    You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant. Self-control comes handy too … it’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future then SKIP IT.

    3. Minimal Effective Dose

    There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour Body,Tim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs. Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

    Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life. Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

    4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming more information

    Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

    This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

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    Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

    In Closing

    As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance. I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over. I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

    Feel free to shoot me a comment below and share your own story of fighting information overload. What are you doing to keep it from sabotaging your life?

    (Photo credit: Businessman with a Lot of Discarded Paper via Shutterstock)

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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