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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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    Mike Vardy

    A productivity specialist who shows you how to define your day, funnel your focus, and make every moment matter.

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    Last Updated on July 10, 2020

    The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

    The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

    Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

    Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

    The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

    Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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    Program Your Own Algorithms

    Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

    Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

    By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

    How to Form a Ritual

    I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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    Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

    1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
    2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
    3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
    4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

    Ways to Use a Ritual

    Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

    1. Waking Up

    Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

    2. Web Usage

    How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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    3. Reading

    How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

    4. Friendliness

    Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

    5. Working

    One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

    6. Going to the gym

    If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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    7. Exercise

    Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

    8. Sleeping

    Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

    8. Weekly Reviews

    The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

    Final Thoughts

    We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

    More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

     

    Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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