Ryan Irelan

is building Mijingo and doing limited consulting.

Finally Learning to GTD

At the end of June I attended a one-day Getting Things Done™ Mastering Workflow seminar by the David Allen Company. Prior to that seminar I had been using the Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology/system for about the last five years and aware of it for the last eight years.

Of course, I haven’t always been good as I could be and sometimes my entire system of organizing projects and actions fell apart. This was most likely to happen during times of high stress, heavy workload and change in routine (travel, moving across the country, etc.). These are just the times the GTD system actually makes a difference and helps you steer straight ahead.

But over the last 6 months, since my responsibilities at Happy Cog have changed and become more complex, I worked hard to refine my GTD system again so it was more reliable. Part of that refinement was to make sure I was clear on GTD best practices and thinking.

But I couldn’t do it on my own. I needed someone qualified to teach me about GTD.

Happy Cog offers a generous professional development budget to each team member and I was able to use some of that budget to attend the Mastering Workflow seminar. My seminar presenter was James Stevenson. He was one of the best presenters and speakers I’ve seen. He had a level of polish and command of the material that you rarely see.

Up until the seminar my only training on GTD was through the audiobook version of the Getting Things Done book, a Kindle version of the book, regular reading of GTD-related articles online, and best practices of setting up OmniFocus, my task management software (and the hub of my trusted GTD system).

With all of the free information online, you might think I didn’t need the GTD class. Why pay for a class to hear a knowledgeable presenter share the same information? That’s a softball question. You pay for classes like that because there’s a lot of value in re-learning something from someone who has mastered it. The GTD coaches and presenters are just that.

There are movies that you probably watch several times. After the first viewing you think you saw everything, know the plot, the character development, flaws and motivations. But watch the same movie again and you find something new. Watch it yet again and you discover another angle or detail in the plot. Listen to the director commentary–or read an interview with the director or writer–and you get additional information about the story.

That’s what the Mastering Workflow seminar was for me. I’ve had GTD implemented in various forms for 5 years and spent dozens of hours researching it. But hearing someone else talk about it, explain it, and help others learn it, exposed all sorts of new information and ideas to me.

I saw glaring holes in my own system, my thinking about GTD and how I approach it. I had slowly built up some bad habits and the class helped me recognize those and work to fix them.

Over the last month I’ve been working on fixing the issues and making my system even stronger. It just took hearing it from a different source, with a different view, and a complete command of the material.

I’m glad to have finally learned how to GTD.

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