In the first part of this post I discussed David Allen’s GTD philosophy for Getting Things Done as far as the weekly review. Collecting and processing everything that demands your attention and identifying your next actions that you can actually do.
There were a few other aspects of the book that are important to also include in your process for identifying what you should be doing at any point in time.
Firstly the book introduces the concept of horizons of focus. These are described by altitudes:
- 50,000 – why does company exist ? Ultimate job description, all goals, visions, objectives, projects, actions derive from this
- 40,000 – 3-5 year vision; strategies, trends, career and life transition, financial goals, tech, globalisation, market trends
- 30,000 – 1-2 year goals; life and work in 2 years
- 20,000 – areas of responsibility
- 10,000 – current projects
- Runway – current actions
They go all the way from the runway which is what you are actually doing now and 10,000 feet which are you current projects all the way up to 50,000 feet which are the ultimate purpose for you or your organisation.
Whilst your weekly review covers up to 10,000 feet you should make sure you take time to step back and take time to consider the levels from 20,000 to 50,000 feet. This is the monthly review. Also there may be times when you wish to refer back to them, to support an important project, career or life decision that you are considering.
For me the definitions of the various levels link quite directly with documents or concepts from my own organisation. My performance contract for the year, my own development plan, my 3 year plan for my department and even my company’s own values.
The last major concept that GTD introduces is Natural Planning
Natural Planning gives a way of working through the order of through processes, whether it’s to set the agenda for a meeting or even to plan a project. Whilst they might be called something else in any given situation, they can be defined as follows:
1 – Define purpose / principles
2 – Outcome visioning
– View beyond completion date
– wild success – what would that look like ?
– capture features
3 – Brainstorm
– Capture ideas – mind maps and fishbones
– Don’t judge or challenge, evaluate or critisise
– Quantity not quality
– Put analysis and organisation into the background
4 – Organising
– Identify significant pieces
– Sort by:
– Detail to required degree
– Fill in gaps
5 – Identify next action(s) who and by when
Again the concept of arriving at next actions that can actually be done is obvious. Like any good plan it is not compete without details of who will do what and by when.
This has served me well on numerous occasions both for planning agendas for important meetings and setting up projects. The concept of challenging people to think about what would wild success look like is very powerful. People will suggest things that they think I achievable and would not normally mention due to subconscious filtering process but once they are out on the table you can ask why not ? What do we need to do to get that ? Suddenly the group starts to challenge preconceptions and the momentum gathers.
The final aspect that David Allen brings out in his book which is not rocket science but not well used either is the use of checklists. Have as many as you want. Refer to them in your weekly and monthly reviews and/or as the situations dictate. I have one for each of my managers for instance (we are spread globally and seldom all in our offices anyway) so I capture things that I actually want to speak to them about rather than matters which are suitable for a quick e-mail, so that when I do get them on a call or even get to see them in person, I can refer to this rather than thinking “I am sure there was something I wanted to talk to you about”.
Hopefully thes two posts have given enough in sight into the basics of GTD to interest people in the ideas and make some think that this could be just what they have been looking for and perhaps they do some of this but not all of it and not as a regimented process perhaps.
My advice – simply buy the book and read it and then implement it. It’s probably been the single most important text that I have read relating to my career and how I work and truly has made a significant difference to how much I do get done but also my peace of mind in a world where there are always more demands than time in the day to satisfy them.