Join David Allen for an in-depth discussion in this video How long does it take to implement Getting Things Done?, part of Getting Things Done.
- We're often ask how long it takes to implement this stuff? Well, there's a lot of ways to answer that. You can implement this stuff immediately, immediately. How long does it take to sit down, and write down the top thing 10 things on your mind right now? How long does it take to decide the next actions on those? I guarantee you the ROI's are going to be a payoff immediately, immediately. All you're doing right there is implementing some key elements of the getting things done (methodology). It doesn't take any length of time to start to get value out of any of these behaviors.
If the questions is how long does it take before this is habitual and truly integrated in your life? I'd say two years. If you're really focused on it, and you really work the game. I've seen people get it right away, because they were close to it anyhow, and they just needed a last few pieces of this. I wouldn't way to limit people by saying you have to take that long. I'm talking about where it's habit. We've labeled the five I's with learning anything. You get information about what it is, then you get instruction about how to apply it, then you actually install the application with some of your stuff.
Then, you start to implement this as a more, kind of regular behavior, and then it's totally integrated. So, it's just habitual, you can remember when you didn't do it. You can learn that about anything. You can implement those five things across just the two minute rule. Hey, I have the information there is a two minute thing. Oh okay. Instruction. Hey, when something, and you decided next action take less than two minutes, do it right then. Okay, now I have the instruction. Install. Actually, go back to your email right now and start cranking through some two minute ones and see what happens. Ooh, wow, that's cool. Implement. I now, you know, now I'm focused on the two minute rule on some fairly consistent basis.
Integrate. You wouldn't even think of not doing two minute stuff. When you think about that, any one piece of that could take a period of time until that becomes habitual. If you're talking about the whole thing, where you'd feel uncomfortable, not writing something down, no matter where you are, you'd feel uncomfortable if you weren't doing a weekly review. That can take a while. Really what you need to do, the biggest barrier to entry for this, is people's addiction to stress. Their willingness to tolerate not doing getting things done.
So, when you don't do getting things done, it's going to create backlog, you know, life it going to backup in your head like bad plumbing. You're going to be waked up at three o'clock in the morning, with stuff you can't do anything about. There's all kinds of that stuff. Once you raise the bar there, then you'll have to do this stuff. I empty my in-basket, and do weekly reviews for the same reason I take showers and brush my teeth, if I don't the (scuzz) factor gets too high. It's just psychic (scuzz), but it's the same thing, exactly the same thing.
How long does it take to raise the bar, so you'd feel uncomfortable not taking a shower everyday, or not emptying your in-basket to zero. The truth is, that people say, "Gee this sounds like a lot of work?" Believe me, it takes a lot less work to operate from a zero base of backlog, then a 3,000 base of backlog, trust me. It's a lot of easier to deal with surprise and new this coming at you. If you've got a big backlog of unprocessed stuff, anything feels like an interruption. If you've got no backlog, there are no interruptions, there's only new opportunities to engage with your world.
It's just when people have a lot of unknowns behind them, that this came into their world they didn't expect, or was unplanned, and that feels worse. Wow, more stuff, but there's probably stuff I should be doing, but oh no, as opposed to, oh hi, what's that? Okay, where does that go? Getting to that place. How long does that take? Don't know, we've had people ... again, it's just the good news about this is you don't have to implement the whole thing to get huge value.
You can just keep doing more of it, and more of it, and more of it, and keep gradually raising the bar. So, it becomes less of an effort, less of a focus. People say, "Well you have to be really discipline." No, you have to be directed. I hate the word discipline. I hate hard work. Discipline sounds like sweat. But direction, I just need to direct myself to this focus on this email, as opposed to this is hard work. Now there are some habits, by the way, that are really good to build in, and we've seen that. By the way, a great book if you haven't read it yet, a big recommendation, is Charles Duhigg's book, The Power of Habit he wrote last year.
Charles is a big fan of getting things done as well. He has a concept in there, which I'll refer to now, which is called the keystone habit. Don't go try to change 22 habits. Change the one or two habits that of those things are change a lot of those others are going to fall like dominoes. In the getting things done world, those keystone habits will be emptying out your in-basket and the weekly review. By the way, I hate having to make these decisions like anybody else.
Believe me, I get the emails, you do too. (groaning) If I said , "Okay David, I want you to make all the hard decisions you need to make about all the input coming into your life." I go, (squalling) no. If I say, "David go empty your in-basket." Okay, because once you get use to what that looks like, I'll make the hard decisions to make that happen. Not because I'm focusing on making hard decisions, because I want this empty. It gets me to make those decisions. That's a keystone habit.
I trick myself into doing the stuff that (the end) produces. You know, powerful result.
NEW for 2015: In an exclusive bonus chapter, David Allen answers some of the most frequently asked questions he receives about Getting Things Done, including why GTD is different and how it can scale for larger teams and organizations.
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Q: This course was updated on 1/02/2015. What changed?
A: We added 45 minutes of new content in the Bonus Interview chapter. Learn why Getting Things Done is different from other productivity improvement methods, and how it can work for you, your family, and your team.