Thursday, March 19, 2009

Organizing your time: how I discovered GTD.

As a manager, I very quickly ran into the problem of information overload, which was the primary reason I got interested in David Allen’s GTD.

It’s funny how at school you learn to be a good little soldier, full of math, theories, concepts, but you don’t get any lessons about how to organize yourself.

I hear you thinking “But if you got through an engineering school, you have to have learned to organize yourself”. Sorry Mom (yes I know you read me), no. You can’t compare school to being a program manager who handles 5 projects, 15 team members, 20 clients at the same time. The scale is just different, and the amount of information you have to process is greater by several orders of magnitude. I got to a point when I felt my work was just keeping up to date with the information coming at me: if I started doing actual work, I just lost track of what was going on, and had to stop working to catch up. I felt I was a data miner, a little dwarf with a pickaxe, digging through an information age Moria. I got to the point where I encountered the Balrog, and I had to stand up and fight back.

I was stuck, not knowing how to make my information gathering process more efficient. I didn’t even had the time to stop and think about how to revamp my system. This is when I discovered GTD. Please, do not think “This is another GTD fanatic”. I am not, and in fact I am very critical of the method, and have adapted it a lot to fit my needs. But this is another story.

My first encounter with it was through an audio book, and let me tell you, I enjoyed the ride immensely. David Allen is an amazing speaker, and I actually laughed out loud listening to a seminar about how to organize yourself. If you had told me this, I wouldn’t have believed it. I also bought the book, which, while not as funny, is definitely worth reading. The benefit of this discovery was almost instantaneous. Ideas on how to solve my problems started to come to me in truckloads. I was Jester the White, and I could take the Balrog.

I will continue this series by presenting what I like and what I don’t about this method, and how I adapted it.

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