Family GTD

A look at incorporating Getting Things Done (GTD) into your family life, from significant others to offspring.
Family GTD

Family GTD

Since Justin and I are doing an entire GTD summer series on CloudFocus Weekly, I thought I would add another twist, talking about doing GTD in the family. Loyal listeners of the podcast will know that I talk about getting my wife and child involved as part of my GTD journey, so here are some of the lessons that I have learned.

A Little GTD is Better Than No GTD

One of the challenges of someone who has the big “ah-ha” moment in GTD is it becomes one of those things you want to share. Sharing is caring after all. Right? Well, not always. Sometimes sharing and oversharing and talking about something constantly can get friends and family to be less interested.  When trying to get your friends and family into GTD, think of it as a long journey that might not just start with “read the book.” My suggestion is to start with success and go from there. So when your significant other remarks on your new found calmness, or what a good mood you are in after your Weekly Review, point subtlely to GTD, giving it all the credit. If they show interest, maybe start them on David Allen’s 20-minute TEDx talk on YouTube. This is a great intro and isn’t as time consuming as reading a 300+ page book. If 20 minutes is too much, try the two minute GTD overview video. If all else fails, maybe point them to this blog post.

Keep It Simple

My lifelong mission to turn my wife and daughter into GTD black belt masters is a great goal but maybe not as realistic as I once thought it was. I have found that if I make some very small suggestions during the right times, they eventually start to take. For example, I have been working with my 12-year-old daughter on just doing some very basic capturing of things to do during the week. A daily todo list, if you will. We review it together, make sure it is complete, and off she goes to do the things she needs to do. We had the same talk about homework from school; write it down in the planner, review it daily, and prosper. My spouse of 14 years is way past capture at this point, so I moved onto the 2-minute rule (if it can be done in 2 minutes, do it instead of writing it down). Once that had stuck after a few years (yes, years) we worked on calendar management and how those are hard landscapes that need to be reviewed at least daily, and in advance once a week. It is amazing how a well-organized calendar can keep a family in sync

Be Tool Agnostic

One thing that I have found in my ten plus year GTD journey is that the tool you pick both matters and doesn’t matter at all. While I believe that a good tool (hint hint OmniFocus) can get you to that black belt, for the casual GTD practitioner the tools can be overwhelming. For my daughter, we started digital but it just became too distracting, so we went back to good old fashioned pen and paper. For my wife, who might love her iPhone as much as me, the built in Apple Reminders app was good enough. She can capture quickly, review them wherever she is, and is just one tap away from #Done. David Allen has been very consistent in proclaiming that his system is not about the tool; it is about the mindset, and for the family members, this rings very true.

Enjoy The Journey

The last point to spreading the GTD love in your family is make sure not to push it too fast or too hard. It might be frustrating that you are enjoying so much success with your new productivity, but like any new-found passion, not everyone is going to come along for the ride. Think of your family members as passengers on a very long journey, one not measured in days but in years or decades. The key is to let them discover their own levels of success with the system and incorporate the parts that they feel comfortable with. If they have small wins, embrace them. If they slip now and again, gently remind them they have a better way. One of the many beautiful things about GTD is that the principles are timeless and pretty universal; they will work today, tomorrow, and when my daughter is telling my grandkids about her GTD practice <fingers crossed>.

Do you have some family GTD stories, tips or hints? Drop them in the comments below, on our Facebook page, in the GTD group in the Success Community or directly at me on Twitter @JasonMAtwood


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