Thursday, September 13, 2007

Record book-eating:
Implementing David Allen's Getting Things Done

Melissa's mom recently came to stay with us for a few days to help out, to let Melissa catch up a little on sleep, and simultaneously to let me get a little more church work done than I've been able to get to in the last two weeks.

Once I began approaching the continuously accumulating stacks of things to do, the sense of impending avalanche grew and grew until I began to look for ways of working faster and more efficiently at the pile.

I'd run across a productivity system popular on the web (especially among geeks like me) that is called "Getting Things Done" or GTD if you are geek-chic. I'd read enough about it to know that it's fast, easy to implement, and very very popular with folks who are buried in constantly changing tasks. Despite the already mounting pile, I made the leap and picked up the originating book, David Allen's Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.

I felt like I was back in grad school. I carved out a few hours in the last few days and simply ATE this book. The hardback is something like 260 pages long and I managed to read (and understand) the bulk of it in two days. While implementing it. And catching up on church stuff. And spending time with an insecure-feeling daughter. And about twenty other things.

One thing is for sure: I am not as young as I once was. After two days of intense life-reorganizing, speed-reading, scanning through hundreds of lines of various lists, how to approach various church projects looming this fall, plus all the usual stuff going on in the life of a father of two young daughters, I am exhausted.

The real question I asked myself was whether or not the extra effort required to figure out GTD was worth it. So far, I gotta say, I'm loving this new system. Expect an article like "GTD for Church Planters" over on sanctus.cross before too long. The system is ideal for people who struggle with priorities that shift hour by hour, constantly and quickly accumulating lists to manage, and complex structures (i.e., values and biblical principles) within which they must steer.

Just so I have a body count, let's just say that once I organized my task lists, reduced all my things-to-do to discrete lists of projects and concrete next-actions, I have more than 80 items on my task list. (At least I can check off "read and implement GTD for church work.")

Pray for me.