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Discussion Forum > The Fall of GTD (for me)

matthewS mentioned a couple of his issues with "lists" in the thread at . Specifically, he said "with so much on the list it is making it hard for me to start doing anything" and "I find it hard to drop anything once on the list." These happen to be the very same issues that I had (and still have) with GTD.

I read GTD. I applied GTD. I had this wonderful list of "Next Actions" that was pages and pages long. My list scared me into inaction. GTD was *great* for helping me identify what I needed to do, but it was *horrible* at getting me to actually DO stuff. SF, AF, DWM-- these all fix this problem by breaking the list up into smaller, closed lists. This keeps the brain from getting overwhelmed by the large number of tasks.

Think about this: Which is easier to imagine? A pile of 1,000,000 pebbles; or 100 boxes, each containing 100 baggies which each hold 100 pebbles? The *-Focus methods let you forget about the millions of things you have to do and present you with just 30 or less at a time. And you can *literally* forget about the rest because they're written down and you'll be reminded of them in just a few hours (or minutes).

GTD overwhelmed me. Sf got me moving.

The other problem is dismissal. And I would like to preface this by admitting that I still struggle with dismissal, though I'm making progress. In the references thread, I mentioned that it might be helpful to actually put MORE stuff on your list. Add things that you don't care about. Add things that you can dismiss later without feeling any pangs about it. This can teach you that it's okay to dismiss. It's okay to clear out the garbage. It's okay to reduce the clutter. Over time, your definition of "clutter" will (or should) start to expand and you'll find yourself pruning out more and more of the less-important stuff, even if that's stuff that you currently feel "committed" to.

Do others agree? Any additional opinions?
September 1, 2011 at 17:21 | Registered CommenterjFenter
My view on GTD has mellowed. I could spend weeks trashing DIT. It just was not nearly as good as DWM, or the AFs, or SF. Well, I look upon GTD the same way. It got me thinking about capturing everything. It got me started on this journey. It got me much farther than Franklin-Covey ever did.
The problem with GTD, that all of Mark's programs address, is that there were no rules to encourage me to do any of the items on my list.
September 1, 2011 at 17:58 | Registered Commentermoises
I got lost on the Process/Organize steps. Never-ending figuring about what's the best way to process, to organize, how to properly go through it all. I eventually developed a very detailed algorithm to direct me through the steps, with input from several online sources. Then I found AF4 and abandoned it all overnight.
September 1, 2011 at 19:32 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
I've found useful bits in all the productivity books I've read, and I've read several. Every one of them has had good exercises and habits. And, yes, they've all had weaknesses. I"m not sure if it's their systems, or just that I can only learn so many things from each book.

I listened to DA's podcasts for several months. He doesn't trust his own system. If he doesn't do his weekly review of absolutely everything, he's uncomfortable and can't focus.

With GTD, it's tempting to spend more time reorganizing your lists and planning projects than working. Write something in your notebook. Tear it out and put it in your desk inbox. Decide if it's an action or a project. Decide next action and context thereof. On the other hand, forcing yourself to identify a next action is great for unblocking things

I agree with jFenter. Dismissal is hard, but it's also necessary. I don't know if purposefully filling up the list will get you used to dismissing things or not. You've already answered the hard questions about those lines -- they're clutter.
September 2, 2011 at 0:05 | Registered CommenterCricket
I also first tried to manage my affairs with GTD. It's the first system that had a "shape" for me. There where parts and rules. Then when I saw the AF line and it's brethren, I immediately understood why GTD was a crippled duck. GTD = Organizing, AF = Doing. The two are actually not mutually exclusive but together, they feel like overkill. Anyway, I really preferred the intuitive and expansive (instead of compressive: rules within rules) nature of Mark's systems.

As or adding more stuff to help train with dismissal, I believe it could work really well as long as you use it with closed lists! When the list is not worked on anymore (skipped), it's obvious to see the real clutter that there was in the system and easy to let it go too. Good training :)

But, as cricket said, throwing the trash after the fact doesn't clear the stuff between the gears. I think clutter should be addressed at the work level to help clear the system and create slack. ANY system without slack to accommodate for unforeseen situations will break. The Rubber-Band of little but often for me simply results in rebooting the system in a news book when it's lost it's elasticity (it's ability to shrink back). We might suggest that it's an operational cost..?

What I want is a way to protect slack!
Oh, weird thought: a clutter list? Or instead of looking for the most important stuff on your closed list, looking for the least might be more effective??? A rule of ALWAYS dropping an item on every pass? (that would help people put unneeded stuff in there... Not the most efficient technique but entertaining and motivating...)
September 2, 2011 at 0:42 | Registered CommenterErik
I work with GTD since 5 years. My opinion about it is not still established.

On one way it is great for working on project and organizing my stuff. As I have my own company GTD helped me a lot for controlling. Today all my stuff is on Omnifocus. On the other hand GTD is indeed complicated for doing. Contexts did not really helped me and in fact encourage multi tasking.

For doing things I really prefer a daily paper list. AF is not better for me. If it is great for doing things it is terrible for planning things because it avoids the compilation of tasks about one project what GTD does.

But the real question for me is not about doing thing or proscratrinating. It is about choosing what I can do in the shortest time for the best result. Then here I admit that the dismissing process in AF is great for crossing tasks and choose the best.

Things are not so simple. Working as a business maker is for me a collecting of little tips which are grouped in a global way of doing things we could call method. But there is not one method. There is not one way.

I am still searching the best for me. Hope it won't take too much time.
September 2, 2011 at 13:19 | Registered CommenterJupiter
A hunch...

When I suggest/recommend to my clients an exercise, book, etc., they almost always comply. This works best when the transference/connection is strong, and there is a desire to:

a. please me (therapist)
b. work with the curative suggestion a.k.a placebo effect

If I were to release a book/program, it would not be misleading to state that 100s of people have greatly benefited from my system. The kicker is that, without the accountability (weekly sessions) and transference, the program will be a burden for most people.

My hunch: if you really want a system to stick, commit financial resources and hire that coach (or someone trained in their approach). Ensure there are follow-up appts to discuss successes and hurdles.
September 2, 2011 at 13:46 | Registered Commenteravrum
September 2, 2011 at 14:05 | Registered CommenterErik
"The problem with GTD, that all of Mark's programs address, is that there were no rules to encourage me to do any of the items on my list."

I guess I have never understood these types of comments. I do not find any system that "gets" one to do the work. I always found that a system can eliminate some of the things that waste our time like looking for things ie misplaced phone numbers, files we need to work with etc.

It seems as the systems are "developed" to handle the wrinkles life brings they get more complicated and then end up costing time to maintain and get dropped.

September 2, 2011 at 18:12 | Registered CommenterGerry
<<I guess I have never understood these types of comments.>>

I agree. Particularly because there's no real consequence if you override the rules. Which is why coaching "works"... at a minimum you'll feel like a jackass for spending hundreds of dollars, only to show up and say "Didn't do anything this week".

I've said this before, but if I could code, I'd create a piece of productivity software with REAL carrots and sticks. Where unfinished tasks would expire, automatically and without any ability to retrieve them after x amt of time.
September 2, 2011 at 19:06 | Registered Commenteravrum
<<if I could code, I'd create a piece of productivity software with REAL carrots and sticks. Where unfinished tasks would expire, automatically and without any ability to retrieve them after x amt of time.>>

How horrifying! I would be forced to sell an illegal hack that overrides it. ;)
Just kidding, I get it. Painful, but probably a good idea.
September 2, 2011 at 19:20 | Registered CommenterBernie
Most everyone knows that I see life as being either project or maintenance. Project needs inspirations as a fuel. Maintenance needs motivation as a fuel. These can only be found in the stuff you populate your system with, not the rules that govern your system. At best, the rules will only quell those two magnificent fires ;)
(my personal interpretation only)
September 3, 2011 at 1:05 | Registered CommenterErik
Good points about motivation. I disagree only with "At best the rules can only quell". Contrariwise, the rules control and manage the fires. They don't stoke fires, but balance is a good effect.
September 3, 2011 at 3:21 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
I guess I will be the contrarian here. I think the whole point of AFx (and a big reason for their success and popularity) is that following the rules CAN and DOES stoke those fires. Thus the sense of elation many feel when using it, especially at the beginning. "Look how much I got done!!"

Success with any voluntary use of rules involves a kind of "suspension of disbelief" regarding the voluntary nature of the rules. It is just a set of arbitrary rules, and no one is going to force you to follow them. Does that make the rules less valuable?
September 3, 2011 at 5:06 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
Regarding GTD:

Does anyone have any objection to it in theory? There is such a thing as a project, that has a next action, that has an outcome, and a context, that belongs to an Area of Focus. There are someday/maybe tasks. One does collect, organize, and do.
However, getting things done in the general sense is something that it is a practice. Knowing the theory can help, but it doesn't necessarily lead to a good practitioner.
Plenty of people are good walkers without knowing how they walk. It is possible to learn how to walk well, think beauty pageants. But if you think too much about walking, you won't walk well.
GTD can be a bind to those who are already over-analytical, or obsessive-compulsive to begin with. By the time you have everything organized, the enormity and complexity of everything can paralyze you.
When we learn a musical instrument, we tend to focus on one thing a time, and learn gradually. At some point, one forgets the basics because they are absorbed, you do it automatically.
Perhaps GTD by David Allen is a good training ground, a good discipline, like boot camp. When you are having trouble with a project, yes, it is good to think the next action, or the desired outcome, to get moving. Yes, when you are swamped, it is good to write down all your projects. Use it when you need it. But to use all of it all the time on eveything one has to do it is too much.
Even the best system cannot replace wisdom and good judgment. I suspect that David Allen, and Mark Forster, have that kind of judgment no matter what system they used.
September 3, 2011 at 6:15 | Registered Commentermarkhedm
Those elements of theory are largely okay. One problem is the all or nothing way it's presented. DA says to start you must perform a grand sweep to collect all. Then everything needs to be processed and organized. This is a huge burden that seeds the individual's failure to follow through. I believe it's not necessary to collect everything first, and it's not necessary to organize everything collected. Mark's Closed lists a d little and often approaches are better. Certainly easier.
September 3, 2011 at 14:43 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
There is some person's variation of GTD called Zen To Done (ZTD), where he tries to address these issues (massive habit change, not sufficient focus on doing, etc.)

I hope Mark Forster's final system will not have GTD's disadvantages and still provide all its features. Can't wait.
September 3, 2011 at 15:47 | Registered Commentersindikat
Yeah, Loe Babauta.
Good read but he actually went my way [list free].
Heck, he even went goal free!!!
He's quite famous actually!

Just wanted to say that Mark's Systems where a savior for me showing me there's other ways to do stuff then GTD and that you can have a system that works itself instead of the other way around! That's probably the biggest drawback of GTD.
September 3, 2011 at 16:07 | Registered CommenterErik
In my opinion, everybody should find and accommodate his own TM system. I believe GTD is perfect for many but not for me. I tried to implement it for years. Every time, I finished organizing my tasks more than doing anything. I of course blamed myself, because so GREAT system cannot be wrong. After years I realized that this system is absolutely unsuitable for my thinking and personality style (I am creative person with myriad of interests and different areas), because of:

1. It is unproductive micromanagement for me. Defining Project List apart from Next Action List seems very reasonable in theory. However, in everyday life - seeing list of 50+ projects and separate list of 100+ Next Actions is just overwhelming for me. No clue what to do next, what is important (and everything seems to be important with my tasks...:). Moreover, context does not help at all with deciding (only @Agendas or @Places is useful when I meet specific people, but 90% of the time I am near computer, near phone, near paper, near my brain...and I can do almost all my contexts)

2. Specifying projects (as in GTD style = every multistep tasks) and next actions is useless double work for me. With every task I have, I can tell you, to which project it belongs and what outcomes should be (without writing the outcomes down - why should I do so?, Moreover, it changes as next tasks in the row are implemented or as situation changes). Provided that I comply to only one rule - to define next task in the project immediately after completing the previous one (which is something AF requires), you will never lose focus from your projects. You do not need to define next tasks precisely in AF – it is enough just to write down it is necessary to continue in Project X or just have "Project X" as a task and re-write it down after crossing out from current page. That is all. Finding projects in separate lists and bother whether I defined Next Actions for all of them is increasing, not reducing anxiety in me.

3. GTD states that defining small step Next Action will reduce anxiety, because anxiety arises from considering whole big project. The opposite is true for me - seeing task "tickets for concert" is much more motivating for me than "open web browser and look for price comparisons regarding tickets...". The reason is that I often change my moods and focus - sometimes I like working online, sometimes I like to walk. When I have only generally defined tasks, it gives me freedom how to implement task in every "mood". I can call my friend and ask regarding tickets. I can make web research. I can just go out and buy them in first shop... That is freeing me, not increasing anxiety (as creative personality type I need to feel personal freedom and flexibility). It was my single biggest problem with GTD - I micromanaged myself thanks to planning Next Actions, which were too constraining (because they prescribed only one solution in every moment), too boring, too detailed and I was losing big picture from mind.

I believe everybody should organize himself only up to level which suits his/her style, not more, not less. The same situation is when you go abroad for holiday - somebody likes to have the whole trip planned to slightest detail, somebody enjoys freedom and loves to be surprised. The same is true for time management system. Autofocus enables this.
September 10, 2011 at 8:56 | Registered CommenterDaneb
For me Mark's systems are about collecting your tasks and actioning them. We have had a discussion before on this board that this is time management and not project management which is a completely different animal.

I too picked up some good tips from GTD (for example tickler file for physically storing things which I will need in the future), and my on-desk files (for example I have a file marked shredding - my shredder is not in the most convenient place so it is more effective for me to pop things to shred in this file and do them together).

I like to use a filofax, so it suits me to use this to house my lists. It also enables me to hold things like a someday/maybe list which means I only need to look at it occasionally, and also a project list so when I am thinking or talking to someone I can glance and see what I have committed to do.

What I like about Mark's approach is that he advocates one 'to do' list which means you only have one place to go to see what needs to be done.

At the end of the day, a system is only as good as the operator. If you regularly service your lists (i.e. add things when it is appropriate, cross them off, dismiss them, reviewing them as so on) then it will work. I'm sure what most of us want is some automated system that sort of does all this for us, but this is not likely to happen!
September 12, 2011 at 13:54 | Registered CommenterAlison Reeves
"I listened to DA's podcasts for several months. He doesn't trust his own system. If he doesn't do his weekly review of absolutely everything, he's uncomfortable and can't focus."

But surely the weekly or regular review is the cornerstone of GTD.

It seems most people who didn't get on with GTD had trouble doing the reviews, did anyone find otherwise?
September 12, 2011 at 16:55 | Registered Commentersmileypete

<< I'm sure what most of us want is some automated system that sort of does all this for us, but this is not likely to happen! >>

The Final Version gets pretty close to that ideal!
September 12, 2011 at 23:35 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
It's always a good question to ask any productivity guru how much they use their own systems. Certainly I'd have found that an uncomfortable question at times!

I would be really interested to know how much David Allen's own personal organization today resembles the system he describes in his book. I was surprised to see that it was published as recently as 2001, though I'm sure I was aware of the principles in it long before that. According to Wikipedia he developed his methods in the 80s. 25 years is a long time to use exactly the same system without any variation.
September 12, 2011 at 23:48 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Any system is great until... you wake up one day and don't feel enthusiastic about it anymore.

I'm sure David Allen would be pretty candid about that but does still use GTD pretty much the same way.
September 13, 2011 at 10:49 | Registered Commentersmileypete

<< but [David Allen] does still use GTD pretty much the same way. >>

As a matter of interest how do you know that?
September 13, 2011 at 11:50 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
I don't, but it does sound like he does the weekly reviews at least.

GTD seems to be a good system, but without the reviews it's like expecting your satnav to tell you where you want to go.
September 13, 2011 at 15:11 | Registered Commentersmileypete
Yes, that's another failure between me and the system. I never succeeded at keeping reviews weekly.
September 13, 2011 at 16:40 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
For me, the weekly reviews were just another opportunity for Getting Things Planned rather than actually Getting Things Done. And I could never complete the Weekly Review in under 2 hours.

I didn't stick with GTD very long as a result, though I did glean a few useful ideas (and still do glean them from DA's podcasts and email spam).

Lately, the main idea that I glean from DA is that "AF/SF/etc does that so much more more easily, more efficiently, etc.".

I especially balk at DA's insistence that GTD is "as simple as it can possibly be". If only he would take a look at Mark's systems...
September 13, 2011 at 18:55 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
I have been out of touch with this site because of an unexpected illness. This is the first thread I have opened in months and I look forward to getting back into these discussions.
Now that I am back, I am overwhelmed with my backlogs and urgent projects.
I want to keep my Gtd more simple this time around and view Gtd like having a library at my disposal rather than a method of forcing me do the next 'most important' or 'most urgent' action. Like Daneb commented above, worrying so much that Next Actions are defined increases, not reduces anxiety.
The best way to explain my most successful use of Forster.Net principles in the past are the times I have used AF and SF more or less the way you are supposed to use them, and then using my Gtd program to fish out the Next Actions when needed. I hate the weekly review and the maintenance part of Gtd, but don't really see any way around it.
I just wish I had known about the principles of AF and SF a long time ago when Gtd failed me when it got so out of hand. A lot of important stuff would not have fallen through the cracks.
September 13, 2011 at 19:00 | Registered CommenterBKK
Welcome back BKK.

'"I have used AF and SF more or less the way you are supposed to use them, and then using my Gtd program to fish out the Next Actions when needed. I hate the weekly review and the maintenance part of Gtd, but don't really see any way around it. "

This puzzles me twice:
A) Using AF the way you are supposed to doesn't involve fishing out next actions. The actions are already explicit, or else as needed you make them explicit as you pass by. No fishing.

B) I don't see the need for weekly review with AF, even with GTD add-ons. Perhaps you were using GTD to feed next-actions into AF? I could see that order causing trouble. Normally, projects go in AF, and I review them individually as they stand out.

But when I get overwhelmed with backlogs and urgent projects, I read over the whole list, identify key items, highlight or copy forward stuff, delete stuff, maybe group stuff in a separate list, and I'm done. One hour, and far less than weekly.
September 13, 2011 at 19:37 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
Hi Alan - I appreciate the response very much- and thanks for the 'Welcome Back'. Today is my real first day at reading through the discussions. It is amazing how hours can fly and how so much pertinent information there is. Tomorrow, I will be starting again from scratch and it is a little scary for me because it is so important I do it right (do it better) this time around.

You said, "Using AF the way you are supposed to doesn't involve fishing out next actions." All I meant by this was that I am using separate project lists.

That is what I meant by "fishing"; when a project task in AF is completed, or there is a work-on-project-X item in AF and the time is right to work on it, I hopefully can go to the project (either on paper or in a Gtd program like OmniFocus) and "fish out" the Next Action(s).

Maybe "fishing" (a task from a project list) is not a good term because you say, "The actions are already explicit...". However my point is that I don't want to clutter the AF list with project tasks that should be kept together in the first place.

However, if my project lists on paper or in Omni get too inflated, then it all just turns into an overwhelming Gtd system again, and my objective is to use the principles of AF, NOT a massive Gtd system.

In your part B, you say that you could see using GTD to feed NA's into AF "causing trouble". And you go on to say that "Normally, projects go in AF." But that is my point, it seems to me that would inflate the AF and hinder the "normal AF entries" from standing out when they should. But I see that you go on to say that you "group stuff in a separate list," so maybe it is just that my project lists are too numerous and too lengthy to reach the level of efficiency you seem to have achieved.

Your post back in the early summer (when I dropped out), "AF for Planner/Diary," intrigued me. I was using a separate notebook for Agenda items/main events, scheduled tasks, my daily "big rocks" and "must-do's" for the day plus a time sheet to force me to use the Pomodoro technique (which I find invaluable to stick to one thing for a set period of time). You gave me the idea of adding an "Actives" tab to this which also serves as a record of completed items. So, I tried to combine my paper system with your Planner/Diary system and it was working pretty well for awhile.

However, in addition to that notebook, I had to have a separate notebook with three tabs: AF, tasks listed by project and a tab for side-lists and specific programs.

I also attempted to use your Bookmark idea for all the backlogged day-to-day papers that build up (in which you commented to back then).

Maybe I am just in too deep right now and am suffering unjustified fears and I just need to simplify. I apologise if I am missing some basic points on AF and am writing all this prematurely. But I do get a lot out of your posts and am just striving now to pull it all together.

Incidentally, I assume your "current system" is nowhere to be found on this forum.
September 19, 2011 at 20:55 | Registered CommenterBKK
Now I understand you.

When project files get clunky it may help to clean them out. I would make a task to go through the file and kill dead stuff, clarify unclear stuff, and highlight upcoming stuff. Separate to-dos from project results. Don't bother defining actions for the future. Just what's needed soon. Keep the file easily accessible so looking it up won't be as much work.

Given that, your "fishing" won't be so much a chore.

Your description of everything seems complex. My experience is that whenever things get complex, I get lost. It's taken me years to get beyond that complexity, and the result is this:

calendar, day-plan (eg get up, work, home, sleep)
AF list
project plans & project notes
working materials
backlogs (which are slowly getting cleared)

My "current system" changes slowly. It is not much different from the planner/diary version, but its simpler and (I hope) better. I'm refraining from posting because it gets tedious to keep proposing new variations.
September 19, 2011 at 22:13 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
Allow me to correct my faulty recollection. I never had a complex combination of systems that I eventually winnowed down to the above. In fact my perpetual habit was to try something, and if it didn't totally gel, I'd give up and try something else. Rather, I always had a perpetual mess of abandoned approaches along with one actively flailing system.

The last two years have been marked by a discovery of Autofocus, followed by a gradual development of systems and habits slowly replacing chaos with order.
September 20, 2011 at 3:11 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
Hi Alan. This will be a long one, but I will try to not make it a habit.

The basics that you stated above:

<<calendar, day-plan (eg get up, work, home, sleep)
AF list
project plans & project notes
working materials
backlogs (which are slowly getting cleared)>>

sound a lot like my basics except I add the pomodoro time sheet and the "actives" section which I got from your P/D system.

So you gave the Actives part up? I realise that re-writing tasks to an Actives section is extra work and requires discipline. (Maybe I will find this redundant after awhile.) I liked it because it turned into a handy Daily Record of Events (DRE's) with pertinent info for later reference.

QUESTION: In view of the fact that contributors like you and Seraphim have your own excellent variations, and then there is an overwhelming amount of good ideas and variations from many others (and we are all waiting on Mark, as well), where would you direct a newcomer to this site at this point in time?

I have tried to get friends here in Bangkok (BKK) interested in this site, but right now it is really hard for me to suggest to them where to start (other than the home page).

I realise that anybody could just click the basic rules and adopt some variations if he or she wanted to. However, like I explained, now that I have been away from this site for so long, it is possible to get on here and read and read but still have the feeling that I am missing something (including the "current" system that is being used by the majority of the regulars on this site). (Or maybe I am just getting overwhelmed trying to catch up.)

Many of the challenges and bottlenecks that Mark has mentioned which will be addressed in his new release sound too good to be true (but I don't doubt a thing), and it's the suspense that is one of the reasons that make this site so interesting.

In the meantime (waiting on your detailed break-down, as well), I really like some of Seraphim's techniques in , especially to keep current projects in the limelight.

My objective is just like you say at the end of your post above, "slowly replacing chaos with order". Right now, my livelihood and a lot more depend on this concept.

My main downfall has always been overload, again referring to another (recent) post from you, "Why My List Doesn't Expand" ( ), where you quote Mark's "A to do list always expands faster than it is possible to get the tasks done".

That would be my dream (to tell someone why my list doesn't expand). (!!)

Thanks again. You have been most helpful.
September 20, 2011 at 16:00 | Registered CommenterBKK
The place for newcomers to start is probably the SuperFocus page. It's a heavily tested system, well-explained, and people can answer questions. Personally I found it didn't do very well as an electronic system, so in that case I'm not sure what I'd recommend. AF4 was a good starting point.

It's hard to honestly recommend my own approach to newcomers as it isn't tested except by one person, isn't well explained (assumes deep knowledge of autofocus), and there wouldn't be lots of support.
September 20, 2011 at 20:45 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
As for the "current" system here, I think we are all doing different things based on ideas from Mark's several inventions.
September 20, 2011 at 20:48 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
BKK, as you are restarting from scratch and as many here mention that the putting everything onto a list and making all the next actions and so on, for GTD or even just getting set up with a full system can be overwhelming, I suggest a QuickStart.

just get a blank sheet of paper and write down quickly the 5 or 10 things you think you need to get done now. from there, you can use AF or some system to decide which you want to first work on. if one of the 10 is a project with several steps, just write down what you need to do to get it started and start it.

I'm simplifying in how to exactly do it. I realized one day that ANY system is better than just working forever in NO system, while trying to set up and plan the PERFECT system.

I'm not suggesting you stay at this level. There is an idea in architecture called fast-tracking. Instead of getting perfect design for building, they get the overall design, perhaps all the floors locations and total shape. then while being built, they continue to design the individual floors. This moves things along faster.

So, as with deciding what to do that feels right, try this.

1. write ONE task, it will be to write 5 things to do today.
2. one of those 5 should be to write a list of 5 for this week.
3. one of those 5 should be ...

And as you go, you will KNOW what needs to be added to your short list.
Your overall system will slowly build itself up around you.

This also might also be useful for the friends you want to start trying a system. As they can learn and practice the ideas, next action, make a list, what feels right, planning a project, getting sense of time - from small steps, before trying to PERFECT PLAN THEIR ENTIRE LIFE. ( emphasis as that is often the trap I fall into ) They will feel results at once. And easy to get started.

I know this is the opposite of the David Allen Getting Things Done, get it all set up first, however I believe it deserves a try.
September 20, 2011 at 21:02 | Registered CommentermatthewS
I second Matthew's suggestion, and oppose David Allen's. Instead of processing everything, follow Mark's scheme of declaring a backlog. The backlog is closed. Anything new stays outside the backlog, and goes in your task list. Create a task of little-by-little clearing the backlog.
September 20, 2011 at 22:23 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
The currently recommended system is SuperFocus, the rules for which can be found at the SuperFocus tab on the top menu.

Or you can go directly to them at:
September 20, 2011 at 23:03 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Incredible. I just discovered your post. Exactly the same analysis.
February 25, 2017 at 22:23 | Unregistered CommenterJupiter