Sticking To Getting Things Done

The following post is reproduced from Zenhabits.NET with kind permission of Leo Babauta

Getting Things Done – Part Four: Sticking To GTD

“I have trouble sticking to my Weekly Review with GTD”

This is a toughie for most GTDers (including myself). It’s best to analyze why you’re having trouble, and address the reason.

Here are some suggestions:

  • If the weekly review is taking too long, shorten it by processing your inboxes to empty the day before, and making sure your process for the review is streamlined.
  • If you find that you get too busy and keep pushing the Weekly Review back, try first thing in the morning on Monday. Schedule an appointment for two hours, and don’t let anything interrupt it.
  • If that doesn’t work, do it on Sunday afternoon, when you have more time.
  • Reward yourself for completing it. Actually, completing the Weekly Review is in itself a reward, because it’s nice to get your system organized, so remind yourself of that. But also give yourself an external reward.

“Help! I’ve falllen off GTD and I can’t get back on”

This happens all the time — people get gung-ho about GTD and then a couple months later something comes up that gets them too busy to keep the system organized, and it falls apart.

Luckily, GTD is super easy to get back into. In fact it’s easier to get back into it than it is to get started in the first place, because you already know the system and you probably still have all the right tools.  It’s just a matter of setting yourself up and getting updated. It’s actually fun to start again.

Some suggestions:

  • Try some cool tools that you love to use. For me, that’s the Moleskine notebook, as it is just a pleasure to use. For others, that might be a PDA or a cool online app. The tools you use are important, as they make you want to use the system. However, don’t obsess over them.
  • Keep it simple. Many people make complicated systems that are hard to hold together. Start simple, perhaps with paper tools or the simplest online tools, and don’t get overboard.
  • Try with a minimal version (see the top of this FAQ for more). You don’t need to start full blast — just do a few things and then add later if necessary. You may find that the minimal version is all you need.

How do you stick with it once you get started again? See the next question.

“I have trouble sticking with GTD”

How do you stick with GTD if you keep falling off it? Try these suggestions:

  • Weekly Review. The key to sticking with GTD is the Weekly Review. Keep it short and simple, but be committed to it. If you only start with a minimal system, be sure to still do the Weekly Review. It keeps your system up to date, even if you get too busy to keep it up to date throughout the week.
  • Habits. GTD is actually a series of habits and the problem is that we try to adopt them all at once. If you’ve been reading Zen Habits for awhile, you know that you’re more likely to be successful if you try to adopt one habit at a time. Try that with GTD — just do one habit first, then the next, and so on. You are much, much more likely to make GTD a habit as a whole and stick with it using this method.
  • Start small. Instead of doing the whole system at once, try a minimal version (see the top of this FAQ for more). The minimal version is much less hassle to maintain, and therefore you’re more likely to use it and stick with it. Keep it simple.
  • Tools you love. Again, using tools you love make it more likely that you’ll actually use them, and therefore stick with the system. Again, don’t obsess over the tools, but pick ones that have a great appeal to you.
  • Online forum. A good way to stick with anyone is to find a group that’s doing the same thing. Try these forums to help you stick with it:

“Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity”
by David Allen is available from


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