All of us have a "dead time" during the day. For my son, age three, it's between 6:30-7:30pm. He gets tired and is generally uncooperative. Hey, you can't blame the guy, he's working on staying up late like his big sister is able to do! For me, after lunch is the time when I get a little down and have to combat the dead time with some clever work strategies. How about you? When does GTD matter most in your day? Here are 8 moments in the day when GTD makes a difference in my life:
1. Waking up: if GTD is about action-oriented decision making, then it's time to put mind over mattress and wake up at the same time each day. This doesn't prohibit an occasional weekend-sleep-in but for the most part, getting up early and at the same time works for most GTD enthusiasts.
2. Morning routine: I was inspired years ago by Tom Hanks and the movie, Turner and Hooch. Hanks played an obsessive-compulsive cop who starts his day the same way, every day. Clothes are laid out, coffee is waiting to be drunk, and minutes are scripted to the "t". You don't have to be as obsessive as Hanks was in the movie, but establishing and sticking to your routine is a must for a true GTD sensei.
3. Commute: Whether you have a short walk to work or a more arduous journey, commuting time is learning time. Every GTD master I know is using her/his commute time for ongoing ed. I generally keep 1-2 audio books on my passenger seat for my listening pleasure. Keep a notepad or audio device to capture key ideas so that you can get them out of your head.
4. The first 20 minutes at work: Rather than checking email first thing or puttering around with a few colleagues to start the day, why not review your to-do list which you created the night before (right?) and start in on your Most Important Tasks. If you have an interruption-rich job like I do, then it's not always easy to launch into your own work. Nonetheless, it's still vital to pregame your day and then tackle it with the force of a speeding bullet.
5. The "lag time" part of your day: It's 1:30pm, your lunch is digesting and you don't have the same vigor as when it was 9am. Welcome to life! It's at this point in the day (and we all have our different 'lag times') when GTD matters most. The key is to stick to your plan, be flexible and kind with yourself and keep moving. I find that manual labor of mindless labor (like filing) can be the perfect antidote for the post-lunch blues.
6. The last 20 minutes at work: Here are some good practices for the 9th inning of your work day: clear off your desk, process any leftover mail, clear out your in box, respond to emails, plot out the following day, call your spouse to see if anything needs to be picked up at work, put in a courtesy call for your evening appointment to see if it's still on, read through your Google Reader and GTD Network feeds.
7. 6-9 PM: Being fully present is another GTD concept. If you have a family (or even pets for that matter), then you know that children demand a certain level of attention. From the moment I get home from work, my kids are all over me and want to wrestle, play with blocks and provide undivided attention to their needs. The key is to be fully present- if you know what you have to do the next day, you won't be worrying about it during your family time. Turn off the tube, ignore your email and be present to the moment.
8. Just before bed: It's a seldom discussed issue but the final hour of the day is crucially important for the GTD practitioner. Mornings grab all of the headlines but it's the final hour that can make or break your day. The art of winding down is vital and makes a statement about you, your level of productivity and your desire for life balance. No matter how hectic life can get, take the final hour of the day to veg-out and relax. Read a chapter from a novel, watch Sports-center, or play a video game.
These are just 8 of the moments when GTD leaves its mark on my day. How about you?
Resources for the Road
GTD Cafe: New Spin on Waiting-For Action Items
Zen Habits: GTD FAQ
GTD Cafe: GTD in Daily Life- a Snapshot
LifeHack: What You Should Know Before Starting GTD
E Leadership: GTD Religion or Real Living?
GTD Cafe: David Allen and Bruce Lee