GTD at Home - Your Family Can Get Things Done!

Note: This guest article for GTDtimes has been published yesterday on their blog. Update 1: Inspired by this article and by the response to the "beta" version of Nozbe's Family Plan, I went ahead and officially introduced the Family Plan to Nozbe Update 2: This article made it to Evan Carmichael's top 10 GTDtimes blog posts list at #10
“Don’t try this at home” (MTV – Music Television) As I mentioned in my last article, being at the GTD seminar and listening to David Allen inspired me to try out different approaches to GTD. I decided to actually try GTD at home. I had a pleasure of talking to other fellow GTD-practitioners about their positive experiences at their homes. This short article will include tips and tricks for implementing GTD at home gathered from my friends’ homes and from my very own. Although in my case the experiment is an ongoing work-in-progress, I’m really happy with the results. Here’s a small fraction of GTD concept you can introduce in your family to get more done and motivate (and inspire) each other and have a happier home: Inboxes for everyone! First step is to prepare inboxes for each and every member of the family. Put the names on each of the inbox and instruct the family members “what is the inbox and why do they need one”. Some practical tips on setting inboxes for family members: • Don’t put all of the inboxes in the same place – put each inbox in the place the family member will most likely see and pay attention to it. Why? If the inboxes are grouped together – the items will most likely “migrate” from one inbox to the other instead of being processed and done by the family member they belong to. Family members really understand the concepts of “delegating” too well. • Locate the inbox in a place where the family member will pay attention to it. I initially placed my wife’s inbox in the hallway of our apartment. She would repeatedly ignore it. When I relocated her inbox to a spot near her cabinet with jewelry, the results improved tenfold. • Motivate your family members to process their inboxes. Initially assist them in processing their inboxes and from time to time remind them about the piled-up inbox that needs to be cleaned to zero. I even heard a tip by one of the fathers who would actually put occasionally a 1-dollar bill or another kind of “pleasure-item” to encourage inbox-processing among his kids. I think this kind of bribery is worth trying out. Work on the projects together A family is a team and there are many projects, especially home-related ones, that need to be planned and executed together with several family members. Planning a project like “cleaning up the house”, “redecorating one of the rooms” or “family Sunday dinner” can be planned with a simple to-do list for each of them. In my home one of the places for these kind of to-do lists is on the fridge. A simple to-do list won’t be enough, though. When planning a project like this, it’s important to pay attention to these two things: • Clearly point out each other’s responsibilities in the project and delegate the tasks to each of the family members. • Clearly define Next Actions for each other so that everyone knows what they should do right away. Encourage the 50,000 feet level thinking Make sure you talk to your loved ones about the meaning of their lives. About their overall area of responsibility, their goals – both long-term and short. Try to schedule these kinds of talks to on at least monthly basis and make sure everyone (including yourself) really knows why they are doing what they are doing. Why they participate in their projects and review their priorities and analyze the motives of their actions. I’ve started this kind of ritual with my wife and found out one of the best moments to do it is Sunday morning, right after our breakfast, when there is no pressure to go somewhere or do something. Apply the great 2-minute rule at home! After my last article about the “2-minute rule”, one of my friends told me how he applied the 2-minute rule at home and gave me several examples of daily rituals that could be accomplished within this short period of time, or faster (and I never realized that!): • Take out trash • Clean the table after the dinner • Put the dishes into dishwasher • Start the dishwasher to actually clean the dishes • Make the bed • Turn off lights in the rooms unoccupied by other family members • Put the shoes into the shoe-drawer • Grab a beer from the fridge • Etc. I’m sure there are many more quick 2-minute tasks at home that you can add to this list. I’d encourage you to identify these quickies with your family members. Once discovered, nobody will have an excuse to procrastinate and leave these tasks off for later. Tip: To motivate my family members and myself, I’ve actually created a list of these 2—minute “quickies” and posted it on my fridge for others to see. Do it now – start introducing GTD in your Family. I’m hoping I’ve encouraged you more than enough to try and start GTD in your family. Creating good habits is very important in a team such as a family that lives under one roof and wants to live in harmony, love and respect for one another. To foster family-friendly GTD I’ve introduced a “family plan” in my Nozbe web application where you can set up an account for up to 6 family members to manage projects and next actions together and spread more GTD-goodness among your loved ones. Please post your comments about GTD in your family and share your successes and challenges below – I’d be more than happy to discuss my experiences with you!

Posted on Friday, May 9, 2008

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