THIS WEEK’S EPISODE IN A VERY LARGE NUTSHELL:
Oh snap, you caught us… we used a naughty word… SHOULD is a banned word at goodr. We empower the team to take on anything. GTD expert and dear friend Hanssie joins the regular, getting-kind-of-boring, hosts Shaun and Stephen, on this episode to teach us how to put our productivity pants on.
YAY Hanssie! BTW if you want to shop Hanssie’s collection of fave sunglasses, look no further:
Hanssie started working with GTD when guest speaker Mike Willams came and did a 2-day workshop with goodr employees. She was resistant because she had her own system. Lots of color-coded to-do lists, and the Wunderlist app (RIP). Ultimately though, her practice equated to stress-- very dressed up, colorful, stress.
Stephen has an on-going to-do list in Evernote, and honestly isn’t sure how he would function without it. As a type 7 Enneagram, he is a high mover that wants to do it all. He is able to create at will, shut it down at night, relax when he wants to, focus when he wants to-- he gets to make it all happen, because this shit is legit.
Hanssie and Stephen both have hardcore systems and because of their baller organization, they also party the hardest. Hanssie has always worked for small companies, and is used to wearing multiple hats. With GTD she can manage more roles than the average human being, take on tons of projects, even while homeschooling her daughter! FYI-- Hanssie’s daughter has been taught GTD, but like young Hanssie she’s been a tad bit resistant at first and insists on using her own system.
The concept boils down to the fact that your mind is for having ideas not holding them.
We’ll walk you through the 5 steps:
Start by capturing all of your thoughts and open loops. Things from deadlines, to “don’t forget to pick up laundry detergent at the store.” These are swimming around recklessly in your head, and now is the time to get ‘em out.
Take the things that you took out of your brain and rework them into concrete actionable steps. Keyword: actionable.
Put all of the thoughts you clarified into the right place. Your calendars and your to-do list systems.
Look over all of those lists and calendars, update them, renegotiate timelines, and make sure you’re completing daily and weekly reviews.
Now you will know what to work on, where, and when to work on it. Get that shit done!
GTD is a super effective processing tool. Take this example: A new laptop works great. Then you load it up with apps, weird downloads... and all of a sudden your laptop sucks, it starts self-imploding and may even blackout during Google Chat meetings (yes, we’re speaking from experience…) because it has consumed sooo much content. Too much content. That’s your brain. Get that junk off of your harddrive, and operate smoothly.
Stephen took his productivity practice to a whole new level with his personal operating system (OS). Mike Williams first brought up the concept of operating systems when inquiring about goodr’s OS. A lightbulb went off for Stephen in this moment, leading him to question, wait, what is my operating system?! It starts at a high level of what is his purpose, values, and breaks down to important people in his life. If it doesn’t fit an area of focus or a role, then it doesn’t serve him. Off the plate it goes.
Hanssie runs a workshop for employees that have fallen off of the productivity/GTD practice wagon. It’s called “I Fucked Up GTD.” It helps tweak individual systems and slip them back into the game. Hanssie uses ten habits to help off-track employees. People get off course because, well, new habits are hard to learn! At first it makes you feel great, you start to see results, then you stop capturing things, skip weekly reviews, and before you know it, your world is a dumpster fire. You need to unlearn previous habits so you can relearn new ones. People don’t follow the system completely, and you need to. If you’re taking things out of your brain, you need to have a system that you trust to hold your ideas, or you’ll be left with a bunch of random ideas that you don’t have a place for… which just feels a muy loco to most of us.
Message repeat: The name of the game is that you gotta trust the system!!! Shaun, stop losing your keys! Just kidding. Shaun puts his keys in the same place every time, so when they’re not there, it is DEFINITELY someone else’s fault. He trusts his system. The other big thing is not writing down your tasks ACTIONABLY. It has to be a list of next actions. They need to start with an actionable verb. If you write down “Mom’s Birthday” that is a statement, you’re doing it wrong. If it is written down as, “Buy a Birthday Card for Mom by 10/2” then your brain gets switched on. “There is something you need to do and you need to do it by this date,” Hanssie explains, and that is a motivating way of looking at a task.
The number one component that people need a refresher on is doing their weekly review. If you’re not doing a weekly review, you are not doing GTD. Sorry folks. It should also be noted that you need to have a place to capture all physical and digital stuff. With the stress being on having a physical inbox. In fact, all new hires at goodr get a pretty envelope for this purpose. A junk drawer is admitting that you don’t want to do anything with that stuff. Tie those strings off! Clean out your damn junk drawers and collect with purpose.
Let’s talk about inbox zero. Who reading this has 100,000 unread messages in their red bubble? That is NOT OKAY. Hanssie will not be your friend. Inbox zero is something that feels really good, particularly when you know you have everything captured and organized. Shaun asks, “What’s your tip for someone that has an absurd red badge?” “Delete all,” says Hanssie without hesitation. Sometimes the best thing is to declare bankruptcy and start from scratch. Browser tab bankruptcy is also a thing… I know you WANT to read those articles… but are you really ever going to? Close the damn tabs.
While adopting this process remember that you don’t have to do everything at once. The two minute rule is a solid launch point. This is the principle that if you can do it in two minutes, go DO IT. The next baby step into GTD is your weekly review. If you do nothing but write everything down, do the two minute rule, and complete a weekly review, you’re 80% there. Start small and build. The book “Atomic Habits” by James Clear has some really great actionable steps. Basically if you want to have better results, don’t set goals. Focus on your system. The most effective way to change your habits is to focus on who you want to become. The goal here would be wishing to become a more productive person. So you build the habits to become that person, not because you HAVE to do those mundane awful sounding tasks. Stephen uses the word “intention” because the word “goals” feels like if you’re not hitting it, then you’re failing. You’re controlling what you can control. If you’re a runner and you want to pull off a sub-four hour marathon, you set the goal, “I want to be the person that runs three days a week.” Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
The weekly review is the step missed most often. It’s recommended that you take two hours to do it. If you can commit those two hours a week it makes life that much more enjoyable. If Shaun steps up his weekly review from 5-10 minutes to 30+ minutes he will feel lighter, freer, and more confident that everything in his life is managed and under control. Hanssie’s weekly reviews happen on Fridays and take an average of 30 minutes. However, before a vacay, she puts more time into it.
Stephen explains it as, “How often do you brush your teeth? How often should you be cleaning the scuzz out of your teeth? How often should you be cleaning the scuzz out of your mind? It’s the same mindset. Brushing your teeth is fucking boring, we’ve just been doing it since we were a kid.” A productivity management system is no different. Stephen has his weekly review set up for Monday morning. He blocks off four hours, but also has a bunch of recurring two minute tasks he slots in there. There is an issue of people using this system as a procrastination tool. There is a little bit of “precious mindset” in the beginning. We get stuck in the box of having to do it just right, and if we don’t do it perfectly it’s easy to say, “forget it” and move on. For those of you on that slow boat, two minute rule that shit!
Work life balance is not a thing. It does not exist. It’s the coexistence of work and life. Hanssie explains, “When I’m at work I am putting in a 100% effort. When I am home, being a mom, I’m giving that a 100% effort.” Stephen chirps in, “Doing X means I can do Y. This at times you might think is boring. I don’t think it’s boring because taking a week off to go to Palm Springs and not looking at email, that’s not boring, that’s actually really fun.”
Did you smell the discrepancy above? Let’s jump into the debate of completing the weekly review on Friday or Monday…
Monday logic: Stephen feels like he is getting dialed in and focused off the bat on Monday morning. He felt like when he previously completed his reviews on Fridays that he would lose track over the weekend.
Friday logic: Hanssie likes going into the weekend with nothing on her mind, ready to party hard.
Both Hanssie and Stephen are highly productive humans, so it really comes down to what process works best for you.
Because of this system, and the ability to organize the shit out of our lives and get ridiculous loads of work accomplished, we banned the word “should” at goodr. “Oh you know what we should do, we should do this…” It’s kind of a frustrating experience when someone starts to venture down that road. Instead, we give people the tools to take on projects. When someone uses the word “should” it often comes back, “Well, you should do that!” goodr employees have the option to make project outlines for anything and get them greenlit. Like when Hanssie said, “We should throw this awesome goodr prom…” Yup! That was a great idea. She built out a project brief and the shift becomes, “I want to do this, can we do this?” It’s all about owning that you want to do it instead of dumping it on someone else’s plate.
What’s your favorite app to make it all work? Stephen uses Todoist for next actions, Evernote to manage his lists, and Google Slides for organizing big projects. Hanssie just got an iPad to try to go all digital with Goodnotes, and uses Todoist for next actions.
How often do you rework your own GTD practice? Hanssie responded, as often as necessary and Stephen is always tweakin’ (not in a sketchy tweaker way though).
The best and biggest projects that came from the “you should” concept? goodrSTOCK prom, and the goodrSTOCK cruise, were massive feats. goodrSTOCK is our quarterly employee summit/celebration for those of you that forgot or haven’t been listening to anything. D.Rock our licensing and partnership guy’s role basically was created from a “you should,” and a lot of our trade show booths were born from a “should.” The transformation of a fold up card table with grandma’s old table cloth to a jungle flamingo habitat only took one “should.”
Your biggest GTD whiff? Stephen reminds us to trust your system, don’t just throw stuff on the calendar, or use your calendar as a dumping ground. Hanssie’s biggest whiff is realizing that a to-do list is not GTD… a to-do list is not efficient.
Your biggest GTD win? For Stephen, goodr. Okay, we won’t argue with that. Hanssie used to suffer from insomnia, she now sleeps very well, and takes the weekend off. Bonus: We’re able to be completely present while partying and on vacation.
Stephen will ask people, “How is your GTD practice on a scale of 1 to 5?” “Oh… it’s a 4… I got all of my ‘next items’ lined up…” WELP, the fact that you said “next items” and not “next actions” makes us think you’re more of a one or a two.
Stephen wants to do a quick bonus episode with David Allen the GTD creator. Cross your fingers and make a wish! We’d all love to listen to that!
Here is the last little bit of advice to follow:
Hanssie says, “Keep an open mind and try it out!”
Stephen says, “Think about GTD as a way to be set free, not a way to restrain you.”
Thanks for following us along on the CULTURE goodr journey! Next week we’ll talk about how we almost completely eliminated email from our work lives.
* This episode of CULTURE goodr was edited by Cole DeBoer.