How is it that I’m always the last to know?

getting_things_done_pb.jpgIt all started with a Google of the name “Merlin Mann” because dooce posted pictures of him on her site and I was curious who he was. (Why do I feel like several of you are rolling your eyes at how little I know about people in cyberspace?) I ended up at his site and the first entry was a video of a presentation he did at Google.

First of all – have you ever been to a really good religious/spiritual event? It could be anything from a Rainbow Family Gathering to a Southern Baptist Revival – if it’s good, it will have the same effect. It will make you want to go home and re-start your life. Which is why “Revival” is such a good name for them (duh) because hopefully – that is what it will make you feel: Revived.

Well – Merlin Mann did that for me in his presentation and all he was talking about was email. I’ve officially hit an all-time dorky low. I can not stop thinking about the incredibly simple points he discusses when it comes to processing your inbox. He says in the beginning of the presentation that most of these admittedly common sense ideas come from this book. Have you heard of this guy and this book? Well – if not – join me in the group of The Only People On The Internet To Not Know What The GTD Method Is.

Between Merlin Mann’s presentation and this book that I haven’t bought yet but I’ve read a bunch about – I feel like I may actually be able to catch up on my life. I get a CRAP LOAD of email. First, there is the company that I work for as the “Support Person” to try to fix things that are broken or teach about things that are useful. That mandates a LOT of emails. Then there is my blog – which creates a lot of emails as well. And I feel like I never actually get caught up with dealing with any/all of those emails. The points Merlin Mann mentions and the GTD Method pretty much teach you to just DO IT ALREADY. It’s all common sense, but somehow – hearing someone else say it – makes it seem like a brand new (and freakin’ brilliant) concept. Empty My Inbox? Is that even possible? Just thinking about it gives me a high. I don’t think my inbox has ever been empty because I leave stuff in there until I’m done with them. And I’m never damn done with them. It’s a scary place — my inbox.

Anyway…(Man, I didn’t mean for this to turn into some really boring infomercial. Sorry.) I wanted to know if any of you practice/use any of these methods to be productive in your life. I’m famous for lists and organization so they will fit perfectly into my world, but I wonder if you’ve ever tried them and do they help? Evidently the Google Campus offers GTD workshops/classes for their employees. I mean – if it’s good enough for Google? It’s good enough for Zoot.

I’ll let you know how it goes for me. I’m going to begin implementing these ideas in my life on Monday. Because, while I’m desperate for a way to manage the chaos, I’m also a tad OCD and I can’t start anything new in my life on any day but Monday.

(You’re laughing at me now, aren’t you?)

Update from 2020: I fucking hate productivity culture now. I firmly believed this shit damaged me and a lot of my generation. I almost deleted this post but then I thought I should save it just for documentation.

18 thoughts on “How is it that I’m always the last to know?”

  1. I am a relative GTD newbie, but I’ve implemented parts of the method and actively use the email tips. You’ll know you’re hooked when you’re shopping at Staples for a new labeler and some manila folders on Monday.

    The email thing is worth the cost of the book, all by itself. An empty inbox feels soooo good.

    Also, I told you about GTD one time in your comments section (on the post about forgetting light bulbs at the store), and you replied and asked me if David Allen would just come over and do it for you. I think he WILL do that, but only if you are Google : )

  2. My company held a GTD workshop about a month after I started. It wasn’t facilitated by Merlin Mann (I, too, was puzzled by Dooce’s pictures), but by a really hot guy whose name I forget. Anyway, he got us all psyched about GTD, and I’ve implemented a few things, but I haven’t bought the books. And I have 532 e-mails in my Inbox alone. I do use the @Action and @Waiting for folders, have a better organized calendar and sometimes I use the Task lists. It’s a pretty cool philosphy but it does take a little more effort.

  3. zoot, DEFINITELY read the book. It takes practice to get the method up and running, and taking those first few days to “clear your head” is really important too…

    Go for it! I’ve read the book twice and love its methods.

  4. i used to have that book, and honestly? while some of the stuff is super helpful, it didn’t all seem useful to me. the physical ways of processing were great, but all the file folders and such that you needed? i just don’t have the money to buy that sort of system!

    that said, with all that you have to process (e-mail wise and such) and having a much bigger family than i, i’m betting it’ll work great.

    one thing i do that works super good is note cards. i’m a list-maker, too, and i find if i have 3×5 notecards on me, i can jot down anything and everything and process it later. and then i don’t end up with a big giant to-do notebook (like i used to have!!) full of pages of stuff i don’t want/need to do anymore that i have to lug around everywhere. for suggestions on this, see

    hope that novella helps!

  5. I just heard about GTD yesterday and I’m still not sure what it stands for, but I haven’t Googled it either. I was another site yesterday called Zen Habits ( and picked up some useful tips for getting all the crap off my desk at home. I can’t offer any parenting advice, but I can say that LilZ has a good system going with writing on his hand. I’m almost 34 and Sharpie + hand is the most effective system for me. I call it my palm pilot. Har har. 🙂

  6. I’ve never heard of this man. I saw Dooce’s pictures and didn’t even THINK to look him up. LOL

    You’re not alone!

  7. I bought GTD (Getting Things Done) about 2 months ago, read the first chapter, and then nothing. I’m horrible about implementing anything; no wonder I’m so disorganized. I’ve recently just tried to start a daily routine to get a handle on the chaos and clutter at home. One day soon I’ll pick up GTD again. Maybe I’ll even do it today.

  8. Hahahaha. Help? Man, I resemble a person that needs that book. Thanks for public service announcement that it even exists.

  9. If it makes you feel any better this is the first time I’ve heard his name. I had a semi sleepless night, I woke up concerned about our daily schedule. I’m afraid that it is not structured enough. So, I am making a magnet board and cards that have everything that I want to accomplish in the day, normal daily stuff like brushing teeth, cleaning and vacuuming etc. The magnet board has times from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Hopefully it will help remind me to have a reading time during the day and turn the tv off.

  10. I’ve been half-heartedly GTDing it for awhile. I like the idea but the actual execution seems more of a “to do” than anything on my to-do list.

    I am however a big fan of the 43 Folders blog. Come to think of it why is it not on my work blogroll?.. Duhh.

    Anyway, now that I watched Merlin on the video I’m thinking… F’ing Great, now I’ve got to rearrange “The List” and kick someone off so I can include him. Who knew he was such a sexy-geek-dork-hottie. I got all giggly during the Q&A ’cause he was just so darned cute/smart. I heart him.

  11. It BLEW MY MIND when I saw pictures of Merlin Mann on Dooce. Because I read Merlin Mann! And I read Dooce! Both for years! And two seemingly separate facets of my life were COMING TOGETHER. I didn’t know what to do! It was a beautiful thing.

    I’ve been reading 43folders for a while now and even though I don’t even have that much going on it’s still helped a lot. It really is just the little things you can do. Like opening an email and being completely honest with the answer to “am I really going to do anything with this?” No? Delete! And the site especially helps because I’m a Mac newbie and it’s giving me TONS of tricks and tips.

  12. Remember me? We used to work together. 🙂 Most of the stuff I talked about at work about productivity, time management, etc. was from GTD and Merlin’s site! Or inspired by it! I love what he tells people about email and I’ve been trying to teach people how the benefits for a long time now! Glad to see you discovered them. GTD is awesome! You should see my setup at home!!!

  13. I didn’t know about ANY of this stuff. You’re teaching me something new, lolol. Maybe I need to read that book.

  14. Oh man, the starting on Monday thing! I’m like that too, isn’t it a bitch? I’ve FINALLY managed to convince myself that if I start eating healthily on Fridays, it possibly won’t kill me. It might even be good for me.

    Anyway, I definately use some of the GTD things…I have a to-do list and I try and follow the thing that says if it takes less than 2 minutes to do, then do it. I could really be following that advice right now, actually. ha.

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