The GTD Breakfast Club

Friday, February 16th, 2007
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My daughter, Wendy, recently made a post in the GTD Connect forum about how our family is learning about GTD at the breakfast table. [If you're a GTD Connect subscriber, you can read the posts and respond there.] I thought I would take a moment to share my own thoughts and experience here, too.

Over the years, I've often ask my children to help me test new software and programs. I find that they approach software from a totally different perspective and I always learn new insights as a result of their efforts. (Even Microsoft found benefit in this approach; they distributed Amy & Wendy's podcast on OneNote Shared Sessions to the OneNote design team.) Anyway, back to the GTD breakfast club...

In December, I decided to ask my wife and children to test some prototype features for my productivity software for using Lotus Notes with the GTD methodology.  (Little things, like linking projects to actions, switching contexts, and a tickler to calendar system.) In order for them to be effective helpers, however, I knew that they would have to distinguish between the methodology and technology of the productivity equation. I decided that this would be a good time for me to set up more formal GTD instruction for my family.

I've practiced GTD since before my children were born and have tried to model good GTD habits to my children. A few years ago, David invited Amy & Wendy to be his guests at the Vision seminar (Pre-RoadMap). Still, there's a big difference between modeling or listening and DOING. Now, I would have the opportunity to teach my children GTD in a more formal approach. I decided that the best way for me to do this, while keeping their interest and (hopefully) enthusiasm for the topic, would be to make it fun, to create a productivity club, with structured activities and lessons. This, the GTD Breakfast Club was born.

This January, we started the GTD Breakfast Club in our home. It's really just an additional 10 minutes a day, tacked on to the end of our family breakfast time. (Our breakfasts can run up to an hour and include time for eating, discussion, a brief lesson from the Bible, prayer, and planning for the day's homeschool & work activities.) It seemed natural, therefore, to plug the GTD breakfast club into this time.

Each day (or few days, as the topic may require) I introduce a single GTD topic to the family. We talk about it and then the kids implement it during the day and following days. I try each week to do a follow-up session to see how things are going. I keep the topics singularly focused (e.g. what is a waiting for? why might you have one? how to track? what if there's paper involved?) I also encourage and randomly acknowledge (and reward) a processed in-box. (An occasional note in someone's in-box that says "bring this paper dad by 4:00 PM today only for a surprise" can be a great motivator to reinforce the habit of processing your in-box daily!)

You don't have to read the GTD book to your children. Instead, adapt the concepts to their world. Start simple: e.g. the importance of getting ideas out of your head, memorize the five lists together, and acknowledge/praise creative adaptations of the five lists. I could probably write a book on how we use GTD at home and in our homeschool, but rather I want to encourage you to adapt the material to your own family needs.

If you take anything from this post, I want to encourage you to make GTD a family habit. Start simple, stay consistent, and keep at it. It will make a huge difference.

We are having a great deal of fun with this and it's already made a big improvement in our family, work, and homeschool life.  I would like to hear about how you're implementing GTD at home.

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