A common question people have when they hear about the GTD methodology and start to consider it as a possible option to organize themselves better and work more effectively, is “how much time will I need?”
How long does it take to learn GTD and properly integrate the method into your life? This is a difficult question to answer for two reasons:
First of all, an obvious one, each person has a way of integrating new approaches into his or her life, and the speed of adaptation varies from one individual to another. Although the method is easy to understand and flexible enough, the implementation depends very much on the person.
Secondly, and much more importantly, GTD is a very complete system that includes a wide set of tools to optimize the way you work and manage your commitments. Learning GTD does not have a specific finish line, it’s a continuous journey.
Learning GTD is a journey. There are many recommendations and good practices that must be fully assumed in order to build the habits that will help you have better control of your life. There are many things to learn and many things to put into practice.
Rather than asking yourself how much time you will need to learn GTD, it’s probably more useful to ask yourself what is the next level you want to reach in your GTD mastery. This way of approaching learning may help you better manage the effort it requires.
Don’t be impatient, GTD is not a set of productive tricks to improve your life in 20 minutes. And, precisely for that reason, it’s a very powerful approach that is worth understanding and mastering well.
Of course, there’s a first stage that you can reach in a relatively short time, and that will allow you to have a good foundation to efficiently manage everything that comes up in your life. It’s about deeply understanding the GTD 5-stage workflow and putting it into practice.
After that, it would be good to examine all the components you have put in place and reflect on the small mistakes you may have made. It is important to do so, because otherwise those mistakes may be erroneously established in your mind as “part of your GTD system”. At this stage, it’s highly recommended to read articles, listen to podcasts, take courses, attend webinars, etc. Knowing the experience of other people who have already been there to realize what you are doing well and what you are not, is crucial to increase your mastery of the method.
As your life changes, so does your use of GTD. At different times you will use its components in different ways. Learning GTD is a journey and it doesn’t matter how long it takes: whatever stage you are in, you will always reap great benefits.