There is an adoption life cycle to implementing GETTING THINGS DONE (hereafter GTD). You can help Mark a ton by understanding what he, as a visual learner, is up against.
This is the adoption life cycle that I have personally experienced after 3 years of doing GTD. Mark will repeatedly fall “off the wagon” of GTD. You need to expect this, and be patient with it, and keep what you can do for him moving forward when he is in crisis mode.
When I started my new job here at Concordia last January, I fell off the wagon badly. But then I got back on. One nice thing about Evernote, is that you have a place to re-start from. Once you have infrastructure, you never go back to zero. You just go back to getting current on much less “stuff” than you started with.
When you see this cycle, go through it step by step and ask yourself “What can I do to help Mark get back on the wagon?” I think you will find that you can:
- Do the weekly review with Mark to write down all the projects.
- Scan, scan, scan, the important stuff that Mark is afraid you will throw out.
- Put the paper into numbered banker’s boxes in the garage. As you put the files into Evernote, you can put the banker’s box number on the note in Evernote so that when (not if, when) Mark freaks out and has to have paper in his hands, then he can go out to the garage and find the paper.
- Review the papers that Mark has to pull back out of the banker’s box with Mark once a week. Figure out what the common denominator is for the papers that Mark pulls and ACTUALLY USES.
- When Mark pulls paper back, review with him where that paper is in Evernote, and if you Mark does not actually use the paper repeatedly, put the papers back into their correct banker’s box.
- Papers that Mark repeatedly needs to have, and actually uses, need to go into manilla file folders and then into some kind of filing system by his desk (but out of his sight when sitting at the desk).
- Figure out key words that corral Mark’s papers into buckets. Then, tag the Evernote notes with those keywords so Mark can find all his stuff more and more easily over time.
- You should get to know Evernote. I don’t think it works well as a project manager because it does not allow you to edit in outline format. My next-action-manager (Omnifocus on the mac) allows me to edit in outline format and outlines have become a life saver for me.
- Probe Mark for what his inner editor is saying.
- If what Mark is saying internally is very negative, we may need to assign Mark a writing exercise of writing down all the negative things he is telling himself.
- Writers do this in order to silence the inner critic. We say things to ourselves that a fatuously untrue to ourselves. Things like “You will never be able to write.” “You will never be able to get this project done.” “You will never be worthwhile.” These and worse. We are our own harshest critics, to the extent that you can probe and air these things, you will accelerate Mark’s adoption of GTD.
- Probe Mark for when he is procrastinating, and what he is thinking while procrastinating.
- Procrastination is self defense, it is avoidance, it is working out what Jesus really wants us to do in the crucible of a mixture of doing what we love, and doing what we hate.
- Be patient with Mark, and encourage him to be patient with himself.
- Make sure that Mark takes enough time off. Scheduling dinners with friends who you love adds as much happiness to your life as making $100,000 more per year. Life is not about money. Life is about happiness (giving yourself away) and time. Once Mark is on the wagon half the time, he will be much happier. Beth (my wife 1.0) says “Bill is so unhappy when he is disorganized.” now.
- Help Mark get better organized with the “stuff” that is bugging him the most.
- The biggest thing that helped me at first was “One idea one piece of paper.” so be supportive of Mark doing a mind-sweep whenever he gets into “monkey mind” mode. Because I did not (I’m still working on it) implement the weekly review, my inboxes piled up and I got disorganized. Thus, I was unhappy for most of this year.
- My goofy Target totes that have all my paper project files in a clear order, enabled me to do systematic review. Look for road blocks that are keeping Mark from being able to do reviews.
- Getting Mark back to current on all his projects and all the open loops in his mind is the way out of frustration and too much “Inner critic” noise in Mark’s mind. Once Mark gets current, GTD becomes possible again. Once it is possible, then you can bite off one little additional piece of new infrastructure and try it out. Don’t try to and implement GTD all at once (the last 10 chapters of GTD) as nobody but the unemployed can make that happen in my experience.
Visual learners have a problem with what I call “GTD vapor lock.” After the initial flush of their minds, but before they get the ecology of system sub-components in place to do their first comprehensive review, the visual learner’s inner critic starts yapping at them and slowing them down. Guilt, nag, drip drip drip, guilt nag, repeat. Because you won’t see what is going on in Mark’s head, you will progress beyond him to stage 3 where you see that Mark can get a bunch of crap out of his head (project folders) and out of his face (general reference filing via Evernote). Watch out for being ahead of him and then circle back to encourage, encourage, encourage.
Feed the elephant of Mark’s emotions, we’ve got to keep his elephant moving forward. Don’t try to argue him forward. Look for bright spots that you can see. Look for bright spots that he can’t see or does not fully appreciate, and cheer-lead them into his face when he gets down.
Hope this helps!