GTD as a Family

This week, my family is getting a hands-on lesson in GTD.  While my husband and teenage sons may not be aware of it, they have have actual been involved in the vertical "natural planning method" described in David Allen's Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.  The project at hand:  organizing our family's humongous stack of books into a usable library where one can actually locate the desired book because it is where it's supposed to be instead of under some stack.

The men who live in my house are motivated:  my boys, because they are great readers and my husband because the stacks are driving him crazy.  This library project is only part of my overall goal for the summer of better organizing our home.  Earlier this summer, I walked my house with a notebook, capturing all of the projects that need to be completed in each room.  Once I had all this information down in one place, it was easier to get a grasp on the individual tasks that need to be completed.

Getting back to the current library project, we are working our way through the five GTD elements in the natural planning method:

  1. Defining the purpose – Have a usable family library to enhance our enjoyment of the books we own
  2. Visioning the Outcome – Books on new, matching bookshelves organized alphabetically by genre
  3. Brainstorming – I asked my kids how they felt about mingling their books with mine rather than keeping them confined to their rooms.  They decided to keep a few select favorites and became excited about the prospect of building the library.  They helped determine our needs: space, bookcases, decent lighting, a nice reading chair…
  4. Organizing – The bulk of this naturally followed the brainstorming session, but a large section of it will occur when we actually begin to put the library together
  5. Identifying Next Actions – 15 year old football playing son accompanied me to buy the book cases and lugged the boxes up the stairs.  Husband assisted in assembling the cases and mounting them to the walls.  12 year old son delivered water and encouragement.  The next action to take place today will be to gather all of the books from their current locations.

I'm fairly certain that if I handed my boys my dog-eared copy of Allen's book, I'd get bored looks in return.  This way, they are getting a hands on lesson in project management.  If this sparks an interest in learning more about GTD, at least they'll know where to find the book in our new library!

Home-work for today:
Walk your house and compile a list of outstanding projects in every room that need to be completed.

The Bookshelf:
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

Reading Room Resources:
DIY Home Improvement Projects – Do It Yourself
HGTV Home Organizing Tips
Five Easy Dinners in July


Lisa Hendey, Catholic wife and mom, is the founder and webmaster of and the author of A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms: 52 Companions for Your Heart, Mind, Body and Soul and The Handbook for Catholic Moms: Nurturing Your Heart, Mind, Body and Soul. Lisa writes for several online and print publications, enjoys speaking around the country and hosts the Catholic Moments Podcast. Visit her at

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