This is a guest post by Jeroen Sangers of El Canasto.

Getting Things Done isn’t easy. To implement the method described by David Allen, you’ll have to change your habits, and that is a very difficult thing to do. This becomes very clear when reading the forums at the David’s site. Almost on a daily basis someone mentions getting back to GTD after having fallen off the wagon.

In this article I present nine tips that in my experience as GTD-er and occasional coach helped in Getting GTD Done.

1. Get the book

You can find tons of information and tips on the internet, but you really, really need the book to succeed. Not only because you will find everything in one place, but mostly because in my opinion the tips & tricks on the internet are more about tools than about methodology. Reading the book is the fastest way to get a complete overview of GTD, and it also contains a step-by-step guide for starting with Getting Things Done.

2. …and re-read the book frequently

Each time I read the book I discover new things, and therefore I try to re-read the book twice a year. The first time you will read the book you will be overwhelmed by the huge amount of information, and you will probably pick a few topics to start working on (usually the processing phase). Later, when you master at least part of the system, you will probably be more interested in themes such as the weekly review, the tickler file or archiving. I can tell you, even after several years working with GTD, the book still offers me new insights.

3. Get it ALL out of your head

This one sounds obvious, and you will probably think that you’re already doing that, right? Most people are already collecting their work stuff. But what about home? Are you just as productive at home as in the office?

I also find that the collected stuff usually is already related with concrete objects like paper or e-mail. But what about less tangible stuff such as feelings, emotions and relationships? This is stuff you don’t see, but most certainly takes up part of your RAM.

4. Start at the bottom

David is very clear about this; you’re looking at GTD probably because you’re overwhelmed with work. If you would start the traditional way by setting goals, all you would do is generate even more work. So it is better to start at the base, and clean up and organize your stuff first. Only then you will have space and time for looking at the higher levels.

5. …but don’t stay there

Many times I spoke with people having implemented a perfect processing and taskmanagement system who are still having productivity problems as they simply have too much work on their plate. What happened is usually that they ignored their higher levels.

Whatever you are doing during the week should be in line with your short-term and long term goals. The Weekly Review is the right moment to prune your project list and kill all projects collected during the week that do not bring you closer to your goals.

6. Forget the tools

The first thing most people do when starting with GTD is searching the internet for the right software. Not only does this cost you a lot of time, it will also limit your thinking to the feature set of the chosen tool. Therefore I always advise to work with simple lists on paper for at least six months. Only then you will be comfortable with the methodology and know exactly what your requirements for a GTD tool are. Being able to work from paper lists also serves as a back-up in case your technology fails.

7. Optimize

Recognize repetitive tasks and find ways to automate them. If you spend many hours at the computer, increase your typing speed and learn keyboard shortcuts for the most-used applications. Tweak also your physical space to be able to archive files faster, run your errands more efficiently,…

8. Work your lists

Probably you have set up your task lists, project lists and maybe even a list of your goals. Go further and create lists for everything you need to remember: create a wish list, a travel pack list, a shopping list, a reading list, checklists for for any complicated work you need to do, lists of keyboard shortcuts, lists of ideas for blog posts, write down the clothing sizes of the members of your family,… Lists are your friend.

9. Get external help

Changing habits is difficult, and if you have been working in a certain way it is daunting to change. External pressure might help you. If possible, start working on GTD together with other people, so you can discuss your problems together. If you’re doing it alone, tell your family, friends and co-workers about what you are doing and what you are aiming for. Especially your co-workers will follow you very critically if you’ve told them that you are going to improve your productivity, which might be the perfect catalyst for keeping you going.

Jeroen Sangers is the creator and main contributor of El Canasto, the most popular Spanish GTD resource. Born in The Netherlands, Jeroen now lives in the Catalan region in Spain. He has nine years of blogging experience and his natural laziness makes him an expert in personal productivity.