Natural Project Planning in a crises
This is a story about how using GTD - even though I am a novice - helped keep me grounded in the midst of a personal crises last year. I shared some of this story on this forum around Sept/Oct last year.
In the middle of September 2010 my employer informed me that I would be laid off from my job as a social services case manager. Worse yet, I received a tiny severance package and need to immediately start paying $650 per month in monthly premiums if I wanted to keep my health insurance under COBRA. To top it all off, I found out that I would not qualify for UI benefits because my employer - a 5013(c) religious non profit, is not required to pay state unemployment taxes. laid me off. I was cool but also somewhat frightened about looking for a new job in the midst of one of the worst job markets in recent memory. Many of my friends commented about how calm I was and how I kept telling everyone that it will all work out. I believe that using GTD was instrumental in me maintaining my cool in the midst of an unexpected job loss and finding another job within six weeks - yes, six weeks of getting laid off.
This is how I believe GTD really helped:
1 - The first thing I did when I got home the day of the layoff was use the Natural Project Planning model to put everything related to finding employment into some kind of structured format. Natural project planning is not a silver bullet. It is, however, a powerful tool. It helped me keep my perspective about the unexpected loss of my job and also itemize everything that I was able to do to secure employment in a timely manner. Working with the brainstorming part of project planning was an awesome experience. This is where I realized that in the midst of an event out of my control, I have options - many options - in managing the many particulars of the event. This is where I realized that I have a map, tools and a vehicle. Now I need to determine what direction I need to go in and what stops do I need make - if any - along the way.
2 - After structuring my project with the assistance of natural project planning, I went online and listed my project as "Secure employment" and listed next actions. Got a folder and labeled it "Secure Employment" and went from there.
I submitted my resume for 7 openings and was invited to interview for 4 of the positions. I interviewed with 3 prospetive employers and received one job offer, which I accepted. The job I accepted was a contract position that will be probably be ending in late spring. There is a slight chance the project might be extended for the remainder of the year. I am now getting ready to plan my next steps with the use of natural project planning.
I also wanted to mention that natural project planning is also great for handling the unexpected on the job. Several years ago I found out that one of my clients - 22 year old single parent with a six month old - was about to lose her benefits. I need to mention that this was happening when my client case load was being transferred to co-worker since I was moving to another department. My client was angry and frustrated at realizing that her benefits were about to be cut. Even now I amazed that I was able to pull off what I did. But that is what happens when you determine and outcome and its purpose. Brainstorm. Look at current reality and determine the next steps/next actions needed to get there and execute. Result: My client kept her benefits and I moved into a new department with peace of mind!
I have to admit that I have a habit going through all of the steps in natural project plannning when I am facing a crises or emergency that is about to threaten my well-being. Obviously I am underutilizing something that works really, really well. But at least I know it is always there.
Thank you for allowing me to share my story.
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