Jeff’s Story

Moving to a new job with Burton brought an unexpected gift: the GTD® system.

When Jeff Boliba moved cross-country from Park City, Utah, to Burlington, Vermont, in 2000, life could only be characterized as crazy. He was starting a new job at Burton Snowboards and living in a townhouse with a puppy and a one-year-old while trying to find a home in an area where houses sold before hitting the market.

Luckily, Jeff’s wife met Mike Williams’ wife at the gym—and the Williamses were selling their house. Jeff and his wife purchased the Williams’ home and the families became fast friends. The friendship led to the slopes where Jeff taught Mike how to snowboard. Wanting to return the favor, Mike asked Jeff to meet him one day for lunch—he had something important to show him.

At the time, Mike worked for GE as the Senior Director of Education Services. He had just discovered a new framework for working and living more productively. As Mike pulled out David Allen’s bestselling Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, Jeff immediately thought, “Man, I got the bummer end of this deal.”

But on his buddy’s recommendation, Jeff read Getting Things Done and quickly realized his initial impression was wrong. He started applying the skills and principles and met regularly with Mike for breakfast to workshop and discuss GTD®. Almost immediately, Jeff realized how powerful the GTD framework could be for his hectic life.

Previous to GTD, Jeff was a self-described “high-mover” who kept a lot of ideas, schedules, and responsibilities in his head. In his role at Burton, he managed more than 570 resorts around the world. In his personal life, his wife and three kids came first, followed by his passion of coaching volleyball, baseball, and snowboarding. At the end of the day, he often felt drained and spread too thin.

“Immediately, GTD allowed me to clear up the things that swirled in my head—things that woke me up at night—and capture them and put them into this trusted system,” said Jeff. “It freed up time and space for creativity and powerful thinking. It also opened doors in my personal and professional life I didn’t even know were possible.”

Jeff continued to practice and refine his GTD skills. One of the first times he really saw results was on vacation. Because of the trusted GTD system he was creating, he didn’t worry about things falling through the cracks—even while out of the office. Not only was that comforting but it also allowed him to disconnect, to trust his team back at the office, and most importantly, to be in the moment with this family. And he wanted more.

Jeff and Mike soon started coaching volleyball together and used GTD in planning their practices—a framework Jeff still uses today with the three different teams he coaches.

Jeff also attributes his success at Burton to his GTD skills. When he arrived in 2000, he had little training. A native of the West Coast, the East was foreign and life felt out of control. He travelled often to Europe and Asia leaving behind his wife and small children. When he wasn’t traveling, he handled many aspects of the Global Resort Business, including product development, sales, marketing, corporate responsibility, and more, which he continues to do to this day. He admits to always having hundreds of ideas and projects in flux at all times.

“Having my trusted GTD system to rely on is awesome!” says Jeff. “I’ve used it to become laser-focused and get done what I really need to achieve. It helps me stay on-task at work and get home earlier. What I used to do in a two-week trip I can now do in under a week. Some people work smart and some people just work hard. People who understand the GTD methods work smart.”

Recently, Jeff had Mike, now a GTD evangelist, train his Global Resorts team at Burton. As a result, the team has built a common language and uses the GTD skills regularly, including approaching every meeting the “GTD way.”

“Everyone on our team knows that if you’re going to schedule a meeting it better have a purpose and it needs to be efficient,” says Jeff.

But Jeff most appreciates his GTD skills when it comes to his family and the community. When Jeff first arrived in Vermont, volleyball wasn’t a Varsity sport. But due to his work with the Vermont associations, volleyball is now an official high school sport with full Varsity status. Last year, Jeff’s team won the Inaugural Boys High School Volleyball State Championships—with both of his boys on the team.

“GTD helped me create habits that allow me to maximize my time and get me the best results I can, equaling more work done,” says Jeff. “And more importantly, GTD is what has made it possible to take time with my family and live my life. Everyone wants to be successful, but you don’t have to kill yourself to make it happen.” ◼

The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the storyteller and do not reflect the view of VitalSmarts.

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