I have become somewhat obsessed recently over a productivity “system” that has sucked me into the vortex.
If you are anything like me, you have tried several “time management” systems over the course of many years. I’ve tried many both high and low tech. I’ve had a Palm Pilot, used the task list on an iPhone, utilized the tried and true Franklin Covey and DayRunner methods, even kept a running list of tasks on a steno pad (I learned this from an old colleague in the 90s).
Within the past year and a half, at a previous employer, I was introduced to “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. I even downloaded the book on Kindle and downloaded a sister book “Getting Things Done With Evernote” (full disclosure, I have not read this yet).
I have not yet fully completed reading this book but let’s just say I’m hooked. I’m hooked by the clarity of mind it has given me. I’m certainly no expert with Getting Things Done (GTD for short) as I’m just getting started but I wanted to share my experience to date.
This flowchart is changing my life.
On the surface it looks a bit complicated but really it isn’t. Believe me, the hardest part about this is collecting your “stuff” into your in basket and labeling it in the “what is it” step. After that, life gets much simpler.
If you’re like me and have a busy life, you need something beyond your brain. Personally, I have at least four different areas of responsibility in my life. And that doesn’t count my roles of husband and father. I am also trying to build my two blogs. Keeping it all straight becomes a mental juggling act. I frequently lose sleep trying to keep all the plates in the air.
When I first learned of GTD, I started to use it a bit on the side but I never studied it. I tried a shortcut method based on flawed commentary from a colleague. I just recently went back to really, REALLY read the book and learn the principles.
And the more I learned, the more I want to learn. This is life changing stuff to me. As I write this, I just completed a 5 hour drive to attend a meeting for one of my volunteer responsibilities. Normally, I listen to a fiction book on my phone (I’m now using a Samsung S5). Tonight was different. I listened to approximately 3 1/2 to 4 hours of podcasts about using GTD effectively. The podcasts features such respected authors as Daniel Pink and Charles Duhigg so you have to know GTD is not fad. In fact, David Allen wrote his first edition book about it back in the mid-90s. The more I learn, the more I want to learn. I seriously believe this is the holy grail of productivity.
I’m not alone in this. There is a whole community of GTD mavens that I have not yet tapped into. The “Life as You Want It” blog also explains a bit about why this actually works. Check out this blog here:
Let’s face it, we all have a lot on our minds. The big takeaway I got from listening to the podcasts can be summed up with answering these three questions:
What is the project?
What is the desired outcome?
What is the next step?
As you can see, this has applications in any area of your life, not just work. As I write this, I’m already thinking about things to add to my project lists for a punch list of items that need to be completed at home. The bigger stuff like replacing flooring/carpet, replacing a bathroom counter top, etc.
For me, personally, I use the following apps and websites to help me track my items:
For tasks, I’ve discovered Wunderlist. I can use this on my phone, tablet and can log in on the web. I have access at all times. I also like that I can share tasks and to do lists with anyone who also has the app. Presently, I’ll only use the sharing function with my family and I’m working to get my wife and three children to download the app. That way I can create tasks and assign them out. Or my wife can create a grocery list the website and share with me.
For more business related and volunteer related capture of notes, documents, etc., I use Evernote. It’s easy for me to take notes on a basic notepad and then transfer them to Evernote on my laptop. I can even enter things straight to Evernote from my phone or tablet but I find that a bit time consuming. I am also more present and thoughtful if I write things down and then transcribe them into Evernote. I’m just not that great at thumb typing and I can be much faster the other way.
This is a work in progress for me. I’m just getting started with this but I do believe it will change my life.
What about you? How do you stay on top of things.