Author Topic: Getting Things Done  (Read 11150 times)

mobilisinmobili

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Getting Things Done
« on: February 27, 2013, 02:31:17 PM »
I'm curious how many mustachians use David Allen's organizational system either partially or whole-hog. I find that when I'm doing it properly (I fall off the wagon from time to time), it's the the most productive that I've ever been.

I use the flow chart, weekly review, and Doit.im to manage tasks.

Wonder if other people have been having success with it?

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Re: Getting Things Done
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2013, 03:10:07 PM »
I've been using it since 2003, and have turned several people at my office on to it. It's great. It also helped me think about what to do when I discovered MMM and wanted to start down this path.

shusherstache

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Re: Getting Things Done
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2013, 03:23:47 PM »
I use it primarily for work but also find it helps me to organize my home life rather efficiently.  It's been a real time-saver and has made me ridiculously more productive (which has led to some great new opportunities at my job).

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Re: Getting Things Done
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2013, 09:00:52 PM »
Thank you for reminding me that I need to get back on the wagon.

arebelspy

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Re: Getting Things Done
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2013, 09:57:33 PM »
I found GTD too heavy for me.

Guess I'm not that busy of a person.  Maybe if I were a CEO or something.

Anyways, it was just too much work, I kept not doing it, and, like the above poster, kept needing to "get back on the wagon."

Once I finally admitted that, I started doing a lot better.  I ended up going to a "Simplified GTD" system first explained by Gina Trapani of Lifehacker here: http://lifehacker.com/335269/practicing-simplified-gtd

I ended up taking that idea as my core and tweaking it to fit me.  I don't do reviews that often (certainly not weekly), but I have a few basic files (mostly the 3 she describes).

That, combined with Inbox Zero (the concept of never letting the inbox fill up, I generally have one email sitting in my inbox, the IDoneThis email of the day that is sent to me each morning - if an email sits in my inbox, it doesn't leave until it's dealt with, usually right away, the longest a day or two), and then IDoneThis to track everything I've done in a given day, give me the best organization system that works for me.

(Oh, and I use Evernote for my long term notes and lists, and then SimpleNote for my GTD system only - I found it best to separate them, hated having GTD lists cluttered in with other saved files.)

If you've tried GTD (perhaps over and over) and couldn't stick with it, try the modified GTD above.  It's surprisingly good for those of us that don't need the full blown system.
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Justin234

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Re: Getting Things Done
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2013, 12:52:16 PM »

I ended up going to a "Simplified GTD" system first explained by Gina Trapani of Lifehacker here: http://lifehacker.com/335269/practicing-simplified-gtd

I ended up taking that idea as my core and tweaking it to fit me.  I don't do reviews that often (certainly not weekly), but I have a few basic files (mostly the 3 she describes).


 That link was helpful - I too have found the GTD system to be too burdensome and too file/paper heavy. It seems designed for someone who prints every email and maybe even has a personal assistant of some sort to manage the filing. The simplified GTD looks a lot more suited for my type of projects, and the amount of my info that is in electronic correspondence.

 

 That, combined with Inbox Zero (the concept of never letting the inbox fill up, I generally have one email sitting in my inbox, the IDoneThis email of the day that is sent to me each morning - if an email sits in my inbox, it doesn't leave until it's dealt with, usually right away, the longest a day or two), and then IDoneThis to track everything I've done in a given day, give me the best organization system that works for me.

Can you shed any more light on the benefit of IDoneThis? Looking at the site it seems oriented towards team-based work (sharing progress, accountability to boss, etc.). How do you go about documenting everything you do, and then what do you do with the email you keep in your inbox? What makes it worth the $5 a month, rather than just using a "Mission Accomplished" text file of some sort?

I've had a lot of trouble finding a system for info management - I never seem to stick with one system, be it delicious; evernote; or just emailing myself an email; I end up forgetting about my system. Also, I don't have a smart phone and don't want one; so I think I really need a paper system for organizing ideas and information, somehow combined with an electronic system like Evernote in a way that they the two systems support each other. Still working on that...

arebelspy

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Re: Getting Things Done
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2013, 03:45:32 PM »
Can you shed any more light on the benefit of IDoneThis? Looking at the site it seems oriented towards team-based work (sharing progress, accountability to boss, etc.). How do you go about documenting everything you do, and then what do you do with the email you keep in your inbox? What makes it worth the $5 a month, rather than just using a "Mission Accomplished" text file of some sort?

iDoneThis is free for personal use - on the signup page, under the giant blue signup button it says: "Or sign up to use iDoneThis personal, just by yourself, for free." Which links to here: https://idonethis.com/accounts/register/personal/

The benefits are accountability as well as the other benefits of having a daily log, as described here: http://lifehacker.com/5582372/use-a-daily-log-to-keep-yourself-focused-on-productivity

I wouldn't be disciplined enough to do it without a trigger, but a daily email from them that I just reply to with what I did that day helps me.   I also can look back over the last few years and see what I've accomplished on given days.

And, since I send the emails through gmail, it's all very searchable.  I.e. say I want to look up the date I met with my lawyer.  I may or may not have it on my calendar, but I definitely would have put it in iDoneThis.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with three kids.
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Justin234

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Re: Getting Things Done
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2013, 10:43:35 PM »
iDoneThis is free for personal use - on the signup page, under the giant blue signup button it says: "Or sign up to use iDoneThis personal, just by yourself, for free." Which links to here: https://idonethis.com/accounts/register/personal/

Nice - I missed that.

The benefits are accountability as well as the other benefits of having a daily log, as described here: http://lifehacker.com/5582372/use-a-daily-log-to-keep-yourself-focused-on-productivity

I wouldn't be disciplined enough to do it without a trigger, but a daily email from them that I just reply to with what I did that day helps me.   I also can look back over the last few years and see what I've accomplished on given days.

And, since I send the emails through gmail, it's all very searchable.  I.e. say I want to look up the date I met with my lawyer.  I may or may not have it on my calendar, but I definitely would have put it in iDoneThis.

It would be a challenge for me to get in the habit of noting everything I've done, and deciding what's worth reporting and what's not (e.g., do I log, "Replied to arebelspy about iDoneThis"? Or, more likely, explored possibility of using "iDoneThis and opened free account". But I definitely see how it could help. I think I'll try it out and see how things go. Thanks!

dahlink

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Re: Getting Things Done
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2013, 10:59:07 PM »
I first heard about GTD through Leo Leporte's show Triangulation on the twit.tv network.  I've since listened to the audio book and am using a lot of the aids to corralling ideas and tasks.  I use the program evernote as well and review fully twice a week.  I also try to have a pen and pad close by to write down the ideas.  I find it to be a productive boost for sure.  The key for me is to get the idea into the inbox instead of letting it live in your subconscious.

Taffy

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Re: Getting Things Done
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2013, 11:47:52 PM »
I use Things for OS X (purchased in my pre-Mustachian days) together with Evernote. Things is lovely—simple enough that I still use it (I had tried others and dropped them for the reasons listed in the Lifehacker article linked to by arebelspy), while being flexible enough that it really helps organise my thoughts and my day. I was the quintessence of disorganisation before implementing a GTD system, and while there's still a way to go, I now can't imagine doing things in the old fashion. I see GTD as an essential part of gaining discipline as a naturally undisciplined person, and that discipline is in turn is a cornerstone in the unfinished edifice of my mustachianistical bad-assity.

Justin234

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Re: Getting Things Done
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2013, 01:42:36 AM »

As a follow up, in my investigation into various methods, I found a good list of alternatives to GTD:[/size]
http://lifehacker.com/5980873/do-i-really-need-to-learn-a-productivity-method

  • [/size]Getting Things Done: GTD has a ton of different organization methods to make sense of your work. It's great for people who have so many tasks to work on that they need massive organization to make sense of it all.
  • [/size]Pomodoro Technique: Pomodoro uses timers to keep you on track. It's best for people who are easily distracted and can work in tiny, micro-sized time increments.
  • [/size]Seinfeld's "Don't Break the Chain": Don't Break the Chain is all about creating a chain of productive days by marking off what you do on a calendar. It's structured to help you create habits with consistency.
  • [/size]Autofocus: Autofocus is a linear, list based system that simplifies everything you need to do into steps. It's great for people who like a simple system that keeps them on track with minimal management.
  • [/size](From comments on link) [/size]100 Day System[/size] - [/size]http://www.100daysystem.co.uk/
  • [/size]Some folks seem to like something called Kanban
[/size]I can easily imaging coming up with some combination of GTD, Don't break the chain, and Pomodoro. Haven't looked into Autofocus.
[/size]
[/size]The 100 Day system is actually pretty interesting - the creator makes the point that you need to be invested in the system (in his case, a notebook for 100-day stretches) for it to work. So he has you create your own notebook, and write the date on the corner of each page in the morning.

arebelspy

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Re: Getting Things Done
« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2013, 07:12:56 AM »
My wife uses pomodoro and don't break the chain.

I don't care much for either, but she also doesn't care much for my simplified GTD.

Different strokes for different folks.

She also has had a LOT (and I mean a lot) of success recently implementing a "guilt list" of things to do.

The idea started with a guilt hour from this post: http://lifehacker.com/5980707/get-difficult-tasks-done-by-using-a-guilt-hour

Then evolved after we discussed it between ourselves and with some friends.  But she's gotten an amazing amount of things done in the past month that had been sitting on her various lists for a long time.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with three kids.
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Use it up, wear it out...

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Re: Getting Things Done
« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2013, 07:21:36 AM »
That link was helpful - I too have found the GTD system to be too burdensome and too file/paper heavy. It seems designed for someone who prints every email and maybe even has a personal assistant of some sort to manage the filing.

I use the full-blown GTD system (I guess I need it with > 80 projects and about 220 to-do's at any given point in time) but my implementation is about 95% electronic. Yes, the examples in his book are paper, and therefore somewhat dated, but it's the principles of the system that are important, not whether it's an email or a paper memo.

As for tools - I keep all of my projects & tasks in Toodledo, long term lists, electronic filing, and support materials in Personal Brain
« Last Edit: March 01, 2013, 07:25:47 AM by Use it up, wear it out... »

Dirigo

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Re: Getting Things Done
« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2013, 08:52:50 AM »
I haven't seen it mentioned here, but I use Astrid Tasks for creating my to-do, shopping, project, and other lists. It integrates and syncs flawlessly with my smartphone and google so that I can get reminders on my phone as well as my google calendar, which makes it incredibly easy to update and maintain. Highly recommended!

mobilisinmobili

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Re: Getting Things Done
« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2013, 10:23:40 AM »
I use a modified version of the system. I used to use Things, but I've found since I've started using Doit.im (paid account - 20 bucks a year for access to software, web access, app access), it works a lot better for me.

I kind of figured a lot of people here might be using it. Once GTD coalesced in my brain (third reading of the book, 5 years after first reading) and I read his other book 'Making It All Work' it's really helped me get on track.

I get a little brain buzz when I get to Inbox Zero. Love the mind like water feeling.

JoshuaSpodek

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Re: Getting Things Done
« Reply #15 on: March 04, 2013, 09:33:50 AM »
I read the book and like the philosophy. Actually, what really made me appreciate it was meeting David Allen at a cocktail party. He described himself as a freedom junky. I value freedom over efficiency since I like most things (everything?) in my life, so I didn't care how efficiently I did them. But mental freedom improves my life, so that resonated.

I boiled the process down to:

- If I can do it in a couple minutes, do it.
- If it's worth doing later, put it in a place I don't have to worry about.
- If it's not worth doing, get rid of it.

I keep my inbox to a few items overnight.
Paper mail worth responding to goes into a pile on my kitchen counter that never gets to more than a few items.
The rest worth keeping goes into files on my computer or two milk-crate-looking file holders in my closet, which is basically taxes, receipts of things I might return, and letters from people I like.
A calendar on my computer.
A text file to-do list.

Result: mental freedom.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2013, 11:23:56 AM by JoshuaSpodek »

mobilisinmobili

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Re: Getting Things Done
« Reply #16 on: March 08, 2013, 11:27:46 AM »
I read the book and like the philosophy. Actually, what really made me appreciate it was meeting David Allen at a cocktail party. He described himself as a freedom junky. I value freedom over efficiency since I like most things (everything?) in my life, so I didn't care how efficiently I did them. But mental freedom improves my life, so that resonated.

I boiled the process down to:

- If I can do it in a couple minutes, do it.
- If it's worth doing later, put it in a place I don't have to worry about.
- If it's not worth doing, get rid of it.

I keep my inbox to a few items overnight.
Paper mail worth responding to goes into a pile on my kitchen counter that never gets to more than a few items.
The rest worth keeping goes into files on my computer or two milk-crate-looking file holders in my closet, which is basically taxes, receipts of things I might return, and letters from people I like.
A calendar on my computer.
A text file to-do list.

Result: mental freedom.

The result - mental freedom is the most important part. I had a realization re: mental freedom when I was walking across Spain that I wasn't able to fully implement into day to day life until incorporating a form of GTD.

For me the weekly review is the most important aspect.

boy_bye

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Re: Getting Things Done
« Reply #17 on: March 10, 2013, 02:04:39 PM »
hey arebelspy, i wanted to thank you for posting your simplified GTD method. i have been using it for the last ten days or so and it's great!

i like just having the 3 lists (next actions / projects / someday-maybe). and i especially love logging things via iDoneThis.com ... it's so nice to see everything i've gotten done, and to be able to search for details of conversations / phone numbers / other bits of information that i would previously stash on paper or in email or in evernote or something. i really like the iDoneThis interface and it's simple to just reply to the logging email if i'm not near my computer. 

so thanks! it's a great system, it's working really well for me, and i appreciate you sharing it!

arebelspy

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Re: Getting Things Done
« Reply #18 on: March 10, 2013, 02:20:25 PM »
No problem, glad it was able to help you!

I'd be interested to hear what tweaks you make to it over time (the next few months) as you adapt it to work best for you, but I do think it's a great base for those who don't need a full-blown system like GTD.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with three kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
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mobilisinmobili

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Re: Getting Things Done
« Reply #19 on: March 10, 2013, 03:59:39 PM »
No problem, glad it was able to help you!

I'd be interested to hear what tweaks you make to it over time (the next few months) as you adapt it to work best for you, but I do think it's a great base for those who don't need a full-blown system like GTD.

Part of what I like about GTD is it's modular and adaptable. David Allen mentions in his podcasts a famous musician who was 'adopting GTD' and all he was doing was the weekly review.

The Bruce Lee adage of "“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own" comes to mind.

sheepstache

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Re: Getting Things Done
« Reply #20 on: March 12, 2013, 12:08:39 PM »
Reading through all the replies I realize how much I adopted what was useful to me in GTD and completely and utterly forgot everything that wasn't. 

What made the biggest difference to me was the concept of contexts.  Once you break a task down into its steps (another concept which he puts a lot of emphasis on), in what context do you have to be to move forward on each step?  I think the example he uses is getting your car tires rotated.  Written down vaguely like that you have an idea that it's something you'll get to on the weekend.  Then when you go to do it you realize you have to call the garage to make an appointment.  Or you realize you meant to ask your colleague Nick for the name of that garage they said they liked.  So the task doesn't need the weekend context next, it's something you need to take care of the next time you're in the 'phone call' context or 'work' context, in other words a task you can check off while you're sitting around and just have access to your phone, or the next time you're physically at work. 

Once you start organizing tasks by contexts, now you can move forward on a bunch of tasks even if they aren't related, because they all have to do with phone calls or talking to Nick or going downtown or sending emails or whatever, so you stop getting that nagging feeling of, 'oh dang, you know what else I meant to ask Nick about..." or "shoot, why is it as soon as I leave my job to do field work I remember all the emails I have to send," etc.

I sometimes use tracks.tra.in to keep a GTD-style to-do list which a friend-of-a-friend developed but I don't believe it's being actively maintained so don't look for any coming improvements or bug fixes.

arebelspy

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Re: Getting Things Done
« Reply #21 on: March 12, 2013, 12:20:30 PM »
Heh, it is funny how different things work for different people.

Contexts was one of the first things I got rid of.

Can't stand to have separate @home @work @grocery store etc. etc. lists.  YMMV (obviously).
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with three kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

SilverSoul

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Re: Getting Things Done
« Reply #22 on: March 12, 2013, 02:15:01 PM »
arebelspy, thanks for sharing the simplified GTD.  I'm about to try it out myself.  It really sounds like a much better system for me.

arebelspy

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Re: Getting Things Done
« Reply #23 on: March 12, 2013, 03:07:05 PM »
arebelspy, thanks for sharing the simplified GTD.  I'm about to try it out myself.  It really sounds like a much better system for me.

Of course.  Let us know how it turns out.  I'm a productivity fiend (mainly so I can procrastinate more efficiently), so I'd be curious to hear how it works for you, or what tweaks you make to personalize it.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with three kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

ruthiegirl

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Re: Getting Things Done
« Reply #24 on: March 12, 2013, 03:10:52 PM »
I have a sticky note on my computer that reads 'get shit done". 

It has worked for me for years. But then, I live a pretty low-stress life. 

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Re: Getting Things Done
« Reply #25 on: August 18, 2014, 09:55:47 PM »
I could not get GTD to work unencumbered until I started integrating it with Evernote..  an example of an implementation with Evernote is at www.thesecretweapon.com

I've also used the Pomodoro Technique for years which worked well for executing tasks..  but only if you could efficiently remember what tasks you actually need to do.  But now that I've discovered the GTD + Evernote combo and integrated it with the Pomodoro technique, it's become smooth sailing!

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Re: Getting Things Done
« Reply #26 on: August 19, 2014, 12:20:02 AM »
Thanks for the idonethis.com tip! I just signed up and already moved a bunch of things out of my pile of "niggling little chores" into the "done" pile just so I could see the progress. I think this will be a good tracking tool for me!

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Re: Getting Things Done
« Reply #27 on: August 19, 2014, 06:51:14 AM »
I read that book twice and do not understand his method at all. It read like a sales and marketing book to me. I wanted to make it work.