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GTD (Getting Things Done)

28 Sep, 2015

As a consultant I am doing a lot of things, so to keep up I have always used some form of a TODO list. The reason why I did this is because it helped me break down my tasks in to smaller ones and keep focusing, but also because I kept remembering the quote I once heard “smart people write things down, dumb people try to remember it”.
Years ago I read the books “Seven habits of highly effective people” and “Switch”, in my research in to how to become more effective I came in to contact with GTD and decided to try it out. In this post I want to show people who have heard about GTD how I use it and how it helps me.
For those who don’t know GTD or haven’t heard about the two books I mentioned please follow the links Getting things done Seven habits of highly effective people Switch and have fun.

How do I use GTD?
Because of my experience before GTD I knew I needed a digital list that I could access from my phone, laptop or tablet. It was also crucial for me to be able to have multiple lists and reminders. Because of these requirements I settled on using Todoist after having evaluated others as well.
I have couple of main groups like Personal, Work, Read-me, Someday & Maybe, Home etc.. In those lists I have topics like Xebia, CustomerX, CustomerY etc.. And in those topics I have the actual tasks or lists with tasks that I need to do.
I write everything in to my Inbox list the moment a task or idea pops up in to my mind. I do this because most of the time I don’t have the time to figure out directly what I want to do with it so I just put it in to my Inbox and deal with it later.
As a consultant I have to deal with external lists like team scrum boards. I don’t want to depend on them so I write down my own tasks with references to them. In those tasks I write the things that I need to do today, tomorrow or longer if it is relevant in making decisions on the long run.
Every day I finish my work I quickly look at my task list and decide on priorities for tomorrow, then every morning I evaluate my decisions based on the input of that day.
As a programmer I like to break down a programming task in to smaller solutions so therefore sometimes I use my list as a reference or micromanagement of tasks that take couple of hours.
To have a better overview of things in my list I also use tags like tablet, PC, home, tel so it helps me pick up tasks based on context I am in on that moment.
Besides deciding on priorities every day I also do a week review where I decide on weekly priorities and add or remove tasks. I also specify reminders on tasks, I do this day based but if it is really necessary I use time based.
Because I want to have one Inbox I am sticking to zero mail in my mail Inboxes. This means every time I check my mail I read it and then either delete it or archive it and if needed make a task to do something.
What does GTD do for me?
Pros:
The biggest win for me is that it helps me clear my mind because I put everything in there that I need to do, this way my mind does not have to remember all those things. It is also a relaxing feeling knowing that everything you need to do is registered and you will not forget to do it.
It gives me structure and it allows me to make better priorities and decisions about saying yes or no to something because everything is in one place.
Having a task registered so that you can cross it off when it’s done gives a nice fulfilling feeling.
Cons:
Having a big list of things that you think you need to do can be quite overwhelming and in some cases it can also feel like a pressure because you haven’t done a list of tasks that is there for a long time. That’s why I keep evaluating tasks and remove things from it after some time.
Task lists and calendars can sometimes collide so it is importent to keep your agenda as a part of your list although it’s not a list.
What am I still missing?
Right now from the GTD’s point of view I miss a better time management. Besides that I would like to start a journal of relevant things that happend or people I spoke to but also incorporate that with my GTD lists (for example combining Evernote/OneNote with my Todoist lists).
Everything else I miss is technical:
I miss a proper integration of all my mail where all the calendar invites are working without having to connect all accounts on all different devices. I also miss a proper integration between my mail and Todoist for creating and referencing mail.
Because I write down every task/idea that pops up in to my mind it would be great if voice recognition would work a little better for ‘me’ when I am in a car.
Conclusion
GTD has helped me structure my tasks and gave me more controle in to making decision around them. By writing this post I am hoping to trigger somebody else to look in to GTD and maybe have an impact on his or hers effectiveness.
I am also curious in what your opinion is on GTD or if you have any tips for me regarding GTD?

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Darren
Darren
6 years ago

As a consultant also I went through a very similar through process to arrive at GTD as my lifeline to order in a sea of chaos. Personally I found OmniFocus as the best GTD tool, allowing me to sync across all my Apple devices. I tend not to use due dates other than for absolutely critical deadlines as I find that they are often arbitrary and therefore missed, meaning that the few key ones can get lost in the volume. I’d much rather use tasks sorted in priority order and work on the top one (which is the recommended GTD approach).
However I do use start/defer dates as much as possible to keep things I can’t or don’t want to deal with yet out of sight. Likewise I make much use of a waiting context for things that are out of my control (eg. waiting for a colleague to get back to me, stuff to be delivered) and review these daily to see if I need to chase them or performa subsequent action.
A couple of the key advantages of OmniFocus are that it can utilise Siri for logging ideas into the inbox and the scheduler view which shows both calendars entries for a day and any tasks with start or due dates.

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