This will be a two (or maybe three) part series about GTD.
I’ve been trying to find a time management/ Getting Things Done system that fits my schedule and lifestyle without much success. Then I found OmniFocus. The software uses some of the philosophy of David Allen’s Getting Things Done, which I discovered through 43folders, one of the web’s best personal productivity sites. I would highly recommend picking the book up. Allen’s philosophy in brief:
Stuff Can Be Your Worst Enemy
One of the biggest factors that can stop you from completing your tasks is “stuff.” You know, those lumpy, annoying tasks on the to-do list labeled “wishful thinking.” If you’ve ever thought to yourself: “If I only had a spare afternoon I would (insert task here)” or “I really should get around to (Blank)” then you know exactly what I mean. That list on the back burner of your mind that always seem to stress you out.
It’s anything that’s floating in your mind that you haven’t quite decided what you’re going to do with. Cleaning out the storage room, getting your filing system in check, alphabetizing your library, writing that thank you note, etc
Let Stuff Win and you Lose Control
So you always feel like you’re behind and you basically run around doing everything last minute never feeling that “zen” feeling that people who practice yoga feel because who even has time to GO to a yoga class let alone the gym.
Merlin Mann summarized how GTD works and did a better job then I, so am going to quote him:
This is a really summarized version, but here it is, PowerPoint-style:
- identify all the stuff in your life that isn’t in the right place (close all open loops)
- get rid of the stuff that isn’t yours or you don’t need right now
- create a right place that you trust and that supports your working style and values
- put your stuff in the right place, consistently
- do your stuff in a way that honors your time, your energy, and the context of any given moment
What the means is that you take inventory of all of your stuff, all those loose floaty ideas and you turn them into actionable items or you get rid of them. As Merlin says “This gives you an amazing kind of confidence that a) nothing gets lost and b) you always understand what’s on or off your plate.”
The magic of context
A cool thing about this system is the use of context: which is the impact of the resources available to you has on your to-do list. So if you’re out and about your task list might have a different priority then say if you were sitting in front of your computer at the office.
A great feature of OmniFocus is that it lets you seamlessly view your lists in different perspectives: either by project or by context. That means I can create a “context” called “@computer, or @Out&About and assign tasks to it.
This comes in handy when you want to prioritize your tasks list in the most efficient way.
It gets a little more complex when your contexts are hard to define, but I think I’ve figured out a way for knowledge workers like me to get the most out of GTD system.
Look for part 2 coming up shortly.