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GTD Retrospective and the power of Friday night.

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Over the years I have consumed and vast tomes of “Self Improvement” literature. I have had a bash at everything from “Save an hour every day” to “The Seven Habits of really patronising bastards”. The only one that really did for me though was “Getting Things Done” by David Allen.

Most of the other stuff seemed to fall into two camps: “Do more stuff, do more stuff, do more stuff” or “Hey write you mission statement, create your goals, be groovy”. None of this kind of stuff worked for me. The “do more stuff” school gave me a headache and seemed to add to the stress and noise. The “Hippy, do your goal stuff” just seemed a lot of work and not immediate enough, how can you focus on your goals when the fucking project is up the khazi for god sakes?

“Getting things done” on the other hand seemed to offered a different perspective. The really attractive message I took from my first read through of the book was that the goal was to turn the voices off in your head and stop worrying.

The real gold in GTD is the trusted systems you create to capture the shite that gets flung at you every day. Without this you are always left with that nagging doubt that you have forgotten something or that horrible floaty feeling that you are in a mess and Monday morning is coming quick.

From these trusted systems you can move on the the Ninja GTD stuff (IMHO), where you process your trusted systems and create lists of current projects and within each project an associated list of next actions all beginning with some kind of verb like: email, brainstorm, call or whatever. After all this you can go further with weekly reviews and even 50,000 foot fly overs of your complicated little world.

Now I have to admit that I have struggled with some of the GTD ideas. For a long time I farted about with my little lists of next actions and felt guilty about and bad because I was shit at it. I am not great at routine, more of a form player - a bit like Micheal Owen to be honest ;-) .

After feeling bad for a while it has been a refreshing to read some posts from 43 folders and others who have recently reviewed their approach to this stuff.

After a thinking about it for a while I have come to the conclusion that I have worked out my own personal GTD method. This is basically one of embracing the personal systems and bugger the rest of it. As long as things do not get lost then I have my shit in a row - that’s not a bad thing. Bollocks to next actions and someday maybes. I know that todo is a project and it does not bug me any more. Daily next-actiony type plans work just fine.

So where does that leave me?

  • In-tray for paper stuff I need to file/mustn’t lose
  • clear plastic envelope for paper stuff that I need to action
  • Remember the milk for to do items

I have tried other things (like things) but they have not given me the ability to capture stuff where ever I am like Remember the milk. Things does have a mobile client but it is only iphone based - and I am an android man.

With Remember the milk (RTM) I am able to capture todos by forwarding emails to RTM, adding them from a side bar add-in on gmail and best of all add them via a twitter client: Tweetr for mac and Twitroid for the G1 phone. Whats great about this is you can use the twitter DM syntax to add new items - “D rtm send info to JimBob @ friday 9 am”, adds this todo to my RTM account and will remind me too - ace.

So finally why the power of Friday night. Well all this GTD stuff got my Friday nights back as I knew that come Monday I could pick things up again straight away. So I am no GTD ninja - so what ;-)

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    Sounds very familiar. :) Check the dude behind “zen to done”, it also deals with simplifying gtd to suit everyone’s needs.

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