Efficiency: Getting Things Done.

The last year has seen a massive shift in the amount and type of work that I have to do, both at my job, and the rest of life. No longer am I able to simply get up, turn on the computer, push a few pixels in Fireworks, write a few lines of code in TextMate, shut down, go home, practice a little music, and hang out with my wife. I now have a near constant flood of e-mail coming in from my blackberry, phone meetings scattered throughout the day, lingering support contracts from my freelancing days, three bands (and a number of prospective musicians) to manage for a 500 member church, and a 1.5 year old daughter (’nuff said). Life is a little more… complex (crazy? hectic? scattered? neurotic?). It’s hard to get my stuff done.

Today in a conversation with Victor, the concept of GTD came up. Something I’ve toyed with in the past, but never really took seriously. Now, I’m convinced that a GTD system is the key to my continued sanity. I don’t think my problem is that I have too much to do, my problem is that I don’t know how to do it efficiently.

I have a collection of tools and systems that seem interesting to me. Using them correctly and efficiently, and with discipline is another matter. I don’t have that part figured out yet. Some things I’m starting to use and do:

Action Pads by Behance – for recording notes during meetings (trick here is processing the notes)
Things by Cultured Code – for brain dumping to-dos (trick here is consistently entering… things)
Basecamp by 37signals – for assigning and tracking tasks to my team
Inbox Zero – for managing email and generally remaining sane
43 Folders and Lifehacker for continued education on GTD.

Any other recommendations? What do you do? Any other good resources you check regularly.



6 responses to “Efficiency: Getting Things Done.”

  1. Victor Agreda Jr Avatar

    I forgot to tell you the biggest, baddest trick of them all: review your lists! David Allen recommends a daily, weekly and monthly set. Reviewing your inbox daily lets you move stuff around or set up a to-do list for the next day that is manageable. My biggest issue now is dedicating time to reviewing and doing the daily, weekly monthly thing. It takes practice, of course.

  2. Patrick Shaw Avatar
    Patrick Shaw

    I adopted the GTD methodology about year ago, including a plugin for Outlook, which helps a lot if your life is linked to an Outlook profile. but it’s like anything else – you have to commit, or your results will vary. I find that every few months, I have to remind myself of the 2 minute rule, as well as to remind myself that I only need to know the next step when something hits – do it, defer it, delegate it, or plan to do it later.

    Now – actually DOING all of those things – well – that’s where the commitment comes in!

  3. James Creare Avatar

    This story sounds so familiar! I work for a company now, and have done for the last couple of years. From my uni days, I still have old freelance jobs, harassing me for changes, updates to their web-sites, and they get upset when you don’t charge the prices that you used to, back in your freelance days!

    Managing everything can be hectic. I’ve learnt to organise all of my work, office, freelance, and social life, in my ical calendar on may mac notebook.

    What are you referring to with GTD System?

  4. Austin WebKing - Austin Texas Small Business Website Design Avatar

    In addition to list reviews, an important practice for me is to categorize each task to determine when it will get done. There is a common grid which groups tasks based on urgency and importance. (Here’s a link to one) We often find we spend a lot of time working on things we think are both urgent and important (and instant communication devices such as blackberries have accelerated the impression of urgent). But, by categorizing, I’ve found that I’m prioritizing what’s really urgent, then spending more time on what’s important second to that.

  5. Jevon Radar Avatar
    Jevon Radar

    I also have a small collection of tools, but I guess the basic ones are Gmail and Wrike. It’s a great productivity combination for me, as they integrate smoothly with each other and I can run my projects seamlessly. Wrike is a project management tool, which I use for team collaboration and some of my personal projects. They acctually support the idea of GTD. Here’s a link to an interesting post from their blog.

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