Getting Things Done at Digital Web
April 2, 2007 at 7:46 AM
The editorial team here at Digital Web (and columnist Derek Featherstone) are collectively working our way through David Allen’s seminal productivity book, Getting Things Done. The methodology he lays out has quite a few converts in the web design and development community – if you’re a GTD fan, we’d love to hear about your favourite tips, tricks, and software that help you get things done.
I spell GTD a little different that most: s-t-i-k-k-i-t. Using Stikkit as my personal power center allows me to have everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) in one place. Gotta love it.
I would soooo love to figure out what on earth Stikkit is about. I have a GTD system of my own based around the wonderful Remember the Milk online task management app (which I plan to write up in detail here soon), but would really love to understand how Stikkit fits in with GTD (or just how it fits in with anything really!) Hearing people really espouse its virtues makes me kick myself that I just can't figure it out.
It is very tempting to get side-tracked by all the cool toys, tools, widgets, planners, forms, systems, apps, sites, etc. that try to digest the meaty center of the GTD sandwich. Been there, done that. The best tip I've come across recently is David Allen's latest issue of his Productivity Principles email newsletter. Here's a clip: "Implementing the Getting Things Done methods can be scary. Frankly, I think many people resist the GTD processes of capturing, clearing, clarifying, and organizing, because they are afraid of letting go. They seem to be saying, 'If I give myself over to this outside-my-head system business, then I'll lose control...' ...Some people apparently get a sense of effectiveness and worthiness by having a lot of things to be remembering and reminding themselves about...It reminds me of the monkey that can't get his hand back through the hole in the wall because of the fistful of food he reached through the wall to grab..." My suggestion: get some paper and a pencil, learn which lists work best for your work/life, get used to using the lists and following the methods in the system. Do the weekly review. Then, if you really have it down pat, take a look at making YOUR system more efficient with tech tools, software, whatever. Otherwise, you'll spend tons of time playing with all the toys, instead of "cranking widgets" and getting things done. When you're done with the book, you might like the interview series that Merlin Mann did with David Allen himself. Just my 2 cents. Good luck!
A few things I always recommend: * Eliminate distraction. Turn of IM and Twitter when you need to work on something. * Find a system that works for you. * Capture everything into your trusted system. * Don't get caught up in every new application or widget. It's not the tool, it's the process, that's important. This is where lots of people get hung up, trying to shoehorn their process into a tool. Sometimes paper works fine. * Do frequent reviews. * Don't be afraid to delete tasks or say no to things. * End each day with an empty inbox.
I use Vitalist.com as a GTD tool, and David Seah's Emergent Task Planning with it. Would be awesome to have it combined :-)
EXECUTE cycle, with the emphasis on the habitual use of a trustedsystem, does lead to productivity improvements and that feeling of relaxation from having it all under control. Ahh! I've sort of given up on not being distracted, and have been investigating habit-building regimens. I guess I haven't gotten to the point that I want it enough...I really like the randomness of the day. Maybe someone needs to come up with WMW---"What, Me Worry?"---a system that transforms impulsiveness into bank. That panel from Jim Coudal and Brendan Dawes might serve as a model for that.
I have also been reading through David Allen's book. I was getting overwhelmed with client requests especially since I work a full-time job and can really only do my business after hours and the weekend right now. But something that has helped me a great deal is Backpack from 37Signals. I basically set up five pages that stay there all the time. My homepage for it is called "Inbox" and the other pages are @Next Actions, @Projects, @Someday/Maybe and @Reference. The reason I like using Backpack the most is when I'm not at a computer and I think of things that need to be done whether they are immediate or something for the future, I can send an email to my "Inbox" page with the task from my Blackberry and it automatically adds it to my current list of collected tasks that need processing. One thing he wrote in the book that I am going to do is to read the book again in another 3 or 4 months. Maybe I'll pick up a few things that didn't make much sense to me after I actually started using the system.