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43f Feature: Michael Buffington's "How I use iGTD"

Michael Buffington is a pal of mine who's a talented developer and all-around swell fellow. I got to work with him a bit on the Stikkit project and, in some of our offline talks on productivity stuff, I was intrigued to learn about some of his ninja geek skillz.

I asked Michael to write up a series on some of his favorite tricks to get his stuff done, and he kindly obliged. Here's part one.


How I use iGTD

by Michael Buffington

This is the first part in a multipart series about using iGTD with Quicksilver and how it's changed my life, allowed me to grow hair where I never thought it possible, and more importantly, spend more quality time with my children (who are, as you might know, super humans with indescribable special abilities).

I'm a recent and somewhat enthusiastic convert to GTD. I have had the good fortune of starting to manage my digital life with GTD the same day Merlin first mentioned a great application for OS X called iGTD.

I have to admit though that I'm not a very hard core GTD follower yet. The most important parts of GTD for me are getting my tasks out of my head the moment they pop into existence, and putting them into some sort of system I can trust. iGTD allows me to do exactly that in a very intuitive way, but if I'm having a good day I only ever bring iGTD into focus when I'm not sure what's next on my list.

“I've emphasized this before already, but for me the most important part of GTD is writing tasks that you can follow as if you're a robot...”

For task capturing, I use Quicksilver, and I have to say it's a slice of heaven. Without a doubt my life has improved quite measurably both because of GTD, and the iGTD plugin for Quicksilver.

So at the most basic level, here's how I use iGTD to reinforce what I think is the most important behavior for leading a GTD lifestyle:

I invoke Quicksilver. I hit the period (".") key to switch to text entry mode. Some people have different settings, so the the important part here is invoking text entry.

I begin typing out my task with some simple markup that iGTD understands. For this blog entry, I once wrote:

@blog write a blog entry about how I use iGTD to capture tasks [43f]

I then hit tab and type iGTD so I can send the text I entered to iGTD. I hit enter, and I know that my task has been captured. I even set iGTD so that it doesn't pop up once I've captured a task, I simply trust that it's there.

Here's a quick screencast of the process in action - it's worth noting that the screencast is all of a few seconds long, and the actual task capturing part is incredibly quick.

I've emphasized this before already, but for me the most important part of GTD is writing tasks that you can follow as if you're a robot (avoiding writing ambiguous sounding tasks in favor of writing very "actionable" tasks) and getting those tasks capture the moment you think of them.

So I'll be writing code, thinking about how to do something like simulate multiple inheritance in Ruby when unannounced the thought "I should call the local game place to see if my reality might someday be shared with a Nintendo Wii of my very own" takes center stage. If I weren't adhering to GTD practices, I'd ignore that thought and move on, but it'd nag me. It'd keep nagging me, and my focus would suffer.

With Quicksilver and iGTD I get the task out of head and into a place I trust, and because it took mere seconds to record I'm right back in flow, realizing that if I'm wanting to do multiple inheritance in Ruby I've probably designed something incorrectly in the first place.

I become more efficient at what I do, and have less "free radical" thoughts fighting for attention in my head, which makes me a far more patient, confident and relaxed person. That in turn makes play time with the kids sublime.

In the next entry in this series, I'll write about a particularly horrifying experience I had with iGTD, and what I did to solve the problem.

About the Author

Michael BuffingtonMichael Buffington - A serial entrepreneur and creative technological consultant, Buffington most recently served as the Community Advocate for Values of N, makers of Stikkit and iwantsandy.com. He's now secretly building games for the masses.

About Merlin

Merlin's picture


Merlin Mann is an independent writer, speaker, and broadcaster. He’s best known for being the guy who created the website you’re reading right now. He lives in San Francisco, does lots of public speaking, and helps make cool things like You Look Nice Today, Back to Work, and Kung Fu Grippe. Also? He’s writing this book, he lives with this face, he suffers from this hair, he answers these questions, and he’s had this life. So far.

Merlin’s favorite thing he’s written in the past few years is an essay entitled, “Cranking.”




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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