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Drew McCormack on GTD for scientists

Getting Things Done (GTD) for Scientists - MacResearch

I enjoyed this post by Drew McCormack on how he discovered GTD and has started using it for his work as a scientist:

The thing to realize is that most people don’t get lessons in organizing themselves at school or college, and they certainly haven’t been prepared for the rapid pace of modern life. GTD is nothing more than a few lessons on how best to organize things. At the center of it all is what could be regarded as a multi-dimensional ToDo list. The idea is to get every project you have, however big or small, out of your head and into the list. That allows you to relax about things, and be more productive at the same time.

"Multi-dimensional ToDo list." I'm totally stealing that.

Also, I mention it here because this post provides that rarest of voyeuristic nerdthrill: getting to peek at how someone else is using Kinkless!

Any tips or stories from the science nerds out there on how GTD is and isn't working for you?

Jim Harrison's picture

I've been using GTD in...

I've been using GTD in biomedical science and academics for about a year. Though it's not particularly science-specific, some might be interested in a description of my approach, using Mori, at http://jhh.med.virginia.edu/main/MoriGTD.

There are two issues in GTD that current software isn't addressing well and that are relevant for implementations of GTD in science and academics:

  1. If you implement GTD with any sort of comprehensiveness, you will have a large number of projects--as David Allen points out in his book. I have more than 30 major projects and that's because I've slipped a bit recently. Over 50 wouldn't be unreasonable. It's impossible to review all of these projects in detail every day, and, in fact, many don't need it--but some do (a wide variety of different types of projects with differing requirements is common in academics). Projects need varying levels of attention, depending on their nature and where they are in their own lifecycles. Software needs to address this, with the ability to set project review schedules that slip the projects into your daily list as needed. These schedules should also be easily modifiable during project review so that review frequency can track actual project activity. Software should also catch projects that are being overlooked and fail to show activity within a set period of time, sort of like how NetNewsWire catches RSS feeds that are not being modified.

  2. GTD apps should be a nerve center for projects, but should not necessarily try to store all project-related documents internally. In addition to "multidimensional to-do lists" GTD apps should also manage dynamic data about projects (notes), links to documents and annotations of documents. There are a large number of document types in science and academics, including text of various types, several forms of markup, word processing, PDF, spreadsheets, etc. In my experience it's not particularly useful to pull all of those document types into a database in a GTD app. Rather, they should be managed externally with links to locations in the file system or the web and excellent features for link management. As above, locally-stored data should include the most dynamic data about projects (notes, to-tos and annotations of linked documents), links and possibly indexes of the content of linked documents.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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