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43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

Vox Pop: Implementing GTD for Creative Work?

creativepro.com - Getting Design Done

Interesting article here by our old pal, Keith Robinson, introducing GTD to creative types. This is a fascinating topic for me, particularly since I sometimes find it difficult to "crank widgets" when it comes to anything creative.

Keith's an old hand with this stuff, so it's not surprising that he's developed his own tweaks for Getting Creativity Done. Here's a novel idea:

Create a creative time and space for yourself. Make sure it's free of distraction and get into the habit of going there as often as you can. When there, pull out your @creative lists and get to work. I find this is a great way to tackle smaller creative problems. It's how I come up with -- and get started on -- most of my writing. This article is a result of my @creative time.

That's an interesting way to think about contexts. Ordinarily, you'd think of contexts as representing access to a certain kind of tool or as a physical or temporal limitation, whereas Keith is using it almost like a project.

This is challenging stuff that my buddy, Ethan, and I end up talking about all the time. We both agree that you can use GTD to "clear the decks" for creative work -- to move aside all the mundane workaday tasks that might keep you from focusing on blocks of time for creative stuff. But we, like a lot of people, both struggle with how (or even whether) to put truly creative work into our GTD systems. What do you think?

How are you using GTD for creative work? What do projects and next actions look like for a painter, a screenwriter, or a dancer? What's your best trick for getting creative stuff done?

Adam Khan's picture

May I commit heresy: there's...

May I commit heresy: there's a piece missing from GTD: volitional contexts. That's contexts created not due to physical constraints, but self-imposed limitations you impose on yourself to do certain things only, even though you could be doing other things (checking email, reading RSS feeds, responding to 43folders postings, etc). As you said in your recent talk, contexts don't really work so much for desk-bound information workers.

This hit home to me when I realized I'd be running my web dev business (how you said dripped such involuntary contempt when you said "web designer" during the Google talk!) much better if I split the workday into two: maintenance and improvement of current live sites, and development on new ones. Without the separation, I've always tended to neglect the former for the latter, which is really not a very moral way to behave.

I thought of a term for this: chrontexts. But that's horrible. Then I came across this recent article by Steve Pavlina, "How to Create a Personal Productivity Scaffold" at http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2007/07/how-to-create-a-personal-productivity-scaffold/ and I thought, wow, that's it: Scaffolds!

Isn't that the answer to your question?




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