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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?

Rob Myers's picture

I use a kind of...

I use a kind of implicit GTD for my creative work.

I break down work into projects. A project is a series of images or a version of a piece of software.

Each project is pursued on a task and next action basis. So the next task might be to complete a particular image or add a particular feature to a piece of software. An action might be researching some source material, drawing or colouring or formatting up an image. It may take more than three minutes, but won't be more than a few hours.

With creative work you need to get into the flow, so some individual "actions" can take hours.

At present my projects are "Like That" (Processing applets), Ironised CC Licenses (Inkscape drawings), "draw-something" (a Lisp image generator), and some LaTeX maths work. I know what I want from each and what the next actions are for each to reach those objectives.

I don't use folders or pieces of paper but I do have some .txt files of TODOs and series of actions for projects. And I do have sketches on paper than will be translated into finished electronic versions. And I have placeholders in electronic files (.svg or .tex or whatever) where more work needs to be done. So the current state and next actions for projects are either on paper as sketches, in files as TODOs or in files as placeholders or empty sections.

I've read GTD but I didn't realise how much I'd internalised it. Because of how my life is I've had to break creative projects down into chunks that I can complete when I have the time, so maybe I should just go the whole hog and have project folders for sketches and paper TODOs. I've got a label printer. ;-)




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