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Getting Things Done
Merlin Mann | Sep 12 2006
Shiran Pasternak writes to ask:
This is a really good question -- especially given how many people are suffering from the first-world problem of having way too many cool Mac apps to choose from for this kind of work. The short answer is to slim down the number of tools you're frequently using, but to then be sure you also do something smart and repeatable with everything you've captured. The longer explanation...read more »
Merlin Mann | Sep 8 2006
You could argue that the holy grail in GTD media these days is the woefully out-of-print “Getting Things Done FAST” CD set that DavidCo put out a few years ago. It’s eight (8) CDs of audio material covering the popular multi-day seminar that David did a few years back.read more »
Merlin Mann | Sep 4 2006
I love my Brother PT-65, which is regarded by many as the unofficial official label maker of GTD nerds (and which, quizzically, appears to have been discontinued :-().
The PT-65 has easily paid back its modest sticker price with three years of faithful service. Trouble is, I like using it so much that it's gotten to be kind of a pain to pull it out and Blackberry-thumb-type my bajillion labels via its teeny keys. Now, I want something that hooks up to my Mac.
Josh Carter's gotten me interested in the Dymo LabelWriter 330 Turbo via this handy tutorial from late last year, which covers basic setup info, plus a tip on speeding up the creation of a new label with Quicksilver.
Josh has good stuff to say about the 330:
Anybody using one of these units or similar? Care to recommend a label maker of any brand that hooks up via USB and works well with Tiger/OS X? I ♥ my little Brother, but I'm ready for Label Maker 2.0!
Merlin Mann | Aug 28 2006
Review by Fraser Speirs
for System Administrators
by Thomas A.Limoncelli
At the end of 2004, Merlin blogged about possible extensions or specialisations of Getting Things Done for specific constituencies, such as programmers, students or parents. Thomas A. Limoncelli’s book Time Management for System Administrators is perhaps the first example I’ve seen of a book which advocates a GTD-style workflow with some modifications specific to the system administration “lifestyle”.
The book is laid out under the following thirteen chapter titles:
The core chapters for GTDers to think about are really chapters 4 through 8 and 13. The material about maintaining focus, handling email and managing stress will be familiar to regular readers of 43 Folders.
Although Time Management for System Administrators is not a simple modifier on GTD, in the sense that the author doesn’t explicitly reference GTD until the epilogue, much of the structure of Limoncelli’s suggested workflow will be recognisable to those familiar with David Allen’s book. Although Limoncelli doesn’t refer to GTD in the body of his work, it’s hard to avoid certain very obvious parallels such as the analogy of one’s memory as “RAM” (c.f. Allen’s “psychic RAM”) and the strategy of “Delegate, Record or Do” (which sounds much like Allen’s “Do, Defer or Delegate” in another order).
However, it would be unfair to dismiss Time Management for System Administrators as a GTD knockoff. It’s certainly not. One area in which I have personally found GTD to be weak is that of helping me decide ‘what to do next’. Certainly, David Allen does have some advice on that matter, but I always found it a little difficult to relate to my workplace. Limoncelli’s Cycle System is, I believe, a very strong contribution to filling that gap in GTD.read more »
Merlin Mann | Aug 21 2006
GTDGmail looks like a promising entry into the increasingly crowded gene pool of web-based productivity software.
The Firefox extension runs on top of your Gmail account, giving you an email-centric approach to implementing Getting Things Done that includes contexts, statuses, a very nifty search feature, and more. This could be just the thing for people who have to live in email, but who don't want to live in an unprocessed inbox.
From the GTDGmail site:
Edit (2006-08-21 07:32:57): Well, that was mean and Michael Arrington of me, wasn’t it? :) I was incorrect in thinking GTDGmailhad gone functionally public (although the project seems pretty well known already). Keep an eye out for the full release (and do forgive me for the unintentional tease).
Edit (2006-08-21 18:01:06): Yay! Looks like it's available now: GTDGmail :: Mozilla Add-ons :: Add Features to Mozilla Software. Thanks, Aaron.
Merlin Mann | Aug 14 2006
Download Squad has posted the first in a two-part series reviewing systems for supporting Getting Things Done. It includes an overview of the GTD basics, plus apps for Windows and PDAs. The next edition will cover "online software."read more »
Merlin Mann | Aug 10 2006
I recently ran across a mostly-helpful post on a website that mentioned the importance of using email folders for "organization." For some reason, this made me wince. I suspect it's because the day I got good at email was the day when I stopped organizing my messages and started focusing on doing something about them. Is this a distinction without a difference? I don't think so, and I'll tell you why.
As one of the holiest sacraments in the Church of Productivity Pr0n, folders -- be they physical, digital, mind-mapped, or purely notional -- represent the canonical way to put information into thoughtful piles. Folders of any sort afford a kind of higher-level, low-stress thinking that GTD fans in particular seek out. Folders do lots of stuff well:
So, yeah, folders are great at all of these things, for sure, and yeah, they do help you to get organized, especially in the sense of having less stuff in your life that's sitting around unprocessed. But at what point can a folder become an impediment to smart and timely action? Put more generically: how do we not allow the buckets and cubbyholes in our lives to become affordances for procrastination and dis-organization?read more »
Merlin Mann | Aug 8 2006
Over on the DavidCo forum, Lisa asks:
It mightn't surprise you to know I'd want to learn a bit more implementation and about how David sees contexts working best for people whose work mostly happens in one place (recently).
But I'm especially curious to hear what you guys would ask, given the chance. What would you ask David Allen about Getting Things Done?
Merlin Mann | Jul 31 2006
As we've noted before, GTD contexts lose a lot of their focusing power when either a) most of your work takes place at one context (e.g. "@computer"), or b) you start using contexts more for taxonomical labeling than to reflect functional limitations and opportunities. As you may have discovered, these problems can collide catastrophically for many knowledge workers, artists, and geeks.
Part of what makes the Natural Planning Model so attractive are the decisions that can be guided by contextual limitations ("I'm near a phone" vs. "I'm at the grocery store" vs. "I'm at my computer"). While it's definitely a kind of "first world problem" to have, facing the unlimited freedom to chose from any of a bajillion similar tasks from similar projects with similar outcomes is not nearly as fun as it first sounds. Consider the contextual hairballs of certain jobs and tasks:read more »
Merlin Mann | Jul 24 2006
As laid out in Chapter 5:
And, as David succinctly states elsewhere in the book, if you don't use a dedicated inbox in the context of a healthy collection habit, your whole house or office turns into your inbox. And that just doesn't scale. Failing to do so in recent weeks may be why you've fallen off the GTD wagon.
So, just as you learned Collection as the first step in implementing GTD (and to subsequently maintain your system), it's precisely the place to start when you're trying to properly get back into it.
And for the errant GTDer, I feel like the most powerful collection exercise is what DA calls "the mind-sweep."read more »
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