43 Folders

Back to Work

Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

Join us via RSS, iTunes, or at 5by5.tv.

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

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?

Simon's picture

Hi there! Well, I guess...

Hi there! Well, I guess I fit that double category, being a scientist and a GTDer. The nature of the former puts particular stresses on the latter, that I don't often see around the web, mainly because of the gazillion inbox hogs: sources of data (I happen to be one of those inter-disciplinary guys dipping in a relatively wide variety of specialities), of intellectual input (meetings, conferences, scientific literature, younameit), of nagging emails, mailing lists (mainly in the form of lists of publications, I'd say 2-300 a week), of student management, and so on. As I try to have a life outside of work, I have come to be involved in another set of activities that strangely seem to require similar sets of tricks as those for research, as well as having a liking for IT geekyness (how else would I have hear of GTD?!). The baskets: 1- A Moleskine notebook divided in (i) an Inbox, where ToDos are written down in the format what @context >project #startdate — enddate :commentary; (ii) Notes, where I take, well, notes, and use as an on-the road brain-dump. The Moleskine lives with a.... oh yes... a Space-Pen! 2- On my Mac, Metadata, or tags if you prefer, with apps like Yep for the pdfs of scientific papers, and Quicksilver/Punakea/DefaultFolderX for everything else simply because nested folders are too one-dimensional. DEVONthink Pro for the processing (DT's AI is my second brain). MailTags and Mail Act-on rules for processing emails (same set of tags as the rest). The Tags I use include, but are not restricted to, GTD Contexts and Projects, plus one called "Current" for which I have a Smart-Folder in the Dock for all the stuff that requires my attention during-this-week. I'm sticking to the @ prefix, not &, for consistency between tagging apps. 3- Kinkless, which receives input from the Moleskine (input via Quicksilver SendToKinkless advanced script), Mail (input via a MailToKGTD script), etc. My contexts: Lab (wet lab, data generation), Mac (everythink that gets done on the laptop including emails), Office (basically at non-lab), Home, Errands, Someday, and a crucial one, Thinking (this is where the digested brain-dump gets slowly distilled into Study Designs and Work Plans, and then gets moved on to the Lab context). 4 Output. this is 99% in the form of writing. For complex writing I start in Scrivener (allows me to have pdfs, graphs of the data I generated, etc.), with the help of DEVONthink Pro and Bookends for referencing. When I no longer require having pdfs and figures for writing and when I'm fairly happy with the structure of the paper I export the manuscript to Mellel. For collaboration writing, I anyway use a 'dirty copy' that I hand out, because people always tend to screw up my formatting, auto titles, reference fields, etc. Always. So to avoid beating people over the head with their own bloody limbs, I always keep the 'master document' out of reach of their grubby little fingers.

Writing it out feels like it makes me loose more time than I gain, but in the long run I have become so much more relaxed about the day-today grind and pressure for getting as many things done as I can... Minimal levels of stress is a good enough outcome for me, and the wife likes me more for it ;-) Does GTD reduce divorce rates and cardiovascular complications?!




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


Subscribe with Google Reader

Subscribe on Netvibes

Add to Technorati Favorites

Subscribe on Pageflakes

Add RSS feed

The Podcast Feed


Merlin used to crank. He’s not cranking any more.

This is an essay about family, priorities, and Shakey’s Pizza, and it’s probably the best thing he’s written. »

Scared Shitless

Merlin’s scared. You’re scared. Everybody is scared.

This is the video of Merlin’s keynote at Webstock 2011. The one where he cried. You should watch it. »