Chris Roberts

Actually Getting Things Done, Part 2

• Posted in Life

It's been about 5 weeks since my first post about "Getting Things Done" (GTD) - the book by David Allen about personal time management and productivity.

I have now successfully gathered and processed all of my 'stuff'. The fact that this post is 5 weeks later than my first post just goes to prove the point that I made in my first post; I was wrong to ignore the books advice!

You absolutely have to set time aside to do the preparation. No matter what you think, you will not be able to 'fit it in' or do it at the same time as anything else - life simply has too many distractions! (if it didn't - you probably wouldn't be interested in GTD in the first place.)

In my case, the only way I managed to complete my preparation was to process all of my e-mails on a 2 hour train journey and process my paper 'stuff' after hours (there are very few distractions between 6pm and 11pm in the office!).

Where am I now?

I have processed my entire life into a few lists - and it really does feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. My lists consist of the following:

  • 45 Projects
  • 36 Next Actions divided amongst 6 contexts
  • A collection of things to read
  • A list of things I'm waiting for other people to do (which probably doesn't include everything)
  • A tickler file full of things that need some attention at some point in the future


Initially, I put these lists together in OneNote - which I've used quite extensively in the past to try and get organised despite the lack of a 'system' for organising the actual information in it. Task lists and meeting notes would all be reliably and conveniently stored and synchronised amongst my computers - but then, more often than not, never looked at again!

Not that this was by any means a fault of the software - I am actually a big fan of it, particularly on a Tablet PC. If I did have a complaint about OneNote it would be that synchronisation with a mobile device is extremely limited - but I digress!


What Next?

One of the recurring themes in the book is that if your 'system' isn't extremely easy to use and always at hand, you probably won't use it. For me, the most logical next step was to involve my Windows Mobile based smartphone as it's always with me. A quick look around Google pointed me to an article by Jeff Kirvin who has developed what seems to be a really good method for this very thing.

So - I've taken his advice and now have all my 'next actions' and 'projects' loaded up and ready to go.

All that remains is to see how well I can stick to the method when I actually start using it...