In case you didn’t know, I’m a subscriber (though not necessarily a hardcore enthusiastic legalist) to David Allen’s personal productivity system for Getting Things Done (for an introduction to this system, go here). Over the past couple of years, I’ve played with different ways to implement the system, from an all-paper system to a hybrid electronic/digital system, to where I am now which is almost 100% digital.
However, there are times when you just have to capture an idea on-the-spot, and the most convenient way to do it at that particular time is by writing it down. To do this, you are supposed to use your “Ubiquitous Capture Device,” something you always have with you so you can never miss recording a thought. I’ve tried different ways of doing this, from carrying around note cards to scrap paper to moleskin notebooks. None of my solutions thus far has been satisfactory.
Recently, I came across the new Moleskine Volant (Extra Small) notebook and think this might be the ultimate solution. They are extremely thin and only two and a half by four inches, which means they will slip unnoticeably right into your back pocket. And they also have perforated pages, which is perfect for those times you need a loose sheet of paper. Learn more from the company website.
You can get two of these notebooks for $6, making them a bit pricey, but they might be worth it if they are fun to use. And, hopefully, they will stand up well to wear and tear. I’m going to see how I like using them over the next few weeks. Anyone else have a great solution for a ubiquitous capture device?
Blah. That’s pretty much where I’ve been lately. Just blah. Not sad, not happy, just blah. And I think part of it is that I want to do so many things with my work, life, house, classes writing, whatever, and I look at the calendar and another month has gone by and I haven’t taken action on any of it.
So I’m going to try to be productive for a week. I will:
- Not open an internet browser at home expect to pay bills (so no blogging for a week, which is pretty much a normal occurrence).
- Set a timer at work when doing internet research. Reading blogs does not count as research. When the timer goes off, I’m done.
- Reorganize and reevaluate my GTD system.
- Not play xbox.
- Not work on the website I am building for our synod. I’ve got plenty of time to finish it and actually need to wait some more before working on it. I’ve spent a lot of time on it recently and haven’t made a lot of progress.
Hopefully this will help free up some time to do things that are fulfilling, rather than just passing time.
It’s been almost a month since I’ve started Getting Things Done (GTD). I must say, the results haven’t been mind-blowing, because I wasn’t too horribly disorganized, but there are a few things that are great:
- My mind stays empty. I use the GTD system to get stuff out of my mind and into my GTD system. I use Remember the Milk to keep track of my next actions, projects, and other lists.
- I don’t forget to do things. Every now and then, when someone would ask me to do something or send them an email about something, I would tell them “If you don’t hear from me in a few days, email me a reminder because I might have forgotten.” Now, when someone asks me to do something, I write it down, put it in the inbox, and it gets done.
- I am using my calendar. This is a great thing. I have an old fashioned paper calendar that I take with me to home and the office. I use it for work and personal things. I can look at it and know when I am or am not available.
- My desk stays clean. I only work on one thing at a time, and when I am finished with that one thing I put it up. I leave every night and arrive every morning to a clean desk. If you click on the photo below, you will be taken to a flickr page that describes how I have my workspace set up. Just mouse-over different elements in the picture and a description will pop-up.
However, I have discovered that GTD doesn’t do your work for you. Your next action list gets longer, and there are still things to do (even things you don’t want to do!). You still have to force yourself to do the things that you have to do. But overall, I am liking using the system. I’ve got more fine-tuning to do, and I want to implement it fully at home, but I just haven’t gotten around to it, yet.
Well, some people consider it a cult. Today I joined the vast group of people who are Getting Things Done (or GTD for those who are really “with it”). I’d heard a lot about GTD through various blogs and decided to check it out, so I bought the book. It seems like something that will actually work, so I blocked out today to “implement” the system.
For those who are unfamiliar with GTD, it is a “groundbreaking work-life management system” (see here for some more info). Today I spent pretty much every minute from 10:30-5:00 getting my office set up for GTD. I threw away a whole trunk load of junk that had been fermenting in my office. I filed away things that had been in my stack-o-stuff for over a year. I tried to give everything a “place.” I’m not completely done yet; I ran out of time today. I’ll probably go up to church early before dodgeball tomorrow night to finish it off.
It’s only been one full day, and I have already noticed a difference. One of the main rules in the system is if you come across an “actionable” item and you can do whatever action it requires in under two minutes, do it. After doing this all day and getting it ingrained in my brain, I started doing it at home. I didn’t feel like grabbing that one extra bag out of my car that I needed to, but then I thought, “geez, that will take like 30 seconds.” Now I don’t have to get that bag out of my car anymore. See, isn’t that amazing? What a system.
For now I am only using the system for work, but I can see myself eventually using it at home. We’ll see how this goes. If I am still chugging along and GTD in two weeks, I’ll write an in-depth blog post about how this system helps me to stay organized and how I’ve adapted this in my job as a youth minister. Exciting, isn’t it?