It’s time to apply GTD to my life

I have only finished reading Getting Things Done in the last week. I found the last three chapters a bit of a slog – too waffly for me. But now that I’ve finished it I really need to start applying it properly.

Actually, over the last two months I have gradually been implementing the principles. I started by maintaining to-do lists on the computer. Initially I used Omnifocus but ultimately I chose Things, having tried out virtually every other Mac GTD app along the way.

I spent three evenings with my husband doing an initial “collection”. Our dining room was the dumping ground for paperwork, journals, all sorts of rubbish. We filed loads of it and shredded and threw away even more. I have made three piles of “things to read” based on whether I think it will take under 15 minutes, between 15 and 30 minutes or over 30 minutes to read. Actually, I’m really pleased with my reading piles – I’m finding I’m actually starting to get through them as I can easily choose something to read that fits in with how much time I have to spare. (The idea for sorting my reading material like this came from Ready-Set-Do!, an app that I liked but ultimately discounted as it was too slow.)

I am yet to implement a proper filing system. At the moment we have 3 small filing cabinets that are absolutely bursting but I’m in the process of going paperlight. I gave myself a ScanSnap S510M for Christmas. It’s actually proving a bigger task than I thought – I’d not anticipated how long it would take to tag and sort documents once I’d scanned them. It’s something I’ll write a blog post about in the future.

I have an in-tray next to the computer where I dump paper items such as bills. I’m using Things to collect to-dos I think of when at the computer. What I’m struggling with at the moment is collecting thoughts and tasks through the day, when I’m not at my computer. I have a Moleskine notebook but I find it awkward to carry around all the time. At the moment I mostly use it for shopping lists. When I used Omnifocus I emailed tasks to myself with my iPhone (which I do have with me almost always) which worked fairly well. I’m hoping Things will implement a similar system. I still sometimes email myself and then drag the emails into Things but it’s not a robust system. A couple of times I’ve forgotten and just ignored the email. So I don’t really feel I have a collecting system that I trust yet.

The weekly review isn’t really happening yet. I tried to make a effort last week but all I ended up doing was having a quick glance at my tasks and projects in Things. Oh, and I did empty my in-tray. I think I need to actually timetable it in for myself rather than just saying I’ll do it sometime over the weekend. Now that I’m getting up early, Sunday morning before the children appear may be a good time.

I think I actually need to sit down and write myself a proper GTD routine – how I’m going to collect stuff, when I’m going to process and organise it and timetable a weekly review. Then of course the “doing” – there’s not much of that going on at the moment either. And that’s meant to be the whole point of this!


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