Some notes on GTD

I started this post on Decem­ber 15, 2008. I’ve mostly kept it intact and sim­ply pub­lished it for the sake of get­ting it out there. It’s not nearly as sprawl­ing as I ini­tially intended; you’re welcome.

Remem­ber the Milk is one of my favorite web­sites.1 Keep­ing a list of tasks, keep­ing it sim­ple, and keep­ing it cur­rent are ways I man­age my life. It’s noth­ing super pro­found or super impor­tant for me, but a list of tasks keeps me from becom­ing overwhelmed.

Prin­ci­ples

My basis for task man­age­ment is GTD. Mer­lin Mann sum­ma­rized it quite well, and I still think of his four-year-old arti­cle when dis­cussing GTD:

Basi­cally, you make your stuff into real, action­able items or things you can just get rid of. Every­thing you keep has a clear rea­son for being in your life at any given moment — both now and well into the future. This gives you an amaz­ing kind of con­fi­dence that a) noth­ing gets lost and b) you always under­stand what’s on or off your plate.

Obvi­ously it’s great for pro­fes­sion­als where you’re more or less paid for being pro­duc­tive, but I’ve found the prin­ci­ples to be very use­ful for my own per­sonal life as well. (I’ve found that it goes very well with Inbox Zero—inci­den­tally also by Mer­lin Mann — which basi­cally pre­scribes that it’s not worth your time to waste it on email, and that your goal should be speedy mail man­age­ment and an empty inbox.)

Method

So I’ve been con­vinced about these GTD tech­niques for a few years. Here are a few ways I’ve attempted to imple­ment them:

  • Tid­dlyspot: A host that offers free Tid­dly­wikis, Tid­dlyspot show­cases a few “fla­vors”, two of which are geared to GTD usage. Quite use­ful, easy to get used to, but only really usable on the inter­net and from a com­puter. And way too fid­dly for my taste.
  • Remem­ber The Milk: It shouldn’t sur­prise you at this point that I use Remem­ber The Milk2, but I’ve been using them for two years. RTM’s ser­vices are its strength; you can access your tasks wher­ever you are — on your com­puter, phone, in your Gmail, etc. — and be reminded of what you have to do.

Sorry this post doesn’t have a great fin­ish; like I said, I’m pretty much pub­lish­ing it as-is, and I don’t have any­thing pro­found to say at the end of this. Let me know if you’d like my thoughts on some­thing else. :)

  1. I work there now, but didn’t when I started this post.
  2. Uh, hello, I work there, remem­ber?

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