Friday, November 12, 2010

Repost: Getting Things Done

Everyone has to get things done. And everyone has a different level of success at accomplishing this as well as a different method for doing it. Following David Allen, the most important element of any system is the capture of information. That is, in order to effectively get things done, you have to have a reliable system of identifying and recording what's supposed to get done. There are countless ways to do this - and no one way is right or wrong. Rather, you have to find a method that works for you. But I would caution that whicheverr method you use must be portable, practical, easy to use and always with you. A large 3-ring binder may be very nice and attractive, but if you're regularly in situations and places where carrying around such an item is impractical or inconvenient, it won't work effectively as a capture tool.

But after the capture process, the second most important element of your system is the prioritization of what you have to do. There are many different approaches to prioritization - the valuable, tried-and-true Stephen Covey 4-Quadrant method is very effective at helping you ensure you are working on the right things. The David Allen Next Action system is very effective at ensuring your are always getting to the next practical action you need to get closer to your larger goals. For me, personally, I use a combined approach that (1) captures every task - linking tasks as needed into larger "projects", (2) prioritizes the task based on a Covey-like system based on my values & goals, then (contrary to Allen & Covey), schedules each task based on availability, context and due date. While I use a weekly review, per David Allen's GTD system, I also perform a daily review (end of day) to close/document actions and layout the plan for the following day or two based on what happened today. Additionally, as each new action is entered into my system, to the extent practical at the time, I define a priority, context, duration and due date. This dramatically simplifies and abbreviates my weekly and daily reviews. Below is a summary of the key elements of my approach to GTD - but, again, the capture and prioritization steps are the critical elements - and the iPhone, ToodleDo and Outlook are the critical tools to make these processes work.

GTD Process

1. Weekly review

1. Spend 30 minutes each Monday morning reviewing appointments and tasks for the week rearranging as needed

2. Daily review

1. Spend 10-15 minutes at the end of each day reviewing tasks completed as planned, tasks cancelled, tasks deferred, emergent tasks completed, emergent tasks scheduled

3. Capture

1. When away from desk:

1. iPhone ToodleDo app for tasks and text notes capture

2. iPhone Dragon Dictation for voice notes capture

3. iPhone Evernote, Genius Scan & Gmail for multimedia capture

2. At office/desk:

1. ToodleDo web for tasks and text notes capture

2. Word Docs and email for more extensive/multimedia capture

4. Backup/Portability

1. iPhone is totally portable and has essentially all my GTD information including a pretty extensive set of reference information constantly at my finger tips; with the iPhone, I can reduce the percentage of my "out of office" time where I require my laptop or access to a PC from 70% to 40%

2. Using SyncBack and the EHDD and USB drive, I backup both my office PC documents & Outlook PST files along with my home PC documents & Outlook PST files and have these available everywhere

3. On the EHDD and USB drive, I have an entire suite of launch-able applications that don't require installation so I can access essentially all of my data files from any PC with a USB port

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