Friday, July 17, 2009

(Not) Getting Things Done

One of the core values of Getting Things Done (GTD) is to capture everything. You use "buckets" such as a pad of paper, a voice recorder, etc. to capture any and all things you need to get done. Ideally you should get by with as FEW buckets as you can, and you have to empty them periodically, ideally daily. Then all the items should be processed, put into appropriate slots for further action.

Some people start into GTD with guns blazing and eventually bail out, abandoning the system entirely as too much trouble and too rigid. Some others (like myself) continue to capture everything, but don't make the time to do the processing and wind up with information scattered hither and yon.

Myself, I have a digital voice recorder, a Palm PDA, my GMail account using a GTD Firefox extension, the GMail task list widget, a collection of Google documents and a couple of scattered OneNote files. I also recently loaded up EverNote to give it a swirl but have thus far put very little into it. Needless to say it is overwhelming when I look at all of them and try to wrap my head around it.

Like an addict of some kind, though, I continue to go through the motions even though I have no idea why I'm doing them. I guess I think I'll suddenly get a bunch of time to plough through and get my collective stuff in order.

I don't normally consider myself an overly hopeful individual but I must be. The MOST important items continue to bubble to the top but what I really need to do is clear the decks and do another reset. Hand-in-hand with that is a need to ruthlessly purge a lot of things that have been hanging around my lists for years now that I am just going to have to accept are not going to happen in my lifetime.

The geeky aspect of all this is that I'm saving up and waiting to get myself an iPod Touch to try and replace a bunch of these items. There are some people who follow GTD who have eschewed the technological approach and go with Hipster PDAs (collections of 3x5 cards with a binder clip).

I wonder what the techgnostic approach to all this should be? Generally it would mean an application of just enough technology to be effective without gold-plating for the purposes of geeky fulfillment or to fit into whatever current rhetoric my technological church of choice dictates. Maybe my technology needs are simpler than I think they are, and my fevered thoughts of creating or finding an XML format to allow for a vendor and platform neutral means to store all my GTD information are insanity?

Hmmm. Now that I start looking around apparently EverNote supports XML import / export. Here's someone else who's obviously put a lot of thought into this also. Plus there are many software packages for this.

The techgnostic thing to do, I think, would be to pick something that is just enough to help me integrate what I have and make it less painful to keep up. Another project to add my my list.


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