When I first heard about Gettings Things Done® (a.k.a., GTD® — the organizational method devised by David Allen), I knew it was something in which I would be interested. I have a lot going on in my life so I’m always on the lookout for anything that can help me be more efficient and effective.
Not to detract from the multiple books David Allen has written about GTD, but the key concepts about GTD can really be boiled down to control and perspective — “control” meaning gaining the upper hand over all the really important information in your life, and “perspective” meaning looking at that information in a way that lets you focus on the right set of priorities.
One key part of GTD is that it must be easy to capture, monitor and access all the information about the things that you need to get done. That can be accomplished with just about any kind of tool, including the paper-based implementation of GTD that the folks over at the David Allen Company describe for those luddites who crave organizational enhancement. Making it easy to record, monitor, and view all your information is precisely what LifeTopix is all about, so I was especially interested in how I would be able to use it to implement GTD. Here’s how:
For the “control” part of the methodology, GTD advises that as you come up with ideas, you should quickly capture them, deferring planning and classification to a later time. This allows you to get those ideas out of your head so your mind remains “uncluttered” and you can be more effective at the task at hand. Of course, I have always referred to this as “I need to jot this down before I forget”. 🙂 The LifeTopix Quick Inbox is perfect for this.
This week, I had three things that I thought of that I wanted to do at some point. Rather than get distracted from what I was doing at the time I thought of them, I captured them all in the LifeTopix Quick Inbox.
- We’re expecting a baby in a couple months, so I created a Quick Inbox item titled “Get nursery ready”. I didn’t set an Act By date to begin with, but I know we need to get that done sooner rather than later, so I set the When to Soon.
- Doing my taxes is always quite involved. I created a Quick Inbox item titled “2011 taxes” so I could plan a project for that and all the tasks associated with it. I wanted to get started on defining that project well in advance of the April 15th filing deadline, so I set the Act By date to March 15, 2012, and set the When to Someday.
- We need to get a new TV, but I always like to research electronics purchases before we make them, so I created a Quick Inbox item titled “Research new TVs”. I didn’t set an Act By date to begin with, and that is not an urgent item, so I set the When to Someday.
This is what my Quick Inbox looked like after all that:
Later, I went through my Quick Inbox items and specified more information.
- I converted the “Get nursery ready” item to a project with a start date of December 15, 2011, and created tasks within that project for painting the room and getting everything set up. Then I added shopping items to that project for the paint supplies, bassinet, and other items we still need. Finally, I set the category to “Baby” to help with the perspective part of the GTD methodology I would be doing.
- I converted the “2011 taxes” item to a project with a start date of February 1, 2012, and an end date of March 30, 2012. I added tasks to that for gathering my documents, purchasing my tax software, and completing my tax return. I set the category to “Finances”.
- I converted the “Research new TVs” item to a task with a due date of February 4, 2012 so we would have it by the Super Bowl. I set the category to Media > Equipment Upgrade.
LifeTopix makes it very easy for me to see the items I should be working on now via the What’s Next view. I have mine set to show me items for the next 7 days, so this is what it looks like after I went through my Quick Inbox:
LifeTopix does a great job of letting me implement a GTD methodology. I have control because I am able to capture all my todo items easily so nothing falls through the cracks, and the touchpoints between all the topics is perfect for allowing me to leverage related information without having to re-enter it multiple times. I have multiple perspectives because while I often need to view things from a time view (what I need to do now, what I need to do tomorrow, what I should do if I find myself with some spare time, etc.), I also like to view them from a category view (what baby-related activities I have scheduled, what finance items I have to work on, what items can I work on while I’m at the office, etc.).
LifeTopix and GTD — two great things that go great together!