Category Archives: GTD

Getting Things Done – The Review

It’s been 100 days since I bought Getting Things Done. I’m happy to report that I finally finished reading the book.

This book has pure and simply changed my life. Going through the methods and reading about other people’s experiences really helped me sort through the “stuff” in my life, and allow me to truly buckle down and do something.

Now, I don’t profess to be an expert in the ways of GTD, but it’s a learning process. I truly feel that if I read the book again, I will find hundreds of ideas that I had passed over the first time I read it.

I’ve integrated the ideas and precepts into my everyday life, which allows me to view my lists easily, and keep track of all the “stuff” that comes with having my sort of mental processes.

The most invaluable tool that I have been using is Google Notebook. I can easily make lists and keep things organized here. I have a Projects list, and each project is tagged by name. Then, each Next Action, or Project Support Material is tagged with the very same. This allows me to do a quick filter which shows all of the list items under any one project, so that if I’m in the mood to do some writing, I can click on the “Writing” tag, and find out what I need to do next, view any support materials, and go for it.

It was hard to first get the ideas through my thick skull, but once they started to grow on me, I was able to find more mental clarity.

My next step in the saga of organizing my life is to re-read the list of possible “stuff” from the book, so that I can further organize all of the “stuff” in my life. I feel like there is a vast amount of “stuff” that I didn’t think of the first time through, so it’s time to review and expand.

Even though it’s been 100 days, I’ve only just begun to fully trust my system. My mind is beginning to find other things to do than worry about all the stuff I haven’t done yet.

I recommend reading/listening to this book for anyone who could use a good bit of extra goal setting and organization skills in their life.

Overall, this book gets a 10/10 from me.

Office Cleanup – Day 1

When someone walks into their home office, ideally they will be walking into a comfortable place which is inducive to relaxation and getting things done. I’ve had my home office for about 4 years, and not once in that span have I felt comfortable in it.

I always set out with the best of intentions to finally clean things up, organize and remove things that are completely unnecessary. As you can see from the following photos, that really isn’t the case right now.

Note: Sorry about the terrible quality of the images, I have to use an old digital camera while our good camera is indisposed. Also, follow the link to my Flickr photostream to see commented areas.

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This is my terrible looking workspace as it stands. This is hardly conducive to the creative process. The following are what the rest of the room looks like.
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Where do you start with a mess like this? My first task will be trash and recycling cleanup. Most of the outright trash is collected in the trash cans, or in trash bags along that one wall of the room.

After the first day of cleaning, I will attempt to take another set of photos from similar vantage points to see what kind of visual progress has been made. Wish me luck.

To Dos

If you know me, have worked with me, or had the unfortunate experience of going to school with me (high school especially), then you know how disorganized I can be.

I’ve been reading through Getting Things Done now for a very long time. So long, in fact, that it pains me to think about all the stuff I haven’t been able to read yet, and the subpar performance on my behalf in implementing the ideas and systems that are presented inside.

I have a new filing system which works well, but the mountain of “stuff” that I have to sift through in order to file is becoming more and more gargantuan, and it certainly has become disheartening to think of, let alone do. I’m going to put this post out there with the inteded effect of trying to kickstart some of these “projects” that have been dying from underuse.

First things first, I must say that my disorganization in the real world is starting to affect my organization in my virtual doings to the point where sitting in a pile of filth has made me feel like one, which in turn makes me churn out more filth, and the cycle continues. I’d like to attempt to break away from this cycle, and here’s where this post comes in.

To give you an idea of some of the “projects” that have been sitting around for some time, I’ll chronical a few here:

  • Clean My Office – This is an inhumanly impossible task that has evaded my grasp for far too long. As I said, sitting in my own filth really does transfer to the quality of my work, and it is really beginning to weigh on me physically as well as mentally. Expect to see some posts in the near future with this subject in mind, as I’m going to try to give a play-by-play as I take care of the clutter that is overrunning my life.
  • School Work – This is an ongoing issue in my life. I’ve been to college, stopped, and am now going back in an attempt to get a degree and find a better career for myself in the future. This semester has really given me the opportunity to put my system to the test, and it’s going well so far.
  • Various Computer-related Tasks – I am in charge of a large number of computers and peripherals in our house, which have fallen into complete disarray. We have no working printer or scanner, and my in-laws’ computer is beginning to choke under its own 3-year-old Windows 2000 installation’s weight. Also, my live-in 16 year old niece is in need of a PC for schoolwork. Also a digital camera repair, and some reformats are in order.
  • Online Stuff – I need to update my resumes, remove my eligibility from Monster while I’m in school, and further manage my social networking accounts.
  • Writing – I’ve written a good bit, and need to digitize it for future use.
  • Freelance Work – I have two pending assignments that need to be completed ASAP.

All of this “stuff” really does need to be done, and as of yet, I have not been able to muster the ability to get them done. The very first task I will be taking on will be the cleaning of my office. I will try to post some info about that at a later date.

I have a full plate right now, and not for want of a steady job as well. Hopefully I can pull out of all of this a better person, with cleaner habits.

Moves in the Right Direction

Posting has been very sparse lately, as I’ve been working on signing up for classes for the Fall semester at Allegany College of Maryland. While I only have classes on Tuesday and Thursday, I’m hoping to find a full or part time “normal” job in order to try to round out our income for the rest of the month. We’re still a good bit away from being able to stay completely afloat while avoiding credit disasters, but everything seems to be moving in a better direction.

Speaking of moves in the right direction, or at least the general direction of right, Mozilla Labs has released a video of the Ubiquity Firefox Extension. Ubiquity brings to Firefox and the web what Quicksilver and GNOME Do have brought to the desktop in terms of productivity and time-saving methods of computing.

Ubiquity makes sharing things on the web, and more generally, getting things done much easier. As shown in the video, let’s take an idea and run with it. Say I want to meet a friend at a restaurant in town, the easiest way to show him the location of said restaurant would be to email him a link to Google Maps. That takes things way out of the context we want to have, and ends up proving more work for not only me, the sender, but also for my friend, the receiver.

What Ubiquity allows us to do is take that change of context and throw it out the window. It provides an easy interface for you to include a Google Map right in your email, as well as many of the other open API sites that could be easily used to provide relevant information. This allows us to send a full-context email, in which the receiver gets a map, reviews, a shared calendar, basically anything the sender can think of right in the comfort of his email client, eliminating unnecessary legwork which would need to be done in order for all of that information to be at his hands on the standard web.

This is an amazing step in the right direction, allowing plain English into an application to accomplish tasks that only Mashup gurus were able to do in the past. If you are interested, view the video here:

Ubiquity for Firefox from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.

Thanks to Merlin Mann over at 43 Folders for pointing this out.

Resolution Blues

I’ve been doing more work using my aging iBook G4, and I’ve come to miss one main thing that I get from my desktop: screen real estate.

The iBook maxes out at a 1024×768 resolution, and though that might have been amazingly convenient when the iBook was first released, now in the age of high resolution desktops and multiple monitors, it’s really just a pesky limitation.

The display physically can’t display anything more than 1024×768, so it seems that I’m stuck with switching spaces or dealing with apple-tabbing through windows in order to get anything done.

I realised that the one app that’s really taking up the most space on my desktop is Firefox. I could use the zoom feature of this wonderful browser to view web sites at a lot smaller zoom level, therefore saving a bit of screen real estate. The only real problem is that I would have to change the zoom level every time I open a new site.

That’s where NoSquint comes in. NoSquint is a Firefox extension that allows you to save a default zoom level for all pages, and even allows a list of certain pages to be configured to load at a separate zoom level on a site-by-site basis.

Now I’m browsing at 75% zoom level, and I’m able to keep my Firefox window much smaller, which allows me to better switch between applications while I’m working.