Tag Archives: Getting Things Done

Resistance and Creativity

This may be an unorganized mess of a post, so please stick in there.

It has been a long time (far too long) since I last updated the blog. I have been getting a steady stream of hits to some of the relevant posts here on Worthless Genius, but truthfully, everything has been a bit stale.

I’ve updated the theme here, to make it look a little nicer, and a bit more modern, but that’s just about all the work that I’ve put into the blog lately.

The lack of update could be due to a large number of unrelated circumstances, or it could simply be that I’ve been lazy lately. So, I just want to touch on a few ideas that have been circling around in my head for the past month, with a brief explanation.
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David Allen’s “Making It All Work”

I just received David Allen’s new book, Making It All Work: Winning at the Game of Work and Business of Life. I’ve reviewed Getting Things Done in the past on Worthless Genius, and am eager to start reading this new book and gaining some insight into the world of productivity which seems to be foreign to me.

I have adopted a few of the principles in Getting Things Done, but have not been able to fully integrate those concepts into my daily life. I’m hoping to gain a new perspective on this, and give it a better go this time around.

Expect a review later when I finally finish reading this book.

Quick Idea: Mood-based GTD System

I have no idea if something like this has been created, as I’ve only just had a few minutes to mull it over in my mind. It sounds more like a psychology experiment than a truly achievable computer science experiment.

Lately I’ve been finding out that my brain doesn’t work well on the 9-5, M-F work schedule that seems to work out for most people in this world. I’m not really sure why this is, but it seems to be built into my brain, as it’s been very hard for me to break. I’ve tried many things to try to jump start my brain, but have been unable to get something that keeps me on a regular schedule. I can wake up physically at 7am every morning in order to have an extra hour of time to get things done, but that doesn’t make me get things done.

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Software Spotlight: GTDAgenda

Today I’d like to talk about a Getting Things Done application from GTDAgenda.com.

Thought I had been using the free Notebook service from Google for my GTD lists, I came across this pay application, and have truly fell in love with its organization and functionality.

GTDAgenda gives you all of the functionality you would expect with the most expensive GTD applications, for a very reasonable price.

The ability to create task lists, then change the tasks to Next Actions is the most important feature that I use multiple times every day. It’s very easy to me to plan out quite a few steps ahead for each of the Projects that I am working, so being able to complete the current Next Action, then move the next step to a Next Action is very important to the system that I’ve come to love.

Goal tracking is something new to me, but using it has kept my goals within my site. I can assign a Project, Task or Next Action to a goal, so that I can feel like I am taking steps toward reaching that goal.

When you complete a task, GTDAgenda keeps track of the task, so that it doesn’t completely disappear. This way, if you are working toward a goal, you can look back and see that you have completed x number of tasks in order to reach that goal. Though I had never thought I would need this kind of functionality, it has become a part of my every day life at this point.

Along with tagging Tasks as Next Actions and assigning them to a project, you can also assign them a context.

Say you need to call your boss. You put that on your Tasks list, and set the context to @Phone. Then, the next time you have a bit of free time, and you are sitting next to your phone, you can come back and view all the tasks that you have entered in the context of @Phone. This allows you to use the small bits of free time to your advantage.

The newest feature, which I am just getting started using, is the ability to email tasks to your list. Each user is given an email address for adding tasks to your list on the fly. This allows you to be anywhere, and send an email, which will put the subject as the task name, and the body text as the comment for the task. This sounds like a great idea, and I hope to be able to use it more over the coming year.

The only feature that is lacking from my point of view is that, currently, there is no functionality for attaching reference materials to your system. I have been assured by the developer of GTDAgenda that this functionality is on its way, with support for Links, Notes and Files.

I have been using this software since October 7th, and I have grown really fond of it. I have been moving my “stuff” from Google Notebook into the GTDAgenda system. This has allowed me to take a new perspective on my Someday/Maybe and Projects lists, so that I can better streamline my system. It looks like I actually completed some of the Projects, but never got around to removing them from my system.

If you are looking for an excellent GTD application, I would tell you to look no further than GTDAgenda.com.

Project Visions: Independence

While not a traditional “project”, the notion of financial independence is a goal that many people strive for.

Since high school, I’ve always known that I really dislike working for another person, and have always wanted to strike out on my own. Now, I don’t know if I really have the drive and nature that it takes to be an entrepreneur, I know that I at least have a few good ideas that could help me along in the trip.

Blogging
How do other people in the modern world achieve this goal? Well, there are quite a few people who write blogs with over 100,000 unique visitors a day, and are able to make a living from the ad revenue. I, on the other hand, have close to 20 hits a day, and make about $0.02 from ad revenue. I have no delusions that I’ll become some really successful blogger of my time, but every penny counts. OK, so strike that idea.

Writing
Next we have the notion that I could be a writer. While I have written over 10,000 words in one of my novels, I have neither the structure nor the drive to see this through. I really, really believe in the stories that my work conveys, but I am having a very hard time forcing myself to put the rubber to the road. This would be my most preferred method of independence, as I could do what I love and still bring home the money that my family needed to survive.

Most likely, another method would bring me to this goal, and writing would be what I would do in my spare time.

Freelancing
I have tried this in one form or another over the past few years, without any magnificent results. I am not disciplined enough at this point in my life to really be able to provide a worth while service to a paying customer. It pains me to say it, but that is the truth.

This stems back to my adoption of Getting Things Done. I have a system (now moved to GTDAgenda), and I use it every day, but I have not put my full attentions into it and find myself wandering around aimlessly sometimes.

I have also bought and paid for the materials (php|architect’s Zend PHP 5 Certification Study Guide)
for me to get my Zend PHP Certification. Though I have read through about half of the textbook, I am nowhere near ready to take the exam. I have set the goal for myself to take the exam by the end of 2008. I fully intend to stick to this goal.

The Startup Spirit
It seems as though the best option for me is to learn about business modeling and creation, and do something that would challenge my intellect. Drawing up a business plan is no small feat, and I need to learn all the ins and outs of venture capital.

This is another whole set of problems. What idea should I start with? What will I do in the next 6 months while I get all of the plans laid down? Well, I haven’t gone past the brainstorming phase at this point, and I will have to do some marketing research to see which idea is most financially viable.

So, basically, I need to get a job. These all might be pipe dreams of mine, but at least I have dreams. I need to work with some structure in order to build up my work-a-day skills.

Post #100!

I can’t believe that I’ve made it this far. 100 posts, WOW. I haven’t stuck to something like this before, and I’m really excited that I’m still here taking things on.

Though, we’ve been through a domain change, several starts and stops, we’ve chugged along at a decent pace.

The first article was posted on 04/23/2008. It’s been 171 days since then, which means there was an average of 0.58 posts per day. Now this is far below what I am hoping for the future, but it sure is a start. I’d like to take a few moments and write about a few posts that marked points in the blog’s life.

In this time, I’ve been through a job, struggled to find another one, and ended up going to back to college to get that degree that I’ve been chasing for a long time. This has been a hard decision, and it has contained a lot of work, but it’s been a wonderful ride so far, and I hope to see things increase in funness into the future. With the changes to scheduled posts, and all the other stuff going on, I expect this next 100 posts will be the best yet.

A Look Back

Taking a look back at this week give me a lot of good feelings. I’ve completed many <2 min tasks, effectively cleared out my “Projects” category to just the core ones I’m doing right now, and have been properly using my “In box” in a physical, email and list setting.

What have I afforded from this? Well, I seem to be gathering momentum. While there were still a few times where I decided not to do anything, those times are beginning to become few and far between. This is big for me. I’ve never really had a structure to my brain, and have never before been able to follow someone else’s organization scheme.

One of the great things about using the Getting Things Done system is that you make it fit your context. Sure, the program was created for executives to deal easily with the giant influx of email, snail mail and voicemail, but it works just as well for a nerdy college student who lives in the middle of nowhere.

Though I have just begun to really trust my system and its portable nature, I am already seeing the benefits of changing the way my brain deals with all the “stuff” that comes from being a father, husband, student, writer and freelance web developer. I just finished the book this week, after 100 days of pseudo-slacking. I would read voraciously one day, only to wait another three or four days before getting back to it.

Looking at where I am now with this system, though I am far from the goals that I have set, I really wish I had been more willing to read at a regular pace, so that I could be just that much farther ahead in implementing the system.

Well, this all just sounds like another review for GTD, but it didn’t start out like that. I wanted to share my enthusiasm that everything is going fine, and the system that I’m starting to have solidly rooted in my life is working wonders.

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.