I skipped a few posts on how I’m going with GTD. I managed to get my knickers in a knot after that first post. Even though I *wrote* about how it was ok to not be perfect and that it was better to get moving in the direction of getting things done than not, I freaked out because my system was not complete before getting it up and running. I’m still working on knowing things at the emotional level as well as at the intellectual one
After a couple of days of realising that I needed a brand new system and freaking out about that because it meant overhauling my then current, and failed, one, I finally had a chat with C about it. Because C already worked out the lifehack to me a long time ago, he pulled out his phone where he’d downloaded the mobile app version of OmniFocus ages ago when Andrew Macrae suggested it to me. We had a play around with it as I explained what I need a system to do for me. My main problem was trying to get a mindmap brainstorm of each of my large projects (TPP, PhD, Craft etc) into a list management system and also be able to have this system manage both my active Next Actions and also other actions that are sequential and therefore not the Next Action. OmniFocus works perfectly for this. And after having been frustrated for weeks with finding a tool to move to, I decided to finally buy OmniFocus. It’s not cheap at $90 for the Mac and I didn’t want to buy something if I didn’t trust that I would actually use it properly going forward.
It’s been a combination of demoralising to have to start the collection process all over again and also a bit exciting to be setting up my OmniFocus lists whilst doing so. I downloaded the hack to OmniFocus from the GTD website as it needs some configuration to work with GTD (The site says that hack is a public article so hopefully it can be read by non members). It took maybe an hour to st down and read that and get the hang of the software. And then it’s taken me two weeks to get it to where it is now.
David Allen reckons that when they do one on one coaching with people, it takes three full days to get their lives into the GTD system – three full days to mindsweep, collect all your stuff, process and organise into a system. I’ve never really had that kind of time available to me to dedicate to it and now with an infant, I certainly don’t get that many stretches of work time at the moment. I try to do a general mindsweep but my head doesn’t really tend to do a big mind dump like Allen describes in the book. I sit and do that and then I just move on and any subsequent thoughts I have from that point on, I record and throw into my in tray (or the OmniFocus inbox now). It works as a moving mind dump and enables me to at least limit the number of times I have the same thought going forward. Likewise, I’ve done a physical collection of stuff which was in my intray and I’ve noted the various other electronic places where there are collections that need processing. I’ve then just picked up one piece of “stuff” at a time and processed it into OmniFocus as time has permitted. Sometimes I get a couple of hours (I’m working til about 2am at the moment) and sometimes it’s just 1 or 2 pieces in between baby wrangling. Slowly I’ve built up my projects and subprojects and actions lists and I’ve mostly emptied my in tray and inbox and so on.
I found that I needed to also purchase the mobile app for my phone and then enable syncing between it and my laptop. Again, I’m not keen on spending so much money! But, I am often out and about and being able to enter a new thought or idea or to-do straight into the inbox for processing later makes sense in terms of limiting double handling, especially when pressed for time. The other reason I needed it on my phone is because the whole point of GTD is to be able to optimise those odd moments of time that come up in life to allow you to progress a project. You can’t do that if you find yourself unexpectedly in a shop, knowing you had things to get from it but no idea what they were.
I’ve also spent time not only getting my email inbox to zero (yay – finally glimpsed it last night before bed!) but in reconfiguring it. Peter Ball pointed out a pretty cool Gmail hack to me – Don’t Drown in Email – which I spent 15 minutes getting up and running the other night. I wasn’t sure I’d like it since it brings your two email folders – Waiting and Action – to the front page, making multiple boxes show and you get your inbox empty on the left of the screen by processing and tagging them into boxes on the right (Action, Waiting, Delegated and so on) which means they never actually go away. But it turns out this is great because it’s not out of sight out of mind, which, um ahem, might have been the case previously. After I emptied my inbox, I started reviewing the other folders, starting with the 295 emails sitting in Waiting. Yes. I’d gone numb to them due to the mix of actions and inactions due to lack of reviewage. Anyway, I like this new system even though it too is a work in process.
So in all, I think that’s good progress to report. I feel like I will never get to the end of processing all my stuff. I still have a whole heap of places on my laptop to get stuff from. And I need to go through my physical files in my office. On the other hand, I have a lot less loose paper with lists and ideas on them than I did when I first set up GTD. But the big downside is that it’s taking so long to set up my system that I’ve not yet had a chance to get to the DO stage of getting things done. Which means I don’t yet fully trust my system – things go in, but do they come out?