Recently I realised it’s been five years since I started using David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD for short) methodology.
I started looking for help with managing all the stuff of life when I was contemplating going back to Uni to do a Masters. As it happens, it would be almost another two years before I started uni because—you guessed it—the ‘stuff’ of life got in the way. Actually, at the time that stuff was pretty serious. To-Do lists just weren’t cutting it anymore, and I needed help.
Thanks to Mr Google, I stumbled upon Getting Things Done. Liking what I heard, I downloaded the book (and then downloaded it again as an audio book in 2015). Let me say right now, thank you Mr Google and thank you, Mr Allen. [*No relation BTW 🙂]
I’d started slow, applying GTD to just one aspect of my life. When I discovered I could be twice as productive using GTD than in the areas of my life I hadn’t yet applied the methodology, I was hooked.
The search for a system…
I spent time looking for a good system. I wanted the system I used to be fun and help me engage with the methodology, so tried a few different things; paper and digital, including programs and apps like Opus Domini, Thoughts, Microsoft OneNote. I know others who love these tools for GTD, but I just wasn’t feeling it. My system needed something different.
I’ll admit another fangirl moment… Shortly before beginning my Masters I was floating around in the iTunes App Store (as one procrastinating is wont to do) and came across Omnifocus2. It was love at first use. I worked with the base product for a long time and then added Evernote as a reference and recording tool. I also share a calendar and (some) Evernote notebooks with family members, which has proved very helpful as we go about our day-to-day.
1) OmniFocus 2 Pro
Suddenly I had a system! One that works. It’s rare now that I don’t know where I’m going or what I need to do when. As advertised I do now have that much needed mental space. Working with the methodology—as opposed to constantly thinking about the ’stuff’ of life I need to manage—has meant more time and greater ability to focus on what matters. Not only that, but I’ve achieved dozens of someday/maybes I never really thought would be feasible.
As a reward for GTDing for five years, I’ve upgraded to the Pro version of Omnifocus2 and fallen in love all over again.
Watch out. Against type, I think GTD and the Omnigroup might have an advocate.
If you are a first-time GTDer, read the book, but then pop back here to shortcut your learnings. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned, and which might help:
* Spend time finding the right tools, but don’t overthink it. Keep it simple. The tools are supposed to work for you. Not the other way around.
* Ensure you are clear on the differences between capturing your work and defining it. I spent more time than I should have blending these two thought processes. Things go faster if you separate the two.
* Work through your context types and keep them current. For a long time mine have been a combination of energy, agendas, and focus areas.
* Be ruthless about your diary (see next point).
* Love the weekly review – Omnifocus makes the exercise easy, and when I’m also considering my higher horizons, I make it fun by getting creative. Carve out time for both.
* Next to the weekly review, let ‘waiting for’ be your best friend. If you care about it, track it. Avoid unnecessary conflict with gentle nudges early.
* Download the audiobook and take the time to listen to it once a year. Because I’m coming to it from a different place each time, how I experience the methodology also changes.
When considering the right tool(s) for you, consider:
1. Am I spending too much time trying to make the tool fit the methodology?
2. Is the interface clean and easy to use? Does it have a quick capture function for those times when you are on the run?
3. Does it sync easily between your devices?
4. Does the tool provide me with the ability to see ‘slices’ of life? Does it provide flexibility around viewing options? (In Omnifocus, these are called Perspectives).
5. Do your tools allow you to keep higher horizons top of mind?
6. Does your system have the capacity to change and adapt as your sophistication with GTD develops?
7. Does your system love you as much as you love it?
Thanks for spending time with me today.