I have been thinking that I needed to implement a "Getting Things Done"-like system for a while (aka GTD), largely because I have not in fact been getting things done. This has actually happened in the last day or so.
I've been using a week log-based system for about ten years. This is great for keeping history, but not so good for either remembering things you need to do long term nor for tracking long term tasks.
So a few months ago I added another file to my regular week logging system called todo1. This would be a text file where each line is an item to work on. The items are tagged with project and context labels so the file can be searched on, and I can add any data I need to each entry.
However, I found this unsatisfactory.
First of all, the content of the todo file was stale almost as soon as I entered it because of exactly the same problem that I ended up having with Hiveminder - I can see everything at once, but there is too much to see. I knew this going in really, but I had also bought into the ideas of Lifehacker about using a single text file and slicing it with grep. A laudable goal, but one which was just incompatible with how I actually work.
Secondly, I followed the advice of David Allen's book and mixed work and personal stuff in the same file.
Now, this is actually something I would probably be quite happy with if I had a different job, or at least a different working style. The basic problem is that I use two computers - one for work, and one for home. The corollary is that I am not very happy about mixing personal and work stuff.
Lots of reasons to change, which in fact have existed for a long time, but no very clear idea of what to change to.
Then I remembered the project files that GTD describes. These are repositories for anything you need to work on the project: it's where plans go; it's where discoveries and ideas go; most crucially, it's where logging goes.
So I have sliced up my massive todo file into project files. The todo file still exists, although it's renamed to "active" and contains only next actions for projects. And I review it every day.
The project files live alongside the active file and contain the project history, plans, discoveries, and so on. There is also a "someday" file which holds ideas for things to do in my copious free time. The week log is still around too, since that is something that I really do not want to entirely discard.
This setup is the same at home and at work. Most of the project files are particular to the location, with the following exceptions -
- active: things I need to do in the day are the same wherever they are
- organisation project file: the organisation challenges are the same in both spots too
- work project file: this is maintained at home as a place to put ideas I have about work while at home.
- home project file: like the work project file, but the other way around
So this is another iteration in my ongoing quest for a system I can make work. I'm optimistic about this one because it's chunked enough that I can look at everything I need in one glance, but incorporates regular review to keep things fresh.
Because if I don't look at any of the lists then I night as well not make them.
 not the first time I have tried adding a file like this. Last time I tried I called it "pigs", named from a recurring joke on the Dead Ringers radio show about an Archers character who said "That won't get the pigs in."
Posted by Dunx at March 31, 2009 02:05 PM