Sometime last year I read the Getting Things Done book by David Allen, of which all productivity blogs / sites / news was all about. And I liked it, and it made sense. Then I tried to apply it, religiously. And I failed. Several times actually:
The first time I failed because I tried looking for a tool that would fir the GTD philosophy completely and would integrate perfectly with what I use to do my work. After trying tons of software (I stay by a PC 90% of my time, so it was the logical choice) I ended up spending more time testing and customizing than actually using the system. And it was bad. Instead of helping me gtd, it was the exact opposite – I lost time, thus things I could have done.
Second time I failed because I tried to adapt my environment to fit the full GTD philosophy – e.g. tuning my Outlook and text files and batch files to match everything in GTD : contexts, processes, etc.
This was last year. As the year was ending and the new one starting, and I had more spare time, I gave good thought on why it sounded so good, but didn’t work for me. I also read some more material on this subject, and the one that touched me most was "How I GTD". And the answer was simple: I must adapt the process and the thinking to my own life style. I am not a manager nor do I have tons of contexts; I don’t have teams to manage nor a physical inbox. And my life is still not so complicated.
So I did it. I gave up trying to fit everything into clear contexts and projects.Well, actually I gave up contexts entirely, since most things went into the @computer category. I started using Chandler to create lists of to-do tasks, add events into the calendar and integrate it with my e-mail system. This way I don’t have to care if my GTD app is with me all the time or not – I can just send me an e-mail and figure out what to do with it later. I only have one inbox : my e-mail inbox. I’ve digitized most of the things in my life, so paper-based material is close to nil.
And so far, it’s working, so I’m a happy, clear-minded worker again.