What Happened to Getting Things Done?

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Much of what David Allen wrote in his 2001 opus Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity is out of date. (He used to advise people to create a separate list of Next Actions that they could only do when they were next to a phone.) There’s a revised 2015 edition that I haven’t yet read, that I assume deals with processing texts and scanning Twitter feeds, and it’s probably already out of date because it doesn’t include advice on capturing Open Loops from Slack.

But I don’t need to read it, because I’ve already been… transformed. Rewired. Optimized for stress-free productivity and ready to get things done… More at lifehacker.

We don’t seem to hear much about productivity methods anymore. It appears that most people have given up on taming their inboxes and that we will use whatever is at hand at the time.

I use Outlook (Windows) at work and struggle by with what I consider to be a serious lack of organisation tools.

I use 2 DO on my iPhone and Mac, miCal on the iPhone and Gmail everywhere else. There are no specific routines I use these days because I have trained myself to not spend forever thinking about organising at the expense of actually doing things.

It is a mashup of different tools at different times and it kind of works. We have moved on from the idea of organising ourselves digitally and from what I can see, some people are actually stepping back and using pen and paper.

This is merely my experience and I would be interested to know how you organise yourself in 2017 and why.

7 thoughts on “What Happened to Getting Things Done?

  1. Yeah, I think a lot of the ideas of GTD have sunk in – like, if it’s less than 2 minutes, just do it now – even if I leave a lot of the specifics out.
    But I guess really what I do now with Appigo Todo is the same as I was on my PalmPilot in 1997.
    Unfortunately my list hovers around 20 items, despite trying to move out most of the larger term “projects” to a separate list app. (Reviewing what GTD says to do I guess I’m not doing a good job of breaking things down into actionable items)

    Appigo does an ok job with the daily/weekly/monthly nags (which is more than I can say for many programs), though I wish I had a “snooze button” option that would remind me in a day or two without changing the date for next iteration.

    Also my perfect Todo would let me put things in sublists (things to do at work, only at home, online, at the store, or for band, or for longterm project) but still see everything on one big list, with the sublist names as headers. Most of the todo apps that do lists keep them on separate pages.

    Ironically one of my big project todos is “make that perfect todo list” but since I’m not experienced in creating mobile apps, I really can’t let making that app block me from continuing to get things done.

  2. I tried GTD and a few others and found that unless I was diligent and focused, I quickly fell into my old habits. So I looked at my old habits and realized that I was making a mountain out of a mole hill. I started using Todo again, as I had early in my iPhone life. I had tried a few others but found Todo the best for me. I also found that unless things are in front of my face, I forget them. I’ve continued this even though I’m retired. Anything I must get done today or I’d like to get done today goes on the current list or Focus List as Todo calls it. Many are recurring items. Many are optional, but if I leave them in some other list, I’ll forget them. I do have an Undated section that I look at once a week to see if there’s anything I’d like to tackle. Then I have other sections/projects for longer term stuff, stuff I’d like to do someday or stuff I should do someday.

    I also use time of day to organize rather than priority. That way I can specify times if I need them. I usually know whether something is important or not.

    It’s a loose system and I don’t feel compelled to keep it always up to date. I also don’t spend that much time worrying about my to do list.

    1. yeah, but it’s still fun to talk about 😉

      You mentioned organizing by time of day- one thing i dislike about Appigo Todo is it makes the very engeineer-y assumption that “the later something with a due date is, the more pressing it is to get it done” when usually the very opposite is true – if something has slid for a week or two it can probably slide for a month or two

  3. I follow some GTD principles, but not all. I capture everything, but context lists and next actions have never worked for me. I guess I don’t have project lists either, so maybe I don’t really practice GTD. At least I capture things so they’re out of my brain.

  4. I miss the PIM integration of the Palm OS.

    Let me start by saying that I am IT support and not very often at a desk.

    If something came up that needed my attention, and I didn’t do it right away, it would land on my Memo app. Then I got back to my desk, and synced with the Palm Desktop. Memo’s that I had dealt with were archived; those that weren’t ended up on my ToDo List.

    I had a rather sophisticated method for prioritizing these ToDo’s, but I won’t go into that here. What I do miss though is Palm had five levels of priorities, giving me larger flexibility. When I finished a task, I would check it off.

    That may seem obvious, but there was this great little app called ToDo to DateBook, that would take all checked off ToDo items, and make a corresponding entry in the DateBook on the “finish date” of the ToDo item. I would then archive the finished ToDo..

    This worked well for me, and I haven’t found the same integration or flexibility in anything I’ve tried for iOS.

    Really miss the Palm Desktop for it’s integration and simplicity.

    1. Yeah, I liked Palm Desktop. Also these days it just feels so much more solid to sync to a physical computer than rely on the cloud, which is why I’m surprised Shaun isn’t more of a fan of iTunes at least for the syncing up part.

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