Sunday, October 17, 2004

The Fallows Summary of Getting Things Done (GTD)

The Atlantic Online | July/August 2004 | Organize Your Life! | James Fallows

This started as a blog post on what James Fallows' wrote about David Allen's "Getting Things Done" methodologies. Now It's morphing into my short summary of the method, inspired by Fallows' article. Here's the latest version.
1. If you can do it in two minutes, just do it.
2. Get everything out of your head. Appointments, tasks, notes, contacts -- get it into one place (eg. Outlook).
3. Tasks have three important relationships:
- the minimal context needed for the next action (ex: anywhere, phone, desk, computer, network, office ..)
- the project(s) that contains the task
- date of next action
4. Tasks always have a next action. Identifying and executing 'next actions' is critical.
5. Record tasks/ideas at time they are recognized.
6. Weekly review of about one hour. (This takes me at least 2 hours but I'm trying to speed my review.)
7. Tasks do NOT have priorities.

I'm still putting priorities on my tasks, but I can see the logic of a method that dispenses with priorities.

Ideally our software would make it easy to do the following:

1. Assign tasks to one or more projects and be able to view them quickly by project.
2. Assign tasks to minimum-required-resource (eg. place): nothing, phone, desk, computer, network, office ...
3. Assign priorities to tasks and projects.
4. Assign dates and notes to tasks (almost all software does this, more or less).
5. Link tasks and projects easily to messages and appointments.
6. Allow editable access to this data on a PDA.

Outlook doesn't do these things very well. Unfortunately. I sort-of-fake-it by:

1. Using Allen's Outlook Plug-In. (The software is crude in some ways and I think it's troublesome, but it gets around many of Outlook's inadequacies.)
2. Using Chapura Key Suite to sync the Outlook data to my PDA.

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