Reboot, or rather my conversations with Martin Roell, triggered me to have another look at GTD.
I had build a GTD-system, sort-of, before but it failed as I chose the wrong tool as a dashboard, i.e. my local wiki.

Talking to Martin about work and effectivity, he also mentioned GTD again.
During a stroll through Copenhagen I asked him what the effects were for him using GTD. His answer was “I stopped dreaming about my work“.

Even though for Martin that was a pleasant side-effect, not the goal of implementing GTD, it is my trigger now.
In the past months I’ve had the feeling of constantly running behind, not being able to look ahead more than a day, with three more deadlines to go before the day is out. A lot of that stress is merely the result of having no system of emptying my head that I can trust. So I too dreamt about my work, or had a list of urgent points emerging in my head the moment I opened my eyes, or woke up during the night. Not good at all.

Strolling through Copenhagen

So, on returning from Reboot I started building a GTD system again. In the past week I merely created tasks-lists in Outlook GTD style and stuck to them. It already helped, so now I am designing the full system.
Some notes on how I’ve organized things.

Focal point of the system is the Task-list in Outlook 2003.
I’ve chosen Outlook because it is the one system that is always available to me. My laptop is always in sync with our Exchange server, which also keeps my Palm Treo in sync. So it is available at all times, both for professional and private purposes on my laptop, my mobile and through web-interface.
I basically only use one Taskfolder (only the main tasks folder syncs to Palm). Projects (p_name), contexts (@context) are categories for those tasks. Waiting For is a status. There is one other Taskfolder for Sometime/Maybe items.

I have hacked the display of tasks next to the Outlook Calendar view, much in the way Martin blogged it in 2004.
Currently I am still trying to find a way to hack the data binding in the Outlook Today view. Being able to determine how tasks are listed there would be good. Then Outlook Today would be a good dashboard, as it is merely a HTML page you can extract from Outlook and redesign at will (if you’re not afraid of command line editing your registry that is)

In my GTD set-up I make no distinction between private life and professional life. It is all too intertwined anyway, and I use tools that are all portable between the two contexts without problem.
The wiki on my laptop still serves as a projectlist (stating the overall goals), idea list, and inbox for conversation notes and rss-reading notes.

Next step, now the basic system is in place, is building the GTD Weekly Review into my routines. It is the one important thing that closes the circle of the system. In the coming time I will try and blog about my experiences with GTD.

Leaving Denmark, time to get things done

8 reactions on “Starting GTD

  1. Good to read about your efforts. Might inspire me to get my system working. I’ve so far failed to get GTD working, mostly because I forget to do the weekly review, and it falls apart. My task list sort of works (in OmniOutliner), but the rest doesn’t. I’ve tried various programs and a gmail plugin, but none of it worked when I didn’t keep the main points alive myself.

  2. GTD is a godsend for me – it keeps me out of trouble and I can (almost) keep track of the big projects. The danger, I’ve found, is getting lots of *things* done but forgetting sometimes *why* you needed to do them in the first place. Got to keep those big ideas to the fore, still 😉

  3. @Flemming. Yes I myself am the one critical success factor. At least this time, last time there was of course the not too well implemented system to blame 🙂 But building my own routine will be the challenge yes.
    @Ewan. It is easy to get swamped in the details and forget the bigger picture. I saw an example where someone added ‘for reason‘ to each of her task descriptions. I think for me the problem never has been keeping track of the bigger picture, but figuring out the steps to get there. Also the big picture thing is part of the reviews I think.
    @Gerrit. Danke for the tips. I am not a Mac user myself, but Elmine just got herself a brand new Macbook Pro, and already installed iGTD yesterday. I will point her to MailTags as well.
    Thanks guys, for commenting.

  4. Hi Ton
    It’s always good to reconsider your habits and routines. It might give you some fresh perspectives on things. A quick tip on how to integrate the weekle review: Put it on your calendar until it becomes a habit. This is though, I know, I’ve been there and sometimes still am. Other appointments get in the way real easy. But I found out from experience this is for me the best way to get the WR in my system

  5. I just started focusing on the Outlook task pane this month. It still takes a small effort to do – learning a new habit, without much external reinforcement.

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