As an avid fan of David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” process, I’ve found some tweaks that make it much more useful for tech work. When I first read David’s book I spent two days going thru my 1100 e-mails and overfull inbox. I purchased his Outlook plug-in and converted e-mails to projects. This was amazing to say the least.
I now have a manageable in-box and a great project list. With David’s technique of identifying the “next action step” and his GTD Outlook software I am able to sort action steps by area (phone calls, computer, errands, etc). This has really helped identify the steps but it can lead to doing a lot of little things and not really “accomplishing” anything.
With some trial and error the following procedure has evolved that helps me stay on track much better.
Projects are identified as “tasks that require more than a day to accomplish”
Accomplishments are identified as “project steps that can be done in a day”
Action Steps are the individual steps to complete the project.
To complete my process I use a “Hipster PDA” from the 49folders website as a place to list and mark-off accomplishments. My daily ritual consists of perusing my projects list and coming up with milestones or “accomplishments” that can be done in a day. I ask the question “What is the Next Accomplishment?” I list the accomplishment at the top of an index card and then numerically list the next action steps down the card. I post the card prominently on my desk or work area so I am reminded of the “action steps”. I check off the individual steps as they are completed. When I go from place to place, it’s easy to put the card(s) back in my hipster and take them with me.
I have found that adding the extra category of “accomplishments” has really helped me focus on getting something tangible done everyday. Every morning I take the previous days accomplishments and make a notation on my project list. This has been a simple but important step. Thanks to Merlin Mann and 49Folders for the Hipster implementation. I also use a “Walleteer” at times when the “Hipster” is impractical.
Let me know your implementations of GTD.