Posts Tagged ‘gtd’

look, dick and jane.

See Jenny’s planner.

See, see.

It is red. It is Moleskine.

It is an eighteen-month Pocket Weekly Diary from July 2008 to December 2009.

Jenny writes on it with a fountain pen.

Look at the fountain pen.

Look, look.

It is brown. It is old.

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It is a 1944 double-jewel Parker Vacumatic with a 14-karat gold stiff extra-fine nib lovingly restored by Butch Palma.

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See the pen and the planner.

They are pretty.

Very, very pretty.

Maybe they will help Jenny be more organized and productive and less apt to procastinate and forget important tasks and meetings.

Maybe, maybe.

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gtdagenda: keeping you on track

As a busy but usually disorganized writer and manager, I’m always interested in ways to manage my time and tasks. The last thing I want to happen is to let down a client because I forget to send reports on time, or lose my newspaper column because I keep missing deadlines.

I tried the PDA route for about a year and a half, but discarded it after a while. The device was cumbersome (an O2 XDA) and I couldn’t carry it in small handbags or in my pocket. I would also forget to charge it and would often be dismayed to lose my work when the device died on me.

I went back to the old-school paper-based method, and I now use a Hipster PDA and Moleskine Weekly Diary for data collection.

But I then realized my system was incomplete – how could I be reminded of birthdays and other similar occasions? I also needed a backup plan just in case I lost my notebooks.

A web-based system was ideal, but I wanted one that was based on the David Allen GTD (“Getting Things Done”) philosophy, which has helped me increase my productivity at work.

Luckily, I came across the web-based GTDagenda. I checked it out, and here’s what I found:

1. It’s based on the GTD system of Calendar, Projects, Tasks and Next Actions, and Contexts.

Screenshot of the GTDagenda tour

2. It incorporates other time-management principles such as Goals (career and personal).

3. Because it’s flexible, it can be used to implement other systems such as ZTD (“Zen to Done”) and Covey’s “Seven Habits”.

It takes some getting used to, but if you’re aware of GTD basics, you can feel your way around the user-friendly system. Starting out, you can take a “tour” of GTDagenda’s features and how to adapt it to your specific purposes.

The interface is stress-free, using simple fonts in cool blue and green. The layout is minimal and clean, no clutter, making navigation easier.

Once you open your account, you’ll be taken to your page, which has a menu bar at the top – “Goals”, “Projects”, “Tasks”, “Next Actions”, “Checklists”, “Schedules”, and “Calendar”. You’ll see the list of your Tasks immediately, while sidebars contain a Calendar, your Contexts, and Projects.

GTDagenda also helps you prioritize your Goals, Projects and Tasks; links your Projects to Goals; shows if your Tasks are still active or completed; and provides you with a timeline reminder to check if you are still on track.

The “Checklists” option lets you list things that need to be done weekly – “exercise”, “update blog” – with tick-boxes for each day. “Schedules” lists your routine. I don’t think I’ll be using these, but it’s nice to know that they’re there for those who require such structures.

To get into the habit of checking your GTDagenda daily, add the URL to your tab group favorites and click on it first thing when you fire up your PC. My Daily Tab Group includes my Yahoo email, Facebook, and Friendster sign-in pages; my website (jennyo.net); and now, my log-in page for GTDagenda. (Open them all up in succeeding tabs and click on “Add Tab Group to Favorites” on your browser.)

Anything that helps you keep track of things you need to get done, is a good thing.

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gtd, my style

Busy people who also happen to be disorganized often look for methods on how to best manage their time and efforts to achieve optimum results within the specified timeframe. Over years, many techniques have been developed and the choices are varied and confusing. How to tell which way will work best for you?

I’ve found this to be effective: read as much as you can about time-management methods, list down the tips that appeal to you, and through trial-and-error, create your own system that will work with your personal habits and way of thinking.

After going through quite a few systems and planners, I’ve finally developed a system that increased my productivity, wasted less time, and left nothing undone. It’s loosely based on David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” (GTD) action-management method insofar that I free my mind to actually work on tasks “by moving tasks out of (my) mind and recording them externally.”

I’ve tried using large, book-type planners but found them too heavy to lug around in my bag and too unwieldy to use in the field. So I trawled the ‘Net for ideas and came up with this system:

  1. “Hipster PDA” - (bottom left) A sheaf of 3x 5 index cards held customarily by a binder clip or metal ring. I use a pink carabiner to make it easy to flip the cards. This is my “to-do” list. Color-coded cards organize the action tasks by context: blue, “@Work”, pink, “@Home”, white, Projects, because these are the categories that make sense for me.
  2. Dashed notation for action items: – : action item undone; + : done; <-: waiting for another action;   -> : delegated; (-) : moved to another list; * : cancelled/abandoned; and the division sign for ‘on hold’. It is easy to use because you always start with just a dash.
  3. Pocket Red Moleskine 18-month Weekly Diary: (bottom right) For listing appointments, meetings, etc. Its the perfect size for me – small enough to carry in handbag or tuck in pocket, I’m never without it.
  4. Desk planner – (top) With two pages allotted for each day, it’s where I list all the little bits of information that come my way - phone numbers, notes of telephone conversations, sudden inspirations – rather than write them on scraps of paper that can get lost or misplaced. In the GTD system, it’s my “bucket” where I capture the data for later processing.

I also have an 8-1/2 x 11 size three-ring binder with tabbed divisions. Each division corresponds to one project – ex. “Short Story Collection”, “Racing History Book”. It’s where I write down notes, proposals, plans, mind-maps, and the like. I review my binder weekly, and list down action tasks pertaining to current projects in my Hipster PDA.

People get frustrated when choosing one time-management system and forcing themselves to work with it rather than make it work for them. Customizing a system yields better results and will help you on your way to professional and personal productivity.

(Yes, the pen on the Moley and all the pens in the pen-case are fountain pens.)

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