Remembering the milk and #gtd

remember the milk

I love to think that there is one thing that I can do that will make me massively productive, stop me from procrastinating and get everything done with zero stress. Of course, there are no magic answers, just hard work and consistent application of effort. However, with two jobs, two kids, a PTA to run, it’s easy for things to get missed or for me to think I’ve forgotten to do something, then spend hours trying to remember what it was (yes, I am 40 later this year and it’s beginning to show!).

Stuart Johnson started using the getting things done (#gtd) technique two years ago. He administers his system using an awesomely geeky method of tagging and smart lists on remember the milk. I love a good list, and I have subscribed to the paid version of RTM for two years and while it is finally beginning to be useful. I thought it would help me to write about how I’m using it, as I think I need to get into some better habits, and writing things down always helps me to clarify my thoughts.

The first thing I’ve realised is that I’m not using #gtd technique at all. Having gone back to look at Stu’s post on Friday, it reminded me of what I’m missing. So far I’m keeping a glorified task list. Here is how it goes:

  1. Something pops into my head ‘must get some mother’s day flowers’, so I make a note in RTM (using email/ tweets/iPod/ google gadget or chrome web page to enter, depending where I am!).
  2. I use the smart entry tags as I enter the task to send it to a list and give it a due date.
  3. Once the task is done, I tick it off (the best bit!)
  4. Once a week I look through all the tasks I have and reschedule remaining tasks to new days in the following week

I have  6 lists:

  • home
  • home_pta
  • home_jobs
  • PGCE
  • work_leics
  • work_OU

Because I use the due date field in RTM, anything ‘due today’ automatically pops up on the front page of the iPod app, and it’s from here that I mostly check what I should be doing today. However, the problem with this is it becomes a list of stuff I have to do in one day, which isn’t actually true, it’s just a list of stuff that is at the top of the pile. Putting things off become demoralising and mixing all the lists up in the iPod ‘things to do today’ view doesn’t help me focus.

So I need to try a few things:

  1. Get back into trying #gtd properly again. This means following the steps: collect, process, organise, review, do.
  2. Start to use next action and projects to break down procrastination and activation energy barriers to getting on with work.
  3. Think about how best to organise my tasks by tagging and smart lists.

A few of us are meeting for a #gtd coffee this week and no doubt a small piece of motivational #cake. I’m hoping that a bit of moral support and some geeky interest in setting up RTM differently will help me move forward. I’ve a lot that I want to achieve before I leave in the summer, and there are lots of projects that I’ve promised to lots of people. I’d like to get them all done!

NOTE: I”ve just discovered that GTD is available as an eBook through UoL library. Well, not a kindle/portable eBook, but full online text viewable in a non-mobile browser 😉 Hopefully I can share my annotations with others (at UoL only needs CFS username to access). The eBray system is rather slow, but I like the annotation system and the sharing idea. If only it was available on a portable reader format….

(oh and before you say it Alan, yes, I could just spend the time actually doing things 😉

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5 thoughts on “Remembering the milk and #gtd”

  1. What’s AJ asking for evidence of? The thing is everyone needs a system of some kind – otherwise you just have chaos. You need to find your own but I find just having 2 lists (inbox and |) works for me, plus smart lists for next actions, tickler and waiting. Truth is I keep falling off the #gtd wagon but it’s easy to get back on. I just try to keep my inbox clear by making sure I process tasks. Processing tasks could mean completing them before having to do anything with them, or giving them a due date and/or tag. I find looking at tasks via different angles also helps – so if you only look at tasks via due dates it’s a bit overwhelming – but if you look by context (e.g. I have some time to do emails or I’m with my boss) or by project (e.g. what do I need to do to write that paper?) then it helps you make progress in a different way. See you Wednesday and we can share ideas 🙂

  2. For implementing GTD you can use this web application:

    http://www.Gtdagenda.com

    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, schedules and a calendar.
    Syncs with Evernote, and also comes with mobile-web version, and Android and iPhone apps.

  3. For implementing GTD you can use this web application:

    http://www.Gtdagenda.com

    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, schedules and a calendar.
    Syncs with Evernote, and also comes with mobile-web version, and Android and iPhone apps.

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