It has been about six months since I have finished the book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen. This is one of those books that is best to look back on to see what worked and what didn’t. There are a lot of good methods in this book, and I think many people get a lot of value out of several different areas. I at least gave most of the ideas in the book a chance, and here is what has (and hasn’t) worked for me.
Lists. The single best thing I took away from this book was making several different lists. Every time I have an idea, whether it be long term, short term, or ASAP. I put it on a list. He even suggests a “Someday Maybe” list of things you would love to do one day, but you know it’s just not gonna happen now. I use the Tasks functionality in gmail and the gTasks application on my android phone that keeps the two lists in sync.
I keep a list of things such as…
Article Ideas – I use this list to keep up with articles I am writing. Most of them are for MSSQLTips.com, but if they don’t fit into that category, I just make a note.
Goals – I have this broken into sub lists like Professional, Financial, Personal, etc.
Next Action Items – These are one off things that I can do right away. They really don’t have dependencies on other things. This can be anything from a book I want to read to calling the insurance company.
Projects – I use this list for personal projects that have more than one item that needs to be checked of in order to be completed.
Someday Maybe – This is that pie in the sky list I keep where if there were no constraints on time, money, etc. I just might want to do.
What Didn’t Work
Inbox Zero. I tried it. I hated it. I created the appropriate folders and everything. I even started a new job, so that made it even easier. I think with the search functionality and sorting capabilities of email programs, I just get along better with organized chaos. This may not be the case for you, a lot of people love the Inbox Zero method. It just seems to be more trouble to me that it’s worth.