One of the recurring themes in my quest to be organized is that of todo list staleness. Inevitably, the cycle looks like this: I sit down, and in a burst of creative energy I create a beautifully crafted, perfectly organized todo list. It’s a thing to behold. Everything is broken down into nice orderly projects, each with a clearly identified next action. There are contexts assigned to everything: this one is an errand, this one needs to be done online, this one needs to be done in the kitchen.
One of the things that impacted me the most about GTD is lists. It’s such a ridiculously simple concept, but it’s incredibly powerful. I was reminded of this recently when I saw an article at Boxes and Arrows called Check It Twice: The B&A Staff Reveals the Way They Make Lists. It isn’t about GTD at all really, but it’s useful nonetheless. It includes things like “Holiday cookies”, “Refrigerator lists”, and even included a bit about Backpack, but the one that I found most interesting was called Mantras:
Steve Pavlina has updated one of his older articles into a new one titled Do it Now, in which he describes the method he used to graduate college in three semesters with a 3.9 GPA. From the article:
In order to accomplish this goal, I determined I’d have to take 30-40 units per semester, when the average student took 12-15 units. It became immediately obvious that I’d have to manage my time extremely well if I wanted to pull this off.
I’m a big fan of GTD. A lot of people ramble on about “so-and-so changed my life”, but in this case it’s true. I had never been organized a day in my life until I discovered David Allen and his system. I’m not saying I’m some sort of uber-organized person, but I’m 1000% better than I was.
There is a big community that has built up around GTD that spends a lot of time swapping tips on how best to implement the system.