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Getting Things Done? 87

machinder asks: "In reading Cory Doctorow's notes for the Life Hacks presentation at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference, I saw reference to David Allen's book Getting Things Done. Casting about for it a bit, I see a lot of developers have touted the thing in their blogs. I'm sold, and am starting to implement this system, but I'm wondering if any other Slashdot readers have used the system, and if they have any advice?"
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Getting Things Done?

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  • Another fad (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nandu_prahlad ( 706343 ) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @01:58AM (#9639534)
    Hurrah! Another passing fad comes along. I can't wait to know what the next "big thing" in self improvement will be called. How bout "common sense"?
  • Re:Faster Writing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by John Meacham ( 1112 ) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @03:42AM (#9639903) Homepage
    Note that one of the stepping stones in pursuing GTD is to be able to commit ideas to paper or computer or some other nonvolatile store as soon as they occur to you. wherever you are. Get ideas out of your head.

    If you, like me, don't like speaking out loud into voice recorders in random places or don't always have your PDA with you, being able to take notes quickly is a very useful skill. Using handywrite, you can write orders of magnitude faster, without interrupting your thought proccesses trying to remember how to spell words or waiting for your hand to catch up to your mind.

    Not for everyone, but if you want a way to record your thoughts anywhere and have been searching for a better way, it is a very useful skill.

    Sorry if the conection to 'getting things done' was unclear from my previous post.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 08, 2004 @05:51AM (#9640258)
    Yep nice advertisement, I think I'll stick to my Tony Robbins tapes if you don't mind. Got the edge bro?

    you end up with a process to control your life

    Depressing stuff. If you can't live your life and make it work, and you gotta go to some guy to get a 'process' to help you control it, then man, u gotta ask yourself honestly, 'why am I here?'. Just to go through life 'controlling' yourself, so you can please your boss? So you can keep buying chicken feed for your wife & your fattening kids? Shit man! THINK about what you're saying. Read your post again 10 years from now and I bet it will sound painful to you, painful.
  • by nandu_prahlad ( 706343 ) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @06:55AM (#9640434)
    During high school, I used to read a lot of self help books. Dale Carnegie, Norman Vincent Peale, Tony Robbins, Covey etc were my gurus. Now I don't read them anymore. I have become apathetic to them.

    The buzz lasts only for a week or two before you realize that you are low on inspiration and go buy another book... get another fix.
    As the years went by, I found just two principles that work for me.
    1)Prioritize. Some tasks are more important than the others. Concentrate on them more.
    2)Recognize that some info is more important than others. If you know few key things, it is enough. There is no point in learning/knowing other useless stuff.

    The 1st one is just basic common sense. Except that the authors use fancy methods like "mind maps", "brain dumps", GTD software etc to help you prioritize stuff. Understand the underlying principle. It doesn't matter if you use paper computer or pda in order to achieve it.

    The 2nd point, is important as it reduces info overload. Some wiseman once said "Yes. The learning curve for Unix is certainly steep, compared to other OSes. But you only have to climb it once". The value of having system administration knowledge in Win NT is much lesser than Unix sysadmin skills. Why? Because you will have to relearn it when they change the layout and placement of the buttons in Win 2k, Win XP, Win 2003. But your Unix knowledge from years ago is worth it's weight in gold, as it is still applicable now.
    Recognize, this fact and you wont waste your time learning/studying/reading something that has no value.

    The above are guidelines that have served me well. I don't claim ownership of these ideas, or affix a fancy name for them. Because they are just common sense.

    I have many friends who swear by self-help stuff now. It is interesting to hear them speak at length on the virtues of "mind-maps", on being "in the zone", and what not. I am glad that I completed my self help phase early on in life.

    If you feel that you really could use the inspiration from these schemes, go right ahead. Otherwise you may just discover that you can actually get by pretty well in life, without paying attention to them at all.

  • Re:Another fad (Score:3, Insightful)

    by machinder ( 527464 ) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @08:36AM (#9640898) Homepage
    You're absolutely right: what Allen suggests doing is common sense. However glib dismissals like "that's just common sense" are not helpful for two reasons. The first being that what's common sense to one person may not be to another. (That's why people still drink and drive, I believe). The other reason is that there is value in creating a structured system around common sense. I took a budgeting/home economics class in highschool. The contents should be common sense ... don't spend more money than you've got, and know where its going. But there are record numbers of people declaring bankruptcy.

    The fact that a book lays out a common sense system and provides some rigidity really doesn't mean that it has no value.

  • by nysus ( 162232 ) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @11:50AM (#9643078)
    I agree. The "nirvana" the poster speak of shouldn't come from the feeling of control over the work, it should come from the very work itself. If you are work on something you truly believe in (and not because you need to suck your boss' or shareholders dick), everything will organize itself. The passion you have will be the force that moves you forward and helps you get things accomplished.

    On the other hand, there is always some drudge work that's incidental to the primary task at hand, and it couldn't hurt to establish a methodology to help you slog through it.

  • Re:Faster Writing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by droid_rage ( 535157 ) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @12:14PM (#9643412) Journal
    This looks like a very interesting and efficient method for recording ideas. Thank you. I'd heard of shorthand before, but I never really knew how it worked.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 09, 2004 @03:09AM (#9650168)
    I tend to agree, 'Junk food for the mind' I've heard this type of info called. Slashdot articles and comments fall into the same quick fix category.

    Reading a book or webpage is just so much easier than executing an action that requires the long term application of physical and mental effort, and the willingness to take on a risk that means there's a chance you would be better off having done nothing at all.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 09, 2004 @01:39PM (#9654064)
    What techies need is a fast handwriting script that handles the weird capitalization that is all too common in tech matters.

    Cursive writing is a bit faster than printing, but Camel case (setIntegerValue), acronyms (XSLT), etc really aren't very compatible with cursive. Cursive assumes that capital letters will be the first character in a word, so their strokes don't connect with the prior letter. Something like 'aKeyCode' would be discontinuous between 'a' and 'K', and between 'y' and 'C', which discards the continuity that makes cursive writing faster in the first place.

    It's easier to just use print instead of cursive, or to revert to print for terms that contain weird capitalization. I, at least, tend to end up with a mixture of scripts that looks like ass.

    Any typeface artists in the audience could garner some fame (or at least famous-for-slashdot fame) by designing a good, fast, readable handwriting script that is compatible with technical capitalization.

Don't get suckered in by the comments -- they can be terribly misleading. Debug only code. -- Dave Storer