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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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  • Faster Writing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by John Meacham ( 1112 ) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @12:19AM (#9639073) Homepage
    Handywrite is a shorthand system based on the gregg system, but is unambiguously readable. This lets you use it for general notetaking without later transcription to english words. Recommended. It can be learned quite quickly.
  • by trisweb ( 690296 ) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @03:50AM (#9639923) Journal

    and let me tell you, he is one amazing person. I have been to his seminar (and one of his trainers' seminars) and it really makes you think about the way you do things. You start by extracting your brain into pages and pages of thoughts (called a brain dump), and then you practice moving each item into this process (the GTD process) whether you define it as a project, an action to complete a larger project, or just a "Someday Maybe" that is important only in the long term. There are a lot of details to the process, but you really need to read the book or go to one of his seminars to understand it fully, and even then you need a lot of practice and dedication beyond that. I highly reccomend both the seminar and the book.

    One thing I have to say about GTD is the end result -- you end up with a process to control your life. I can't remember the quote David had -- but basically, his idea was that if you had all the "things" controlled, then you were free. Its honestly a sort of nirvana -- when you reach the point where you have everything you do into this system, and it becomes part of your life, then you don't have to think about the system anymore. So, whatever you had before -- oh, I have to do this and this and this today, but right now I'm doing this with this other thing on my mind but I really want to do this... becomes I am doing this. It's an amazing feeling. But there's more to it than that, so go to David's site [] and get into it.

  • I've been using it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Craig Maloney ( 1104 ) * on Thursday July 08, 2004 @05:50AM (#9640255) Homepage
    I've been using GTD for many years, and it is truly a transformational system. It takes the mass of coulds, woulds, and shoulds and transforms them into something that you can do. The reason people are so exuberant about it is that it is life changing, and it does work. I've implemented a system using the Palm and Outlook, and it works well for me.
  • Why is this okay ... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 08, 2004 @07:55AM (#9640665)
    ... but the Scientology policy letters on DEV-T (which are also about this particular subject) get completely ignored?

    I don't see much difference, personally. In fact, it seems like "Getting Things Done" is in many ways derived from the Dev-T series ...

    I guess people just don't like the idea that Scientology make actually work, and that all this bullshit harping about it being 'an evil cult' really is just a major distraction from the one fact that would make everyone seem a fool: Scientology Works.
  • by sachachua ( 246293 ) < . p h> on Thursday July 08, 2004 @08:45AM (#9640973) Homepage Journal
    You might be interested in Llamagraphics' LifeBalance [] method, then. It think it lets you do hierarchical tasks with changing priority levels. Haven't tried it (as mentioned, I maintain a much simpler organizer), but it sounds like the way you work.
  • by chrisatslashdot ( 221127 ) <{spamforchris} {at} {}> on Thursday July 08, 2004 @12:06PM (#9643324)
    GTD is an excellent book. I wish I had read it right out of high school so that I could have used the GTD method at college.
    After reading the book and implementing the GTD method I feel much more in control. I now feel sorry for the people I see at work not using the GTD method. Its like a conversion experience that needs to be shared.
    I have used the method about 4 months now. I wonder how this method works long term. Anyone been using David's methods for years?
  • Yet Another Convert (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lww ( 323019 ) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @09:38PM (#9648916)
    I'm not going to argue with the naysayers about the pro's and con's of GTD as JustAnotherSeminarScam. I will say that it has been an extremely effective system for me personally and that I tend to recommend it to my peers and co-workers who either ask about organizational/productivity systems, or who lament their overwhelmed disorganized mess of a job/life/hobbies, etc. In the last eighteen months I know I've turned at least six other people into GTD'ers. Some alpha geek GTD tools/tips:
    • Dont throw away your TODO file, think of it as your "Stuff" inbox. If you read /., your probably need an online inbox a lot more than a physical one
    • Create a stuff folder on your desktop to drag/drop cut/paste files, links etc. Keep your TODO (or a symlink/shortcut to it) in here
    • GTD recommends a central filing system - I didn't/don't need a physical filing/reference system, but I created an online one with hierarchical topic directories and it's radically changed how I keep/use the tons of docs/info I get weekly. Especially since I dump reference emails in there now too. A nice search engine like X! or Lucene go a long way towards making this work well
  • by Moderation abuser ( 184013 ) on Sunday July 11, 2004 @08:26AM (#9665706)

    also for a commercial application.

    And the originator:
  • by cmpalmer ( 234347 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @10:26AM (#9685852) Homepage
    After reading this thread the other day, I went out at lunch and bought the book. I read it skeptically, but really liked many of the ideas, so I decided to give it a try. Went out the next day and bought office supplies.

    I'm finished with my office at work and I'm going to tackle my house probably over the weekend. Cleaned and sorted 1000+ e-mails, dumped my filing cabinet and started over, did a lot of brainstorming and planning. If I don't do anything else, I've actually accomplished quite a bit.

    While I understand the criticisms of (a) management fads, (b) self-help seminar sales, and (c) silver-bullet, one size fits all plans, what I don't understand is why people fail to look at this the same way they look at, e.g., software development methodologies.

    Sure, (a), (b), and (c) above all apply to software methodologies (waterfall, extreme programming, etc.), but you don't hear as many people saying you don't need to read or follow any of these, it's just common sense. Or, just do it.

    I'm looking at GTD as the equivalent to a software engineering methodology for processing all of the tasks and information that I have to deal with. I don't expect it to be perfect. I don't expect to have the discipline to follow it religiously. I do hope to keep it up for a while and follow the principles.

    The thing that impresses me the most is that it attempts to be streamlined. The reason I need some help is the fact that I am undisciplined, so following a few habits that are designed to be quick and easy and don't require double-entry bookkeeping or writing down every single thing that I do seems to be a good idea. So far, so good -- I hope I keep it up.

"Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love." -- Albert Einstein