03/27/2005 UPDATE: Adding the 43Folders wiki (better late than never).
11/19/2004 UPDATE: Adding the BNUG wiki page on the GTD weekly review.
11/12/2004 UPDATE: I remembered there were three links that I neglected to include in the GTD section, so I’m dropping them here. The GTD bulletinboard at davidco.com (and yes, they have an RSS feed), the very useful roundup of GTD principles on Matt Vance’s wiki, and finally, you can get a copy of the first chapter of GTD by registering here.
This post won’t surprise anyone paying attention to the recent GTD frenzy, but I needed a summary, just for my own reference and figured others might too. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, you might want to stay tuned. This post is going to try and cover a bunch of information about how to "do more with less" (as in, getting more done, with less stress/resources/etc). That’s the general gist, anyway. It’s not quite the ‘more with less’ that Jared writes about, but if you’re sitting at a desk for any part of given day, you oughta get some good ideas here. I briefly covered some of this in the manifesto, but I want to expand a bit here.
I first got turned on to David Allen‘s book, "Getting Things Done" back in 2000 or so. I was coming down off my Franklin-Covey high and had about a year or so of post "binder" experience with my Handspring Visor Deluxe (whoo!). I’d been trying to figure out how to accomodate the Franklin-Covey methods with my new virtual organizer. I wasn’t having a whole lot of luck and I really didn’t want to cough up more scratch for their Palm software stuff, since I’d heard it was kinda buggy (and expen$ive). So I trolled around newsgroups, etc and eventually fished out a reference to "Getting Things Done" (GTD). Not much else to say, since I’ve been a complete evangelist about the book ever since my first reading. I read that thing at least once a year, or selectively when I need a refresher or inspiration. For a while there I think I was a complete nuisance to other people at work, always talking about it and trying to get them to drink the Kool Aid.
That explains my fondness for GTD, but you might be wondering what the heck is a lifehack. Danny O’Brien coined the term for a talk (short version, long version) he gave at a conference earlier this year,
and it apparently rang a bell for a lot of people. Danny wanted to
find out what kinds of productivity/efficiency tricks people were using
in order to keep their stuff straight. He wrote to a bunch of smarties
and asked a lot of questions. Some people actually wrote back, and
there were consistent themes to their answers. "Lifehacks" is the easy
way of describing these themes. The two ‘versions’ of the talk that I
linked to earlier have a lot of geeky talk, so don’t be surprised when your eyes glaze over.
A lot of people really picked up on the lifehacks idea, and you can see the fruit of this over at del.icio.us under the lifehacks tag. Now we’re getting somewhere. If you haven’t messed around with del.icio.us yet, you’re missing out. The site is a lifehack all by itself. The basic idea is that it’s a "social bookmark manager." To understand what this means, consider how frustrated you are when you’re at home and can’t remember the link you bookmarked (put in your "Favorites," whatever) at work. That sucks! Del.icio.us solves that (and then some), since you can access your bookmarks from any internet connection. You set up an account (free and non-invasive), then add links that you want to keep track of. You organize the links by "tagging" them with words that you associate with that link. I’ll stop with the tutorial now, since I’m getting off track, but do look into it, if you’re at all interested in simplifying how you organize stuff on the web. If you want more del.icio.us tutorial, go see Merlin’s post. (quick tip: make a "wishlist" tag and send the link to friends and family before the holidays!)
So we’ve got GTD and lifehacks. A lot of folks are taking those two ideas and moving them along in their own ways. Two very excellent sites to review are Merlin Mann’s 43Folders and Michael Hyatt’s Working Smart. Both are unspeakably helpful, each in their own right. 43Folders has an undeniable slant toward Apple, while Working Smart tilts toward PC’s. Regardless, keep up with both if you’re interested in this kind of stuff. You’ll find all kinds of great tips and tricks there. Merlin also kicked off the 43Folders Google group, too. Don’t miss it–on the web, email or RSS; tune in whichever way suits you. (Bonus bit: Merlin Mann is also the creative genius behind the awesome 5ives website…nothing productive there, just pure time sink. But fun!)
I mentioned the 43Folders Google group. You oughta know that there are also several groups that have formed around GTD as well. The ones that I lurk in are the Getting Things Done group, the GTD Palm group, and the Ready4Anything group. That last one refers to David Allen’s latest book (which I haven’t read, gasp!). There’s naturally a lot of cross-posting going on in these groups, but I find it worth my time to seperate the wheat from the chaff. Unfortunately, all of these groups are "private" which means you have to join to gain access to the archives and it also means there is no RSS feed available. The public/private question surfaces periodically in these groups and they always keep it private to keep out spammers. If someone replicated those groups over at Google Groups and offered an RSS feed, they’d be doing the world a favor. Actually, now that I think about it, just subscribe to the Yahoo groups with a gmail account and have all the mail forwarded to the new Google Group and subscribe to the RSS feed. There. Now someone go do it. Just don’t tell the grouchy owners over at the Yahoo groups what you’re doing.
I mentioned Gmail. Get an account already. If you do nothing else, have a copy of all your email forwarded to your gmail account for easy Google searching. That’s a lifehack. Don’t have gmail yet? I’ve got one invite left for the first commenter that asks for it.
So that brings us up to now. Whatcha gonna do with all this goodness? Start with Merlin’s pointer to getting unstuck. And then use his template or this one to move forward. Good luck, and I’d be curious to hear about what you’re doing in this domain…