GTD with Netvibes
~ 07 February 2008 ~
Seven years ago, David Allen penned his now best-selling book for time management and productivity, Getting Things Done (GTD). Something akin to a GTD cult has amassed since its publication, and a search for the acronym today yields literally millions of search results. (If you’re not familiar with the book, read Roger Johansson’s review.)
Last summer I grabbed an audio copy of the book in preparation for a three-hour road trip. I have to admit I wasn’t immediately floored by the techniques Allen presents, at least not to the extent some GTD junkies led me to believe I would be. This is probably due in part to a long-standing love/hate relationship with to-do lists — I find it’s easy to become entangled in the numberless factions of to-do-ism, believing man exists solely to check items off a list. For this reason alone I may have initially suppressed any feelings of floored-ness.
Yet, I did take away a few points from the book, some of which include the following:
- 2-minute rule: If the task can be done in two minutes or less, do it now.
- If it can’t be done now, defer it (write it down somewhere) or delegate it.
- It’s okay to write down every to-do, action item, or desired outcome that comes to mind, even if many of them are never accomplished. By writing down these things, your mind is freed of what Allen calls “mental recall.”
There’s much more than this in the book, but honestly, I think I’d go nuts if I were to attempt to implement the entire GTD “system” as prescribed by Allen.
What I have managed to do, however, is implement my own version of GTD loosely based on some of Allen’s principles. It’s fair to admit one won’t be floored by my approach either, but I’ve been using this process daily for about 6 months and share it here for the benefit of those fearing to-do-ism entanglement.
I use a lovely little web app called Netvibes to organize all my tasks. It’s essentially equivalent to iGoogle or PageFlakes, where you can add/move/edit your own widgets, edit text right on the page like a Word document, and so forth.
I’ve created several tabs, the first of which is The List, or my task management tab. The List tab includes three columns of note widgets. The left column includes Someday/Maybes (+3 months out) and a Sort Bucket. The middle and right columns are split into two categories of tasks: Work and Personal. The boxes in green are all known tasks I want to complete in the next few days or next few weeks. The boxes in red are things I want to accomplish today.
Each morning, I move usually 3-4 items from the green boxes into the red boxes, or add items to the red as they come up during the day and need to be addressed that same day. If something isn’t done by end of day, it moves back to the green until the next morning when I repeat the process.
The process is far from perfect but has worked rather well, and it’s the first I’ve stuck with for more than a couple weeks. On top of this, Netvibes is free (currently), and they have killer mobile versions (m.netvibes.com) — one formatted for any mobile device, another formatted for iPhone. Coupled with the fact that it’s web-based, this means I can access my lists at anytime from my work machine, my home machine, or my phone (and I do).
If you’re curious about the other tabs shown in the screen, I also use Netvibes as my feed reader, again because of the cross-device benefits, and thus the second tab is full of feeds. The third tab contains work/team-related goals. The fourth tab is a conglomeration of all kinds of stuff, most notably a holding place for possible Premium Linkage URLs and notes for articles such as this.
Lastly, if the Netvibes recommendations here are mere child’s play for you, check out Justin Kistner’s Integrating Netvibes, Pipes, AideRSS, Dapper for an intelligence dashboard. (Thanks Sam.)
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