GTD, the half-life, and the fire-hose

by garth on February 19, 2007

I had the good fortune to attend GTD | The Roadmap in San Francisco the other week. If you're still not Getting Things Done after reading the book, join Connect and get the Roadmap discount. Or, attend Roadmap and get the Connect discount. Either way, you spend a day with David Allen and gain access to some fantastic audio and printed content. 

David warned that when we left, the Half-Life of Seminar Enthusiasm would confront the Fire-Hose of Reality. After two or three weeks of the fire hose, I'm happy to report that I'm still better off for having attended Roadmap. I still haven't made it all the way through a review without being interrupted, but the rest of my system is working better than ever.  

First of all, I've abandoned ResultsManager. I paid full price for it, but after a year of thrashing it still wasn't working for me. Its ability to gather tasks from a billion and one MindManager maps is nothing short of miraculous. If you haven't got GTD down pat, though, I predict you'll get lost in ResultsManager's twisty, turny maze of passages, all alike. Spend that USD$285 on half of Roadmap, instead.

Instead, I manage everything in Outlook tasks. One task per next action, one task per project. Not all actions have a project, but all projects have one to many actions. I copy the action description back to the project note to help me keep track. In a prior life, I'd have ranted and wailed and gnashed my teeth at the sheer inefficiency of it all. Compared to the effort of managing purpose-built task management software, however, this is a cake and it's working.

If I forget the double-entry, I pick it up later. Sometimes, I don't bother: the linkage is entirely optional. Many GTD practitioners report that they simply remember the linkage if they're doing their weekly reviews often enough. Say, weekly. 

Everything is mirrored from my PC to KeySuite on my Treo. One or both are always a little out of date. If that itches, I simply HotSync. I've dropped from several times a day to once or twice, which brings most things within range of memory. 

Best of all since Roadmap, I've experienced inbox zero. I got it that way by dragging my old not-entirely-processed mail into an Old Mail folder. You might think that's cheating, but it's still zero. The paradox is: you have to experience it before you want it hard enough to get there. So, cheat! If the thousands of stale messages bother you, schedule some processing stints for later. 

There's nothing quite like surrounding yourself with people who're better at something than you are. I soaked up more tips and tricks in the breaks during Roadmap than in a year of hunting for them on the 'net. All told, I'm bloody happy I attended.