Is your life becoming a multitasking quagmire of endless tasks and to-do lists? Getting things done in a complex world has never been more difficult.
Does your Mac help or harm your efforts? Is the Mac a good organizing tool or are Mac users poor organizers?
Recently I opined that it’s my Mac that was preventing me from getting things done. The long and short of it is, my Mac multitasks quite well and I don’t.
That’s not being fair to my Mac. Frankly, my Mac and all my applications and utilities can handle what’s going on in my digital life much better than I.
The problem is probably much closer to the keyboard and mouse than it is to any intrinsic issue with Mac OS X regarding productivity. Is there a better way to get things done using my Mac as the focal point and tool of choice?
I have list managers, outliners, organizers, to-do lists, reminders, alarms, folders, Spotlight and everything else designed to help me get things done. After surveying the list of tools and methods to use the same, I came to a conclusion.
The problem is me, not my Mac. Getting things done in an appropriate, efficient, and capable manner would require me to think different. Thinking different requires change. Improvement requires change.
That revelation led me to David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology. Remarkably, this philosophical brand of productivity doesn’t really require a Mac.
That said, a Mac makes it easy to implement GTD with a couple of basic ingredients.
The first, is a GTD repository—an organizer that sets up contexts and tasks in an organized fashion.
The second, is discipline on my part to modify my working habits to include GTD’s straightforward, though different, approach to getting things done.
My first approach was to identify flaws in my current multitasking routine. That didn’t take long, as it was obvious that I bounced rapidly between tasks within projects without much organization.
The second consideration was to determine that lists are not bad, but 17 lists, to-do lists, task lists, and project lists probably wasn’t a good thing, therefore, a central repository was better.
My third step was to determine a method that would incorporate my Mac, where I spend a big chunk of the day, as a digital “task hub” and an application that would be straightforward to use, effective, and not require an arm and leg in training time.
The last step is, of course, doing something; action begets accomplishment. I looked at Thinking Rock, iGTD, and a few other organizers which claimed to manage the Getting Things Done process.
For now, I’ve settled on iGTD. Why? The key to making such an organizational change is to recognize the context of daily actions, and to manage both context and tasks.
Historically, I managed lists, and when I had the time, would chew away on various tasks until something got done. GTD, specifically iGTD, allows me to change that paradigm to one that is more actionable, more conducive to time management, yet can still be managed and tracked on my Mac.
GTD’s methodology is rather simple. Instead of checking items off a to-do list, set aside specific time for specific actions, or contexts. Email is managed twice a day for 30 minutes. Phone calls are returned at specific times instead of whenever. It’s that kind of discipline that makes a difference.
iGTD seems to fit that method in an extremely intuitive, quick-to-learn, accurate implementation. Set your context. Set up tasks within the context. Schedule. Do the tasks. It’s more efficient, takes much less processing and handling time, and eliminates a lot of the minute-by-minute worries that invariably create stress during an already stressful day.
This is a fluid utility for sorting, tracking, arranging, scheduling, and assigning the gazillions of action requirements that cross our desks, meetings, and screens each day. It’s alive. It’s dynamic. It’s constantly changing, yet the method—context assignment and task completion—remains remarkably stable.
In summary, try it. iGTD is relatively inexpensive. As in free. As in free beer. Your cost will come in two areas. Time devoted to fully understand and appreciate the GTD context method, and the discipline necessary to change your methodology from fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants every moment, to one where you control context and actions.
Let us know how it works out for you. If you have a better, more effective method, share that in the Comments section below.