Friday, March 16, 2007

GTD Simplicity Reminder Tweak!

I couldn't do it. I couldn't stay away from Outlook for that long. I liked the Evernote idea, I really did, but I had to let it move back to second place in terms of listing the very next physical actions I have to take on each project. A few things weren't right in the Evernote scheme I mentioned:

  • The next actions list seems to need to be just that and nothing else, a clean list of actions, without notes and ideas and scratches there to clutter it up. I had trouble getting into the groove because I kept getting distracted by the overall picture, if that makes any sense, and felt I was spending too much time planning and too little time doing.
  • Using SlickRun to be able to quickly jot down a next action even when Outlook is closed whenever one pops into my head or I'm done with an action is priceless. That again limits time you have to spend fiddling with the system.
  • Having the next actions list two clicks or an alt+tab and ctrl+4 away was priceless. With Evernote I found myself scrolling and finding and reading other things I scrolled far too often.
BUT, I didn't scrap the Evernote idea completely. There was a key plus to to that idea:
  • Getting a sequential list of actions (past, present, and future), not arranged by context, for a specific project gives a great overview for that project. Little notes next to actions can be convenient too.
So the Evernote lists are still there, but they are just there when I get stuck on what the next action should be. When that happens I can open up the x-project "action overview" note and there is a (hopefully) crystal clear picture of where the project has gone action by action and (again, hoepfully) arising from that scan comes the idea of where the project should go.

Lastly, such a list is great for when your boss asks "What'd you do on project x this week?" or "Where are we on that?".
"Funny you should ask. Why don't you grab a Snickers, this may take a while..."


GTD Wannabe said...

I too use EN as my "project support material". You can mark notes with @next or @online, etc., but you're right - you don't get a nice compact NA list. However, for keeping track of research notes, web clips, screenshots, etc., it's definitely the cat's pyjamas.

I've stopped using Outlook for my NA lists, but I liked the SlickRun shortcut so much that I incorporated it into my new system. There's something liberating about being able to capture an NA in the blink of an eye :)

Bdizzy said...

Yeah the SlickRun assisted quick next actions are critical to keep from breaking concentration.

I assume by "new system" you're referring to your text files? I'm scared of text files because of the fact that I will inevitably have many files running around andI'm afraid I'll just start losing track. It's working well for you though?

GTD Wannabe said...

Yes, it's my text file (or text fetish) system. It doesn't seem to be that many files - one for current Todos, and one for done ones. Plus, my calendar is now text, and there's a few files for that. I also have other text files for keeping track of miscellaneous little things (e.g., common phone numbers). I keep everything in one directory and haven't had much problems.

However, I do make sure to back up that directory if I start making changes to my perl scripts - just until I'm sure I'm outputting to the right files!