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June 3rd, 2005

Trying to Get Things Done

There’s been a lot of talk recently both online and in mainstream press about personal productivity tools and theories. I’m already getting tired of reading about Getting Things Done, even though I first heard about it just a few weeks ago.

Tools like Backpack, 43 Things, Tadalist, and even various wikis are getting similar press, as are blogs like 43 Folders and Lifehacker.

It’s interesting that this is all cropping up this year, because I’ve been feeling overloaded for a little too long now and have really begun to think about two main things:

  1. How can I cut back on the number of things that get added to my to-do list?, and then
  2. How can I work my way through the remaining items more efficiently?

With regards to cutting back, I’ve done a pretty good job. I’ve eliminated a couple of the main responsibilities that were taking my attention away from what I should have been focusing on. There’s still some more trimming and rearranging to do, but it’s better. But with regards to finding a way to deal with what’s left, I’m still kind of fumbling, using bits of things here and bits of things there, trying to see what works best in what situation.

For instance, our personal wiki is still the best choice for collaborating on a shopping list while my wife and I are at work. Tadalist is best for short-term to-do lists, like “Things to do before my parents come in town this weekend.” 43things helps me remember my long-term goals and gradually work towards them. And I’ve just started using Backpack and think it might be the best tool for organizing ideas about my various web projects.

The main thing is that while I enjoy trying these tools out, I don’t want to spend more time deciding on what to use and how to use it than I do actually doing things. It’s a challenge.

Posted in Everyday Life

FROM: Paul
DATE: Friday June 3, 2005 -- 9:55:16 am
Nice topic.

I've been looking to really hone and organize things for a while now too, and I found that Backpack has been a huge, huge help. I did try the personal wiki thing for a while but I was lazy and didn't feel like using it. I think part of it was that it was techie, and that got in the way.

With Backpack I was really, really skeptical at first - I dismissed it pretty quickly. But then I thought I'd give it the old college try and it's really handy. The technology never gets in my way, and its speed lets me get my to-dos and thoughts down very quickly.



FROM: Joseph
DATE: Friday June 3, 2005 -- 11:22:55 am
I use a legal pad. Any activity that requires more than that doesn't matter to me. I used to plan more, but the list of undone items at the end of my to do list just got me depressed every day. Believe it or not, some things just do go away if you don't do anything about it--but these are usually things like vacation and family time, exercise is another big one that sort of goes away.

The old dilemma between planning and implementing will follow us to the grave. Ideas meant to save time have not helped us relax by giving us more free time. We just pile on more responsibility with the space we create by using time efficiently.

We probably do the most of any generation, and because we're fat since we do most of it while sitting on our asses in front of a computer, the life expectancy for our generation, and especially the next generation, is actually supposed to start diminishing.

Lovin' life.



FROM: Ryan [E-Mail]
DATE: Friday June 3, 2005 -- 11:38:57 am
That brings up an interesting question, Joseph: have we gotten to the point that we need to actually schedule time to relax/meditate? Not just "I need to do 20 minutes of just sitting today," but "I'm going to meditate from 7 to 7:20"? It's a weird concept... but perhaps it's what helps get us on the road to becoming more relaxed on a minute-to-minute basis.



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