I've always considered myself rather disciplined regarding task management. I'm not boasting that I'm some productivity machine, but nonetheless I'd like to think I've made the attempt over the course of my professional career. I started with miscellaneous calendards in college and then ventured into the world of Franklin Covey when working at (then) Mutual of New York. If you weren't carrying a Franklin around, you just weren't hip enough. But it was more than status. The general philosophy of "dumping one's brain" into the book made alot of sense. Get all that minutae out of the gray matter so it can be used for more useful work. Like cranking out line after line of COBOL or Rexx or Powerbuilder as I did "back in the day".
As I ventured into the dot-com era, my fetish with the Franklin systems continued. I downsized the planner but still kept going with it. Then the Palm came around. I stayed true to the system but went electronic.
After the dot-com meltdown I still was Palming along but the use of the device became less and less, especially because I now had a laptop with the Franklin software. Why bother with the PDA when the laptop is surgically attached to me? Right? Well, that worked for a while and then I ditched that and used some online stuff and then Lotus Notes. That worked for a while, but about a month or two ago I discovered the Getting Things Done (GTD) cult.
After reading just enough articles on the web to be dangerous, I ran out to the bookstore and bought the book. I skim/read it over the course of a weekend (sorry for ignoring you, kids) and it resonated with me. The system held some of the same core values that Franklin did. "Dump the brain" was still there and I really liked that. The idea of the context took me a moment but once I got it, it made alot of sense to me.
I first tried GTD with Tracks. It was an odd Google experience. I searched for "moleskine gtd rails" and found the software package. Then I found GTDTiddlyWiki. I tried Tracks for a few weeks and that seemed to work. But then I upgraded Rails and it crashed out on me. No serious loss of data (select * from tasks...) and I didn't have the cycles to tweak the Tracks install. (BTW - I think BSAG is working on the fixes). So a manual conversion to GTDTiddlyWiki was performed and I was off to the races. Then I discovered that I wanted (needed?) to manage my whole life, not just at the office, with GTD. So I started down the high-tech path of using 3x5 cards. Now, I realize index cards are hard to find :-), but I started scribbling some of the contexts on them. I realize that with all the time I spend tethered to technology (e.g. laptop, Blackberry) I need some analog time to decompress so I'm human again. Hence why I like my Moleskines with a nice fountain pen for notetaking and personal journaling. So I made the plunge and moved all my GTD data to paper. Crazy, huh?
So I guess I'm using GTD with a modified Hipster PDA implementation. That is the nice thing about GTD; one can change the implementation but retain the mind set and the micro-workflow for dealing with one's inbox.
Instead of the clip of cards, I went with the Moleskine Memo Pocket (MMP). I like the smart look of the Moleskine and this seemed to fit my needs. I saw this somewhere on the web - I think a Mennonite pastor's blog. Anyhoo - here is the current configuration starting with the front slot:
- Next Actions - one-to-many cards per context
- Read/Review - one card for now, may grow
- Agenda - one card per person, including a prayer card.
- Projects - one or more cards per area of my life (Church, Work, Teaching, Personal)
- Work receipts
- Spare cards
As you may anticipate, this configuration will change. In fact, its changed already since I bought the book. I thought I would have a slot for each context, but then I would need a huge book. The one risk with this MMP implementation of GTD (GTD::MMP) is that one could fumble with the cards when looking to scribble a note. One friend of mine requested a coupon from my "planner" today while I was fumbling for a card. Yeah - you know who you are!!! :-)