GTD on a Nokia 6234 mobile phone
Some time ago I wrote this post in my corporate blog, but now that I have started blogging “for the big public”, I believe that this article can help more people and can help me to share experiencesof the application of this “methodology” for personal organization. Even though by this time I’m not using my Nokia 6234 any more, for a while this was useful to help me handle many tasks simoultaneously without losing focus. Below is the original post:
GTD is the abbreviation used for the phrase “Getting Things Done“, which is the title of a book by David Allen that I readat the beginning of 2007.
For those that don’t know the book, I’ll just tell you that it’s a quite famous “personal productivity” book. I believe that, in some way, it is so interesting because it gives some very simple principles for personal management that anyone can adapt to their personal way, but if you apply them in an adequate way, they can allow you to handle many tasks at the same time without losing control. You can read more about GTD, as always, on Wikipedia or in the author’s web page. Anyway, I will try to summarize the basic principles of the system, in order to be able to explain how I managed to apply them using the tools that I had at that moment (Outlook email client and a NOKIA 6234 mobile phone).
According to the book, the methodology consists of a workflow with five steps:
- Recolect: Capture everything upon which you want to take action, decide or just follow up in different “baskets” (emails, voice messages on the phone, meeting’s minutes, conversations, ideas, etc). We should have the least possible amount of baskets, as long as it is viable and the baskets should be emptied frequently.
- Process: Review the baskets in order and take decisions upon each entry. The possible actions are the following: – Determine if something requires an action. – If the answer is yes, there are 3 options:
- Do it immediately (if it will take less than 2 minutes)
- Delegate (if we are not the most adequate people to do it)
- Defer it
And if it doesn’t require an action, there are also 3 possible options:
- Archive it for further reference
- Eliminate it
- Keep it on “stand by” for a possible future action.
The golden rule is that an item that gets processed should never return to the basket. We have to take a decision.
- Organize: Here Allen proposes to have lists of things that have to be done, organized by contexts, even though everyone can find their best way to classify the pending actions.
- Review: At least daily we should review the task lists to determine which one is the next action to take, depending on the context in which we are (at work, at home, etc.), on the priorities that we have, and the energy or time available that we can invest on the task.
- Do: This is the final goal of this methodology: to free our minds from things that we have to remember, to be able to dedicate our time and skills to DOING.
In my case, I have found a simple but quite effective scheme, that I’m still trying to improve. My intention is to share it with everyone, in case it can help others and also to receive some opinions that could let me improve.
So… I’m going to review the previous steps explaining what I’m doing at each of them:
- Collect: I have four “inboxes”. The most evident ones are the email and the voice mail (fixed line and mobile). Apart from that, I try to do other things: whenever I go out of a meeting where I have things to do written on a piece of paper, I try to get to my desk and introduce those tasks into the “system” or I can also record a voice message on my phone or even take a picture with my mobile phone’s camera of some graphic or diagram that can be useful (if I don’t have time to write everything down after the meeting). In this way, I try to concentrate in leaving nothing out of my “system” (if it can be called like that).
- Process: At this step, I basically try to follow the workflows mentioned earlier. I try to keep my INBOX from Outlook empty and to have a good and trustful folder organization for the emails that can let me easily find them later on. Google Desktop also helps me a lot in this respect because it lets me search easily throughout all my emails.
- Organize: In this case, while I go emptying my “buckets”, I create new items in my task lists, that I have implemented with Outlook notes. I had to do it using notes because the ToDo application from the NOKIA 6234 doesn’t allow me to have several different categories. Therefore, I have special notes with titles starting with “@” for each list. For example, I have one called “@PC” (things to do when I’m at work in front of my PC), “@phone” (calls to make), “@WaitingFor” (things that need a response from somebody else), etc. For those other things that really need to get done in a certain date, I obviously use my agenda. This allows me to differentiate between things that require an action at a specific moment, from things that I have to do depending on the priorities, the context in which I am, the level of “energy” that I have at each moment, etc. With PC Suite application from NOKIA I synchronize the agenda and the notes at least once a day.
- Review: One of the things that I like most from using my mobile phone for GTD, is that I can review the lists at any time, and the alarms that I set don’t only appear on Outlook, but also on my mobile phone. As I have it always with me, things don’t slip away so easily (of course, there is no perfect method).
- Do: This is the part that is called “laburar” in Argentina and that we all know very well…
As I stated before, my intention is to offer my 2 cents about a possible way of organizing. It’s obvious that no method is infallible and that there may be much better ways, but for now this is the one that is working for me. In this link you can see a diagram that shows the methodology in a graphical way.
I hope that this post can be of interest and I await for your comments. Here you can also see a post about Getting Things Done on Blackberry.