April 18, 2015

On Getting Things Done

I’ve made an effort recently to get better at getting things done. At work we already have a list of stuff to do but at home there’s an endless list of tasks that needs doing. It’s not uncommon to spend half of Saturday just “getting started”.

Things have been on my Macs basically since it was launched. And on my iPhone since it was released on iOS a few years ago. I’ve always had that feeling of wanting to use the app, but never had the disciplin to actually do it.

There have been half hearted attempts at structuring up my free time before. With my recent decision to go indie it felt like it was time to actually get some structure, since it’ll be even more important to separate work and personal. And getting things done in both environments. By happenstance I was tapping around in Things for iPhone the other day and stumbled upon a link to their Getting Started with Things which actually was a great page. I don’t think I’ve ever understood the depth of Things, I’ve been using it as a dumb todo-list.

So now I’ve structured all of my todos into three different “Areas of Responsibilities”:

  • Home
  • Company
  • Personal

“Home” consists of several projects that are related to my everyday life and our house. Tasks to do around the “farm”, stuff I need to buy (ie. shopping list), our planned dinners (with links to recipes in the notes).

“Company” consists of one project per client and different projects for some of my ideas for indie projects.

“Personal” consists of lists of stuff I want to buy for me personally (like vinyl records, gadgets etc). That’s it for now, but I’m sure I’ll extend it with other projects. Maybe I’ll try to separate out some of the ideas from “Company” that might not be financially feasible but I want to do anyway.

Then every morning (weekends only for now, since I’ve not started my own business just yet) I sit down to go through the different lists and decide what I want to do that day. Having only items I’m sure I’ll get done in the “Today” view is a huge boon to productivity since I can focus on thos tasks and not get overwhelmed by everything else. Also, when the day is over and the list is empty I can feel good about actually accomplishing what I set out to do. Then I can waste the rest of the evening on games with a good conscience!

I know this is nothing new. Merlin Mann wrote about GTD eleven years ago. Anyway, I hope I can keep this routine up. The last weekends that I’ve tried it have felt so much better.

Now I just want that watch so that I can check of my shopping list in the grocery store. Holding the “self scanner unit”, the basket and the phone requires one more hand than I’ve actually got.