Saturday, January 31, 2009

GTD Toolbox: 100+ Resources for Getting Things Done

GTD Toolbox: 100+ Resources for Getting Things Done

Cameron Chapman on has collected a fantastic compilation of GTD Tools. Very nicely presented.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Why You Should Learn a Productivity System

One of the biggest barrier to productivity in most people’s lives is their resistance to adopting a productivity system. Some read a lot of productivity books and sites like Lifehack and feel like they can take a little bit from here and a little bit from there and call it a day. Others hate the idea that someone like Stephen Covey or David Allen could know their own needs better than they do, and so reject the idea of using “someone else’s” system.

Can’t we just create our own productivity system?

Well, the short answer is yes, we can – or we could, maybe, if we could, but we can’t, so no. The long answer is this post.

What do you do well?
Consider an entrepreneur. Let’s call her “Vita Siddiqi”. Vita imports beautiful silken cloth from Bangladesh for the home sewing crowd. She not only knows all the characteristics that make a bolt of cloth a great bolt of cloth, she knows where and how to get it for the best possible price, how to arrange the shipping to minimize extra costs, and how to market and distribute her cloth so that it ends up in the hands of the men and women who use it, at the most desirable cost and convenience to them.

Go Vita!

Now, do you think Vita should also write her own contracts, do her corporate taxes, design her company letterhead, and hand-print her brochures and catalogs? Should she also harvest the silk, weave the cloth, load it on the ship, pilot the ship to the US, unload it at the docks, and hand-deliver it to her customers?

If you’re a rational person, you probably agree with me that no, she should not. Vita should stick with the things she does well and let other people who are better skilled at those other jobs handle them. Anyone who took every aspect of her business into her hands like I’ve just described would have to be crazy – and wouldn’t be in business very long.

The fact is, all of us have certain things that we have defined as our core competencies and that we’ve learned to do very well, and trust other people with other competencies to handle the stuff we can’t do for ourselves.

Productivity is a Skill
One of the things that’s rarely taught – and is thus largely learned only by those who willingly pursue its study – is the set of skills and habits that lead to effective management of our time, tasks, and attention. It turns out that the mind is quite complex when it comes to matters of productivity, and that few of us have the leisure, background, or desire to pursue the intricacies of the mind, develop a system, test it, implement it, and refine it.

Fortunately, there are some who have chosen that path. Just as David Allen probably shouldn’t do your job, you probably shouldn’t do his – compiling and synthesizing what we as a society have learned about what makes us productive into a set of principles and best practices that anyone can learn.

Systems are systematic (duh!)
Because folks like Stephen Covey have immersed themselves in the world of productivity for years or decades, they’ve learned to minimize conflicts within their systems. While Covey’s 7 Habits may or may not appeal to you, they are at least internally consistent. Covey didn’t grab a little piece from here and a little piece from there, toss it all together with a dollop of his own famous Covey-style dressing, and dish it out.

As I said, the mind is a sensitive thing, and the tiniest of discrepancies can set up a wave of cognitive dissonance that can easily tear our productive lives to shreds. By adopting a tested and refined system, even if it’s not the perfect system for us, we at least minimize those dissonances.

Systems create habits
When we adopt a system, we start learning new habits. The commitment to a new set of principles and behaviors causes us to do things “by the book” and if we stick with it, after a fairly short time we start to follow its precepts automatically.

We can’t get this from “our own” systems, since they’re already built around our existing habits – usually around our unexamined existing habits. They don’t challenge us to stretch out, to explore the real meaning behind the various things we do, or to strive for improvement.

Systems limit options
It’s true, adopting someone else’s system isn’t very creative. It’s not an expression of your deepest self.


Systems are a little autocratic. Authoritarian, even. They say “my way or the highway” and leave little room for creative experimentation (and fall apart fairly quickly when people start messing with them).

There’s a good reason for this. Assuming you want to do things, having options is the very worst thing. Research has shown repeatedly that when presented with two options, we are very good at maximizing our own self-interest. But when presented with more than two, we experience “decision paralysis” and often will resist acting at all. Which is not the road to greater productivity or greater happiness.

Systems are conscious choices
When we adopt a system, we make a conscious decision to learn the habits and skills set forth in that system. This is quite different from the way we normally pursue greater productivity.

For example, at some point or other you’ve probably experienced the urge to “get organized”. Maybe you came into the office on a Saturday and spent the whole day getting everything neat and orderly, catching up your back filing, clearing your desk of clutter.

But you never ask yourself why you put your files in a certain order, or why you’ve placed your office supplies on this shelf and not that one. Most likely, you cleared your desk by creating a place for all the fiddly little bits that don’t go anywhere at all, without wondering why you have fiddly little bits getting in your way.

In short, you’ve let the same habits and thought-patterns that led to your disorganization in the first place determine the process of getting organized. As if! What you haven’t asked is why you got disorganized in the first place – maybe those books were on your desk and not “where they belong” because where they belong isn’t a place that feels natural to you – it’s too much work to retrieve them when you need them.

Adopting a system forces you to face these tendencies, and to ask “why?” about all the things you do. And if the system is well-designed, it gives you a good reason in answer to that “why?”

Learning a productivity systems teaches productivity
In the process of implementing your chosen system, whatever it is, you learn how to put together and implement a system.

That seems rather obvious, doesn’t it? But think about it – do you really know how to create and implement a productivity system? If you did, would you be looking for advice on being more productive?

That’s nothing against you. Like Vita, you don’t know how to make silk or drive a ship or create a productivity system. But the last, you can learn – by implementing a productivity system. By consciously embracing new, seemingly unnatural and unintuitive habits. By experiencing the way a well-designed system fits together.

In fact, you’re probably learning enough that, once you‘ve implemented a system – whether it’s Allen’s Getting Things Done or Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Successful People or lesser-known systems like Leo Babauta’s Zen to Done or Nick Cernis’ Todoodlist or anything else – and lived with it for a while, you’ll probably start having a sense of what you need to do to create and implement a system that works better for you.

And that is the real value of these systems – they teach us not only how to be more productive, but what our own specific needs are so that we can be even more productive and, ultimately, fulfilled.

Dustin Wax

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What's in David Allen's next book on GTD?

GTD - Making It All Work: Winning at the Game of Work and Business of Life.

Get a full chapter excerpt now available on bNet:

After reading this introduction, I look forward to learning more about how I work. Using GTD has helped achieve so much more, especially insights into how I work and get things done. Also why things do not get done and ways to get back in on track.

What is your profile? Is yours so dynamic too?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Setting Your Goals for 2009

"We are what and where we are because we have first imagined it."
- Donald Curtis

We start the new year with grand promises to ourselves. We
list new things that will make our life great when they will
be done. As the year approaches to the end, we realize we got
a lot done, we kept certainly busy, but somehow what did got
done was not on our list, and what was on our list didn't get
done. Sounds familiar? Where did we go wrong? How can we do
it successfully this time?

Set the Right Goals

Make sure the goal you are working for is something you really
want, not just something that sounds good. Maybe you set a
goal to get a certain job, but deep down you just don't care
that much about that job. It's hard, but you need to dump these
type of goals.

You know you set the right goal when it seems impossible, but
at the same time you are as excited thinking about the possibility
of achieving it, as a child asking for a piece of candy. Good
goals stir you emotionally. They even scare you. They challenge
you to push beyond your limits.


You don't need a lot of big goals simultaneously. Fewer is
better. If you want to succeed in achieving your goals, pick
just two or three at a time, and stick with them until they're
complete. Try limiting yourself to one major personal goal and
one major professional goal at a time.

These main goals should be something that, if you were to
accomplish them this year, would make you feel the year was
well spent.


There can be no compromise between reaching your goal and not
reaching your goal. You either reach it or you don't. What's
more, usually the two roads that lead to achieving your goals,
and to "not" achieving your goals, travel in opposite directions.
If you want to achieve your goals, you must refuse to accept any
circumstance that leads to "not" achieving them. So get used
to saying NO - a lot.

Chunk it Down

When you have a big goal, it might happen to feel stressed and
overwhelmed. This encourages you to procrastinate. The feelings
of stress transforms in positive focus when you are working.
It feels bad only when you are not working.

To achieve a big goal, chunk it down into smaller pieces or
projects. Then get to work on the first piece. When you've
completed all the tasks in the first piece, break off another piece.

No Alibis

It's so easy to make excuses for not working on a big goal.
I don't have the clarity I'd like. I am not as motivated
as I should be. I don't have the perfect tools. But alibis
cannot be used for goals. As Napoleon Hill puts it: "The world
wants to know only one thing - have you achieved success?"

All of those excuses will go away if you just say "screw it"
and get to work anyway. Start off by tackling some small
piece of your goal, and you'll be too busy to hear the excuses.
In about 15 minutes you'll feel relaxed and productive. And
you'll also feel great for making progress toward your goal.
Start with whatever you have at hand, and better tools will
be found along the way.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Mega GTD resource list

Getting Things Done: How to Achieve Stress-free Productivity (commonly abbreviated as GTD) is an action management method created by David Allen, and described in a book of the same name. Both “Getting Things Done” and “GTD” are registered trademarks of the David Allen Company. Getting Things Done rests on the principle that a person needs to move tasks out of the mind by recording them externally. That way, the mind is freed from the job of remembering everything that needs to be done, and can concentrate on actually performing those tasks. The floowing list is a comprehensive overview of the tools, websites, blogs, and Software available to help you implement Getting Things Done

You can buy the book here:
Getting Things Done: How to Achieve Stress-free Productivity

Mega GTD resource list
10 Mac Tools for GTD
17 Interviews with The David
43 Folders
5 Simple, Effective GTD Tools
5 Ways GTD Helps You Achieve Your Goals
50 Essential GTD Resources
7P Productions
A Long Long Road
Achieve IT!
Action Tracker (Mac)
Aim For Awesome
Alex Shalman
Applying GTD to Your Personal Finances
aTask! (Windows)
Backpack and GTD
Beginners Guide to GTD
Best Practices for GTD and administrative assistants
Black Belt Productivity
Chief Happiness Officer
Common GTD Questions, with Answers
ConceptDraw Mindmap
Cranking Widgets
Creating A Better Life
Cross Ion Pen
Cultivate Greatness
Cynical Geek
Daily PlanIt
Daily Review
David Allen & Co. official site
David Seah
Declutter It!
Did I Get Things Done?
DIY Planner
Do-It-Yourself Planner 3.0
Dumb Little Man
Email Zen: Clear Out Your Inbox
Essential PIM
Exuberant Productivity
Fast Company
Fisher Space Pen
Flickr GTD
Flipping Heck!
Forming the 10 ZTD Habits
Frictionless (Mac)
Frugal Law Student
Geeks Guide To GTD
Genuine Curiosity
Get Rich Slowly
Getting Things Done
Getting Things Done in Academia
Getting To Done in 60 Seconds
Ghost Action (Mac)
gljakal’s To Do
Goals Success
Greywolf’s Journal
Grid Paper Generator
GTD - the Pig Pog Method
GTD and Palm Pilot Yahoo Group
GTD Blackbelts Series
GTD Drawings
GTD Feedburner Network
GTD flowchart
GTD for Lotus Notes
GTD In Academia
GTD Index Blog
GTD Jumpstart
GTD Lo-fi Hi-fi Whitepaper
GTD Mastery 100 List
GTD on a Macintosh
GTD php
GTD Primer
GTD Process Flow chart

Monday, September 1, 2008

Ergebnisorientiertes Denken

Frage: Wenn Sie wichtige Projekte festlegen, definieren Sie dann auch die Projektziele und Endergebnis ganz genau? Beschreiben Sie genau - entweder im Projekttitel oder in der Beschreibung - wie die Zielvorgabe oder sogar „unerwartet fantastische Erfolg“ aussehen werden?

Tun Sie dies nicht, übergehen Sie möglicherweise das stärkste Mittel, das Ihnen hilft, Ihre Ziele und Träume zu verwirklichen: Ihr Gehirn. Tun Sie dies nicht regelmäßig, gelangt Ihr Verstand auf das Abstellgleis. Dabei kann dieser Ihnen helfen, all Ihre Ziele zu erreichen.

Das Projektziel erkennbar machen
Vor vielen Jahren erzählte mir David Allen, dass er für sein erstes Buch - das meistgekaufte - Getting Things Done (Wie ich die Dinge geregelt kriege) als Erstes plante, die Wall Street Journal-Kritik zu seinem Buch selbst „im Voraus“ zu schreiben. Er schrieb die Buchkritik so, wie er sich wünschte, dass sie veröffentlicht werden sollte. Dies tat er noch bevor er die ersten Kapitel seines Buches geschrieben hatte. Über viele Jahre hinweg hatte ich meine Projekte in Präteritum verfasst – so als wären sie „erledigt“ und es half mir, dieses „erledigt“ oder „fertig“ als Ziel zu betrachten. Ich fand, dass Davids Beispiel vom Schreiben einer formalen Kritik über sein Buchprojekt sehr clever war und dass es ein hervorragendes Mittel zur Sichtbarmachung darstellte, also habe ich es mir notiert.

Meine persönliche Verwendung
Als ich begann, meine eigene GTD-Schulung – ProWork - zu entwickeln, befolgte ich Davids Rat und schrieb meine eigene Kritik. Ich beschloss, das Produkt in einem Satz zusammenzufassen.
Die prägnanteste Kritik die ich (nach zahlreichen Wiederholungen und Änderungen) verfassen konnte, war folgende: „ProWork: Effizient arbeiten nach der Getting Things Done Methode”. Dies hat mir nicht nur geholfen, motiviert zu bleiben, sondern es hat mir auch geholfen, im Geiste das fertige Produkt zu definieren, wie es funktionieren würde, wie die Leute es nutzen würden, und wie es ihre Fähigkeit verbessern würde, die Dinge geregelt zu bekommen. Genau wie bei David hat mir das Verfassen der Kritik geholfen, mir ein genaues Bild davon zu machen, wie dieses „fertig“ aussehen würde.

Wissen Sie, wie dieses „fertig” aussieht?
Wenn Sie nicht wissen, wann eine bestimmte Aufgabe „fertig“ ist, werden Sie nicht nur unfähig sein, zu wissen wann Sie fertig sind, sondern es wird Ihnen auch die richtige Hilfe durch Ihre wertvollste und zuverlässigste Quelle entgehen – Ihrem Gehirn.

Wie funktioniert das Ganze?
Meiner Erfahrung nach erzeugt das Aufschreiben meiner Projektdefinitionen in Hinblick auf deren Ziele eine kognitive Dissonanz zwischen dem, was ich als erledigt definiert habe und der gegenwärtigen Realität. Wann immer ich die Projektaufstellung lese (oder in meinem Fall, mir das Produktlogo und die Tagline ansehe), muss mein Gehirn unterbewusst entscheiden, ob es der Aufstellung zustimmt. Tut es das - großartig! Ich bin fertig. Wenn nicht, zeigt es für gewöhnlich ein oder mehrere Dinge auf, die ich tun muss, um die Aufstellung in die Tat umzusetzen.

Ein integrierter persönlicher Erfolgscoach
Es ist ziemlich einfach, Ihr Gehirn in Anspruch zu nehmen, um die nächsten Maßnahmen festzulegen, die Sie auf dem Weg zum Ziel ergreifen müssen: alles was Sie tun müssen, ist, eine genau Aufstellung der Ziele anzufertigen und sie zu lesen. Ihr Gehirn wird auf der Stelle entscheiden, ob die Aufstellung zutrifft oder nicht. Es kann Ihnen sagen: „Hey, gut gemacht.” Oder es kann sagen: „Hey, die Aufstellung ist nicht ganz richtig, weil dieses und jenes noch nicht erledigt ist.” Ist dies der Fall, erfassen Sie einfach alles, was Ihre Aufmerksamkeit erregt hat auf einer entsprechenden Liste und handeln Sie danach. Binnen kürzester Zeit werden Sie Dinge erledigen, die mit Ihrer Zielvorgabe übereinstimmen und so Ihre Ziele erreichen.

Diese Aufgabe, mit dem Endergebnis im Hinterkopf zu beginnen, war ein hervorragendes Mittel, das mir in meinem Entscheidungsprozess sehr geholfen hat. Wann immer ich bei diesem Projekt eine Entscheidung treffen musste – ob hinsichtlich Design, Architektur, Funktion, Programmgestaltung oder Finanzplan – fragte ich mich: „Welche Entscheidung kann ich treffen, die mich näher an die beiden Zielvorgaben heranbringt, die ich festgelegt habe?“ Früher gab es Zeiten, in denen ich das aktuelle Projekt einfach nur unter Dach und Fach bekommen und das Produkt herausbringen wollte - obwohl es die Kriterien für mein Projektziel nicht erfüllen konnte. So warteten wir also, und harrten aus, und arbeiteten weiter, wir lernten, und verfeinerten - bis wir dort ankamen, wo wir heute sind.
Ich möchte Sie ermutigen, darüber nachzudenken, eine oder mehrere Zielvorgaben für jedes Ihrer Hauptprojekte zu erstellen.

Haben Sie sich entscheiden, dies zu tun, dann schicken Sie mir einen Kommentar und lassen Sie mich wissen, wie Ihr Gehirn als persönlicher Erfolgscoach funktioniert hat. Ich denke, das Ergebnis wird Sie verblüffen.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Doin' GTD with PC, Mac or Time Manager

The other day, I held a seminar for a mixed group of people. There where a few developers from a software company there, a girl from a logistics provider, an HR Manager, a bank clerc and some others.

Interesting enough, these people had one thing in common – none of theme uses Outlook

Microsoft Exchange holds about 60% of the total Market for Email Systems, with Outlook hoding a bit more. Usually, that is reflected in the groups I get. In this group, the Lady uses only her Time-Calendar for notes, the software guys a mix of iCal and Mozilla Thunderbird running on Mac, The HR Manager and logistics provider uses Lotus Notes and the rest only Webmail.

As a trainer, I usually go through the basics of GTD first – the why we need it and how it helps – and then move on to interactive sessions working together on implementing the methodology in the software we like to use. This time that obviously was a challenge.

So instead, I went through what the basics of the methodology wants us to achieve, pointing out how that would look like if you run a paper based system. For each step, I did a demo in Outlook and Lotus Notes, asking the Apple fraction in the room to try doing the same stuff on their Macs. Everyone cought on and understood the underlying prinziples, which was a homerun for me as a trainer :-)

The Lotus users could implement what I showed immediately, albeit with some differences to how things work in Outlook, the Lady will now expand her Calender for doing categorised tasks on separate notes and the Apple fraction…well, they were happy but somewhat frustrated due to the fact they couldn’t find a way to connects incoming Emails or Notes with Categories in their app’s.

So far I have not yet experienced any other application apart from outlook that allows you to implement GTD so smoothly, without any changes apart from tweaking your views and changing your behaviour.

Entourage (Outlook for Mac) can do Task and assign Categories to them and I've heard of is OmniFocus. I’m looking into this myself, but if we do have some Mac Users out there, I’d be grateful for feedback on what works for you with on the Mac.

Take care, keep it up and empty your head!


Göran Askeljung

GTD Lecturer and Expert Trainer

“If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything.”

-Shunryu Suzuki