Wednesday, September 15, 2004

GTD Nitty Gritty

I've been trying to put together a fully functional GTD (Getting Things Done) system for procrastination avoidance. Merlin, over at 43 Folders, has posted more insight into his particular (Mac-centric) approach : How does a nerd hack GTD? I borrowed some of his techniques, such as his Quicksilver text-append trick for adding tasks or actions to a particular action list (Merlin has now added a mini tutorial to help you get comfortable with QS). He also posted a template for his standard action list text files.

Here are my list files:

  • @agenda_dad.txt - Stuff to do next time I see my Dad.
  • @agenda_teri.txt - Stuff to do next time I see Teri (I have several of these agenda files).
  • @buy.txt - Stuff I need to buy from a brick-and-mortar store.
  • @calls.txt - Telephone calls to make.
  • @home.txt - Things I can do at home.
  • @inbox.txt - This is my electronic "IN" box. I try to empty it everyday.
  • @work.txt - Things I need to do at work.
  • @offline.txt - Stuff I can do on my PowerBook when I don't have internet access.
  • @online.txt - Stuff for which I need an internet connection.
  • @saw.txt - Stuff I can do to improve myself ("Sharpening the saw").
  • @waiting.txt - Tasks that are waiting on other people.
  • Projects.txt - A list of all the multi-action things I need to do.
  • Someday.txt - A deferred list of stuff that I mighnt get to... someday.
  • Movies_to_watch.txt - Yep, just like it says. Handy in printed form.

  • Books_to_read.txt - More obvious file-naming.
  • Tickler.txt - an electronic tickler file-- there are headings which correspond to each of the 43 folders. I check this file at the same time I check the physical tickler file.
I still haven't fully organized my e-mail to accompany these lists... I can't decide whether to have the same granularity, or to merge all of the actionable e-mails into a single folder and just refer to them from my detailed lists. Any ideas?

Update: I have now defined my e-mail folders, and they are much simpler than my action lists. I followed someone's advice at 43 Folders (I just went looking for the comment, but couldn't ffind it-- there's a LOT of material being added quickly to Merlin's site) and turned off periodic mail retrieval. Now, I fetch e-mails on demand only. No more interruptions from!

Everything comes into the INBOX (naturally) when I tell MAIL to "Get Mail", and I then do one of the following with each message:

  1. DELETE it.
  2. If it's junk but failed to flag it, I hit the JUNK button.
  3. If it requires action, I use Quicksilver to append the action to my @inbox.txt file and move the e-mail message to the @ACTIONS folder.
  4. If I need or want to read it for informative reasons later, I move it to the @READ_LATER folder.
  5. If it requires no action but I want to keep it, I move it to the @REFERENCE folder.
  6. If I only want to keep something for a few weeks (e.g. coupons that expire), I move it to @SAVE_FOR_NOW.

That's it, really. Unless there are unread messages, my INBOX is always empty.

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