Now I've come back to what I see as the essential ideas, and I'm giving it a try. As I see it today, the essential ideas for me are
- Create lists of tasks organized by their context—the place I'll be when it makes sense to do them.
- Don't prioritize inside those lists unless there's a hard deadline (a meeting to attend, for example).
- Review and update the lists frequently.
There's the question of how to manage those lists. I tried HipsterPDA, but it felt wasteful to use new 3x5 cards when I had lots of scratch paper and a decent amount of disk space available. I tried scratch paper (the backs of advertising letters I receive, a habit I learned from my colleagues at my first job), but they get messy. I tried using various TiddlyWikis, but I'm not always at my computer when I want to write something down or check a status.
I'm currently using a hybrid:
- I use GTD TiddlyWiki, partly because it's made for GTD, and partly because it claims to print tiddlers on 3x5 cards (something I haven't had to do yet).
- I use folded-up scratch paper to record new things as they occur to me; I transfer them to GTD TiddyWiki unless I take care of them first.
- I use Patrick Rhone's Dash/Plus scheme for annotating to-do items recorded on paper (found initially via Joe Ely's article).
So far, it's helping me, perhaps only in proportion to the rigor with which I use it. I've still got too much that's not in the system, but I'm working to incorporate more of my stuff in the system (or to get rid of it, if I can).
How do you focus your attention on the important things effectively? If you're a user of GTD, do you have any suggestions?
If you want to figure out where your time is going, I still recommend the time log that's part of the learning log package Bob Williams and I produced.