If you’re a self-help/productivity junkie like me you bat around differnet methodologies for organizing that big pile on your desk every few days. I remember when I was first exposed to Covey’s 7 Habits approach by a forward-thinking acting teacher in college. I was hooked! I even got my dad started reading it.
Then later on I bought into the Palm Pilot craze. I stil have my dinky monochrome Vx on the desk – sometimes I use it to view websites to see how they look on handhelds/phones.
Then as David Allen’s cult of Getting Things Done started to flourish online I started looking more at his stuff. Knowledge workers (aka cubicle veal) heartily endorsed his approach because it helped organize a multitude of tasks for a myriad of projects. I downloaded his audio book on iTunes (not recommended – Allen’s vocal color is a bit lacking – maybe a bit too relaxing – I think for each new track they should start with a canned air horn – grab the book instead). I tried to implement the system in Thunderbird using MetaGRRLs approach and I think I lasted about 2 days.
I was not Getting Things Done, I was not Be Proactive-ing. But I sure was having fun moving my to-do list around, eh?
I’d go to Stella’s diner (Broadway/Barry, I’m a regular) and sit with a notepad and sketch out my to-do list for the day – another list of another stack of things that I’d probably typed out somewhere else before. I’d come back to the apartment and promptly ignore the daily planning I’d just done and muddle around in my inbox for an hour before actually getting the day started.
So then I thought – I got this whole book launch to figure out – I’ll use MS Project! I’d used Project before and my inner control-freak really likes the overall view and the dependencies and the Gantt charts.
I sure had fun moving everything into Project, didn’t I? Damn the torpedoes – I was going to get ORGANIZED! I ended up with a 9 month MS Project plan with at least 30 little mini-projects – all of the tasks assigned to myself.
I’ve always loathed MS Project – not sure why – it just seems like one of the most annoying pieces of software ever deployed for corporate use.
And as the book launch approaches I found that I was having trouble auto-filtering and searching and re-arranging all my tasks in Project.
I started looking at Getting Things Done (again!) and moved everything into Thunderbird (again!) and found that when I added labels to the emails they wouldn’t update across my laptop, desktop and web-based email. That sucked.
So I thought – okay idiot, once and for all: get the damned Getting Things Done Outlook Add-on and put up or shut up!
Today I have everything in Outlook with the GTD add-on – which kinda still sucks because I manage my email through Thunderbird (trying stay down with the open software movement). But what this whole litany is about is:
PLANNING IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROGRESS.
Are you to-do items simply deckchairs your moving around on your growing Titanic? Do you confuse moving emails and making lists with actually getting crap done?
I don’t hold myself up as some God of Productivity – merely sharing the insights of a mere mortal trying to get a lot of things done in a smaller amount of time – implying that I probably need to start doing less and committing to less.