Tag Archives: gtd

2002-01-03: GTD – Quarterly reviews

The quarterly review helps keep priorities aligned with goals. The list below is a snapshot of one of my quarterly reviews from early 2015.

These serve one or more of my life goals. Whenever I undertake a specific project (or one-time activity) it should be possible to relate it to one or more of these goals. Most of these Project Goals don’t have a definite end-state (and so technically aren’t projects); simply finding ways to work toward them is the goal. Ideally, every project or other activity supports one of these goals. (Note that these are in alphabetical order, not priority.)

Create: Creative activities in various media (such as writing, software, artwork) can leave a “footprint in the sands of time”. Acts of creation support the life goal of maintaining a sound mind. Ideally, the results of these creative acts support the life goal of influencing others.

Castle Knob: Castle Knob is a way to organize my creative endeavors, and supports my life goal to influence others. It would be nice to hand it on to someone else.

Effective Processes: A lot of life is just doing the day-to-day stuff we need to do, in the limited time and with the limited resources available to us. Effective processes and procedures help minimize the time and effort required for the mundane stuff, leaving more time and energy for the more interesting or challenging stuff. The goal of improving processes and procedures directly supports the Work/Life goal, and also leaves more time and energy for the other life goals.

Finances: Income from work and saving for future needs is necessary; managing money can make it more valuable, and move the possibility of retirement closer.

Fitness: Regular exercise in a variety of forms supports the life goal of maintaining a sound body.

Fun: Everyone should enjoy a reasonable amount of fun, supporting the life goal of enjoying life.

Habits: Good is better than Bad, for a sound mind and body. Monitor the bad to discourage them, and actively pursue development of good habits.

Health: Health depends on expert knowledge and assistance, supporting the life goal of a sound mind and body.

Household: A household (including house, yard, car, furnishings, appliances, and occupants) should operate smoothly, at reasonable cost and effort, supporting the life goal of maintaining a work/life balance.

Memetics: Understanding the working of memes should be able to promote a better social fabric, to everyone’s benefit (except for sociopaths). Making this understanding explicit and accessible to a broad audience supports the life goal of having a good influence on others.

Mental Challenges: Meeting mental challenges (e.g., learning a new skill, solving puzzles) is a part of keeping the mind sharp.

Relationships: Happiness comes from having good relationships with relatives, friends, casual acquaintances, and others. Creating and maintaining good relationships supports the life goals of influencing others, maintaining a good work/life balance, and enjoying life.

Work: Until retirement is possible, work is the primary source of income to support all other activities.

2002-01: GTD – Monthly reviews

2002-01-01: GTD – Life Goals

Part of the GTD approach involves an annual review, where you examine your projects and goals, making sure everything you’re doing supports achieving your life goals. The short list below guides the establishment of other (project-level) goals; they are guidelines for living in the most general sense. Ideally, everything I do would further the achievement of these life goals.

Sound Mind in a Sound Body: There won’t be much point to my life if I don’t have the mental and physical capacity to perform the actions to maintain and enjoy it.

Influence Others: I hope my family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances, readers and the myriad others that they influence have better lives as a result of my actions.

Work/Life: Work is the time/effort that I exchange for the income that enables the rest of my life’s goals to be realized. It is an aspect of living in society, and should be balanced with non-work aspects of life, including the potential to retire from work in part or entirely.

Enjoy: I expect to get some joy out of my life, even while working to achieve my goals.

2002-01-00: GTD

I started trying to apply David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” principles about 15 years ago (I’m writing this in March 2017), with imperfect results. His approach is oriented to executives and managers, but there is plenty of advice on the web to simplify it. I generally think it’s a good approach, and I recommend it. Here’s my take-away:

The key is to have a trusted system (e.g., a paper notebook or a computer application) that holds everything you need to get things done. The main point is: as soon as you find something that needs to be done, if you can’t do it in the next couple of minutes, get it into your trusted system (i.e., an inbox). Then you can stop worrying about trying to remember it, and trust that you’ll be reminded in a timely way. Just this simple principle is a great stress-reducer.

Around this notion, Allen recommends a workflow of five main steps (some refinements are possible; check his book for details, or find web resources):

  1. Collect (Inbox, etc)
  2. Process (actionable? next action?)
  3. Organize (add actions to lists)
  4. Review (daily: actions;  weekly: lists;  monthly/quarterly: projects;  annually: goals)
  5. Do (actions by context, priority, time, energy)

In my attempt to apply the GTD approach, I tried the following:

  1. Documented some life goals
  2. Identified some projects that support those goals
  3. Identified tasks that would move the projects forward (in a. spreadsheet named ProjectsTasks)
  4. Prioritized and tracked accomplishment of tasks in monthly reviews

I haven’t been entirely successful in executing this program, but I still think it’s worthwhile to be aware of the approach, and try to adapt it as much as makes sense. The links above are to some additional posts that expand on aspects of the approach as I was trying to apply it.




2016-01: Monthly review

Following the advice of http://zenhabits.net/review/, I will tag this and related posts as ‘journal’. The purpose will be to track accomplishments (getting things done).

In January 2016, I finally got the development of MDI to a point I could suspend it for the time being. I resumed work on Neal’s Story (with chapter 34), and re-started (from scratch) the WN (renamed from MF) project. I also started using the Asana task management service (asana.com); I am still evaluating its feature set and usability for my purposes.




2005-04-02: Getting Things Done

Getting Things Done

The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (2001)

by David Allen (1945-)

I was alerted to this book by a Mac-oriented web site that promoted some software to assist with adopting Allen’s approach.

When I started at IITRI in 1995, they gave me a Franklin Planner and instructions on how to use it. I never got into the habit, and basically wasted it, largely because I found it too complicated.

Allen’s approach is to simplify (and reduce stress) by getting everything out of your head and into a trusted, reliable system. This way you can be sure to find out what you should be doing next. By trusting your system, you don’t worry that you’ve forgotten some task that will later hurt you.

I don’t claim to have fully implemented his system, but I have adopted some features of it, and find it does help. From what I’ve read of others’ experience, it takes several weeks of practice to reliably develop the necessary habits. I intend to continue using it, and hope to expand its use from the office to home.