Getting Things Done flexibly

Web Worker Daily has finished posting a three-part interview with David Allen, author of Getting Things Done. I found the second and third parts very interesting, as David mentions how some people think they have to subscribe to every detail of the system described in in the book and give up on the whole thing. But really, you just do what works for you, getting your system “as simple as possible but no simpler.”

So, for example, GTD has this idea of “contexts.” The examples in the book include “home,” “errands,” “calls,” “office.” The idea is that each context can have its own to-do list — so that when you have some time to make phone calls, you can pull out your phone to-do list and make a bunch of calls at once (thus saving time). Or, if you’re going to be out running errands, you can pull out your errands to-do list and see if you can get a few done while you’re already out.

In the interview, David Allen says that you don’t need to have all those different context lists if you don’t need them. What a novel concept! I’m guilty of this myself — I have an “errand” list and a “home” list that is essentially almost always empty. Bob Walsh, the interviewer, says that he basically only has two contexts: “at the computer and not at the computer.” That pretty much sums up my life as well; the things not done at the computer are fairly easy to keep track of with a quick note jotted down in my planner or my paper to-do list for the day.

As part of my weekly review this Friday, I’ll be re-examining how I implement GTD and if there are ways I can make my system a little simpler. In the meantime, if you find this stuff interesting, I’d encourage you to read at least parts 2 and 3 of the interview!


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