skip to Main Content

Staying GTD Over The Hype

Two or three years ago, a strange topic about organization skills, de-cluttering and mind like water exploded on the Internet. It was about GTD, or Getting Things Done, a methodology for boosting productivity invented and shared by David Alled in his book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity [aff link]. This phenomenon lead to a sudden surge of new blogs, with 43folders.com of Merlin Mann becoming the icon blog for this trend. Soon, other useful and very popular blogs appeared. At that time even yours truly was a GTD wannabee and one of my very first posts in this blog – and one of the most popular, I must say – was about GTD for people in transition countries. GTD posts and blogs where spreading over the internet at light speed. It was the Golden Era.

But now the hype is over. Merlin Mann has switched his 43folder.com and we must re-learn how to use what was once the Internet Bible of the common GTD’er. Icon GTD blogger Brett Kelly handed over his popular GTD property Cranking Widgets Blog to a new voice, Andy Parkinson and in recent posts claim he cured his addiction for this technique.

GTD hype is over for good. But the benefits are here to stay. In this post I’ll outline what was left from GTD in my productivity rituals after the drop of the hype.

GTD Leftovers

There are at least 4 different things that somehow survived the golden era of GTD in my organizational behavior. Let’s take them one at  time:

Emptying your RAM

And getting rid of  “open loops”. In GTD terminology an “open loop” is a thought that is not solved, hence keep popping up in your head all the time. Solving this “open loop” is a matter of taking it out of your head and storing it in a trusted system, for further processing. This is something I kept and found extremely useful.

I don’t know about your brain, but my brain is not a rolodex for sure. I prefer to use my brain for doing creative stuff like writing, coding or something like that. I also use it for learning, either by absorbing information, either by experiencing. I don’t want to be bothered in these processes by unsolved “open loops”.

Next actions

I kept the habit of breaking projects into “next actions”. In GTD jargon, a “next action” is the next physical action required to move forward a project and it doesn’t have nothing to do with the logical structure of the project, most of the time. For instance, if your project is to change your plumbing, the next action will be “look up phone number of the plumber in the agenda @phone” and not “call the plumber”.  “Call the plumber” comes next to “look up the phone number”. Pretty logical, of course.

Next actions are a fantastic glue to my flow. After I created and constantly sustained the habit of breaking my projects into next actions, something nice happened: I started doing stuff instead of organize my day all day long.  It’s not rocket science, but it’s effective.

Read More

2008 – The Outcome

With only one week left until the official end of the year, I don’t think I’ll have much time to wrap up some of the goals I’ve set for 2008. With an early holiday already started on December 20th I don’t have my focus on achievement monitoring also. So, I guess it’s time to write about how 2008 went for me. I’ll share something with you in the very beginning of this post: I’m somehow scared. I just reviewed my goal list for this year, a list written on the last days of 2007, and I’m amazed how much I accomplished.

First and foremost, this was my best financial year ever. I know this sounds a little bit shameless in the context of a global financial crisis, but I honestly don’t care. I just had my best financial year ever, and the fact that there is also a crisis playing around outside has nothing to do with it. Or with me. Or whatever. This year I made the exit for the company I set up 10 years ago and this was a huge leap forward for me. No need to hide this. It’s not only the financial freedom involved, but much more than that. The financial freedom was only a proof for something much bigger. More on that later, let’s take it the old “step by step” style for now.

As I told you, I am amazed of how much I accomplished, but also I’m somehow scared. I know I should be happy, but I’m still scared. We often function on lower expectancies and when things are coming to us in full flavor, shaped and behaving like we expected them to be, we tend to back up. This is how I feel right now. I feel like “wow, I really did it!”. I’m sure you felt this before, you know how it is. A feeling of satisfaction mixed with a strong vibration of “I just can’t believe this”.

Well, enough with emotions let’s get factual. I won’t give you any exact numbers on my goals. I don’t think the numbers are important, but the commitments are. The list I’ve made for 2008 was made up of 3 sections:

  • personal
  • professional
  • joy

At that time I was still managing Mirabilis Media, the company I’ve created 10 years ago, so my personal and professional path were still pretty mixed.

Personal Goals

The thing that was most important for me on the personal level was my financial income. I don’t think I feel the same way now. But at that time seemed like a priority. I set up a pretty high mark on that. And I did it. Of course, the exit from my company was the key factor in that. Most of my income is now based on that exit.

The second thing was my health, at that time. I’ve set up goals for exercising more (30 minutes per day) and for eating healthier (eating raw food at least two days per week). For the exercise part, I made it for about 1 and a half month from the total of 12 months. For the eating habits, I made it for almost 5 months. But I managed to remain on a raw food eating habit and that is fantastic. Now really, it’s a breakthrough in terms of personal development, no need to hide this.

The third goals was about Bianca’s day care. We managed to have her signed up for the next year, but I think I can safely check this as done, because we did it very well. We both like that specific day care facility and we’re both happy we managed to have her signed up.

Read More

Posting Speed, Blog Metrics And Holidays

This my 12th post for this month. Starting with October 2008 my posting speed is part of my monthly goals. Each month I set up a certain target for the number of posts and I do my best to make it. In October I wanted to have at least 15 posts, meaning one post every other day. It went very well, and actually I ended up with 17 posts instead of 15. For November I wanted to publish at least 15 posts, but with at least 5 more. That would make a big total of 20, of course. I needed to put up a little stress to see if I can improve something in the process. It was a little bit difficult to make it, but with some effort I did exactly 20 posts. And for December the schedule is the same, 20 posts. So far, I’ve made it to the half of it, and I will do my best to keep up with the pace.

The most important ingredient in making this happening is time management. I don’t have any writer’s block, as they say, and I feel like I could write continuously for days, if nobody will stop me. But I need to isolate and allocate significant chunks of time for that. I work from home now and interruption are very likely to happen, but I try to keep them under control. It’s still kinda difficult to buy time chunks bigger than 3 hours at a time to work on. I guess I’ll have to find a solution for that: either learn how to manage smaller chunks of time, either buy bigger chunks of time. Whatever the solution, the result must be a constant posting speed.

This posting speed is not something I started in October this year. To be honest, my first challenge was in May, and it was about one post per day for 90 days. I failed miserably with only 17 posts, not even making 3 full weeks, and got ill starting with day 18. I don’t think it was a direct link between my blog challenge and my illness, but I know for sure that the blog challenge was a stress factor. It was way too high. So high that I sometimes suspect myself of not wanting to make it through, hence establishing such a difficult target.

The second challenge, in October, was way lower, one post every other day. It was sustainable and I was able to make it very easy. In fact, I even did more than that. In November I was almost to the limit and I suspect the same thing will happen in December too. 20 posts per month seems like something that I’m ready to do, but with some discipline and effort.

One may ask why I establish such goals, in the first place. Isn’t this artificially induced posting speed something that will take out the value in what I write? Isn’t it something that will suffer from lack of spontaneity? Not at all. In fact, I don’t have any problem with what I want to write, but with how I write it. This posting speed is related to the “how” portion, not the “what”. I already know what I want to write I only need to find a sustainable workflow for it. Maintaing a blog and making it work is not something trivial at all. The vast majority of people who start blogging fail at it because of the how not of the what. They all know what to do, but they don’t know how.

Read More

Getting The Best Out Of Twitter – Introducing MrTweet

My Twitter mood is continuing these days. After a general post about twittering heights and a more technical one about hashtags in Twitter, today I’ll write a short review of one of the most useful applications you can try to enhance your Twitter experience.

The application is web-based and you can find it at mrtweet.net. MrTweet offers two simple, yet powerful features so far – the app is very young, 4 weeks at the date of this post, if I’m not wrong – and those are

  • listings of your followers that you should follow back
  • listings of the key influencers in your network

In order to measure the quality of the followers you should follow back and to define the “influencer” MrTweet uses a few ad-hoc metrics.  Based on what you already have in your network of followers, MrTweet will harvest a report, in fact, just a simple list. The report shows near each person their ratio of following / frollower, the number of tweets per day and the recipricity: how that person replies or not to non-follows. On top of that, it shows a list of the persons in your network who are already following that person, and, if you really want to know more, it also shows you the latest tweets of that person in your browser. And of course, if you like the guy, you can follow him on Twitter from within MrTweet website.

Read More

Twittering Heights

It’s not a secret that Twitter, the 140 characters blogging service has become mainstream. For those of you living on planet Mars, who haven’t yet heard about it, Twitter is a place where you can communicate in a very short way -  140 characters maximum – the answer to a very simple question: “What are you doing?”. Other people may follow you, meaning they will actually see what are you doing / writing. And you can follow other people too, meaning that you can see what they are doing. Simplicity at its best.

But out of simplicity the best things in our life came. And out of simplicity you can create some of the most interesting and challenging things in your life. In today’s post I’ll try to share my opinions on using Twitter in the last few months. I’m approaching my 1000th update on Twitter and that will be one important milestone in my Twitterer career. Joking, of course.

All About Me Versus Sharing Others

Being on Twitter and being engaged in social interactions on this media is a surprisingly interesting activity. Most of the time you’ll be inclined to respond to that fundamental question: “What are you doing?” and unveil your life and day to day activities in short, yet compelling pieces of informations.

But after a while and after reading other people’s timelines you’ll find the need to share some pieces of other people’s life. You’ll start to re-tweet (quote) other people ideas, links, quotes or findings. You’ll start to be a broadcaster for others. In fact, you’ll soon find that one of the key metrics in being a successful twitterer is the “me versus other” ratio. And by “successful twitterer” I don’t mean a popular one, but a person who extracts the best value out of this.

Read More

Starting To Coach

Yesterday I had my first session as a coach. It started at 10:00 AM in the morning and lasted about 70 minutes. I just felt great during the whole session and from the feed-back I got from the person being coached, the feeling was shared. What is this coaching about? And why and how am I doing it? Well, let’s take it one step at a time…

After several weeks of discussions and alternative scenarios, Diana and I decided it’s time to slow down the move to New Zealand for a few months. It doesn’t make any sense to pursue it on this economical context. The destination is still the same, but we delayed the date of departure. It’s the same thing as looking through the mirror and decide to postpone your hiking because it is so raining outside. We both agreed this is the best move we can make now.

So, after waking up with a buffer of few more months ahead me I had to face a challenge. What am I going to do? A part from this blogging on eDragonu, of course. While being a very fulfilling activity for myself, this blog – and the business behind it – doesn’t necessarily have to be the only activity. I had to do a short analyze and sketch the short term schedule for the next period.

It took no more than a few days and I came up with two main goals: teaching and coaching. The teaching will involve live training sessions on topics that I’ve been writing about in the last few years, like time management, personal development, productivity and effectiveness, and, of course, GTD. Coaching will have the same underlying fundament, it will only have a different, one to one approach.

Why Am I Coaching?

The short answer is: because somebody asked me to. The long answer has some more subtle reasons, of course.

Read More

Time Management For Mac OS: reviewing Slife

I’ve been a GTDer for more than 2 years but I have never ceased to look for new and better ways to improve my working process. The other day I received a comment from one of my readers on the post Manage Your Time As You Manage Your Money. It was something about a new time management application for Mac (and Windows, meanwhile) for time management, called Slife. It was a free download and I gave it a try.

The application is somewhere in the same league as time tracking services like Wakoopa, but there are some subtle differences that make Slife a very interesting baby. So, what is this Slife doing anyway?

Well, it basically tracks your time spent on your computer, with a higher granularity than other applications, letting you know not only with which applications you are spending the most of your time, but also which documents or web pages your are visiting most often (attention, twitter users 😉 ). So you will end up with some sort of report of the most used applications during your working sessions. The reporting is done in real time, with a clear, iCal-like interface (click for larger picture).

Time Management With Slife

Time Management With Slife

Did you see those little points and dashes? That’s where the granularity I spoke above takes place, if you click on one of those spots you will see the exact document on which you spent time, in my case, of course, twitter :-).

Read More
Back To Top