Almost exactly three years ago, I was trying to use David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” (GTD) system, and I wasn’t seeing the benefits he promised. In the end, I found that it just helped me thrash. I suspect the problem was more my focus than his system—but at end of the day, his approach just didn’t resonate with me.
Today, my system is a little closer to a hybrid of Mark Forester’s AutoFocus and Francesco Cirillo’s Pomodoro Technique. I still use MLO as my task manager but on a more granular level than I used to. Instead of slaving over MLO constantly, now I use it to help generate my list for the day. I use MLO to keep track of a large list of tasks. Mostly, I just use the outline to remind me of things I want to tackle. Every day I glance at the TODO view to make sure that there isn’t anything that is date sensitive that I’ve lost track of. Once it comes to committing to tasks for a particular day, I often use index cards using MLO, email, and anything else as inputs. At the end of a day (sometimes two), I take anything that remains in the card and put into MLO. Then I tear up the card, which is probably the most fun part.
- I sweep my tabs in Firefox every few days and move stuff to reading lists in MLO.
- Once/Twice a week I go offline and go through my email.
- Once a week I take some time to reflect—what is going well, what needs improvement, what do I have the energy to improve, and what one thing can I do next week to improve it. Aka a retrospective. This is the hardest one to maintain—because you’re tempted to skip it and get more “work” done. Yet, it’s the most important because it drives real improvement.
I use the Pomodoro Technique for the following:
- a reminder to stay on task
- a way of doing a rough estimation every morning
Also, on a two-monitor setup under Win7, I dock MLO on the far left and leave it in outline mode, where I can always see other things I want to do.
Other tools I use include ClipMate Clipboard Extender because it allows me handle more than one item in the clipboard and to clean (i.e., remove html, etc.).