A new way of Getting Things Done

I have been actively working in a way that is inspired by the Getting Things Done way of organising work for about 9 months now.
And GTD works. No doubt about it. My life (both personal and work life) has become more well organised and I feel more in control. I have seen the light you might say.

I have planned to re-organise my way of Getting Things Done. I will be trying out the eproductivity (http://www.eproductivity.com/) offering. Before I start out on that odyssey I want to record a status – where am i now. Hopefully, in a month, I will look back and see that things have improved.

Working for a Business Partner that focuses on Lotus technologies of course I have looked at how the Lotus Notes client could help me. And I have ways of managing central GTD objects in Notes:

  • My email inbox is my most frequently used Inbox. I also have a physical inbox on my desk.
  • I have a list of Stuff. It is a To-do document (yes, the to-do document type located in the mail database). I add to and remove those “I'll organize that later” things to the Body field of a single To-do document.
  • I have a Tickler file. It is my Lotus Notes calendar.
  • I have a projects list. That is a Journal-template based database. Each project has a document in the database.
  • I also have a Waiting-for system. It is a combination of my Lotus Notes calendar and the Follow up feature that you can use for email. When I email someone and need to later know that they have acted on this like they should, I flag the sent email with a follow up date. Sometimes I need to follow up on something, but it is not based on an email and then I just put a reminder entry in my calendar.

My routines around all this are basically these:
Most days I check my email inbox in the morning and for each email I try and live by the 2-minute rule.
Some emails require more than two minutes to act upon. If they are very important I act immediately.
If something will take me more than two minutes but nothing is burning, I will use the follow up feature and then move the email away from my inbox to a different folder (usually a folder named after the customer organisation).
The rest of the day I will re-visit my email inbox perhaps once an hour. And I will process what's there by the same rules as I do in the morning. This bit is probably not very efficient.

I have a weekly review. Yes I do. I have heard that this is often the Achilles heel of GTD. And it is for me too.
Every friday I have scheduled (in the calendar) a 4-hour slot for doing the review. The review consists of a review of all my GTD objects. Is there anything in the calendar that needs to be rescheduled, are there things in my Stuf list that needs to be moved to my calendar (Tickler file or Waiting for), are there projects in the Project list that need action... basically I have a look at all my “lists” to see if things are OK, if they match my current priorities, and if not, I change things.

Sometimes things force me to move my Weekly review. It's bad. In the GTD system there is this notion of capturing projects or to do items in “a system you can trust”, and this trust in the system - to me at least - is very much dependent on the Weekly review. The weekly review is the safety net that makes sure that things don't slip through and don't get acted upon.

This is what my system looks like today. I am not totally happy about it, but it works acceptably.

I am sure that I have not implemented all of the GTD way of working. My guess is that I may have about 50% right.
I also feel sure that I will feel (and be) more in control if I get more of the GTD stuff right.

And then I heard about Eric Mack and his eproductivity product. I noticed it when I was following LotusPhere 2009 from home; Eric Mack and David Allen (who invented GTD) had a session there. And I was reminded about it when I listened to the Taking Notes podcast: Taking Notes Episode 96: 2009.03.10 - Getting Things Done with IBM Lotus Notes and eProductivity.

I had a look at the product description, and it looks very interesting. Implementing Eproductivity requires you to switch design in your Lotus Notes Email database. It makes sense to me as the Mail database is my main inbox, it is the database I access the most and it is also a database that I tend to “carry around” - accessing it on my stationary PC and laptop. The GTD tools need to be available all the time.

I have decided to invest a month in trying out eproductivity. I plan to blog about what I find out.

I have not yet been through all the pre-installation material, but here is a a short list of my worries before getting started:

  • Will I hate the template for not being as sexy as StdR85Mail?
  • Will the template have a web interface still - for mail and calendaring?
  • Will email synchronisation to/from Lotus Traveler break?
  • Will the template work on Notes 8.5 on Ubuntu Linux?

And here is a short list of hopes:

  • I will discover and use new GTD Objects
  • I will be more effective at doing my Weekly Review
  • I will more often have the "Mind Like Water" feeling

Good bye standard StdR85Mail.