GTD – Confession

12 Oct 2008

For some time now I have been struggling with the practicalities of GTD (Get Things Done – Copyright David Allen)

Over the next few articles I am going to return to this subject and I am going to try and explain what short comings I have (in this area, as a person) and also how I have managed to improve my project and activity management processes, not just my personal methods of work, but our business processes as well.

Firstly, that confession!

Now I know quite a lot about the GTD methodologies, and as the system architect for OpenCRM, have had a lot of input into how OpenCRM can help me carry out the activities that I need to get done, but sometimes we (that’s me!), just does not do, what we know to be the right thing to do. Even though I know which path to follow, I can be a bit of a butterfly, I like to spend time doing the things that I like to do, rather than always doing the things that I need to get done. Now, I don’t do this all of the time, but, often enough for me to need to keep re focussing my energy, and that’s what this, and subsequent postings are partly about.

Oh, by the way, the other part of this confession is that even with OpenCRM acting as my Bucket, collecting the individual activities that are on my radar, it can only help if I put the activity into the system. Regardless of your chosen system (paper or software driven), this, in my opinion, is the key.

One of the key principles that I have to force myself to apply, is to “empty my head”, getting all of the activities out in the open.

How I do this is empty my head onto a piece of paper, as this is the quickest way to get a lot of information out, and not need to think whilst I do it, then I add those activities to OpenCRM.

The second phase for me is to look at, and consider, projects I am working on. The big breakthrough for me was the ‘create a first activity or next activity for each project’ concept. This means that I put at least the first activity onto my To Do List, that way I can start to capture other activities as part of a natural process or by brainstorming the project process.

Another thing that might be worth mentioning here, is the way that we use the Calendar in OpenCRM and the Activities lists.

The Calendar shows the hard landscape items, as they seem to get called, these are the activities that have a definite date and time, such as FUP calls or meetings, its also useful to record the context of these activities, so like location based activities, such as calls from desk or tasks that require a specific location, can be grouped. This can also include some tasks that need to be completed by a specific time.

The task list on the calendar shows the soft landscape items, these can be prioritised.

The activities list, or To Do List view that I use, gives me a better method of working, as I am able to work down a list, knocking off the ‘under 4 minute’ tasks, and dealing with the more urgent requests as they appear on the list. Using a view that shows activities due in next 2 days, helps me see what is coming up.

I use the ‘Must do’, ‘Should do’ principle, that suggests that as I have easy access and visibility to all of the activities that appear on my Radar, I re appraise what is a ‘Should do’ and promote or demote accordingly.

Sales Pitch : OK, so why tell you all of this. Partly, because opening my soul to the web, is a way to re focus what I know I need to be improving on, but also, it is a way to demonstrate to anyone that might be interested, that OpenCRM does manage this process very well, it’s the human input that tends to be the weakest part of the process. Also, a recent client of ours, Graeme Frankland at TTI, said that he has tried to use systems to help manage his To Do’s many times in the past, and each time he has failed, as he has been swamped with the amount of activities on his list, leading to a “sort of activity paralysis”, and I can totally understand what he is saying, I mean, I have access to all sorts of technology and software development resources and I only accomplish (at best) 60% of what I am trying to achieve using systems, the rest is ‘on the hoof’ and memory.

So I am going to use (and perhaps configure and develop) more features of OpenCRM and then document my best practice, as much to prove to myself that I can do it 100%.

Enough for now, I am going to return to this subject over the coming weeks/months, and post my findings. As always, feel free to get in touch if anything I have mentioned here touches a nerve for you and post any comments that you feel would be helpful.

Oh, by the way, yes, the keyboard is good and if you like the physical keyboard type, the BB is for you, but the virtual keyboard is fine by me, I am not as quick at this typing lark anyway, so I am not interested in the max clicks per second that one BB Bold review spouted (not David’ I hasten to add), I just don’t think that fast, so iPhone or BB Bold makes no difference to me, its just preference.

Sales Pitch -If you want a mobile device that you can use with OpenCRM or any other web site for that matter, iPhone wins (in my opinion) hands down. But BB Bold is a good mobile, if browsing is not your main use for the device. Oh, and by the way, watch this space as the Google Android OS is going to be the big contender, especially as we have a team of ‘traditional’ web developers who can all write applications straight out of the box!