I’ve tried to stay as ultralight as possible when it comes to managing my work life and things like to-do lists. Work isn’t what I’m on earth for and I don’t want to give it more attention than it needs! The basecamp guys’ books on work (Remote and Rework for example) have been helpful to me in figuring out how to prioritize things and not worry if the 78 things to do aren’t done in a single day. I also enjoyed Cal Newport’s Deep Work.
While I prefer an ultralight style, a recent job change has brought along a kind of sea change in the breadth of work and decisions expected of me. For that reason, on the advice of a friend, I started using the OmniFocus software package and read Getting Things Done, the inspiration for the software.
I know that business books tend to be trendy and this one is currently non in style. However, I have to say that GTD has been immediately helpful to me in reducing headnoise and my new habit of pacing around in a circle in my home office.
While I did love the simplicity of my paper lists and Google Keep files, they simply weren’t quit enough to calm down my brain. The beauty of Getting Things Done is that its methods make me feel like I have agency in the the myriad tasks in front of me in my day. Therefore I can have peace about better understanding the landscape and doing my best.
The main ideas behind GTD are that, first, you can’t do projects. You can complete individual actions that comprise larger projects. Next, you need a system to capture all of the projects and steps within the projects in one place. If you can’t, your brain is so worried about maintaining all of your “open loops” that you can’t do any real thinking on the problems. Finally, since you can’t do projects and you need to quell your brain’s buzzing about open loops, you need to figure out what the next action is in each project. “What’s the next action” is a great question for individuals and teams because it makes the mountain climb a series of individual steps.
There’s a lot more to it, of course, but if you take away anything from this review, just ask yourself “What’s the next step?” on stuff you’re worried about. If this sounds interesting, you can run this system on paper for about $20 bucks worth of supplies, or less if you already have empty folders!