Getting Things Done As If It Really Matters

New Year’s Eve. New Year’s resolutions. Time to start fresh.

I usually don’t give a rat’s ass about January 1 as a time to start something new. Maybe I operate on different cycles, Maybe I have different motivators. But it doesn’t matter much to me.

Oh, and I have a pretty bad track record of follow through, discipline, willpower in many areas of my life. Avoidance seems to be an obvious way to avoid disappointment.

But I still have a DO problem…a getting things done problem. Too much on my plate but no matter, lots of these things really need to get done. Dissertation screams and needs to be wrapped up by the end of summer.

I like tinkering (aka dicking around) with GTD methods and devices and tools and hacks. I’m up-to-speed on just about everything out there.

But, no amount of GTD software or ideas can really get that train moving.

One piece that seems to be missing is something in the realm of peer pressure or “caring” by someone else (caring as wonderfully described by Milton Mayeroff’s “On Caring“). A support group, people who are engaged and willing to help one get toward your goals. Allies, human or otherwise.

I have allies. I have worked to figure them out. I have not summoned them well. I have difficulty with object permanence, so I don’t “hold” them in my awareness on a regular basis very well.

One area that strikes me as a possibility, a real possibility, is some form of online support. Maybe finally doing hyperlinks on this blog, posting to sites, and connecting to the outside world will help this. I see all these communities, I lurk, but I never walk through the door. I’m also sure there’s same lameass “THAT’S only for other people” thing going on. You often feel excluded when you’re in new territory.

So, I’m going to try it. This year.

Some slick new ideas swimming around my head, including software such as Lifetick and BubbleTimer, have come on my radar. Emailing the folks that make it, that use it, that live it, touching case. All of that stuff.

If someone would kick me down an iPod Touch, I surely would be in the Things or OmniFocus realm, among others. There are really slick apps and if I have the device in front of me all the time. My Curve has some potential, but it’s not working for me too well just yet.

I’ll post how it goes.

Relate to this? Let’s connect.

Happy New Year.

Curve and Storm and iPod Touch

So I’m knee deep in the pre-doc internship and things are getting out of hand. Busy is an understatement. The two boys (two under 3) are about 5 handfuls. My dissertation hasn’t even reached completed proposal stage. We still have some boxes that have not been unpacked from the move (times 2). Exercise in non-existent.

Am I ready to pop? You bet your ass I am.

And this is the busiest I’ve been in, well, ever. There’s a quality about being busy that includes not being home as much as I’m used to. There are no “off” days since my wife basically works a substantial portion of when I’m home.

Am I getting things done? You bet your ass I wish I was.

So I have capture tools. Maybe too many. But having those lists and to-dos and big rocks and all that shyt IN FRONT of me when I need them is not happening. I need a portable tool, with phone numbers and directions and such IN FRONT of me the moment I need them. Moments to get things done, especially as they pertain to family and person things, are so few and in short, distracted chunks that I need help.

So I was thinking that the Curve just isn’t doing it for me. My small moleskin is not doing it for me. Note cards are not doing it for me.

I wanted to Storm as a toy, but then I saw it ratcheting-up my portability of GTDness – bigger screen, umm, yeah, that’s all I can come up with now. Note: I have drooled over the iPhone, but for those that have read some of my posts, I do have some reality-based ideas about a phone actually working virtually 100% of the time. The iPhone just doesn’t seem to cut it.

Then, I realized, I can dive back into some of the Mac apps that I’ve used or tried out in GTDland. But, would they transfer to my Curve? Only the web-based ones, and frankly, it takes too long to log in and have things ready. I’ve tried a few on my Curve, but I’m not that happy with the execution (yes, back to screen size for one).

Ahhh, I can have my candy and eat it too. And this would be fitting with my expanding waist line and “back.” iPod Touch. I can keep all my Apple glory, have a phone that works, and still have access to email around the clock to distract me from “Life in Hell” or at least to attempt to keep in touch when I can. Should I be spending that type of money on a device? No. Credit card debt haunts me. Student loans? Don’t even go there.

But the shyt is about to hit the fan, and I need to jump start my ability and capacity to get things done. And so does my wife. Maybe I could try Things or other apps on the Touch. Sucks I couldn’t have immediate access to maps and such, but the Curve could pull it out when necessary. Could Google maps be saved over devices? How dorky would I feel to have two devices? There’s no way I could by-pass the 32 gb touch since my music collection is so large and I’d love to catch up on The Office. Questions and complications abound.

I want to impulsively just get one. I wonder what new release will happen for Apple in January. Will I miss an even sweeter device? I could swallow that, especially if a new device leads to a less expensive Touch.

IPod Touch as pda/toy? I guess that’s what it was made for…I frequent Starbucks in attempts to catch up on work or fiddle with dissertation, so would I finally be able to use their wireless?

Thoughts from the gallery?

Verizon and the LG Dare – Experience with the web browser?

It looks like I might have to suck it up (as if life could be so tough, even with no play money) and stick with Verizon. The service is really solid, I’m due for $100 from the NE2 program, and with my contract ending at the end of September, I’m waiting for a nice coupon or something in the mail. They sent me a two of them this year, but I didn’t need them at the time.

I wonder what a rep on the phone can do for me? If I go LG Dare, I’ll need a microSD card (that free 8gb deal ended) and I’ll need to finally pull the trigger on a bluetooth piece.

Anyway, who has experience using the browser on this phone? Decent? Crappy? Solid enough? I’m not going to read page after page, but I might want to check out online lists, hit some email, read a bit here or there, weather. Pretty low key stuff, especially once the honeymoon period ends. I’ve used MobileWeb on my current phone, and I found that at least with my little clamshell phone, I was bored of it after a week or so. There’s only so much news you can read while, well, you know…

Big Rocks, Things, and More ALMOST Getting Things Done (Part 2) – and Annoyances

Welcome back. Part 2 of my dribbling. Here is how the rest of this actually went down. To start, I must say it’s been a nice to dive in and tinker with all of this.

My little experiment went too far. I admit creative defeat. Ok, not really, but the old standby method seemed to work just fine. I just created a recurring to-do, one for each day of the week, no due date or anything. Monday pops up on Monday, the rest are there but waiting in “Scheduled” which I can go to at any point.

Annoyances with Things

There are a-plenty right now after going through all of this. I realize the status of the software, and as someone who’s not reading their wiki and blog and forum, I’m sure some of these are addressed. But I’m finally working in a healthy direction – not lurking around other people’s problems, but discovering them on my own.

1) Continuing where I just left off with the recurring tasks in the “Scheduled” section, if I edit any of them there will there always be that change when it pops into “Today?” What if I put Notes in (which would be where the actual Big Rock items go) for a Monday, will those notes always pop up when Monday comes around? If I change the Notes section for Monday in the “Today” view, will the scheduled tasks also have these notes? Too many loose ends.

2) I also just deleted the Test batch of recurring to-dos (with due dates but all created on Sunday in this case) in “Scheduled” but they still were in “Next.” I deleted them in “Next” and they were still in the Big Rocks “Area.” SO, WHERE IS THEIR HOME???

I’m also a bit confused at how, well, loose, things are in Things. Though I am no programmer, it seems odd that a simple database would allow changes in one field to be updated (or not) in other areas. It seems that if I make changes to an entry pulled from “Today,” it won’t update all of them. I believe the same thing applies to making changes to entries when when the action originates from the “Organize” area. But how do I know where each item’s HOME is? If it’s a recurring item, but is in a project and/or area, Next, or Today, where to I make the change? It shouldn’t even be an issue, really. Dig?

3) Another small annoyance. Why is the “Log Completed” button only applicable to each screen? You have to log separately in the “Today” view or a Project view. There is some security in that, especially for a pack rat like myself, but now that I’m finally turning a corner and DOING, it’s just another step or hoop to jump through.

4) Another…request. I’ve created an @Waiting “Area” (aka context). When I put a due item in the @Waiting area, it stays in “Today” and is marked overdue. Yes, it’s overdue. Yes, it’s not completed. I still would like it to reside outside the Today focus. This is where Things does stray from a pure GTD app. I’ve read enough people posting about contexts not defining GTD and all that, but that’s just an argument to use the app. I’m not saying people shouldn’t use this app. I saying this is not pure GTD. And before your panties get in a bunch, I’m not even saying I want or need a pure GTD app.

Regardless, there’s nothing like actually diving into a program and creating your own form, function, or flow. I usually just find myself looking for what others do and following that. This (and this is my mantra – and a book and website coming out with this idea, too) feels different, so something is changing. (Said mantra is actually, “If it doesn’t feel different, you’re not changing it.” More on that later in other entries and another blog.) For the better, too.

Thanks for watching.

Big Rocks, Things, and More ALMOST Getting Things Done (Part 1)

It’s that time again. I have some “downtime” and I fill it up with websurfing, tinkering and tweaking systems…anything other than establishing and diving into My Practice (spiritual practice) during this time of great transition. But life will be kicking it up many notches in under a week, so now is the time to dial-in any altered or new systems.

What I’ve recently done is find the balance between a paper-based or computer-based system for my getting things done life. Starting my pre-doc internship in a couple weeks, I’m sure I’ll have to create a system for that “place,” too. Overall, I’m getting it. OmniFocus was too much of a techy solution, a distraction. iGTD used to be my choice, but I like what iGTD2 has to offer but I’m not running Leopard. Things used to seem like it wasn’t enough, but it’s simplicity has been helpful for me to de-tether from my computer. I’ve enjoyed taking notes via pen and paper, so I’m keeping that part alive and well, too. No export of any sort for Things?? Uggh, but that’s ok for now. I’m desiring an iPhone, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen just yet either. Kick me down an iTouch, someone!

Enough of that intro. What I’ve been trying to do is incorporate the Covey and ZTD Big Rocks theme into a GTD app. Using Things, I think I was on to something. Here is what I came across:

I can set a due date (or not) for a recurring to-do (like my Big Rocks idea). Now, I don’t have to. They will be created weekly if there are no due dates. If they have a due date, they will be due on their particular day, AND they can be created X days before they are due.

Therefore, if I have a weekly review day set, say a Sunday planning session set, I can set the create date to X days before so they all fall on the same day. For example, Monday’s will be created 1 day before, Tuesday’s 2 days before, and so on. Then on Sunday, they all pop up at the same time.

Regardless of the due date or not, I like only seeing one week’s worth of Big Rocks at a time, AND I also like have the week’s Big Rocks out at the same time.

Dig?

I’m going to start experimenting with this for 2 weeks.This first week I’ll set:(1) No due dates, and (2) Create another dummy group of them with due dates.The second week I’ll (1) Keep the same thing and see if it gets screwed up.

Update 1: Hrmm…Problems so far:1) I see the “Test” to-do even though it’s supposed to be created next Sunday. Does this mean the NEXT to-dos are created this coming Sunday? Not sure if the default for Things is to create a to-do item as soon as it’s, well, created, versus being created for the first time at some point in the future.

Update 2: So it’s Sunday. And what’s in the “Today” focus area? All 5 Test Big Rock entries for the 5 days of the week. They have the correct tag, they have the correct amount of “days left” until due. BUT, what I really wanted was for them NOT to come up in the “Today” area unless it was, well, today. I don’t want to see Monday’s until Monday, although I do want it created and hanging in the “Next” area so I can review the week on Sunday or whenever. I want “Today” for DOING, not planning. Hence, only one day’s Big Rocks entry per day.

What I really want are two options where there is currently only one: The first would be to select if each copy has a due date. The second would be to then have it created X days before due. That way, it would be created, but not necessarily relative to when it is due, but…what?

Now, one plus that I’m realizing with these 5 “Today” entries looking at me: in terms of any type of weekly review done, say, “Today,” (multiple uses for “Today” – doing AND reviewing???), I have all of the days of the week just waiting to be filled in. But I suppose I don’t know what Big Rocks I’ll want to tackle for the rest of the week on Sunday. Hell, I can just look under “Next” and select my tag “Big Rocks” for the reviewing/planning.