May 18, 2011

Do the Do (Due)

TAPP Time Management  Book

A few weeks ago, while driving home from an appointment, I had this vision of lots of water and me on a small boat in the middle. It quickly occurred to me that this vision represented my current mental state when thinking of all the projects and deliverables on my plate. While I was getting the big projects done, I had this sense I was missing things on the smaller ones. I decided to stop, review, and get a handle on things.

I began my review that evening by listing out all the projects I could think of in each category of my life. After reviewing the list, I realized I needed a better, more comprehensive, and focused approach and system for managing my projects and tasks. I set a goal to design a system that would allow me to better manage my projects, both work and personal, now and in the future.

Having used a variety of approaches and systems in the past, I wanted to take the time now to find the right fit for my goals and style. In the past I had success with both paper-based systems, such as Franklin-Covey, and all technology-based systems such Pocket Informant and MS Outlook. More recently I have been using a hybrid approach of paper (Moleskine notebook) and technology (my laptop/PDA). In my review, it was easy to see that while I had some of the tools and processes in place, they were not working as well as I would like. So I decided to begin a quest to find the right system to achieve my goal.

My quest began on the internet. Writing for a blog about productivity, it was not a surprise to find lots of information on project and task management on the web. Sifting through information on different approaches and tools, I narrowed my search to systems and tools supporting the Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology. To learn more, I read blogs (including this one), I searched on Twitter, I liked pages on facebook, I read support forums, I listened to podcasts, I watched videos, I checked out ebooks, and I talked to friends. I even downloaded trial software and tested their approach to handling projects and tasks. All told I spent a couple of weeks, reading, listening, watching, and playing.

So where did I end up?

Knowing I was looking for a system based on the GTD approach helped to narrow down my research. So did knowing I could adjust my system later as relevant new ideas emerge. Next, with a criteria that the solution must allow me to manage both personal and work projects, I concluded it would have to work on my personal equipment (a Mac, an iPhone, and an iPad). So I targeted solutions that would work in the Apple world. Along the way I will figure out how to incorporate my PC-based work tools into the process. And I will keep my Moleskine notebooks. I still like to take notes the old fashioned way. So my solution is a merger of paper and technology.

I have settled on an approach and a supporting software suite (Omnigroup's Omnifocus) and am in the process of creating my system within it.

In the meantime, no matter what system I end up with, I still have to “Do the Do (due)”.

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