Tuesday, March 30, 2010

April - GTD and Toodledo #2: Laying the groundwork

As this is more about personal growth than anything else, I'll admit that I've loosely used Toodledo and GTD for over a year, however never reliably.  It was reliable, my use of it wasn't.  Toodledo is robust, and unless you're broke and your time isn't worth much, the price of a PRO membership shouldn't be a barrier to anyone.

The program uses several things to help you keep track of the info about the info on your list.  If you're a geek, you'd call it task meta data.  For example, instead of 'buy milk' I'd have a task that said 'buy milk' and I'd have a context of home (because it's not work or hobby related), a status of next action (meaning I can really do it next - it's not waiting on anything), a folder of purchase (because that how I think of things).  These are some of the info around the items that help you categorize and track stuff.  The thing of it is that there are *many* ways that you can arrange it, this is a secretary, not just a list of things, and its appropriate role in your life could be huge.

That said, I am a process geek and I kept working on the system versus working in the system.  Most people have the opposite problem, where they just do (in the system) and never improve the way they do (on the system).  I constantly think about how to improve the way I do and spend too little time doing.

Anyhow.  I just watched a fellow ToodleDo user's video about how they implemented the GTD system.  (Props to Proximo - if you're a subscriber, look up his threads).  He used it in a way that is much simpler than mine - the kind of simple that is usually followed with the word beauty.  I'm going to try it his way for my 30 day experiment so today I'm going to review all my stuff and migrate it into that system.  This is still part of my prep work.

Wish me luck.

GTD and Toodledo 30-day project

Monday, March 29, 2010

April - GTD and Toodledo #1: Setting up the project

Setting up the project is both required for success and dangerous.  It's required for success for obvious reasons - it's dangerous because of my tendency to focus too much on the process and technical elements than simply 'doing the work'.  So I'll need to monitor myself and not spend too much time on setup.

Here's how I'm taking on the project:
I'm already familiar with Getting Things Done (GTD): The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.
I'm already a pro subscriber at Toodledo.com

Knowing the GTD system, and knowing my affinity for technology and habits of spontaneous ideas, I need the mobile capture mechanism to work and it's not set up.  This is a system that lets me add an item to my to do queue via SMS.  This will help me keep track of things without multiple pieces of paper, which get lost anyway.  Off to set it up....Done.  Not too hard.

GTD and Toodledo project home page

#2 30 Day project candidates

These are the projects I'm currently considering.  I'll pick one soon.

  • Another weight loss sprint, this time working toward specific goals of distance to run or ride.
  • House projects: finish the garage cleanup (trashing stuff, selling stuff, painting, etc.)
  • * Focus: Focusing on my goals: 30 days of conscious, deliberate mental focus on my goals
  • * Financial: Establish 2 new clients
  • Financial: Set up a family budget and work to it
  • * Habits: Follow prescribed work habits - this means get up at the same time every day, work to plan and knock things out in the allotted time so I'm available to my family (and more calm and peaceful) the rest of the time
  • * Habits: Follow my To-Do system for 30 days
  • * Meditate daily

You should know that I added the single word summaries after the list was created.  They represent refinement of thinking.

Tangent alert: These items are not all personal development.  Only the ones with an asterisk are actually the kind I intended to consider - the ones that are PERSONAL and action oriented.  These are different than a goals list, these are habits and personal actions (and the beliefs behind them) like weight loss.  That was a commitment to make good decisions about eating and exercise for a month, even though it was against my routine.  If I can create the macro habit of resetting one set of bad habits to a deliberately-crafted replacment set of habits every month... great!  That's the plan.

Ok - of these, I'm thinking the one that makes the most sense is the one(s) around habits.

Official next project: Managing my actions using my To-Do List and Getting Things Done system.  I'm actually using an online tool for processing To-Do's - the tool is by a company called Toodledo.  Their online to do manager is really cool and they've molded some functionality around the GTD system.  I've been a fan of the GTD and David Allen's system for a while, but I've had trouble implementing it due to my compulsion to always geek out on the process instead of just doing it.  This is one of the most valuable books that I own. 

#1 Welcome to your life

The power of 30 day projects has compelled me to start this site.  30 days is a timeframe that you can get you head around, and the kind of projects I'm talking about are self-improvement projects and personal growth oriented.

I had fantastic success in February taking on 30 days of weight loss - 15 pounds in 30 days.  I backed off of the agressive approach after the 30 days, but I'm retaining the benefits of that project just the same.  At the same time, I experienced withdrawl symptoms after the contest.  I don't mean related to eating or weight loss, I mean of challenge and personal focus and intensity.  I want to maintain that buzz and rate of progress, but to move on to other areas of my life - there are plenty of areas that could use the work.

So, I determined that I'd make list of potential 30 day projects, pick one and start.  The blogging about it portion of the gig is to create a virtual constituency, even if only in my mind.  The weight loss project was actually a contest, but it's not practical to have a contest for the other things in mind, both because they're hard to measure and because it'd be hard to find someone with the same challenges at the same time.

I'm reminded of the argument for money over barter... coincidence of need just isn't there.  So, to time-shift and create accountability without the structure of a contest I'm enlisting technology and you.  Please read my posts and comment.  Ask me anything.  To be honest, I'm asking you to expend your time caring about me.  You don't owe me, clearly, but I'm going to be honest about what this really is.  It's a request.  If I don't get readers and questions, I'll live, but it'll be better with help.

Thanks for reading.