I have studied and implemented many time management and action list systems over the course of my career. The best I’ve found is Getting Things Done from David Allen.

Since I’m a “digital native” of sorts, I have looked for some sort of digital assistant for implementing my GTD practice. All of us who have implemented automation or a new software application in business or manufacturing know that it must be easy and intuitive to use or it just won’t be used. (I saw $50K worth of vision equipment I had installed in the trash one day at one of my customers. Long story, but lesson learned.) What I’m using now is a program called Nozbe (affiliate link).

Michael Sliwinski, the developer of Nozbe, has published a “Productivity Course” where, in 11 short videos, he explains his take on the GTD practice. It’s a course that could be worth hundreds to attend, but it’s on the Web for free. Many good ideas there.

Step 1 – “Inbox”
Step 2 – “Projects”
Step 3 – “Next Actions”
Step 4 – “Mobility”
Step 5 – “Collaboration”
Step 6 – “Contexts”
Step 7 – “Reference Material”
Step 8 – “Weekly Review”
Step 9 – “Email”
Step 10 – “Get It All Done”

Here are a few thoughts I pulled out to remind myself of some good ideas.

  • If an action item actually includes more than one step, make it a “project”, defined as something that takes more than one task to accomplish. Then add the several action items it will take to accomplish the task.
  • Nozbe allows for syncing with Evernote, so he just adds “projects” for notes and research material and syncs with Evernote in order to have everything in one place.
  • Keep the daily priority list short.
  • Within Nozbe, you can set recurring things for dates. Say there is something you want to do daily (write a blog post…) or weekly (meet with yourself to review progress), you can do that so that it will pop up in your Next Action list.
  • I use mind maps to think about things. Sliwinski uses mind maps to define his personal strategy and then uses it in his weekly review.
  • Schedule a time to meet with yourself once a week for maybe as long as 2 hours.
  • Process email, do not check it. He processes first at noon, and then hourly, using the David Allen 2 min. rule (if you can answer in two minutes or less, then do it right then. If it’s a task, forward to Nozbe to add to the task list.
  • He works in 25 minute chunks of time, followed by a 5 min break. Personally, I often work in somewhat larger chunks of time. Often as long as 90 minutes. But whatever suits you. Remember the break. Brew a cup of tea. Take a short walk. Something to refresh the mind and body.
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