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  • New job/constraints completely ruins GTD routines...

    Just started in a new job after more than a decade in the same organization. And while the new job is great and appears to be full of opportunities in a huge and global organization, the new job conditions have completed ruined all my GTD routines that were so effective for me in the past.

    Through my years with GTD, I consistently used Outlook at office synchronizing Contacts with my phone and my Palm (old school, I know) held synchronized Calendar, Action Lists and Contacts - no need for e-mails. At home Palm Desktop provided a useful interface, when the Palm did not suffice. The above GTD methodology was applied for both job and personal matters and addressed all aspects of GTD in my life.

    However, this new job has put a lot of constraint on what I can do in terms of GTD - digitally, that is. All work is still based on Outlook in a corporate setup, but this is purely a tool for sending e-mails from my desk without any productivity perspective:
    • No support of Outlook synchronization beyond Calendar and Contacts to Nokia mobile phone.
    • No Exchange synchronization with any type of mobile device or web based service.
    • No administrator rights in Windows; no installation of supporting software e.g. ActiveSync, HotSync, etc.
    I feel very much being forced into splitting everything into two parts; Work and Personal - and my mind (in line with David's learning's) does not work like this. This is simply not GTD!

    I used to have one single trusted mobile device with all my Action Lists (any context). A single calendar that would support all aspects of my time (how can planning be done otherwise?). One set of Contacts and I used to be having one single phone, which I could use for anything (rather than switching between two phones).

    Now, I no longer have any meaningful trusted device, which I can rely on. And the scenario disconnects work and personal matters causing me to loose commitments. I feel very much a setback to my (chaotic) life before GTD, searching for tools and a methodology to recover control.

    Any of you guys been through the same experience? How can GTD be implemented in a very constrained environment? To me, any based on GMail, iPhone's, Blackberry's, etc. will not be applicable, but I am open to all kinds of ideas. Any ideas on what can reside on a USB stick and synchronizes with Outlook Tasks, Calendar and Contacts? Or will paper be the ultimate solution.

    I find it totally amazing that this new productivity/GTD reality is a major turn-off on this job! Now I understand how important GTD had become to me and I feel frustrated and almost physically ill, having all kinds of unstructured stuff in my head...

    Tech

  • #2
    You have a project in front of you to update your GTD system so that you can return to a mind like water state. Since technology is a barrier to your productivity you may even have to revert entire system (or at least parts of it) to paper temporarily until you can make the needed adjustments to your electronic system to trust it again. Remember, it's the process, not the tools, that matter in GTD**.

    I also work in a corporate environment where no personal equipment may be used to connect to company resources. I did keep separate systems for a while but I really didn't like the split; especially when it came time for weekly reviews.

    Because I use Outlook at work and at home, I am able to export segments of my calendar and my tasks to CSV files, e-mail them home, and import them into my system. I'm not sure if Palm Desktop can import them; I'm pretty sure that Google Calendar can. It's not true synchronization but it will reduce manual entry.

    Good luck.

    - Luke


    ** I know how you might feel about switching back to paper. I couldn't sell myself this bit of advice; I've become so dependent on an electronic calendar that I don't think I could go back to a paper one. Paper does not beep 15 minutes before an appointment. However, if my choice is paper or smartphone (I have an iPAQ now; I had a Palm for years but they fell out of favor with me) I will go back to paper. I'm not paying $2-$5 per day for an electronic calendar and task list.

    Comment


    • #3
      OMG! It's not GTD?

      Originally posted by Tech View Post
      I feel very much being forced into splitting everything into two parts; Work and Personal - and my mind (in line with David's learning's) does not work like this. This is simply not GTD!
      I have a two-part Work/Personal system and I think it is very GTD!

      Comment


      • #4
        Two schools of implementing GTD - at leastů

        I am sure we all have different implementations of GTD according to the conditions given by our professional life and personal preferences and I would never claim that my approach would be the right one - and others wrong. In fact all other ways of working, I would consider strong inspiration, which I would open-mindedly explore.

        With reference to a very common example David brings up in his presentations and podcasts (just spend an hour in the car with his podcasts this morning); catfood! Your mind does bring up stuff, that does not belong in the context you are in and buying catfood may be something you remember during a project meeting. And a dentist appointment is always within 9 to 5, even though it does not belong in my professional GTD ecosystem. Outside office hours, I have numerous work related ideas and occasional phone conferences. And there are countless other examples of private and professional lives being tangled together, like travelling in different time zones. I have earlier totally adopted this approach and in my personal view, this holistic approach has been a win-win scenario to both me and my company.

        This said, I do from time to time envy people that are able to keep distinct boundaries between professional and private life and it seems like I may be heading in this direction for some time with regard to GTD.

        I have also noticed that you guys (TesTeq, ellobogrande and others) have had some really good discussions on this matter earlier, highlighting quite a few benefits and issues with both directions - e.g. this discussion:

        http://www.davidco.com/forum/showthr...-Actions/page2

        Initially (years ago) I also had ideas on split systems (it seemed most natural at that point), but I came to peace with a consolidated system as described earlier, as it was more in line with the nature of my work (but oddly, inconsistent with IT guidelines). From what I read elsewhere in the forum, it appears to be the transition from one system to split systems, that will be the toughest; different tools and parallel systems.

        Ellobogrande, interesting insight into your setup. I am open to changes in tools (GTD should be tools agnostic and people tend to giggle at my ancient Palm device ) and would even consider paper.

        TesTeq, could you share a little on how you implement the division between different "lives"? Tools? Special processes one need to aware of?

        Tech

        Comment


        • #5
          PalmOS Palm or webOS Palm?

          Comment


          • #6
            Classic Palm...

            Classic traditional Palm OS (5.4) based device using HotSync through USB cable for syncing local Outlook client. WebOS is not likely to be able to synchronize with the Exchange server in this case...

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Tech View Post
              Classic traditional Palm OS (5.4) based device using HotSync through USB cable for syncing local Outlook client. WebOS is not likely to be able to synchronize with the Exchange server in this case...
              The reason I ask is that I was in your exact situation. I had a classic Palm that I loved but my job would not let me sync up with outlook and I had the added restriction of not being able to have my phone in phone mode (wireless had to be disabled) while at work.

              I looked and looked for a good program to sync Palm's tasks and calendars up to but found nothing. Eventually I moved to a Palm Pre (webOS). I use Google calendar and Toodledo at work (web based applications) and at home, both of which can sync up with the newer Palms.

              Using the web apps and webOS allowed me to have one list and calendar that I could access anywhere. Editing lists on the computer is also much faster than on the handheld.

              I am happy with this setup but it did require me to upgrade my hardware, which I was glad I did.

              The other option I explored was paper based which works great when you can't get devices to talk to each other. I think I think better with paper and pen as well. The only problem was maintaining large paper lists... bleh.

              Comment


              • #8
                What about Cloud options?

                Does your new job allow you to use the Internet? If so, you could probably construct a cloud-based system.

                I use Toodledo which syncs over the air with my iPhone (there are a number of iPhone apps that sync well with Toodledo). My personal email is on GMail which syncs over the air with the iPhone and my personal calendar and contacts are on Apple's MobileMe service (which again syncs over the air with iPhone). Any work email that I want to turn into a task is simply forwarded to my Toodledo email address where it goes straight to the Inbox.

                Thankfully my company provides Exchange sync with the iPhone so my work-related calendar and contacts also sync to my iPhone. Given you can't do that, maybe you could sync your work calendar & contacts with Google (would require installing the Google cal sync utility on your desktop/laptop).

                Comment


                • #9
                  TesTeq's GTD implementation.

                  Originally posted by Tech View Post
                  TesTeq, could you share a little on how you implement the division between different "lives"? Tools? Special processes one need to aware of?
                  @work
                  - Lotus Notes based implementation (using the guidelines from the "GTD and Lotus Notes" document available from David Allen Company).

                  @home
                  - Paper-based system (Moleskine notebooks for Project, Someday Maybe and several context lists).

                  @mobile
                  - Nokia E71 smartphone (Calendar, Agendas, Calls, Errands lists and a very powerful capture device - text notes, voice recording, 3 megapixel camera, video recorder, fast hot-key access to each of these functions).
                  - David Allen's travelling folders for managing paper documents on the go.
                  - David Allen's tri-fold Notetaker Wallet.

                  Two separate Weekly Reviews each week (@work & @home).

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Too many input streams and corporate technology barriers destroyed my GDT system. I'm making inroads again, by returning to simplicity. My company also denies desktop admin privileges to employees, but are willing to install some personal apps, if you can justify them.

                    I use Google calender and was allowed to install calendar sync at work. I sync my company Outlook to a secondary Google account. I display that secondary account calendar on my main Google calendar with th different color code. Green is personal, gray is work. I now have every appointment on any computer and on my phone.

                    I use Exchange ActiveSync to access my work email on my phone, or Outlook Web (or VPN) to access work email via personal computer at home. My contacts aren't in my main personal system, but I don't need them to be.

                    I'm still looking for a good, simple task/notes solution. Simplenote (simple-note.appspot.com) looks like it's going to be the one for notes and lists, it's as simple and efficient as a note app should be.

                    The task list is still up in the air. I'm using RTM at the moment. It does everything I need, but the interface is abysmal; waaaay to many click to do anything.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I had the same problems when moving into my current position 2 months ago.

                      I already used Tracks for actions, projects, someday/maybe (webbased, which works with any modern browser, not IE6..), had google calendar sync with work Outlook and my private calendar, both being synced to my Android phone.

                      IT limitation prevented me to use this setup, so I immediately returned to a portable, paper based solution (within 1 day) for work related GTD (i.e. PocketMod). I printed my Outlook calendar to have it with me.

                      Due to a migration, I can currently use IE7, so Tracks is possible again. I now export daily my Outlook Calendar and import it in Google Calendar to have an overview of my appointments regardless where I am (and have alarms for next meetings).

                      USB is disabled, so I use Dropbox, webbased and Android app.

                      As stated before, GTD is not about tools. If your existing setup cannot be used, find an immediate setup which you can use, albeit paper-based. From there on, define a project to optimize your setup.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Great feedback - may be opting for paper...

                        Some very constructive feedback and all your comments are invaluable. I have read it all and carefully consider all the underlying ideas.

                        Moving into the cloud is very appealing and should be an obvious choice today as connectivity is less of an issue. I guess for many people this is easily done using e.g. iPhones, GMail, Google Docs and various mobile applications constantly syncing in the cloud and with company e-mail, calendars and tasks as well as personal content elsewhere. The benefits from this integration are very strong in a GTD context, but many larger corporations completely prohibits this kind of behavior and while David Allen now and then acknowledge such scenarios, much focus in communities and blogs is put into the idea of choosing your own tools and software. As mentioned earlier, I am no longer in a situation providing the luxury of cloud support and using my own digital tools.

                        So I seem to be in a situation, where I have to rethink/reinvent my approach to applying GTD to both work and personal life. Likely I will go for GTD basics and focus on methodology rather than high tech tweaking.

                        I like the mentioned idea of using the PocketMod for as an extremely condensed and portable paper based organizer, which can even be customized according to GTD principles. I do however completely fail to see how 8 pages can contain enough information; one page for a weekly calendar, a few pages for Next Actions (would prefer one for each context), one for Waiting For, one for Someday/Maybe, one for Projects and I would also like to have a sort of cover page. And that's it - how would anyone be able to make their GTD system fit into this? Do you exclude projects? Not even a single page for notes?

                        Speaking of paper based "platforms", I stumbled upon this interesting survey:
                        Techie goes analog again: comparison of paper based planners
                        http://beanoriginal.net/techie-goes-...ased-planners/
                        I am now at the point where going paper is a real consideration. As for a trusted device, local stores do not seem to focus on Filofax systems. While the combination of Filofax and D*I*Y planner seems to be a good way of implementing something GTD style, the A5 format makes things a bit bulky. Any experiences with something smaller like A6-like and Filofax?

                        Would a continuation of paper based GTD discussions be more suitable to take place in "Discuss Getting Things Done" and not here in "Getting Gear & Software for GTD"? Should I start a new thread on this?

                        As for real software tools, in addition to going the paper path, I do consider taking up TreePad (which I used years ago) as a brilliant pure text outliner and note taking tool. Together with applications from PortableApps.com, this could reside on a USB stick (e.g. KeePass, OpenOffice and Firefox/Chrome) and provide portability for my digital life. I also considered TaskCoach Portable (or myLifeOrganized) as a USB based list manager, but I would only be able to access this while @Computer - poor choice, I guess.

                        I imagine that going paper, will lead to dropping Outlook as a list manager as lists would be paper based. I am struggling a bit with visualizing e.g. my endless list of Someday/Maybe items as well as individual paper sheets on some 30-50 projects.

                        As for my calendars, this will of course require quite a bit of synchronization between Outlook and paper calendar. Maybe at the weekly review, I could secure that overlaps are addressed well ahead in time - e.g. making sure that business travelling goes into my paper planner and dentist like stuff goes into Outlook. During working hours, my work mobile will be synchronized with my Outlook calendar as this is the tool used in my organization.

                        Any feedback is highly appreciated - either on remaining digital in this setup or on how to go analog...

                        Tech
                        Last edited by Tech; 10-26-2010, 04:36 AM. Reason: Typos...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Tech View Post

                          I like the mentioned idea of using the PocketMod for as an extremely condensed and portable paper based organizer, which can even be customized according to GTD principles. I do however completely fail to see how 8 pages can contain enough information; one page for a weekly calendar, a few pages for Next Actions (would prefer one for each context), one for Waiting For, one for Someday/Maybe, one for Projects and I would also like to have a sort of cover page. And that's it - how would anyone be able to make their GTD system fit into this? Do you exclude projects? Not even a single page for notes?
                          I've tackled this as following:
                          - 1 pocketmod per context
                          - 1 pocketmod for projects, 1 for someday/maybe, 1 for waiting for, etc
                          - a small A5 notebook for capturing thoughts and making notes. When I attend a meeting, I have my A4 noteblock with me.

                          I've designed the pocketmods all the same: blanc cover, on which I put a label of the concerned context and the start- and enddate.
                          The pocketmods only have the lines with tickboxes in front. Action/project/whatever is complete, then tick the box. Put a cross on a page of which all actions are complete.
                          Whenever one pocketmod is full, I'll start using a new one. Currently my @agenda is the most important one, which needs to be replaced with a new one.

                          I'm still stumbling with the agenda. I've tried printing out my Outlook calendar regularly and take it with me, but this doesn't work for me. Company policy dictates I must use Outlook calendar though, so using only Google Calendar which syncs with my cell phone isn't a option. Next I've tried to export my Outlook Calendar to Google Calendar, but this requires too much effort, especially since my appointments change rapidly and the import doesn't delete the "old" appointments.

                          I am now at the point where going paper is a real consideration. As for a trusted device, local stores do not seem to focus on Filofax systems. While the combination of Filofax and D*I*Y planner seems to be a good way of implementing something GTD style, the A5 format makes things a bit bulky. Any experiences with something smaller like A6-like and Filofax?
                          Pick any system you suspect to be appropriate and give it a try. Modify when necessary.

                          As for real software tools, in addition to going the paper path, I do consider taking up TreePad (which I used years ago) as a brilliant pure text outliner and note taking tool. Together with applications from PortableApps.com, this could reside on a USB stick (e.g. KeePass, OpenOffice and Firefox/Chrome) and provide portability for my digital life. I also considered TaskCoach Portable (or myLifeOrganized) as a USB based list manager, but I would only be able to access this while @Computer - poor choice, I guess.
                          Lucky you, you can use USB
                          Portable apps cannot be started on my system (not even when downloaded via dropbox).

                          I imagine that going paper, will lead to dropping Outlook as a list manager as lists would be paper based. I am struggling a bit with visualizing e.g. my endless list of Someday/Maybe items as well as individual paper sheets on some 30-50 projects.
                          A seperate pcoketmod or DIY format for each list? And enjoy ticking them off on the fly, tossing a completed pocketmod in your drawer for reference and start using a blanc new one?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Tech View Post
                            Moving into the cloud is very appealing and should be an obvious choice today as connectivity is less of an issue.
                            I don't use Windows, so I can't advise in detail, but certainly Simplenote is a very good option. I'm not sure of any of the software listed here can be run without an install: http://simplenoteapp.com/downloads/ but you could take a look.

                            Likely I will go for GTD basics and focus on methodology rather than high tech tweaking.
                            Absolutely. What makes GTD is the habit and style that builds up over years. If I were in your situation, I'd go to my desk and pull out 50 5x3 index cards and a clip, and make a hipster pda again. It was my GTD implementation for 4 years, and served me well.

                            I imagine that going paper, will lead to dropping Outlook as a list manager as lists would be paper based. I am struggling a bit with visualizing e.g. my endless list of Someday/Maybe items as well as individual paper sheets on some 30-50 projects.
                            It's not that bad. It's fast, and works really well. The only danger is in losing it! So I used to have a scheduled task to photocopy my hipster every few weeks.

                            As for my calendars, this will of course require quite a bit of synchronization between Outlook and paper calendar.
                            I'd just use google calendar for this. I don't think paper diaries and calendars cut it any more.

                            Any feedback is highly appreciated - either on remaining digital in this setup or on how to go analog...
                            Happy to go into more detail on creating and using a hipster pda if you like.

                            S.

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