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Looking for the Ultimate GTD Calendar/Task List/Killer App - am I crazy on this?

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  • Looking for the Ultimate GTD Calendar/Task List/Killer App - am I crazy on this?

    Ok, first time poster with a few questions. I've glanced at the book, and keep track with tech gadgets and productivity processes to manage things. I'm good at doing the workflow processing for my work emails - but I just can't seem for the life of me to get this integrated into my long term goals. Part of it is the ADD I have which means MAJOR issues with organizing (with executive functioning) but part of it could be a what I'm trying to do - hence me posting here. I've asked various ADD communities, but figured I should ask this one as well

    I want a daily task list, calendar, and Long Term Goals agenda thingy that may not exist - unless you can help me find it. I have Google calendar and tasks lists in Gmail because I'm online almost all the time (I work in tech and have access to wifi lots of the time) and use frameworks for 'SMART' goals... but I can't seem to do any long term planning with them. I have a list of high level goals on 43 things.com but that's just saying the goal ('learn French') and not the steps I need to do it. I have my own wiki on WetPaint where I've broken down the tasks into a table - 'large goal' and then the 'little tasks' to achieve that goal. But it's a table of data, and not a calendar, which would help integrate the tasks with some deadlines.

    I've tried to figure this out - is it a formatting vs. medium thing? i.e.

    CALENDAR:

    'Day at a Glance'
    Pros: lets you plan immediate short term tasks - 'pick up groceries'
    Cons: not good for long term planning

    Month at a glance
    Pros: lets you plan long term of 'life goals'
    Cons: not good for day to day stuff. Same for week at a glance.

    MEDIUM:

    Electronic:
    Pros: lets me integrate online calendars (events in RSS etc.) and emails to day-to-day tasks.
    Cons: writing them down on paper helps me get them done, and I don't want to be online *all* the time.

    Paper: (i.e. Daytimer/weekly planner)
    Pros: Take it with me anywhere (I guess a mobile app would be ok for this too)
    Cons: It's not online and doesn't integrate with emails etc.

    Part of it is figuring out the right choice - month/week/day vs. long term, electronic vs. paper, practical goals vs. impractical, mental goals vs. other goals. I'd like to achieve some balance on my goals - do at least one thing each day to be well emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually. The only thing I've found that even breaks down the goals by life areas like that is (Life Balance) and I'll try it out, but curious what other people have used successfully - because that Life Balance thing doesn't quite incorporate what I need either. (Sigh, I know - I'm too picky, and a designer to boot). Is there some secret journal/app I can buy that I've just not heard about? Pleeeease help me find it

    What have people done to overcome the limitations on formatting? How you do things that get things done without overplanning/procrastinating/all the usual lovely parts of living with ADD? I know I'm overthinking this, but curious what other people have found helpful. What other variables do you use to decide how to organize? Has anyone tried what FlyLady's talked about? Her system seems well organized but feels like I'm signing up for a BootCamp and not a simple way to get organized.

    Thanks! Apologies for the length - err, I can't blame ADD for that one

  • #2
    You seem to be doing all the classic time management activities that don't work. Congratulations! You're in good company. You need to read the GTD book, not just browse it. Top-down organizing is just not very effective, and planning life goals before you have projects and next actions under control is futile for most people. Let's take "Learn French" as a possible project. What does that mean to you? Forget "SMART" goals- do you want to be fluent, learn enough to get around Paris for an upcoming trip, what? Once you know that, what's the very next step? Look at amazon for reviews of book/audio combos? See if there are local courses you could take? Reflect on your learning style? Whatever it is, put it on a list where you will see it when you can do it, and do it. Then do whatever comes next. This will work. You can do all this with almost any calendar/list manager combination you like. However, the more "powerful" the tools you start with, the more likely you are to fail. If you are familiar with Outlook, you might want to look at the outlook set-up guide, or one of the other set-up guides from Davidco. (The one exception is the Omnifocus guide, which was written by the developers, and is not as useful.) The basic set-up is not complicated, but there's no silver bullet. Good luck!

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    • #3
      Use what works

      No, you are not crazy, lol. What to use for GTD seems to be a stumbling block for lots of people. You need to use what works for you (and yes, you may bumble about a bit until you figure out what that is). I use Outlook on the computer and Pocket Informant (which syncs with Outlook) on my windows mobile phone. I like using an electronic calendar/to do list because I can get both the short term and long range views of my calendar and projects. I integrate my life and long-term goals into this software, as well. I don't want to have to go to a lot of different places to look at what I'm doing.

      Flylady's program of organization works well for a lot of people. It's based around the fact that you can do almost anything for 15 minutes. String enough of those segments of time together over a course of the week in a focused way and you can perform miracles. She's also a great believer in having set routines to do each day to maintain the order you've created.

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      • #4
        Sounds exactly like the old Franklin Ascend software

        I was addicted to that in the early 90s! I thought it was a pretty cool PIM that ran on Windows 3.0/3.1. In retrospect, I really spent too much time with it, even printing out each day's journal to neatly file in my book and then archive each month.

        Now on my home computer which runs Linux, I use Tomboy notes, basically notes with hyperlinks to each other. I create one for each month with links to previous months. I highlight undone scheduled tasks, then unhighlight when done. I have been sticking with it for a while now and it really works for me.

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        • #5
          Several thoughts

          OP,

          If you are like many GTD'ers, the allure of whatever setup you don't currently have will be a recurring theme. If you set out to use paper, you will be drawn to the advantages of electronic. If you use electronic, you will be drawn to the advantages of using paper.

          I currently use a system that allows me to use the best aspects of both, but it is very tailor-made to my own needs. With it, I can review a day at a time as well as a week or a month. I carry a paper planner but can enter data into my smartphone or my desktop computer and have access to it, Web access or no.

          However, it takes some effort to have any part of any of my information available to me quickly anywhere.

          So, the point of this is that any system you adopt will have to adapt to your evolving needs. Believe me when I say these will change.

          As for the executive difficulties you face, I can relate.

          If you want a REALLY GOOD START, a system that is highly effective, then buy yourself a bound notebook (steno pad, Moleskine, etc.). I prefer approx 5x8 size for several reasons, including the balance between space and portability.

          This notebook will be your capture tool for everything. Don't tear anything out. You want it bound because, until you have your system well-established, you want to be able to go back to the raw data. Eventually it will not be necessary. A bound capture tool has hidden advantages.

          From there, you need to make a choice: paper or digital. Remember, all you need are lists and folders... lists of stuff to do, stuff to remember, stuff others are doing, and folders of stuff that you want access to even if there's nothing to do about it.

          For paper, a 8.5x11 Goldfibre notebook from the office supply place can work well. It's a spiral top-bound notebook with nice paper. This notebook will contain your lists (refined from the captured data). Writing by hand is slower, so you will need to make sure you ask the key processing questions ahead of time.

          For digital, the answer is not as simple. It depends on where you go, what you carry with you, what you like using, and what information you want where when and how.

          Overall, there is only one piece of software I know of that can provide you with all of the things you have described. It is only available for Blackberry, at least for now. You will still capture some things on paper, and then input them. However, you can look at things from any perspective. The only issue is that the software can do so much that it takes a long time to set it up perfectly FOR YOU... kind of like wearing in a pair of jeans until they fit you perfectly. However, you can do anything that GTD wants you to do and see any information you want to from whatever vantage point you want. The software suite is from Rexwireless. With it, my phone can do everything I did on paper, but better.

          I still LIKE paper, though, so I will often just pull out paper for mind mapping and brainstorming and then put the end results into that software.

          I don't know of any other software that will allow you to do all of those things. It was created from the get-go to be a GTD-oriented software... and they have it down to a science... to the point of counting keystrokes. You can take a text message, email, phone number, appointment, note, scribble, scratch, or whatever, and turn it into an action item, on the right list, visible when and where you want it.

          I don't mean to sound much like a salesman here. I am hoping to save you some hassle searching.

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          • #6
            My 2c worth

            I was trying to formulate the perfect answer but I don't have time so (to quote Flylady) "Progress, not prefection" and here is my 2c worth.

            If reading is a problem for you due to your ADD buy the audio version of the book. I listen to it while I am doing other things and find that it sinks in that way. I have also read the book and I do it in baby steps, a little at a time.

            Flylady is GREAT. Period. I highly recommend it. Yes it can feel a little like boot camp but after a while you are seeing that she's giving you tools and it is up to you whether or not you do them. I have been a member for 4 years and I still don't have the routines down pat but they are a lot more automatic now. After doing her system and de-cluttering constantly, I am finally ready for GTD. Before now I wouldn't have been able to stick with it. It is too organised for my natural personality. It is through doing Flylady that I am in a position to listen and not get side-tracked doing other, often creative, mess making activities. My house is now clean 99% of the time so I have room to do the GTD activities.

            I was taking to my fiancee about your post. He laughed because it sounds so much like me. I am always looking for the 'best' thing to solve my problems. Unfortunately I have come to realise that it is not the tools that solve the problems but oneself. John said to tell you that there are pros and cons for everything. Look for what has the least cons for you and the most pros. I say, go for whatever ties into your personality the most. I LOVE paper. I scrapbook, I love to jot notes on stray pieces of paper and I doodle regularly. Computers scare me. I love the internet and I am on it most of the day but if anything goes wrong I get scared. This is something I am working on but who knows when it will change. My fiancee John however is a computer god. He uses computers for everything! When he helped me set up GTD he convincingly told me all the benefits of a computerised system. He bought me an iPod Touch so that I could use Toodledo like he does. It works but I forget to check it. It doesn't feel 'right' to me. When I use a calendar and files with pretty stickers on them and lots of colour I am excited to use my system!

            What out of the options makes you WANT to do the system? If nothing does yet then I suggest signing up to Flylady first for 6 months. Focus on what she suggests and let go of some of the baggage you may have about allowing other people to tell you what to do. Yes you are in control of your life! However one of the best tips I picked up through years of personal development that I did was that winners get tips from mentors. Most 'successful' people have mentors. Why reinvent the wheel and learn how to do things that someone else can advise you on. Focus your energies on learning things that matter to YOU. It sounds to me like having a system like GTD is not on that list at the moment. Guess what? That IS ok. Sometimes it is hard to think that you may have different priorities than other people. I know I struggle with this.

            What I have spoken about may not apply to you, or it may. Before you discount it, read what I have to say and see how it makes you feel. Ha ha ha now I sound like a shrink. Sorry. Just that this is how I see if things are right for me. If my words make you angry then I may have hit a nerve. See why you are angry. If my words have no meaning to you at all then I may have missed your point entirely. Either way, good luck

            Allie

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            • #7
              Buy the new GTD Implementation Guide in PDF and David's first book. Read them very carefully. Twice. Use a paper system for at least two weeks. Maybe four. After that, you will be far better informed regarding the application that fits you best.

              rdgeorge

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              • #8
                Get an iPad -- seriously awesome GTD tool. Lots of app options on it and easier to manage actions and projects than on a phone especially when you are away from your desktop computer for long periods.

                If you like paper, you will love the iPad as some of the apps mimic handwriting so well while giving you other amazing opportunities with an electronic device

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by alsa View Post
                  Get an iPad -- seriously awesome GTD tool. Lots of app options on it and easier to manage actions and projects than on a phone especially when you are away from your desktop computer for long periods.

                  If you like paper, you will love the iPad as some of the apps mimic handwriting so well while giving you other amazing opportunities with an electronic device
                  What apps/tools on the iPad do you recommend for GTD?

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