Getting Down to Business

Getting Things Done – Week 1 (The Beginning)…

No, I’m not going to write about this daily, but I think a weekly update will be in order – at least for the first 30 days – or the first 30 days of each habit. First up? Getting my tasks out of my head and into a system so I can tend to them.

After exchanging text messages with one of my brides today, I realized I should clarify something – the whole anxiety & overwhelmed thing? It happened back in June. Oh, sure, I’ve been complaining ever since about all the stuff that needs to be purged from the house — and complaining without doing anything about it, which accomplishes nothing — but coming back from vacation, I am FRESH! RECHARGED! READY TO GO!

I set up my Hipster PDA on Monday night. It was a matter of walking into the kitchen, grabbing some index cards, a pen, and a binder clip. It took me about 1 minute to set up the core part of my whole system. No excuses not to do it!

Inspired by Syd’s Hipster PDA photo, I went to Office Depot yesterday for a supply run. I picked up 500 blank index cards, some half-sized index cards for carrying in small purses so I’m always sure to have some, and a card holder just like hers. Syd has been an inspiration for me since the day I met her years ago, so it is no surprise that she came through for me again! I’ve now got a stack of cards with things to do on them. Writing things out is step one for me; I’ll be starting to tackle the Inbox system as this week goes on.

Next up, I signed up for a few online services and set up software to help me out with tracking things that I need to do. I want my ultimate “bucket” of tasks to be the index cards of the Hipster PDA, but sometimes other things are faster. Here is what I have set up so far:

Jott (web service, iPhone App) – Mike has been using this for awhile. I questioned why on earth he would want to use it. Then I used it last night, and now I understand. (Sorry, Mike!) Basically, I have listed below what I can do with Jott (you can do more, but this is what I’m using). The service launched last night while I was setting it up, so it is no longer free – I paid $3.95 to test this for a month:
– I can call a special phone number from my registered phone and leave a message. When I do this, it is sent to me via email. Sounds pretty lame, right? But it isn’t! Sometimes, I can’t stop what I’m doing to write something out – talking is faster and easier, and safer if I’m driving. I think of something that I need to do, and in true GTD fashion, I put it in my Inbox. Perfect!
– I can use their iPhone software to record a 15 second message that it will then translate and save for me. Even better when in the car – *tap* call the mBrace Frisco Orthodontists and make appointment *tap* – now I have a reminder to call the dentist that i found at! (This is available for free on their basic plan.)
– Call Jott with my phone and add things to my Google Calendar! I tell it that I want to send a message to Google Calendar, say something like “August 22, 2008 at 1:30 pm hair appointment at Azur Salon.” and – bam! It is on my calendar! (Can you tell that I’m really excited about this feature?)
– Call Jott with my phone and send a message to Sandy. I’m on the fence on this one – I can never remember the right commands to use with it it seems, and it also seems to duplicate my other systems. I don’t want duplicates, so I think I’ll just continue to use the other features.

I Want Sandy (web service) – Yep, Mike has been using this one too. And I didn’t check it out until now. It seems to overlap my other things too much though, so I don’t know if I’ll use it often. Except for one really cool feature. When I type an email, if I CC my special super secret email address for Sandy, I can then add a line to the message that contains a reminder for me to do something. Today, I wrote to a client, and at the end of the message I included, “Sandy, remind me to check tomorrow and make sure that this is done.” Tomorrow morning, she’ll send me an email to remind me to check. When I go to empty my email inbox, I’ll see it and do it. Perfect!

GCal or Google Calendar (web service) – Elaine & I have been using this for months already to track our weddings and shoots, and other things going on in our life. It helps that we can see each other’s calendars, and can invite one another to events on it. I am already an established user, but figured it was worth linking to because I mentioned it when talking about Jott and my ability to phone in my appointments. Literally.

Things (Mac software, iPhone App) – I originally tested out this software a few months ago, and I really liked it. But I didn’t keep up with it, and let it fall to the side. Now I’m using the most recent version, and I’m really happy that I am! I keep it open on the Mac while I’m working, and whenever I think of anything I can just add what I need to do to my Inbox on Things. I will then transfer things to my notecards daily. That way, I can batch notecard writing. Yes, it is double work – but it means I don’t have to put down the laptop to pick up a pen & paper. It makes sense to me – we’ll see how it works.

I’m super extra excited that as of yesterday, Things can now sync with the Things App on the iPhone! So I can write things on the iPhone App (in case I have my phone, but not my notecards), and it will sync across to the desktop – and vice-versa! So the lists match. This brings me such joy. The iPhone App costs $9.99; the desktop software is currently free, and will cost $49 when version 1.0 is released.

Mail (Mac software) – I’m not keeping things in my email Inbox anymore that I need to do. This was probably a big cause of my stress before. Now, I’m following the fabulous advice of Leo at ZenHabits to Clear out your Inbox. I have set up five folders in my email account – @Archive, @Read, @Vendor Info, Files, Receipts. Each folder has a *very* specific purpose.
– @Archive – all email goes here if it doesn’t go into one of the other folders or get deleted. ALL email. The search features in Mail are strong enough to help me find anything I might need – so no more sorting emails into all sorts of different folders. I don’t keep up with this. But I’m on top of putting it all in one folder!
– @Read – if something really deserves to be read in depth, or has a link to a website that I need to go spend more than 2 minutes reading, it goes here. It can not live here for more than roughly 1 week. After that, it is off to the Archive. (I need to set a date to do this. Adding a note right now to Things…)
– @Vendor Info – I get emails from vendors. Specials, new products that they offer, whatever. I’m putting them here for now if they are worth keeping at all.
– Files – If I make a business purchase that involves receiving files via email (actions, ebooks, etc.), they go here.
– Receipts – I didn’t want to mix these in with the @Archive – I want to be able to retrieve and print them easily for tax and business purposes.

I drew a line in the sand of the date before I left for California, and I’m sorting those emails piece by piece. Anything before 7/19/08 that wasn’t already in the Files or the Receipts folder already has been moved into the @Archives folder. Everything after 7/19 gets an item in Things if it needs one, gets moved to a folder, or gets deleted. My inbox will be EMPTY!!! by this weekend.

I feel pretty confident in the system so far. I’m sure I’ll be tweaking them over time, and I’ll report here as I do. But I’m moving forward, and noting every single thing I think of that I need to do right when I think of it – which is liberating in a way I can’t even explain.

On a side note, because I’ve been working on this, I haven’t been knitting. Oops. I’m not going to make the deadline of the Knitting Olympics (Ravelympics), but that is ok. Working on this is going to give me more free time, which equals more knitting time, which makes me quite happy!

I’m working my way to the mind like water state, and it feels goooooood. I’m about to start reading Zen to Done by Leo, the owner of the ZenHabits site. I’m really looking forward to it – I enjoy his writing. You can pick up a copy too. eBook in PDF format with instant download, and it only costs $9.50!

By Christine

Christine is an Avenger of Sexiness. Her Superpower is helping Hot Mamas grow their Confidence by rediscovering their Beauty. She lives in the Heights in Houston, Texas, works as a boudoir photographer, and writes about running a Business of Awesome. In her spare time, she loves to knit, especially when she travels. She & her husband Mike have a food blog at Spoon & Knife.

6 replies on “Getting Things Done – Week 1 (The Beginning)…”

You should also check out Evernote. It is my favorite capture tool! You can access it via the web and you can copy and paste stuff in and organize it into notebooks. Plus I have it on every computer and my iPhone and it syncs via the web so it’s accessible anywhere. The concept is that it’s one big long roll of paper that never ends.

I copy a lot of relevant stuff- helpful message board tips, confirmation codes, etc. Seriously check it out. It’s so simple it’s scary.

I like your Archive system! I have over a thousand emails in my inbox. Periodically, I go through them and sort them into folders but I think I will start and Archive folder and put them all in there.

I have a simple “to do” system (simpler than yours since I don’t work). I have a large notebook designed specifically for keeping track of things to do. I have one page with a sticky on it that lists long-term project. Then the most recent page lists the short-term projects. When the short-termers get done, or when a majority of them are done, I start a new page and transfer all the un-done projects plus any new ones to it. For some reason, “call dentist” has been on my list since January. hehe

Funny, I’m half way through Getting Things Done but hadn’t committed at all. I’m more interested now in actually following through … I’m also midway through Zen to Done but haven’t implemented it either. I’m scared of the added layers of work, I think.

I use Jott, IWantSandy, and Recorder (just added Evernote but haven’t really started using it yet) but I find that Sandy isn’t as helpful because I can’t get the voice commands to work perfectly for me. Jott’s pretty cool – I use it frequently to text people while driving. It’s about 80% accurate for me. I’m looking forward to upgrading to the new Jawbone to see it gets more accurate with a better Bluetooth tool.

Oh my dear, you are inspiration to me as well. I’m liking mine. I was offline all weekend at a belly dance retreat and workshop, but I took my little “pda” and kept up with new friends emails/addresses, stores to check out, music to download, dance move to practice and so much more it was great and I never had to sync it. I’ve also tried Jott but not used it’s full potential. I use gcal for our house hold chores too, a calendar Chris and I share, it’s great. And, someone mentioned Evernote up there, that looks like an awesome app. Have a great day (sometime I put that on my to do list just to keep it in mind).

Excellent post! I’ll let people know about it so they can come here for getting started. I love your spirit.

When I first started doing the GTD thing (read the book/joined a GTD “support group” LOL) in Dec 2006 I was like, “2 years until you’re a GTD Jedi!? Fugghedaboutit!” But then, over the past (nearly) 2 years much of it has become second nature. I practice Inbox Zero so I have no emails to deal w/at the end of the day. I love using OmniFocus. I am learning to better delegate. All these skills really do take years to develop.

I’m not going to throw anymore tools, tips, tricks or hacks your way but please hit me up if you discover a wall you can’t knock down or reach a place where your energy to do this wanes. I’ll help you where I can (and not just on the GTD front b/c now I’m starting to sound like a cult member).

Good luck!! <3

you know, I had started to use the evernote and it has made a huge difference. I can now remember to schedule my waxing appointment without losing my to-do list!

Comments are closed.