I am trying to use this trendy, new-ish organizational methodology called Getting Things Done (GTD). It’s been growing in popularity among geeks that I respect. I first discovered it through 43 Folders, a really great site for Macintosh and GTD geeks.
For the past 6 months, I have also been using a web-based tool called Basecamp that is pretty good for organizing projects and group communication. (And it’s free for very small accounts.) I really like Basecamp, and it has been especially helpful for tracking information so that my clients and I can both see it.
But Basecamp is not set up for GTD-style organization. And I am wrestling with it to make behave it how I need (more on that below). My other dilemma is that so much of my work happens via e-mail. And then there are a few stubborn things that exist on paper. The key to the GTD method is having an organizational system that you can trust so that your get ideas documented and filed away in the right place so you know nothing will fall through the cracks.
There are so many different ways to do GTD, I’m just not sure which will work best for me. Some do it on paper, some use index cards, some use a wiki, some use their e-mail, some use special software, and so on. So the important thing is that I really need to get everything in one place – should I consolidate it in my e-mail (send to-do’s to myself and then save them in IMAP folders) or in Basecamp (copy and paste e-mail messages into web-based notes)? Oy!
Here is my concept for making Basecamp work for GTD. (This will only make sense to GTD geeks, so if you are not one, skip the rest of this post and go read this to learn about GTD and this for the Zen approach.)
In Basecamp you can assign tasks to various people, and you can view a list of all tasks assigned to each person. So I made a bunch of “people” who are all different contexts for tasks, ie: @ PHONE, @ INTERNET, @ LAPTOP, @ WAITING, etc. So now it’s easy to see everything by context, but a little harder to see the big picture for myself. I can still see each project’s tasks by going to the To-Do section of that project, though.
I think I will make a parallel set of folders for each context in my e-mail. That’s not too hard. But I am really resisting doing stuff on paper. Boy do I hate paper!
Is anyone else using similar tools? How do you make it work?