Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Getting more done.

I'm a big GTD (Getting Things Done) proponent, which means that I create a list of things that need to be done and do my best to accomplish them, or at least realize that I'm not going to do a specific thing for a reason.

I'm also a minimalist. I prefer to have the least amount of crap that I need. When I'm done with something I give it away or throw it away. I don't like to keep things that I don't need and won't use again.

Lately I've been lacking on both fronts. I've accumulated piles of things that I know I don't need, and I haven't been accomplishing as many things as I could and should be.

The problem appears to be that I spend too much time on odd random things that have aren't accomplishing anything and don't fit with any of my life goals. Mainly, I spend too much time watching television. I love watching baseball, and try to accomplish something of use while doing it, but I tend to get distracted by the play and just sit and stare.

The solution is that I'm working on making checklists of things to do. I subscribe to Productivity501, and I'm using the habits checklist that he created, if you want it, you'll have to subscribe to his RSS Feed.. I have made a list of habits that I want to have that match up with things that I want to be doing in both my personal and professional life. I have recently cleaned up my TODO lists. They were overrun with tasks that were completed and no longer necessary. I had too many reference notes where they didn't belong, and not enough details on some things. Now my task lists are more focused and detailed with only the things that I need to do. I'm looking at trying out some new software to help organize these. I love the interface for MonkeyGTD, and I've been using it for quite some time now, but there are some severe limitations that are causing me pain. For someone just getting started this is a great tool, but as you grow, you may find that you also outgrow this tool.

I've also cleaned up and organized better my use of the TiddlyWiki. I've grown to like this more than MonkeyGTD. It just stores the data that you type, and lets you type your lists and add notes quickly by turning a list item into a new Tiddler (think page).

I'm also looking for other tools that will help me. We've started using Swift To-Do Lite at home. This has been working well. We use it to track todo items that Erin wants to add to my list, as well as to keep track of groceries that we need. The checklist function is nice and it can be printed.

The bigger issue though has been distractions. When I'm on the computer, I try to not let myself wander. If I notice that I'm not doing something that helps me accomplish something on my list somewhere, then I'm not doing something worth-while. If what I'm doing is interesting enough that I want to continue. I add it to my list. But the bigger distraction is the TV. Erin and I have discussed it and both have agreed that it's time to turn it off. Today the cable man came and turned off our television. We now only have the 5 channels that we can get with the antenna. That removes almost all baseball distractions, and most of my football distractions. With football just around the corner I won't be as tempted to sit in front of ESPN all day on Saturday, and then the networks all day on Sunday. Plus I'll no longer get Monday Night football now that it's on ESPN. There are now 6-10 more hours a week that I won't have the TV distracting me, and I'll probably start getting dizzy with the amount of things that I will accomplish.