You can get more productive with Getting Things Done by using some tricks with your favorite app. The following list distills my best findings so far.
- Multi Tagging: Use an app that allows you to index AND access the information how you need it. I’m a big fan of the flat hierarchy multi-tagging gives you. In a next action list, you can use tags for the contexts, for the type of thing (weekly goal, habit), for projects etc. You define how much structure you need instead of being forced to put all actions into lists/folders, give them a priority etc.
- Free Context Work: Most to-do apps are focused to define priorities and due-times for actions. They want to give every action a definite date when it needs to be completed. This is not GTD! David Allen says your calendar is sacred territory, you only put up the absolutely necessary items that need to be done at a specific day. The other time of our day is free. Grab a context that you like to work in, that you feel to work in now, and go ahead — do as much and as long as you like to. Don’t populate your daily planning with things you do not need to do.
- Unimportant Next Actions: You do what is on your to-do list. Fill it with small things, like groceries to get or internet pages to check, and you will do just this stuff. Or fill it with “Check local meetup groups” or “Enroll online education course” you will do this. The choice is yours.
- No Number of Items: At first, I disliked that my to-do app has no badge or on-screen number of items per context, list etc. Meanwhile, I really like this. Why? You can get distracted with the number and try to get it to zero. But this is not the goal. GTD is about putting information in the right bucket, but how to process it best — that is decided by your priorities. If your work on a project, and the next action is obvious, just do it, you do not need to put it into a next action list.
- Next Action Aging: If you feel like constantly adding new items instead of finishing your next actions, if you never touch specific actions, this can really demotivate you. Just give your next actions a maturity date, like “age1”, “age2” etc. Delete the item once it is simply to old.
These are my tricks. If you find them helpful, please comment, mail me or like this article.