When I went to Bucharest, I had quite a lot of travelling, sitting in airports and so on, which gave me the opportunity to read Getting Things Done at last. Reading a hardcopy book offline is something I don’t often get around to these days, which is unfortunate — in fact doing so more is one of my resolutions for 2007!

To be honest, GTD didn’t change my life. Not because I don’t think it’s a great system, but because it didn’t teach me anything particularly new. I have always had something of a … busy … life. During my degree, I was doing a full-time course and working 4 part-time jobs for MOST of the duration. Even at school, I did the equivalent of about 10 A-Levels in my final couple of years, in addition to writing & directing plays, taking part in science, maths and language competitions and playing waterpolo and hockey. That level of different activities to be juggled teaches you very good time management and a host of stress management coping strategies 😉

As a result, I already had a lot of the GTD strategies nailed. However, the two key things I learnt from reading the book were:

  1. Everything I was already doing for work/academic, I should just extend into all areas of my life. Compartmentalising is not always useful.
  2. Contexts are a great tool for making todo lists even more useful.

Taking on those two adjustments, I now have a process I’d call GTD Lite. The fundamental tools are a robust todo list, a rigorously updated calendar (covering meetings, deadlines and future-date reminders), a project list and regular review of all the above. I also use little habits like email blitzes, feed blitzes and urgent/important prioritization to keep it all moving quickly.

All in all, I’m glad I read the book — it was a great reminder of what works for me, what doesn’t and what can bring stress relief even if it can feel like more “process” work.

For others interested in GTD, I’d recommend: