Getting Things Done, Continued…

It’s been about a week and a half since I started implementing David Allen’s’ Getting Things Done’ (GTD) productivity system so I thought I’d post an update about how it’s going. In short, this is some good ish! What David says about getting things out of your head and into a better system is so true. Now that I’ve written all of my ‘things’ down I feel (like Ice Cube said) ten pounds lighter — like somebody took a led helmet off of my head. Who knew that writing things down could be so powerful? 😉 But seriously, I’ve always been one to not write things down. In school I used to pride myself on not taking notes, I’d just try to memorize everything. (That stopped working so well in college.)

It took me a little extra time (a couple of hours) to get going because I was figuring out how to implement the system in my newly acquired Life Balance software. But once I got that set up it was smooth sailing. I’m actually very surprised that I even tried this system out in the first place. Not only did I not write things down, but I also loathed project planning. That’s due in large part to the micro-managing people I’ve worked for in the past. When I quit working for ‘the man’ I was so happy to not have to track my time to some super detailed project plan anymore. But my ‘project plan’ (outline) in GTD is far from being the monstrosity that any of “the man’s” project plans were. The beauty of it is that I can now easily see all the stuff that’s on my plate, each with a context assigned. For example, if I’m about to go to the store I can just pull up the ‘@Errands’ context and see if there’s anything else I could take care of while I’m out.

The system even makes it fun to get things done. Now that my mind is much more clear I’ve had new ideas for things I wanted to do just popping into my head like mad. Many of them were quick little things that I could do in 10 or 20 minutes, so I’d just go ahead and do them. But then I’d find myself going back and entering it into my outline just so I could check it off. (I’m not the only person who’s done that because after I’d done that a couple of time I read the next chapter in GTD and David mentioned that people do exactly that all the time.) I also like to see the graphs in Life Balance change as I check things off — it almost makes this whole process like a video game.

Those of you who are considering reading/implementing GTD I highly recommend that you do. Outlining, making lists and filing are such simple & basic things but they’ve make a huge difference (reminds me of some things I read in ‘The Tipping Point‘). I feel so much less stressed now even though I’ve been working just as hard as before. And if you’re going to use a Palm and/or a PC to implement GTD I suggest you take a look at Life Balance too. It’s a great program that’s well tailored to GTD. I think it takes part of the credit for making the system fun. It’s a very cool piece of software.

Oh yeah, I mentioned before that one of my nagging things was all of my unread books. After taking an inventory I found that I had exactly 50 books which I haven’t read, not counting the seven I just ordered from Amazon the other day. The dustiest one has been in my possession for 12 years. Isn’t that sad? Not to make myself seem like a total slacker, I have read about the same number of books over the last five or six years. So I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad about those unread books. Still, I’d get through a whole bunch of them. So I’ve scheduled time for me to read a few chapters per day. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish about three books per month. So assuming I stop buying them in batches of seven (half of the unread books were gifts) I should be caught up in about a year and a half. 🙂

The obvious question now is will I stick with the system for the long term. I’m certainly going to try my best to do so. I can’t see going back to my old (non) system. According to the 3 week rule I just have another week and a half to make GTD a habit.

The Creative Math Behind Elections

Boondocks mocking the electoral college and vote or die

Boondocks mocking the electoral college part 2

There’s a good article in the November Wired entitled “The Creative Math Behind Elections.” It breaks down the pros and cons of six different voting methods (plurality, instant runoff, Borda count, cumulative, approval, electoral college). You’ve gotta love this comment about the electoral college method: “It’s an embarrassing relic”. While none of the systems are perfect, they all seem better than the wack system we have now.

KRS-ONE Cheered 9/11?

I usually agree with much of what Kris says but every once in a while he goes just a little too far. This is via the EUR:

Prince isn’t the only artist ruffling feathers over 9/11-related issues. While serving as a panelist at The New Yorker Festival earlier this month, KRS-One blew the discussion out of the water when he said that he and other African Americans “cheered when 9/11 happened…I say that proudly.”

Thursday’s Rush & Molloy column in the “New York Daily News” reports the “You Must Learn” MC justified his opinion by saying that prior to the attack, World Trade Center security guards routinely stopped black people from entering “because of the way we talk and dress. So when the planes hit the building, we were like, ‘Mmmm — justice.’ [9/11] doesn’t affect us. 9/11 happened to them, not us. The rich . . . those who are oppressing us. RCA or BMG, Universal, the radio stations.”

KRS-One also spoke out against recent voter registration efforts by members of the hip-hop community.

“Voting in a corrupt society adds more corruption,” he said. “America has to commit suicide if the world is to be a better place.”

Fellow panelist and former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, who experienced first-hand the suicide of his bandmate Kurt Cobain, yelled at KRS: “That is wrong, man. Suicide is not the answer.”
In response to the Daily News story, KRS has released a statement to explain his comments.

“Like everyone,” I was shocked to read that I and other African-Americans actually ‘cheered when 9-11 happened,’ and that I have ‘declared my solidarity
with Al Qaeda.’

“I would never just say something as crazy as ‘we cheered when 9-11 happened’!” he continued. “I was making an objective point about how many hip-hoppas as well as the oppressed peoples of the world felt that day.”

The Blastmaster said that when he was asked why hip-hop has not “engaged the current situation more [meaning 9-11], my response was ‘because it does not affect us, or at least we don’t perceive that it affects us. September 11 happened to them.’ I went on to say that ‘I am speaking for the culture now; I am not speaking my personal opinion.’ ”

KRS stated that after he stated that the hip-hop community’s response to the attacks was “Mmmm … justice,” he had hoped to say, “Now of course, a lot of our friends and family were lost there as well,” but was interrupted.

In the lengthy statement, KRS went on to explain that his words were taken out of context and that some of what he said may have been misunderstood because “I am a poet and I speak poetically.”

With regard to his statement about America committing suicide in order for the world to become a better place, KRS explained: “If you want to go beyond voting, American interests must put a gun to its head and commit suicide, because as long as we are only interested in American interests, we go out and invade the rest of the world.”

Though he was saddened by 9-11, the rapper said, he and many members of his community who were “racially profiled and harassed by the World Trade Center’s security” felt a “sense of justice, a sense of change, a wake-up call watching the Twin Towers fall.”

“For the record,” KRS-One concludes, “I am an American philosopher. I speak and seek truth. And he offers an apology “… if the slander that the Daily News has printed regarding my political views has offended anyone in any way. However, we do have a voice and a point of view, and if you are not prepared to hear what hip-hop has to say about its view of world events, then don’t ask!”

I’ve Been Assimilated

A few weeks ago Anil mentioned the semi-cult that is the book and methodology ‘Getting Things Done’ (GTD). I don’t know how I’d never heard of this 3-year old book, but I guess it’s better late than never. After researching the book I knew I had to read it. I ordered it along with the author, David Allen’s, new book ‘Ready for Anything’, which is sort of an extension of GTD. I finished ‘Ready for Anything‘ during my vacation last week and was very impressed with it. So I was very ready to dive into GTD when I got back home. The basic premise of GTD is to get everything out of your head and into a system. The goal is to clear your head to allow you to relax, focus and think more clearly and creatively.

Right now I’m half way through the book and I’m ready to start implementing the system. My goal is to use my Treo 600 as much as possible. Last night I stumbled across a very interesting Palm application called Life Balance. Here’s a little bit about it:

Life Balance is a time and task management program that helps you focus on what’s really important to you and actively balance the often conflicting demands of career and personal life. Life Balance emphasizes the intrinsic importance that you’ve assigned to your projects and life goals, rather than arbitrarily filling every slot in your calendar. This helps you to spend your time and energy on what matters to you the most. You can be self-directed, and know that you are working toward long term goals while still managing your day to day routine.

It seems to be very well suited to GTD’s methodology so I decided to try it out instead of another program I was leaning toward. In fact the sample data they have in the app has given me several ideas for areas that I need to define as projects, tasks or goals. For example they’ve got a top-level goal called ‘relax and enjoy life’ which has subtasks of ‘listen to music’, ‘take a bubble bath’, ‘get a massage’ and ‘plan my next vacation’. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve stood in my shower looking at my bath tub and thought ‘I need to take a bath and cool out’ but I almost never do it. So that area really stood out to me. Some of their other top level goals are ‘earn a living’, ‘keep life organized’, ‘interact with family and friends’ and ‘take care of myself’. Each of those has subtasks that I probably wouldn’t have thought to put into the system but I’m certainly going to use them now that I’ve ‘discovered’ (Christopher Columbus style) them.

So back to GTD — like I said I’m now at the point where I’m ready to go around my house (and my head) to collect all my things that aren’t the way I want them to be. Some examples of my things that aren’t right and nag at me on some level:


  • Stacks of unread books, some that I’ve had for more than 10 years.

  • My unfinished Trading 101 series on my other blog.

  • The CDs I still haven’t burned for EJ.

  • Tons of ideas that I’ve had for my sites (design, functionality and content) that I’ve never written down, of which I’ve probably forgotten more than half.

  • The 592 messages in my email inbox. (A critical part of GTD is keeping your inbox(es) empty.)

  • The stacks of receipts, bills and mail that constantly clutter my desk.

I’m really looking forward to gathering all this stuff and processing and/or purging it as appropriate. I may just take the day off tomorrow and bang it all out. If you’re interested in GTD I suggest you check out the 43 Folders Blog, especially the “Getting started with ‘Getting Things Done'” article.

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It’s Been a Long Time…

Damn I’ve been neglecting this blog. At least I have a good excuse for not posting over the last week or so. I just got back from a much needed vacation in Rio. So now I’m all refreshed and ready to blog my ass off. 🙂

And speaking of it having been a long time, I know you’ve all picked up that new Mos Def CD — The New Danger. I’m reserving judgment until I’ve listened to it for about a week. I’m good for not liking CDs on first listen only to love them later. ‘Black on Both Sides’ was a great example of that. I wasn’t feeling it at all when I first got it. Then after a few listens it was one of my favorites of all time. I will say that my favorite track right now by far is ‘The Rape Over’. Mos nailed what’s going on in the rap industry on that song. And to do it in the style of Jay-Z’s ‘Take Over‘… nice, real nice.

P.S. I forgot to mention that Mos will be hosting Sucker Free Sunday on Halloween day. From the events section of his site:

MTV2’s Sucker Free Sunday

10/31/2004 – (TV Show)

Mos Def hosts Sucker Free Sunday which includes his own half hour concert special.

Don’t sleep!