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Disclaimer: The entries you find in these pages are based on my individual opinions and thoughts. Some of the entries may be just plain wrong, and others harmful. Should you choose to act on, or try, anything you find on this site, you assume any and all risks associated with your actions. So there.


Getting Things Done

June 9, 2007

I'm definitely not a self-help book reader. Being a Christian, I have a healthy suspicion of things under my own power— but that is a different blog. Anyway, being a non-self-help book reader, I have avoided the whole "Getting Things Done" genre of things. But, a friend of mine gave me a copy of kGTD. Not knowing what the initials meant whatsoever, I took a trip to the kGDT website.

Upon arriving, I decided to view the intro video, linked from the page (above). What I witnessed left me in awe. Not that the software excited me, it did not. In fact, it looked more cumbersome than I would have hoped. No, what excited me was the very simple concept of making Tasks Lists based on the Context in which the task can be done— then doing items grouped by context, not project. Since that is mainly how my life operates already, except my model is based on interruptions more than anything else, it was a profound moment.

It was profound enough for me immediately to look at and buy (on Amazon) David Allen's Getting Things Done. I finished the book today, and it has already changed my outlook. Will I transform my world by it? I'm not sure for how long, but I can say that I have already cleared my desk and set down the road toward a more directed method of handling my day.

The key concept that brought me here, the one of organizing by context, is not the one that will keep me here. It is nice, but I found when I tried to implement it in my own way, it fell short. So I determined to read the whole book before I tried to re-order my world. Right away Allen introduces a concept that I know will work for me. That is one of keeping your head entirely clear of the tasks of the day/week/month/year/life— and at that point he promises the rest of the book will teach you how. He had me at "clear."

I have spent the last several years trying to get my inbox in front of me, or "in my way," so that I will deal with it. I knew that 1) I would never remember to do things on time, and 2) as many times as I tried, I never looked at "To Do Lists." Those two problems pretty much shot-down the whole idea of generalized organizational tools— such as my unused Palm Pilot and software. Oh sure, I use a calendar, and that has been sacrosanct, but it never successfully incorporated a list of things to be done that didn't have specific dates and times.

So, I put things in my way. That means physically placing things where I would trip over them, or have to move them. It also meant directing things to my email inbox. My inbox is the one place I consistently review, and I somehow developed the habit years ago of keeping my inbox down to a single screen. I constantly tell people "you can't tell me anything, email it to me." Even my wife caught on. If it lands in my inbox, I deal with it— eventually, anyway.

Allen sets out the concept that you have to have an inbox (or inboxes, but not many) that you process regularly. Then you either define projects from items, file items away or trash these items as you process your inbox. This is very similar to how I already handled email— I just needed to think about paper and other things in a similar fashion.

Allen's premise is that you must get all of these inbox items into an external system that you trust in order to get them out of your head. If you haven't gotten them out of your head, your head will constantly remind you of them (at all the wrong times) and your conscience will create a growing, non-specific, burden upon you. Sound familiar? No more for me. I knew that if what he was teaching would help me clear my head, and trust my external system, I would do it.

So, I set up an Outliner program with my Projects Lists, assigning a Next Action to each item, and a Context to each Next Action. Then I expanded the concept of my Projects Lists to incorporate everything in all aspects of my life. Ok, not everything, not yet, but everything that has occurred to me so far. I treated my entire desk as an inbox, and processed everything into my lists, or filing, or trash. I still have to tackle my bookshelves and countertop, but all of the stuff that is related to current things in my life has been touched.

You won't believe how freeing it is.

AppleCare Redux

June 9, 2007

A while back I wrote an entry about getting AppleCare. My main premise was that, in Charleston, SC, at least, it was the only way to get local hardware repairs. And it was onsite too boot. Not any more. Charleston finally has it's own Apple Authorized Repair center, L2 Technologies. No more onsite repair— you have to carry it in now. Darn. But at least we have someone local. If I ever find a website for them, I'll link it.