Elgan: 'Getting Things Done' to go

Three free tools power the ultimate GTD system for digital nomads.

I'll admit it. I'm one of those annoying "Getting Things Done" fanboys. I love David Allen's productivity system, which he lays out in three books: Getting Things Done, Ready For Anything and the brand-new Making It All Work.

I recommend that everyone buy all three books. They pay for themselves -- both the time and money you invest -- in weeks or even days. And the peace of mind his system gives you is priceless.

If you'd like to first familiarize yourself with Allen's methodology, please check out the Wikipedia or WikiSummaries entries. (Note: Normally, Computerworld does not reference wiki-based information, but I can vouch for the fidelity of both these entries.)

Allen's system is flexible; you can choose your own software and systems for storing your information. His suggestions, however, default to physical in-boxes, ink pens, index cards and paper folders as primary methods for collecting, processing, organizing and reviewing actions, projects, goals and the like.

Most technology-loving people (the kind who would be reading this article on this site) avoid the physical and gravitate toward the digital, usually Microsoft Outlook. Dedicated Getting Things Done (GTD) applications exist. Mobile professionals add a smart phone to the mix for capturing ideas and information.

All this is great. But for digital nomads, there are three missing elements to the standard setup used by most GTD enthusiasts.

1. Ability to capture hands-free. Sometimes you can't stop what you're doing and type on a smart phone, but you need to capture an idea or send yourself a reminder.

2. Graceful handling of recurring tasks. Many of our tasks are recurring actions -- daily, weekly, monthly or even annually. And it's great to be able to quickly switch frequencies (from, say, daily reminders to weekly).

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Mike Elgan

Computerworld
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