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"Getting Things Done" tools or templates?

I've just started reading David Allen's "Getting Things Done".

What tools or templates do you use to keep track of your task list? I haven't gotten far into the book, but I've read how he advices to break your tasks down into projects, have a simple workflow, etc.

I suppose just using Word or Excel would work just fine, but I was curious if other people had a better way.

(I think this was asked here a while back,  but the thread is long gone now...)

Mark Hoffman
Wednesday, March 3, 2004

I both use and like <g> the features in Enterprise Architect for tracking (and forecasting) tasks per use case scenario.

Joe Hendricks
Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Some people use Ecco

Wednesday, March 3, 2004

"break your tasks down into projects"

Wrong. A project is a goalpost - something to remind you that you will need to take another action once one action is done. The example in the book is changing the wheel on your tire. That's the project. The actual next steps are something like:

Okay, I don't know where the store is and, I should call to get some prices. John knows a lot about cars I should CALL JOHN. So CALL JOHN is the actual next action. Once you CALL JOHN you need to take another action - call the store he told you to call. The Project is just there to remind you to put an item on your to do list (or a waiting for) once you've completed an action.

The way you organize your tasks is not by project, you organize your tasks by situation. I.e. "Phone Calls" "At the Computer" "Errands." This is like putting Motor Oil down on your shopping list, even though it isn't food or a something for the house - you put it there because they sell Motor Oil in the supermarket. By the same token, you can make phone calls from the airport, but you upgrade the server. So having all your phone calls on a dozen different lists doesn't make as much sense as putting all your phone calls in one place.

In practice, I have three to-do lists.

1. My Inbox - an e-mail is a strong reminder that you need to do something.
2. Computer Based Task List & Calender - because if I'm at the computer it's easier to type myself a quick to-do item than write it down.
3. Paper - because I haven't converted to Palm yet (really, I'm a luddite). We've discussed the benefits of paper here before.

Everything that has to be done has to be done, so I keep it on one list, and put a box in the margin to check off once it's done. Maybe I'll doodle a little phone symbol, or something on the right side if I think it's important to keep a closer eye on this item.
Wednesday, March 3, 2004

> but you upgrade the server

but you can't upgrade the server
Wednesday, March 3, 2004

I still have the original thread saved into a Word document. If anyone wants it just email me.

Wednesday, March 3, 2004

"What tools or templates do you use to keep track of your task list?"

My brain. Seriously. :)

Sum Dum Gai
Wednesday, March 3, 2004

I'm a big David Allen convert, after reading the first book a little more than 6 months ago.  It definitely gave me a massive increase in productivity.

As far as tools go, I've really become hooked on my Palm: I'm using Key Suite to keep track of tasks, and Natara Bonsai to create project plans. 

I also got the "Getting Things Done" Outlook add-in, which is a huge boost in my email processing.

At David Allen's site (, there are often discussions in the forums there about tools and methods for keeping things out of your head, and keeping psychic RAM clear.  ;)


Michael Murray
Wednesday, March 3, 2004

I'm working on this. .  I've read the book (it's good) and I'm taking a free class at Barnes & Noble university.

It's (for me) a non-trivial task.

I'd LIKE to have my work organized so that I can sit down every day and not worry about the "big picture". Have it all organized so that I only have to look at today.

I know that sounds like a simple task, but I find it difficult.  Part of my strength as a business owner is my ability to project things into the fugure.  That was great when we started and I could really only visualize out 6 to 12 months.

Now that we've been around for 9 years, I can visualize out a lot further and it bogs me down.  I start to write some code and before I know it I'm planning out 4 new programs.  Sighh...

Oh... here's another idea...  perhaps some out of work programmer will really master this system and write a variant of Outlook that incorporates the GTD system and email and a contact manager. Heck, I'd settle for a GOOD contact manager that also does email.  (Goldmine is the closest I've found).

The real Entrepreneur
Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Opps... posted this before reading Michael's comment above.

Maybe the Outlook pluggin would work for me.... if I still had Outlook :-)

The real Entrepreneur
Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Sum Dum Gai--
Have you read the book this thread is about?

Thursday, March 4, 2004

A todo.txt file, open all day long in Emacs.  Move lines around as the tasks' priorities change.

Thursday, March 4, 2004

I have read the GTD book and I'm a huge fan of it.

It boosted by productivity, and also helped me have a clear head - I don't have to worry about forgetting anything.

I use MS Word for keeping tasks, projects and next action lists.

I also use my mobile phone to have the information with me when I am not at work or at home.

For this, I simply copy/paste the contents of the Word document into a text file, and upload it to my mobile phone.

I use a free midlet called MicroReader to read the text and to search in it.

It is a good midlet :), but I think it only works on Siemens phones.

There are a lot of options available if you have a Java-enabled phone.

Thursday, March 4, 2004

I nibble at the tasty edges and occasionally take great mouthfuls of harder stuff (because its good for me), then I nibble some more.

Nibbling is its own reward.

Simon Lucy
Thursday, March 4, 2004

The best free To Do list program I've found is:

It's one of the few that lets you group tasks under other tasks, set dates on tasks, etc so you can keep everything organised.

I set up major tasks like Work, Home, etc so I can collapse the tasks I don't need to see at the moment and concentrate on what I'm supposed to be doing.

It's a very lightweight program that works really well.

Darren Collins
Thursday, March 4, 2004


That sounds like a killer app. I'm intrigued. Let's do lunch to discuss the possibilities.

Bill Gate$
Friday, March 5, 2004

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