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Anne Joshua

aspiring letterer and writer

86

2

do – doing – done

So, it’s been 21 days for me. Time to share some of my progress… 

Until now I’d always shied away from including any digital tools into my workflow system. I’m not at all tech savy and would’ve never thought I could build a trusted system out of them. However, this class has given me the confidence and motivation to do so. 

This project is me finally embracing these digital tools and making them an integral part of my workflow. 

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I’m a Mac user so I decided to try Things. And I was familiar with Evernote already, though it could definitely do with some reorganisation;)

Also, I hope to lay the foundations here for a complete overarching system. So I’m starting with a stocktaking of all my digital libraries and other apps: 

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I know this is not the ‘collecting of every open loop’ the class asks for at this point, but this is important for me to do, before really starting on GTD. Because I know from my previous experience with Evernote that it won’t work for me to do all my digital referencing in. 

Evernote - Intellectual References 

I like Evernote best for big textual notes that can be modified and added to constantly. If I do use images, I’d prefer them to be thumbnails, so they don’t interfere with me grasping the overall structure of a note at a glance. However, images in Evernote have a tendency to hog space. (And they eat away at my monthly allowance.) I’ve found that most of the time, resizing my images to thumbnails – or resizing in order to regulate what image shows in the quick note preview, for another matter – is more work than I’d like it to be. 

And also, as another personal preference, I want Evernote to be an intellectual landscape, not a brain dump. I need it to have some curating going on. My brain dump – where I will collect my ‘open loops’ (on the go) – will therefor have to be located somewhere else.

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Bullet Journal - Collecting Open Loops

I really like this aspect of GTD of writing everything down in order to get it out of my head. Since starting this class I'm writing things down as soon as they enter my head. For instance, I have a parttime job as a postal delivery girl, and there’s all sorts of things that pop into my head while delivering mail. I’ve taken to carrying a few slips of paper on me and now find myself regularly writing things down. And in no time, it's landed me with this mess:

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Luckily, also whilst delivering mail, I’ve been listening to some productivity podcasts. (The search of which was propelled by this class.) One thing that especially caught my attention was Ryder Carroll’s Bullet Journal. And I thought it would be perfect for capturing open loops and bringing some order to all this chaos. 

Some of the things I jotted down are so small/random that I don't know how/where  to file/collect them. The BJ system of writing everything down, adding signifiers and later migrating what may at first have seemed like insignificant notes to meaningful collections, could really prove to be a solution here. And I do think it could definitely be used really well in combination with GTD, but we'll see… 

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Things - Projects & Areas

I don’t think I have that many projects and areas (15 projects, 9 areas) and feel like I should have more. But a few times, when I'd thought of one to add, I ended up deleting it. An example: I feel like I should have an area called ‘reading’ , for books that I’ve started reading, or wish to start.  So I created the task ‘Read David Allen’s GTD’. However, a book is not normally something I will complete in one sitting. So maybe it’s too big a task and should be a project instead. Anyway, I divided it into ‘Read DA’s GTD part 1’,  ‘Read DA’s GTD part 2’ and  ‘Read DA’s GTD part 3’. But these repetitions of the same task (plus ones for other books) started to clog up my system.

So in terms of ‘do – doing – done’, I think Things is excellent for ‘do’ and ‘done’, not so much for ‘doing’. Maybe here BJ could step in again;)

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Checklists

These are my daily and weekly checklists. For now. For my monthly review I think I'll tweak and update them;)

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Things - Tags

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- Tools:

You’d think this would be the most straightforward category, yet it’s the one I’m having most trouble with. E.g. sometimes I need two (or more) devices: ’toolkit', sometimes either will do: ‘cloud’. As it is now, it’s not working. I’ll definitely be doing some tweaking on this one.

- Size:

I really like the idea of a task management over time management. I don’t think attaching a set time per task will work for me. The mere idea already makes me anxious. I'll procrastinate – worrying if it’ll be enough time – instead of doing things.

Therefor I wish to avoid using time as a category within my tags. Instead I came up with an alternative. The category is ‘Size’ and the tags are ‘Small', ‘Medium' & 'Large' (S,M,L). I think this could work for me.

- Energy:

I’ve thought of using something like ‘Morning, Day, Evening & Night’ to represent my energy levels. Only I haven’t a clue what levels would correspond to what time of day and if they’d be comparable every day. Also, it starts to look a lot like time management this way, which I wanted to avoid. Instead I’ve decided to give the following tags a try: ‘Brain On' & 'Brain Off’.

- Priority:

high - for things that need to get done, preferably right now

low - for thing that need to get done, but not now

chill - for things I want to do, but without any real need 

- Place:

The tags ‘home’, ‘work’ and ‘errand’ seem useful, so I’m keeping them for now. However, I haven’t (as of yet) used them.

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Conclusion

At the moment I feel like I’m still very much setting up the system. More so than actually using the system. 

Yet, it has already helped me do several things, that I’d been procrastinating on for ages. And my mind is experiencing peacetime for the first time in a very long time, which makes it all worth it for me.

(I think I’ll come back to this project in a couple of months’ time, and review;)

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Update 7 October 2014

A type of task where I find a digital task manager (Things—that I now use quite often) falls short is the ‘Running Task’. Tasks that take many repetitions of the same action to complete. Tasks that you don’t complete in one go. For me, most common are tasks that begin with ‘read’ and ‘write’. (Other times completion isn’t even really possible. I’m thinking of all tasks in my project ‘Learn French’, which I can’t repeat enough times.) I had all these tasks in Things and became somewhat frustrated by continually being reminded of these tasks, making progress on them, but being unable to check them off.

So what I did is, I moved them over to my Bullet Journal. And instead of checkboxes, I use the good old ‘tally-method’ to indicate my progress. An example: I like playing board games. And a new year’s resolution of mine was to play 10 different games, a minimum of 10 times each, over the course of one year. 

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The way it works: Every time I’ve made some progress on a task I note down one tally. This gives me  a satisfaction similar to checking off a box. And it can even contain great information. Take my reading list for example. It takes me forever to finish some books, whereas others I just devour. And so those tallies are a good indicator of how much I like a book.

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