Shouldn't unanswered email, to dos, & calendar items be a single application?:
I gave up on Getting Things Done methodologies when I realized that, by saying no to urgent but ultimately unimportant tasks, I could keep all my "to dos" in my head.I could write a chapter on how I would organize this. For now, I'll share a few quick thoughts and invite my readers to share how they would tackle Dave's problem.
Or so I thought. I've discovered that I have a lot more "to do" lists than I realized. Here are some of them:
- My work "to do" list, which I keep in a Lotus Notes task list because it replicates to my Blackberry
- My personal "to do" list, which I keep in various formats, including scraps of paper and the new Google task list which integrates with GMail.
- My blog "to do" list, which I keep in a separate GMail e-mail folder, because most of these "to dos" originate from e-mails
- My GMail personal e-mail inbox, which consists of (a) e-mails to which I have yet to respond and (b) e-mails which are actually "to dos", and which should probably be with list 3, except that they are more urgent so I want to keep them in front of me.
- My "books to buy" list
- My "music to buy or download" list
- My work Lotus Notes e-mail inbox, which consists of (a) e-mails to which I have yet to respond and (b) e-mails which are actually "to dos", and which should probably be with list 1, except that the e-mail provides a lot of detail on what needs to be done, so I can't be bothered to transcribe it to a "to do" list).
- My work Lotus Notes Calendar, which consists of both (a) scheduled work and (b) personal appointments
- Gmark Google Bookmark "to dos" consisting of (a) links to include in my next Links of Week, (b) links to pages I intend to read "when I have time" (i.e. never get around to these), (c) links to pages to add to my blogroll (actually belongs in list 3), and (d-e) links to books to buy and music to download (actually belong to lists 5 & 6).
- My blog post ideas "to do" list
- My "to read" hard copy piles
- My voice mail "in-boxes", for my work and home numbers.
Some quick thoughts:
1. Dave makes a compelling case for what David Allen calls a "Trusted System." The ideal is to have single place that you can consult to survey the horizon of all of your goals, roles, projects and actions and make trusted choices about what to do (or not do) at any moment.
2. Recognizing that there are a variety of systems/tools involved, it is possible to have a trusted system that spans multiple subsystems; however, as Dave has demonstrated, it is a lot of work
3. Something Dave did not mention is the cost of unconscious resistance on knowledge work when we
- don't trust our systems,
- don't have a single system we can trust to give us a picture of our world,
- find that the steps to enter information into or maintain our systems subconsciously repel us from the process, thus sabotaging the system.
5. The Weekly Review is the glue that holds all of the above together and ensures that things won;t fall through the cracks.
Dave is not alone.
I run into many people that are trying to manage myriad sources of information across work and personal sources and using company and external tools.
How would you handle the above? What advice would you offer him?