So I am still winding my way through the book, Getting Things Done. In a previous post I talked about my long-time unexplained avoidance of this book, and frankly, I'm still struggling to get through it. I promise I'm really not trying to dislike it. I am still hopeful that I will get some really great information from it, but so far...
Reading through the first few chapters has put me in mind of the time in college when I worked valiantly to get through Grout's A History of Western Music (Third Edition - I was shocked to recently learn they are now up to the Eighth on this thing). Seriously dry stuff. Unless you were a music major you won't completely understand the wretchedness of reading this text, but suffice it to say it has always been my fallback solution for insomnia. I had to read sentences 3 and 4 times, my mind would wander, nothing would sink in. And I'm a pretty voracious reader otherwise.
I'm not suggesting that the concepts presented in Getting Things Done resemble the recounting of 1600 years of music history, but overall the words of this book do not speak to me. I know they speak to countless others, as evidenced by the fact that the book alone has sold well over a million copies, but after about 4 pages I'm pretty much ready to go scrub some sinks or take out the trash or sort paper clips. What am I missing here? The writing style says "corporate management retreat", but then he refers to tasks such as weeding the garden, or taking a watercolor class.
But rather than nagging on the things that baffle me, I'll focus on a few things I do like so far:
OK, so I'm up to chapter 5, which is rumored to be the point at which things in the book get less theoretical and more practical. I like practical, so maybe this project will get easier. GTD lovers, any advice for the continuing journey?
The Pomodoro Technique was named for a tomato-shaped kitchen timer.
What organizing tools do I use on a daily basis that keep me sane? My iPhone and iPad, and all of the happily productive apps that make them shine especially bright when I pull out notes for a client, or check that grocery list for updates at the store, or take a picture of a business card, or record my thoughts when I’m driving. I like to try a few new apps each month that I can tell you, Dear Reader, and clients about on a regular basis. Here are three of my favorites that I recommend for keeping the personal and professional both on track:
1. Wunderlist. Have I mentioned that I LOVE Wunderlist? (Dear Reader: “Why yes, Sara, I believe you have, like about 100 times, but…”) The few weeks that it wasn’t working for iPhone and iPad (during a significant upgrade) I thought I was going to go nuts. I actually had to write things down. On paper. Which I suppose was a good motor skill exercise but really, being able to create topic-specific lists, sharing them with my husband or a colleague when needed, creating subtasks that help me to check items off, setting reminders – it’s mind boggling for a professional organizer and serial list-maker like me. It syncs across all devices, and it’s free. Long live Wunderlist. http://www.6wunderkinder.com/wunderlist.
2. Flayvr. This little gem organizes all of your smartphone photos using your calendar and camera roll to create eye-catching albums, and will name them based upon the date and what you were doing at the time. I was pretty blown away when I first opened up this app. Not only will it group photos according to date, but it creates a nice little slide show (that can be interrupted at any time when you want to see just one photo), and you can share it via most social media and email. Editing is super easy – just a click to add a title or location, and add or delete photos. Even videos will be included in the slide show, and will play automatically upon opening. This app has all sorts of practical uses when you want to share a special celebration or event with someone far away. Or if you just need to find a particular photo quickly. I like to organize photos of a client’s project, or even snap a collection of products for a client to review. The only hitch is recipients of email sharing must view it on their computer browser, or agree to download Flayvr on their mobile device to view. But Flayvr is also free. http://www.flayvr.com/.
3. Phocus. This app is another recent addition. It splits your workday into a series of timed work periods (defaulting to 25 minutes), each followed by a rest period (5 minutes). The time frames are based upon the Pomodoro Technique of time management. The theory is, knowing a break is just around the corner makes focusing on your current task a lot easier. Do you have a routine task that you really hate to do? No, I mean really hate to do? Like you’d rather listen to nails on a chalkboard than do this task? I have to admit, for me it’s folding laundry, so I tested it out. You can change the default times to pretty much anything that works for you, so I went with 10 minutes of work time followed by 2 minutes of break. And what do you know – I was actually finished folding and putting everything away in 8! This discovery is great for reinforcing the idea that most things that we dread and avoid really aren’t so bad if we can just get started. Downside to Phocus? Currently it’s only available for iPhone, iPad and iTouch. $1.99 at the App Store. http://phocusapp.com/
Do you have an app that has made life easier? Or are you just as effective with a pencil, paper and kitchen timer? Let me know all about it, and I’ll…well…I’ll plug your favorite tools all into Wunderlist so I can test them out for myself!
Sara Skillen - Certified Professional Organizer®, Certified Organizer Coach®, wife, mom, and serial list-maker. Learning to trust my intuition more every day. Shall we work together?