Monday, 25 February 2013

Productivity for Academic Librarians and Researchers: Session 4 - Getting Things Done

Session 4 of the Year of Productivity programme, and Getting Things Done gets a mention. I’d heard of the GTD system before, but had been put off trying it – it seemed like so much work and that’s before you even start on your actual tasks.

However, thinking about it, a lot of it actually makes sense. David Allen, who came up with GTD, argues that you can’t be productive if your brain is buzzing with all the things you need to remember to do. I remember when I was studying for my GCSEs, and I couldn't sleep for thinking about everything I had to do – I would get up and make a list of all the projects, pieces of coursework and other random bits of work I had to complete, and found that simply writing it down helped, because I knew I didn't have to remember it all – everything was written down. Even now, one of the first things I do when I feel overwhelmed or stressed is to make a list – this is true for both my personal and professional life. I am a seriously compulsive list maker.

It does seem that there is more to GTD than to-do lists, and I actually ended up ordering the book to explore it in more detail. While I wait for it to arrive, I will begin to implement some of the principles.

This session’s tasks included doing the ‘data dump’ and sorting it into projects, actions and categories. I had fun doing this and decided to sign up for along the way. I tried out Remember the Milk (another list-making app) for a couple of weeks, and while it is straightforward and easy to use, it is comparatively basic in its functionality. is an obsessive list-maker’s dream, with its different categories and filters, and the ability to nest tasks. You can sort tasks into different Projects, which makes it ideal for GTD. There is a ‘Today’ button you can click to find out what is due today, and I like the ‘Next’ filter, which shows you tasks with the soonest deadlines from all categories.

I read an interesting blog post by Bethan Ruddock recently, which points out how much more difficult it is to change small everyday habits than big ones, as we don’t see them as so important. With this in mind, I’m going to try extra hard to stay focused on maintaining and reviewing my lists.

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