It’s 11:20 p.m. on a work night. I’m wearing an old “Peanuts” shirt and a too-large pair of sweatpants, staring at this blog. “Shameless” plays quietly behind me. Garrett, my boyfriend, is only half-paying attention as he flicks through YouTube clips of Shinsuke Nagamura on his iPad.
11:30: Garrett rises and wanders absent-mindedly from the couch to my desk, glancing up at “Smackdown Live.” He then leans over me, looking at my notes on the “Getting Things Done (GTD)” article I’m currently reading. He directs my cursor to the top-right of my screen, where he points to a tab with a logo in red.
Todoist replaces my draft. Garrett smiles at my list, and then he kisses me on the cheek. He clicks on my last to-do of the day: Write an article intro.
“Looks like you’re done. Let’s go to sleep.
Like every night for the past six month, Todoist fades to white and tells you to enjoy your night. I feel satisfied with my day.
Do you need help organizing your tasks? These Todoist alternatives will help you stay on track.
It’s day 752–two and 21 days since I started using David Allen’s productivity book, “Getting Things Done.”
Here I share the productivity method that I have adopted, a customized version of GTD. It has become an integral part of my work productivity and has also become part my core identity. I’ll share some background information about GTD and some of my key lessons learned. I’ll also show you how to use my method to improve your productivity.
Why I needed ‘Getting Things Done!’ to save my career
Nick, my friend, tried to lend me David Allen’s book. I refused to look at how I managed my time. It was a disaster. My priorities ranged from “quit smoking” to “read 100 classics by the age of 30”, to short-term goals like “write an article on project management” and “parenting.”
Although I was able to know what I needed to do on any given day (sorta), task management beyond a week-to–week basis was impossible for me to remember. I tried many inefficient productivity “systems” over a period of a week, much like a half-committed dieter. For example, I would leave unread emails in my email inbox to remind myself, and I would spread out to-dos, research, and reminders between five notebooks (I lost one), and keep–easily-20 or 30 tabs open so I could “remind” me what I needed to do.
My productivity fluctuated. The scale has never been tilted toward “delightfully efficient.”
Next, I tried traditional organizational methods. I created online checklists, and marked up my work schedule for long-term goals so I would be able to complete the task on the due date.
I tried several formal productivity methods after I failed to see any significant improvement in my workplace efficiency and satisfaction. These included: “Don’t break the Chain” (mark the number of days you work towards a goal and compete against yourself to make the longest “chain”); “Eat the Frogs First”, which prioritizes the most difficult tasks first, and the easier stuff later); and “Timeboxing” (marking specific times in my calendar to work on specific tasks).
Each of these methods was productive for me for a few days before I gave up and abandoned the system.
These failed attempts at productivity had devastating consequences:
The psychological effects of being disorganized are not even mentioned. I felt &# when I reached that point of disorganization.