"Getting Things Done" and my card based time-management

CD cover

I recently finished listening to the audio book version of David Allen's "Getting Things Done". This was a really good motivator for how to deal with the constant interruptions of modern information work. Not just external interruptions but also internal interruptions. The book presents a system for managing interruptions which is good, and which I was inspired to use, but most of the value comes from motivating you to actually take care of things that you have begun to let accumulate in your life. Either that, or renegotiate expectations about them with yourself.

In addition to this system, I also use a deck of index cards that have a task written on them which I use to manage repetitive things that do daily. These cards are also annotated with a time which is the number of minutes which I spend on the task written on the card. Each day I treat the deck as a fresh set of cards and over the course of the day I must "play" them by doing the task on the card. In some cases the cards list things that I tend to do too much, like check the news. In this situation the card is a limit of how much time I can spend checking news. In other cases the cards list things I know I should do, but won't naturally, like schedule the hours of my day. The last type of card is just a reminder card which I use to remember to do things daily, like backup my laptop.

Anyway this system has allowed me to better understand where my time is going. I am now explicit about the things that I was just doing "on the side" before so I can plan and manage them better. So far I have retired one card because I realized that it was a waste of my time. I have a total of 12 cards in my deck now representing a total of three hours of work.


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Again, is this really necessary to indicate what activities are wasting your time? Seems to me that this is the obscene marketing ploy of the literary world.

Posted by: Nate at June 29, 2005 10:03 AM

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