Getting things done (GTD) guru David Allen recently spoke in an interview with The Atlantic about all the things that keep him organised and productive. He uses a combination of low-tech tools and digital applications to accomplish what he says is the number one thing people need to do to gain control over their lives: "externalise" all the stuff that's coming in.
These are the digital tools he uses:
- For calendar and action lists: Lotus Notes (because that's the enterprise app his company uses) and an e-productivity add-on to Lotus Notes. This syncs to a BlackBerry.
- For brainstorming/capturing ideas and such: The Brain and Mind Manager
- A Mac (with Parallels running Microsoft Office)
But mostly it seems he relies on just paper:
So I use my little note-taker wallet — that's where most ideas are generated, in strange and weird little places, and so I have a ubiquitous, just-paper-based tool. I take notes, usually paper-based, because it's just easier to do that. It's more ubiquitous, and I like the feel of it. I'm still playing around with various kinds of things.
...and his inbox:
My physical in-basket is my saviour. It is my safety net, it is my catchall, it is my "Gee, I don't want to have to think about any of that stuff yet". And so you need that parking lot. It's really critical to have a parking lot like that, because capture is a very different process than decision making and organising. So I have to keep those distinct, so that allows me a placeholder so that then when it's time, when that stuff starts to pile up, and I go "Okay, it's starting to stink and there's mildew in there, I better empty out my in-basket" — so then that frees up my head; that allows me to just place-hold stuff. But mostly it's just that low-tech stuff I put in there. I probably throw out 80 per cent of my notes.
The whole interview is a good read if you're a die-hard GTDer or just interested in how to get out of the "busy trap."
David Allen on How to Fix Your Life [The Atlantic]