Getting Things Done with Producteev

Getting Things Done (GTD)*, is a popular productivity methodology based on David Allen’s homononymous book (find it here). GTD has been quite abuzz in many popular web and productivity blogs such as 43 Folders, Lifehacker, Slashdot or Mashable.

I would like to spend a minute today to show you that Producteev is an ideal tool for applying the GTD methodology.
The main ideas behind GTD are, admittedly simplified, more or less the following:
  1. Clear your head from all tasks: Collect all new stuff in some sort of inbox
  2. Come back periodically during the day to purge the inbox: Ask yourself, is this actionable or not? If it is not, it may serve as reference for later. If it is, you have several options: do it if it takes less than 2 minutes, delegate it if someone else can do it, defer an action and either do it as soon as you can or on a specific date, and identify the next steps for those tasks that need some more thinking.
  3. Everything you are not currently working on, is ideally collected in a repository. As you work, come back to the repository and choose the most important task based on the context and the time and resources you have available

Here is how I apply GTD with Producteev:

Most of the random stuff arrives in my email inbox. Besides that, I have phone calls, chats, physical conversations with clients and I often have random thoughts that cross my mind while working or commuting. So I created a Producteev dashboard that reflects the spirit of GTD:

How I manage email:

- Emptying the inbox: I periodically empty my mailbox, I do so three to four times a day at no fixed times (fixed times can be very helpful, but I realized that I need to be flexible with my schedule).

- Delegating tasks: I delegate everything I can. In my Gmail account, I add a star to each delegated mail for which I expect an answer today. All other delegated mails end up in my “waiting for” list in Producteev. So when I forward the mail to a colleague or service provider, I BCC and add “#waiting for” somewhere in the email. This will automatically create a task in my “waiting for” list in Producteev and a copy of the mails content (including attachements) will be stored in my producteev account. Read here about more sophisticated options to mail tasks to Producteev.

- Stuff I do not need to break down into more action steps come to my “tasklist” box in Producteev. I forward the mail to and add “#tasklist” somewhere in the mail and Producteev does the rest.

- The things I need to break down into more action steps I place in my recipient box in producteev – I just forward the mail to without adding any specific hashtags.

This leaves me with a central list of tasks to work off, a list of tasks that I have delegated and need to watch and an list of tasks that need to be organized. From there, I regularly organize tasks ito projects for which I have several boxes.
How I manage everything else:

So that takes care of email – but what about the stuff from phone calls, my chats on Gtalk or the personal conversations I have during the day?

- I send all these tasks to my producteev recipient box as they come up. As you already know, my recipient box on producteev collects everything I need to think about or organize later.

- I either have my producteev dashoboard open and add tasks directly or I have my instant messenger open and send my tasks to producteev from there. The tasks I send to producteev via instant messenger services all are automatically placed in my inbox for later review. This is my “capture everything extremely fast and easy” method.

- I usually carry a paper and pen around to take notes of conversations I have during the day. Using the instant messenger method, I also put all stuff into my producteev recipient box once I get back to my desk.

*GTD and Getting Things Done are registered trademarks of David Allen & Co.

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