3 weeks in: is Productivity sticking?

Last month I made the pledge to stop dipping my toe in the productivity & paperless water; to make a committed plunge into the cool comforting depths of an existence free of the shackles of reams of paper; to fully embrace the principles of Getting Things Done and enter a higher plane of productivity…

…So to quote my oldest child: “Are we nearly there yet?” Here are my thoughts (the aspects of my journey that I’ll be exploring in future posts are highlighted in blue)

Going Paperless

I’ve made some decent inroads into going paperless and I’m mildly pleased with the results. Having purchased a Doxie Go scanner and Eye-Fi card I’ve been able to digitise my documents at work and home as soon as they come into my metaphorical ‘in tray’ (does anyone have an actual in tray these days?), disposing of the offending articles within minutes of receiving them. Besides being quite cathartic, I have found that the piles of paper accumulating on the side of the cupboard at home, and those I cart to and from the office, have reduced.

My basic workflow of choice is to import the documents using my Doxie Go Software and use it to upload to Evernote. Since starting out I’ve had some thoughts on what my level of comfort is on data security in Evernote and have adjusted my notebook approach accordingly.

Besides processing everything from tax demands to grocery bills through my trusty scanner, I have also heeded the advice from Brooks Duncan at Document Snap to attack the source of the torrent of paper flooding through my letterbox every day, which I have attempted with limited success. I have contacted my bank and my supermarket to opt for email marketing and statements; though it turns out my bank doesn’t offer the option to send my letters via email. I’ve been much more aware of what types of document I get in the post and after Christmas I’ll be making a concerted efforts to contact those businesses who are legitimately sending me promotional material to see how much I can reduce; I suspect the more traditional ‘junk mail’ will be trickier to stem.

Productivity, GTD Style

My second commitment is to stop playing lip service to the Getting It Done methodology and to put it fully into action. To support my ascension to time management greatness I have selected Nozbe as my tool of choice, due mainly to its intuitive UI and its cross-platform versatility. I have established a core set of projects and contexts to manage my day-to-day tasks and once again I would say I’m moderately pleased with the results. I can certainly say that I feel less inundated with my ‘open loops’ of unfinished tasks committed to an organisation tool (i.e. stored in my phone) and have used my Next Actions to work methodically through tasks, important and less important alike. Having got into the routine of throwing a thought into Nozbe as it comes to me, I have started to develop a positive habit of regular capture. There are a few things that I think I need to work on to attain even greater improvements:

  • Improved Capture: Handy as it is, there are times when getting my phone out and keying tasks into Nozbe just isn’t convenient or doesn’t feel quite natural. I’m sure there are plenty of non-technology solutions to doing this well, but at the moment I’m hoping that Father Christmas might bring me a Boogie Board Rip to tuck into a bag or case. If he does I’ll be blogging on its effectiveness in the New Year.
  • Better scheduling/tickler file: I noted from re-reading David Allen’s Getting Things Done that one of the thing he’s clear about is that the only things you should schedule for a specific date are things that can only be done (or must be done) on that date; Any other dates need to go into a ‘tickler’ file that will prompt you to review a task in a timely way. I haven’t found a neat way to achieve this in Nozbe yet (I have to assign review dates as ‘due’ dates, distinguished by a ‘tickler’ context but I’m going to continue to give it some thought.
  • GTD Under Fire: I’m starting to use GTD when things are calm and collected, but I have found on a few occasions when things have got a bit manic my iPhone has stayed in my pocket and my discipline has gone out of the window. Logic says that these are the situations when GTD can be most helpful; I just need to develop some strategies for making it work under fire.

All in all I think I’ve made a few positive steps forward and the main thing is I still feel committed to continuing down this path, which has to be the most significant factor in all this.

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