For many months now I’ve been thinking I need to get myself more organised. I’m the kind of person who has numerous different projects on the go at once across all areas of life – home, work and everything else in-between. I have managed to increase my productivity (or free time depending on how you look at it) by at least 20% using ThinkingRock to implement GTD.
I’ve been looking at various ways of doing that and the thing that keeps coming up over and over is David Allen’s GTD methodology.
For those who don’t know, GTD is a very simple process:
- Collecting – Write a thought down when you have it (stop trying to remember it), this then needs to be processed.
- Processing – Is a thought actionable? If not is it reference material, for later, or rubbish?
- Do and Review – Do ASAP, delegate to someone else, schedule it for later. If a task is too big, make it a project and break into smaller tasks.
When I came across ThinkingRock this quote on the homepage struck home:
"If you don’t have time to download and use this software then you really need it."
Sounds like me – although I can’t say I actually believed the claim; it sounds far too much like one of those make $1,000 a day for nothing scams.
The screenshot above shows the start screen, all ready to go. From here you can get to everywhere else very quickly. What I love about this software is it works on my MacBook Pro, Windows PC and Ubuntu box. Using dropbox I can sync everything between all my PCs at home and work without even noticing, my tasks, reference and projects follow me everywhere. Alternatively, you can run the whole thing from a USB drive and take it with you everywhere. There’s an iPhone version of the program too which I can’t vouch for as I’ve not used it – I’m an Android user and I understand there’s a version for Android coming soon.
ThinkingRock feels very reliable, I’ve never had it crash on me yet – for a system I rely on so heavily this is crucial. I’ve seen a lot of people complain about it being slow to respond but I’ve not seen a problem personally.
The collection section of ThinkingRock is a very basic text entry area which allows you to dump thoughts as quickly as you can type. You can bring up the collect box by pressing F6 which is great if you’re working on something else and need to record the thought quickly without disturbing your workflow. One of the really neat features here is as you press return to add a thought its ready to add another instantly – no clicking of buttons.
The process section is used to review your thoughts and decide whether they need to be actioned, filed as reference, deferred, delegated or deleted. Personally, I find that processing all my thoughts from the collect stage every other day is sufficient and ensures that I don’t end up spending all of my time just organising.
In this example, I’ve scheduled myself to pick up some milk at 10AM on Tuesday. Then all I need to do is click the small green arrow and it will show the next thought to be processed.
Organise Review Do
This is the section where you have your list of actions to do – there’s several tabs here by default which show Do ASAP, Scheduled, Not Scheduled, Delegated (with follow-up date). You can customise these tabs and add and remove them. For example, I have tabs for scheduled today, and scheduled this week, to allow me to keep tighter control on what’s coming up soon.
For me, this section gives full control over what I need to do and gives a clear picture of when I need to do it. You can also export the scheduled items to outlook or iCal so you can always see what you’re meant to be doing when. For me at work, this is great as it means people don’t schedule meetings with me during the time I’m planning to be working on specific tasks.
There’s so much more to ThinkingRock than I’ve done justice to here – I can only encourage you to try it out for yourself. I’d be interested to know how much of a difference it makes to you.
My favourite part of ThinkingRock is the reference section. You can store all that "stuff" you can never remember (online usernames, tax reference numbers, useful telephone numbers, library card numbers and so on) and it’s all there in one place ready to be searched.
From my personal experience with GTD and ThinkingRock I agree with the almost too good to be true quote above. You can find out more and download from the ThinkingRock website.