I was recently chatting with a very successful venture capitalist friend of mine talking about doing more in a day. I took the opportunity to share with him a system I learned about through my good friend Robert Strazzarino — David Allen’s system called the GTD system “Getting Things Done” or also known as the 43 Folders system.
If you are interested in getting more efficient and organized, and do not currently have a formal system, I strongly recommend GTD.
Step 1. Read the book. Then read it again.
Step 2. Find a technology solution to actually implement the 43 folders system.
Step 3. Make it a habit. Commit to the program, and make the time to follow it.
I currently use (the name sort of ruins it) ToodleDo. Toodledo has become my life list, filled with my business, personal life, …everything. It’s a great tool with a crappy name. You can access Toodledo via the web, or you can install the native app on your iphone/ipad/ipod touch, or you can use other technologies to augment it, like the TODO app for iPhone. There are plugins for your browser, you can use it with your twitter account, embed it in your iGoogle start page, and even create a printable booklet for those of you who prefer a hipster PDA, but like to Get Things Done.
There are lots of GTD systems out there, but Toodledo has worked the best for me. I am currently testing another system that seems to be better for teams, called Flow. Still in beta, but it’s better for assigning tasks and the UI is more elegant. More to come on that in an exciting blog post in the future.
The GTD system helps me manage my own life so nothing slips through, and it also gives me more free time to work on important things rather than hovering over my inbox. The scheduler feature in ToodleDo lets me tell ToodleDo how much time I have to work on a project, and ToodleDo will find a pending task that I should be able to complete in that time. Great for procrastinators and anyone that has a hard time figuring what to tackle next.
Another great thing about ToodleDo is the ability to email yourself tasks, and you can quickly categorize everything with a few keystrokes in your subject line. Because I love to help, here’s a list of shortcuts to put in your subject line to help keep your ToodleDo tasks organized, so you can GTD:
- Priority – ! – use ! to !!!!! to set the importance of this task
- Due Date – # – example “#tomorrow” or “#3/13/2011”
- Due Time – = - to set a specific deadline. Eg: “=3:45pm”
- Length – ~ - to set the expected time it will take to complete a task eg: “~.5hours”
- Star – * - use this symbol by itself to star a task
- Folder – * - *followed by the name of your folder eg: *RealValuable.com
- Context – @ - to set the context of your task eg: @phone
- Repeat - & - to set the frequency this task should repeat. Eg: “&weekly”
- Reminder - : - to set a reminder before your due date/time eg: “:2 hours”
- Location - - - to set the location for this task. Eg: “-home”
You can stack the different syntax as long as your separate them with a space:
Research Telomeres !!! @google #Friday =5:00pm ~1hour
For a complete list of the special syntax for email, click here.
Print this off and stick it on or near your monitor so you can get in the habit of using these shortcuts, and you’ll find that you get more stuff done, faster. And my wife might say differently, but faster is generally better.
I also use the GTD system for the management team at my company. They either have to present to me a better system (I’m always interested in improvement, if improvement exists) otherwise they work using GTD and Toodledo. Period. At our monthly management meetings we review their Toodledo lists.
Let me know if you have any more specific questions, or have a better organizational system, I’m always looking to evolve.