rGTD – really Get Things Done

Maged and I have been working on THE productivity app for Windows 8 – Taskorami.  We also joined a 3-week program for startups/entrepreneurs called NEXT to help us take our startup to the next level.  We are fanatics when it comes to productivity and our goal is to build a company dedicated to productivity tools & software – personal, team and business productivity.

I am a HUGE fan of the GTD (Getting Things Done) system by David Allen and have been practicing it for many years.  I have tried many tools to make it work for me and have yet to find the perfect tool.  The closest I found was Omnifocus – great app – but if you are not on a Mac, you are out of luck.  I have a macbook air but 98% of my computer use is on Windows, so having a productivity system that is Mac-only is very ehhh counter-productive.

Even though we already have a working product that is out and people are downloading it and buying it AND we are getting AWESOME feedback, we are still looking into ways to improve it and make it better.  With that said and because of the NEXT program, we were forced into questioning many of our assumptions and hypothesis regarding productivity in general and Taskorami specifically.

The NEXT program is based on the lean startup concepts and a core “commandment” in lean startup is to “get out of the building” and talk to customers.  We did.  We asked some of our colleagues and friends and also posted a survey online (fill it out if you can).  We got about 12 responses, not enough to draw definitive conclusions but we did see some patterns and “pain points”.

One of the thing we noticed is that only one person mentioned GTD and that is someone that I specifically asked to fill out the survey and I knew he was a GTD practitioner.  That made me wonder – do we have a large-enough market for GTD?  If GTD is so good why hasn’t it taken the corporate world by storm?

But one of the biggest revelation I had was that it is really really hard to explain GTD to people who don’t know GTD.  Is it really practical to tell my customers “hey, go read the book first before you download our app”?  I guess, if they are really passionate about productivity and see that enough smart people are on the GTD system, they might consider the initial learning curve and time investment.  Nonetheless, that is a huge hurdle to overcome in acquiring customers.

Inevitably this whole thing lead us to ask, what are the alternatives to GTD?  Are there simpler systems?  Can we create a NEW simpler system?  A simpler system that improves upon GTD and others, taking the good and leaving the bad.  A system that I can explain to a coworker in 30 seconds without asking him to read a book and overcome a huge learning curve.

A quick google search this cloudy Sunday morning took me to several interesting discussions regarding GTD and alternatives.  One interesting post said:

Personally, I can’t bear the thought of trying to organize my work with Things for Mac (or similar task management software). Typically, you create some projects and fill them with tasks, and before you know it you have so many projects and tasks that it’s overwhelming. The whole thing becomes a distraction and a drag. It makes work less enjoyable. – Dave Lee

There is a good discussion of that article at hacker news.  Here are some responses:

Part of writing everything to down is to get it out of your head so you don’t worry about it. If you have a bunch of big detailed lists and a lot to do, you don’t have to get stressed out over it.

-zdw

 

GTD also encourages self assessment of what you feel up to doing. You need to be aware of what jobs you’d undertake given your amount of time and energy.

-zdw

 

the “capture now, process later” mindset is a great way of handling the emergence of random ideas and tasks on the fly, and asking myself “what is the next action?” when processing is great for getting clarity.

-drumdance

Here are some interesting insights from an article on lifhacker:

But as far as I’m concerned, full-on GTD is too complicated and slippery for simple-minded civilians like myself.

In short, I can describe my GTD system in eight words. Make three lists. Revise them daily and weekly.

Lessons Learned

So what have I learned after all this research?

  • GTD is a great system but not for everyone
  • GTD can be simplified and tweaked to meet your needs – although hardcore GTDers  may not accept that.
  • There are as many “systems” as there are people, which probably explains why there are so many “to do” apps and websites
  • Many people tend to start a “system” but never stick with it

The Question

What is THE system to use?  Is it GTD?  Is it something else?  Let’s collectively create rGTD (really get things done).