The Problem with GTD

One of the things I’ve been reading up on, and, frankly, drooling over, is David Allens Getting Things Done methodology.

I, of course, am (re-)reading Getting Things Done by David Allen, the quintessential guide to learning about how to practice GTD.

However, I have a problem with implementing GTD. The typical setup recommended by David Allen involves manilla folders, filing cabinets, paper trays and a labeling machine. However, other than bills (which are mostly moving paperless, and are all paid online), php|architect magazines and the rare (all too rare!) payments by check from freelance work and podcasts, I really don’t work in paper. And I’m sure as hell not going to start printing crap out.

So, my problem right along, has been that my incoming data is digital, and I don’t know what to do with it.

Typical inputs for me and I’m sure other developers, and other “digital” people, are, in order of how common they are:

  • E-mail
  • Bug Trackers
  • Epiphanies
  • Mailing Lists
  • Calendars
  • Occasional phone calls
  • Meetings

One of the best things I’ve taken away from GTD, is, that you need to decide what to do with things immediately. Then you can sanely let them go till you actually need to do whatever it is you decided you had to do. The best way to facilitate this, is to make it brain dead quick and easy to do.

Another problem I have is that, yes, I can create all sorts of fun mail folders, or folders on my desktop, or groups in my calendar, or or or.

All of these things are so disparate; I need to be able to capture different types of inputs into one thing. For example, a typical task in my day involves several things:

  • A phone call (zomg! we have teh problems!)
  • A screenshot or other document with more details (lookz! breaker!)
  • A new bug create (IZ IN UR BUG TRACKR… FIXING UR STUFF)
  • A followup e-mail (Iz werkin on it!)
  • A patch/svn commit (I fixd ur bug hrs ago. But then I eated it and hadz to start again :-()
  • A new release is rolled and the sysadmin pushes it out (OH HAI!)

I want to keep all these things together, in some cohesive place, that is not only quickly and easily accessible, but is also quick to create and manage.

These are all problems I’m trying to solve wit Do you have any input on this stuff? What crap do you need to track? where does it come from? where do you need it to go?

– Davey