Scott's Weblog The weblog of an IT pro specializing in cloud computing, virtualization, and networking, all with an open source view

Getting Things Done on my Mac

As part of transitioning into my new role at ePlus, I’ve been having to change some of the ways that I track my responsibilities and outstanding tasks. For many, many years I’ve been driven by customer-facing projects, and I centered my organization—document filing strategies, keywords, e-mail folders, tasks, etc.–around these projects. It was pretty easy to know what needed to be done when you’re implementing a farm of ESX Servers, or installing a new storage area network.

Now, however, my role is not customer-facing, and my responsibilities and deliverables are—at first glance—not quite so clear cut. In addition, the sphere of individuals with whom I am working has broadened. So I find that my old way of doing things just isn’t effective any longer.

So I began casting about for a “new way” of doing things, something that might help me be more efficient (doing things right) and effective (doing the right things). Of course, the whole “Getting Things Done,” or GTD, mantra popped up as I began looking for applications designed to help track tasks and responsibilities. Not being a GTD expert, I decided to give it a semi-whirl and experiment with some of the applications based upon the GTD principles. So far, it hasn’t gone so well.

<aside>It will probably be stated by more than a few readers who are GTD experts that giving it a “semi-whirl” is the root of the problems that I go on to describe below. Many of the instructional articles I’ve read so far indicate that you have to use a trusted system that you can trust to capture all the things you need to do, or else you’ll worry about what you might have missed. That’s all well and good, but what if you can’t find the trusted system that you need?</aside>

I started with OmniFocus. Actually, that’s not true; I actually experimented with iGTD a while back and just couldn’t stand the UI quirks. OmniFocus (hereafter just OF) is a great application, but I was having a really hard time reshaping my mind around how I was supposed to get data into OF. I liked the Clippings support, especially from Mail (and MailTags), as most of my tasks are generated from an e-mail. Something still didn’t feel quite right, though, so after a few days I removed the trial copy and decided to try Things.

Things is still in beta, and while I like some of the features about Things there are parts that don’t make any sense. For example, what’s the point behind the “People” section of Things if it doesn’t do anything? Why should I add team mates? Sure, I can create actions that are linked/assigned to a team mate, but for what purpose? I’m trying to organize myself, not my co-workers! The interface is a bit odd, too, and lacks contextual menus. Things also lacks one feature that OF had, which was Quicksilver integration. Believe it or not, the Quicksilver integration makes it so much easier to get actions into the application without disrupting what you’re currently doing, and isn’t that all part of GTD and contexts?

Anyway, I’m still using Things but haven’t yet decided whether I’ll stick with it or try something new. What is everyone else out there using? Are there others in similar roles and what applications, processes, procedures, etc., do you use to help keep track of your various responsibilities, actions, and deliverables? I’d love to hear everyone’s feedback.

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