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August 28, 2005



Check out the GTD TiddlyWiki -- http://shared.snapgrid.com/gtd_tiddlywiki.html

It's cool.

Ivan-Assen Ivanov

"The "someday maybe" list. In game development, we call this the "wish list". It usually translates to the "we're never actually going to get around to this" list. "

Heh... we started to semi-officially call it the "for the expansion" list, once we got around to actually producing expansions :-)


I do believe that being better organised increases one's productivity. If you spend time looking for paper instead of having it neatly organised, then you're wasting time; If you spend time every day wondering what you should do next instead of having it already organised in a To-Do list, then you're wasting time; etc. Improving all of these small unproductive moments can have a big boost on overall prodductivity. It's like when you're optimizing code: sometimes a few small improvements at key places can have a big effect.


I am not a GTD fanatic, but I know first hand at least some of the benefits of the GTD method.

Most of the productivity world already knew that todo lists were useful, but David Allen's research shows why. The brain works best when handling one thing at a time. When you write things down in a place you know you will check periodically, they aren't on your mind anymore. It allows you to focus on the task at hand. Multitasking just isn't good for getting things done. Obviously you can commute and listen to an audio book, but how much mental dexterity does commuting take? I read on the train on the way to and from work since otherwise I'm just sitting there.

Also, he doesn't just talk about making a todo list. He talks about Next Actions and separates them from Projects. You can't do a Project. Most people make todo lists that have entries like, "Maintain Car" or "Job Application". But they waste mental cycles trying to remember what "Maintain Car" actually entails. Next actions are things you can actually do. "Check tire pressure at gas station" or "Ask John about his opinion on potential new hire" are next actions.

I think the thing with GTD is just that someone took the time to figure out what actually works. People may have found that making lists were useful before, but now they know why and they know how to make better lists. I used to go through school thinking that I didn't need to write down my homework. My memory was good enough to allow me to remember what I had to do each night. I think a lot of people think this way, that they have good enough memories that they don't need to write things down.

Ever since I started writing down things I wanted to accomplish, I found that things don't slip through the cracks. I really wish I had learned about GTD in college or even high school because it would have saved me a lot of stress. This past week I didn't have a pocket notebook handy and thought of a few things I needed to do. It took days of "Oh, wait, I forgot...but now I am not at home and can't do it" to show how annoying it can be when you don't have your list handy. I ended up writing myself a note and sticking it in my pocket since I always empty my pockets when I get home. That's giving myself a Reminder, which is another GTD element.

I like to think of the methods and tips in the book as giving names to otherwise nebulous concepts I already did in some capacity. I used to make lists, but not very good ones. I used to cleanup my lists and tasks, but not very regularly. I used to place Reminders in obvious places, but it was never a definite tool that I would employ. Consequently, I didn't keep on top of things consistently. It's sort of like naming Design Patterns in software. Until you know a pattern by name, you will likely make subpar solutions to your problem.

The main benefit of GTD is just that your brain is no longer stressed with having to remember any number of important-or-not details. To the brain, EVERYTHING is urgent, even if you know it isn't. Putting down things you need to do in organized lists alleviates it to focus on the important things.


Also, one of the benefits of having everything you know you need to do on a list is so you know whether or not you can put it off if something else comes up. David Allen mentioned somewhere that some of the most important things he does aren't on his list. His list just allowed him to say, "Yep, none of this stuff needs to get done any time soon, so I can dedicate time to this new ask." It definitely saves you from a lot of anguish when you know exactly what you are doing and when you need to do it. It provides peace of mind to KNOW that what you are doing isn't preventing you from doing something else more important. Otherwise, you waste too many brain cycles worrying.


Your commute? So you listened to it for 5 minutes a day over 6 months?

Rob Segal

"The reason to write things down isn't because you might forget"

Yeh I live by that one. Maybe your not so crazy after all Mr. Fristrom, I'll have to keep my eye on you.

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Jamie's Bragging Rights

  • Spider-Man 2
    The best superhero games of all time Game Informer
    Top five games of all time Yahtzee Croshaw
    Top five superhero games of all time MSNBC
    Top 100 PS2 games of all time Official Playstation 2 Magazine
    1001 Games You Must Play Before You Die Nomination for Excellence in Gameplay Engineering Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences
  • Schizoid
    Penny Arcade PAX 10 Award
    Nominated for XBLA Best Original Game
    Nominated for XBLA Best Co-Op Game