Category Archives: Getting Things Done

Mindsweeping with Remember The Milk

cow

During the live Mindsweeping event on Twitter (@GTDSpecialEvent) I was basically writing down all my “mindsweep material” in a plain text document because when I put Next Actions into Remember The Milk, I like to tag them, put them in a context list, and prioritize them right away.*

Of course, after reviewing the items in that text document, I realized that most of them were either Next Actions or Projects that I needed to then copy and paste into RTM.

So, I kind of “redid” the Mindsweep by putting everything into the Inbox list in RTM and didn’t really eliminate a lot of the things that I’d swept out of my mind because, as I said, they had already sprung from my forehead in the form of Next Actions and Projects.

14827athena-3

After filling up my RTM Inbox in this way, I was able to essentially conduct the Mindsweep using RTM and eliminated the step of putting the contents of the sweep somewhere else in the mean time. In the future, this will save me the step of transferring items from the “Mindsweep Dustbin” to RTM, and allow me to Organize those items at my leisure. I think that’s an important part of the Mindsweep because it means that I can sweep away everything so that my mind can detach from those items and focus on things I should be doing, while at the same time, I don’t have to spend the time organizing them unless I want to do it at that time (and if I have the time to do it). As Kelly Forrister tweeted during the Mindsweep:

I don’t think I’ve ever looked back after a GTD mindsweep and said, “Damn, I wish I didn’t do that.” It’s always valuable to me.

When I did the first Mindsweep into the text file, I almost did say “Damn, I wish I didn’t do that” because I realized I’d have to copy and paste a whole bunch of stuff that should really have already been in RTM. Now that I have gone back through and realized how easy it is to let RTM be unstructured, I can do sweep my mind more frequently without worrying that it’s going to hurt my productivity (I don’t ever consider Organizing to be unproductive because it always makes me feel good to clarify things).

To finish things off, here is a post from Kelly Forrister about clearing your mind with a Mindsweep.

* This may sound like I’m trying to capture, process, and organize all in one step. Not the case, I say. If it’s going to one of my RTM lists, then it’s already essentially been captured and processed because it has to have passed through one of my inboxen, and I’ve already decided on a Next Action or I wouldn’t be putting it on the list. So, arriving at the point where it’s been captured and I’ve got a Next Action ready means that it is time for organization. Of course, the whole point of this post is that I want to start using RTM as a capture tool in addition to an organization and review tool.

You are the Boss / Manager of your Future Self

Near the end of this podcast on Organizing, Robert (David Allen’s tech guy) makes the point, basically, that you are the boss of your future self. By “boss” he means, in the traditional 9-5 working for the man way.

Why is that important (as a concept)?

Well, would you rather have your boss just dump a whole bunch of papers on your desk, and say “do these”, or would you prefer a boss who only hands you papers when you need them, or when you don’t have anything else that you’re working (or at least, not anything that’s a higher priority)?

office-space

Would you rather have a boss who says “Here’s an entire project, get it done” or a boss who says “Here’s the first task of a project that I need you to get done. Come back to me when you are finished with this small, completable task, and I’ll tell you what to do next”?

dilbert-boss

In both cases, I’m hoping you opted for the latter. Making that decision one of the essential parts of GTD. By defining specific Next Actions and creating appropriate calendar reminders, you are essentially “managing” your future self in a way that is a Best Practices way of managing someone who works for you.

How Overestimation Leads To Procrastination

Rhyme time, baby.

The subject line is in regard to a fault of mine when it comes to personal commitments (like cutting my hair, mowing the lawn, going to the grocery store).

I tend to overestimate the amount of time and effort that are required to do simple activities like those mentioned above, and as a result, I tend to put off doing them.

For example, cutting my hair (I do it myself) takes about 40 minutes including a shower to wash all the excess hair off. I just did it myself recently and it looks a lot better than when I let it grow out and get shaggy. It’s always taken me 40 minutes to do it. Even when I first started more than 10 years ago. And I only do it every 6-8 weeks, so it’s not like it’s a huge time sink, but I often tend to do it closer to 8 weeks when it should be done after 6 just because I “don’t want to take the time” to do it.

This especially applies in the summer time because there are not a lot of higher ROI activities that I can do to make myself feel better than cutting my hair, and still I don’t do it because, in my mind, it’s a chore that takes a lot of time and energy.

Takeaway: Be realistic about the length of time it takes to do tasks that you do on a regular basis. I’m even thinking about making a spreadsheet just so I can stop fooling myself by storing the numbers in my mind and manipulating them “telephone” style whenever it comes time to do them.

boys_telling_secrets

How To: Save Time On Haircuts

I call it the Jack Shephard method, i.e., you either keep it really short, or don’t cut it at all.

jack-shephard-lostjack_beard

Either method will save you both time and money. I usually go with short in the summer and let it grow more in the winter. I had a friend in high school who would shave his head for the city swimming finals in the winter and then let it grow until the next year’s finals. Yeah, he was in high school so he could get away with looking like a ragamuffin for 4-5 months, and he had a good skull for the totally bald look. But, if you can pull it off, think of how much extra time you’ll have if you only cut your hair once a year!

Getting Things Done: Using Drupal as a Personal Wiki

drupalorg

I was worried about wasting a lot of time trying to figure this out, but since there are a few projects at work that are using Drupal, I thought it would be worth it to get some familiarity with the platform. All told, it only took a few hours to get things going, and at least a third of that was getting it configured on the server properly.

How To (Install / Set Up Links)

This seems to be the Holy Grail of How To Make Drupal your Personal Wiki.

Some additional comments on Drupal as Personal Wiki

The first issue I ran into was that I wanted to install Drupal on a subdomain of this site (nelswadycki.com). I assumed that I wanted to set it up so that Drupal would be in a folder like /public_html/mywiki/ mapped to the appropriate subdomain.

After trying a few different queries, I came acorss Install Drupal with Cpanel and Fantastico, which told me to just install Drupal on the root directory and specify the folder in the Fantastico install settings.

After logging in (for the first time!) I immediately went to the User Admin section so that no new users could register.

Then I downloaded/unzipped/uploaded the wikitools module. Then I did the same with the recommended pearwiki filter. (Just a note for novices like me: To get the PearWiki filter to work, you need to get the PearWiki code, as well as the PearWiki MediaWiki parser)

Other modules (as suggested by Patrick Teglia):

A couple other small notes: In order to get it fully working the way I wanted, I created a “Book” from the first Wiki Page I added, and put the “Book” navigation at the top of the left sidebar (in the Default theme). I am totally in love with the hierarchical navigation and all the other navigation methods provided by the Book module.

Now I get to play around with all the different themes! 🙂 (Or more importantly, copy over all the data that I had in my previous wiki – hosted at wetpaint [which I highly recommend if you can’t host your own Drupal instance]) And truth be told, I actually kind of like the default theme for this use. If it were a public site, then I’d want something to make it more distinct, but the default is very clean and concise, which is good for helping find and add information quickly.

* I don’t want to mess around with HTML in my wiki like I do in my blogs. I want to be able to add stuff to the wiki as quickly as possible and having to do HTML markup will slow me down there. I like using it in blog posts because it gives me more control, but I (usually) take more care with blog posts than I do when adding things to what is essentially a Brain Dump Area.

+ FCKEditor kept adding <<br /> tags to all my line breaks and after a while of trying to figure out how to get it to stop, I disabled it and was able to use MediaWiki syntax for pseudo-rich formatting. I'm already somewhat familiar with MediaWiki syntax, so it should allow me to still input content fairly quickly (and more so after I have all the markup memorized).