Implementing David Allen’s Getting Things Done system has been a goal of mine for a while, but I’ve always seemed to fall a bit short of reaching it for various reasons. I started with the book and then using things like the Hipster PDA and notebooks and file folders and it would start ok, but I would fall behind after a while and then just drop it as more and more fell through the cracks. Merlin Mann’s 43 Folders always provided great tips to help with things, but I never completely dove in. Then I beta tested earlier versions of the Omni Group’s OmniFocus, which worked quite well, but I didn’t really commit to it, but I always kept it at the back of mind.
The closest I came to implementing a system that I continued with was 37signals’ Basecamp, which I still use to keep track of the broad outlines of courses that I’m teaching with the milestones for deadlines and Writeboards to write and revise assignments. But the key to the GTD system is ubiquitous capture, which is getting things down before you get them done. With my Moleskine notebooks I do take notes and keep track of things, but I wouldn’t review them enough to extract what I’ve captured to put in appropriate contexts and arrange within projects.
But now I have an iPod Touch, and the iPod version of OmniFocus looked very sharp, so I started with the desktop version to start to put things into it and for some reason it clicked a lot more this time. So I bought it and then bought the app for my iPod Touch and synced them both through MobileMe and I’m loving it and actually getting a lot more done (and it may just make me renew my MobileMe account). The key for me is the way that I can use it both with my MacBook Pro and the iPod touch, so I’ll be able to add things or cross them off my list just about any time.
It’s a comprehensive and solid system that is changing how I actually do things. I’m not even using all of the features of it and I would love to be able to use the (mainly iPhone-based) location services that will show you what is possible to do nearby. So when you’re near the hardware store, the things that you can do there will be at the top of the list of what your next action can be.
It’s been less than a week since I started using and purchased the two versions of OmniFocus and it’s already an important part of my routine as I can rely on it. As my very busy week went on I was able to stay on top of things and kept crossing things off and adding things to my list. The best part is that I feel comfortable and secure with what I’m capturing and what I’m being reminded of. It’s great to have well-designed applications in support of a well-designed system.