Monday, July 30, 2007

I Am Getting Things Done

Well, well, well, when last we saw our intrepid blogger, she had completed the Brain Dump, but had progressed no further.

Nearly a month later (how can that be?), and I've got more progress to report! I've finally settled on a system to capture my Next Actions: Vitalist. This is a free online organizing program (with upgrades for $5 monthly) that is specifically designed to complement the Getting Things Done methodology. I first learned about Vitalist on Darren Cauthon's blog, so thanks very much. I notice that Flibbert is exploring it, too!

I've been using Vitalist for about 10 days and I really like it. I wish they'd add some other features (like a Calendar) and the interface isn't as intuitive as it could be, but I'm otherwise quite happy with it. I have it synched with my Backpack calendar.

But the burning question I'm sure you have is: "These programs are all spiffy of course, but are you actually getting more things done?" And I'm thrilled to report that the answer is "Yes!"

I'm still developing my daily routines to process my inbox and review my Next Actions list and there are a few minor details that haven't completely sunk into my brains just yet, but really, I've accomplished many of the things I intended to do! It is very nice to have a place to capture all of my tasks as they occur to me and a method by which to make decisions about them. My piles of Stuff have diminished considerably (just ask my hubby) and I feel very productive. And I'm able to set a better example for my Shadows, who will be much better off with a more organized and productive parent.

Long ago in a former life, I was a process improvement consultant (difficult to believe, reading my blog lately, but really it's true!). We used the FOCUS-PDCA method of analyzing and improving business processes, which will probably mean zilch to most people reading this. The PDCA part stood for: Plan, Do, Check, Act. Like many of my former clients, I have been stuck in the Plan stage and had little time or motivation to devote to the Do stage. Sometimes it's just hard to know when to stop Planning and begin Doing and what to begin Doing next. I think I've got a much better handle on that issue now.

There's an Ayn Rand quotation in here that I can't quite put my hands on just now, so I will paraphrase: Acting without thinking and thinking without acting--both are immoral. So now that I'm thinking a bit clearer and acting a bit more efficiently according to my goals, I am and will continue to be much happier!


Anonymous said...

Heh heh heh. No offense but my business (software engineering) has had the, uhm, experience of dealing with these efficiency planning people, hired by our clients. Our theory was that once these creators of time realized we were really hard working and efficient they kept "finding ways" of saving themselves time by making us do all the work. That is how they created time. They were paid far more than us. Still not sure what the hell they did, really. Just thought Id get that off my chest.

Rational Jenn said...

Glad you got that off your chest!

Sometimes I hesitate mentioning that particular former job (and incidentally, my major area of interest within operations management) because it gives people the willies and also because it's difficult for me to convey that I was NOT an "efficiency expert."

There is a subtle but important difference between "process improvement" and "efficiency."

When done properly in the proper context and with the correct goal in mind (making money), the job I did was very effective. I found that I got the most improvement out of people who were decidedly lacking in the common sense department. People with common sense usually can improve their own processes without outside assistance. Since this job I had was in a hospital, there was enough of a dearth of common sense that people often needed me!

Unfortunately, unscrupulous "consultants" take advantage of companies by offering little value for their "work." That ain't me, though. You're gonna have to take my word for it for now because I don't feel a blog post on this subject welling up inside me just now!

Anonymous said...

Oh, hee hee, I am quite happy to take your word for it. Nevermind me, I'm cranky.

Love the blog.

Darren said...

I'm glad you like Vitalist. I've been using it about the same amount of time, and it has helped me a lot. It is such a huge relief to have all of those to-do items on a nice-and-neat computer checklist instead of floating in my head.

Here's another cool way to use Vitalist: You can send items to your inbox from your cell phone. Now, if something pops in my head that I need to do and I'm not at a computer, I can just type it into my cell phone, hit send, and it's in my system.

Rational Jenn said...

Anon--glad you like the blog!

Darren--thanks again. I hadn't delved into the other remote features of Vitalist, but I do like the idea of being able to email myself as I have ideas. Do you have the basic membership or the upgrade? I'm still on basic right now.