A Better Way
If you dreamed of the “perfect system” what attributes would it have? We think it would:
- Keep everything in one system (versus one way for one kind of to-dos and another method for other types of to-dos).
- Allow you to group items in different ways, so that you’re not staring at all 80 to-dos that you’ve written down. Instead, you can look only at “Downtown” to-dos, or “My daughter” to-dos. You can sort by priority, where, who, what.
- Allow you to remove emails out of the Inbox and into your to-do system, so that you can experience Inbox Zero. These emails can be sorted as either:
- an action item
- a ‘waiting for’ item
- a “to be reviewed/read” item, or
- a “deferred until later” item
- Be where you are, up to date, when you need it.
Emails stuck in the Inbox are usually of 4 types:
- Action Items (a to-do stuck in them)
- Waiting For Items (waiting for a reply back from someone)
- Read/Review Items (you want to look at this later or re-read)
- Sticky Items: emails that you want around or archived for some reason)
- Allow you to approach what to do next from different points of view, “wearing different hats” and organize and view those items accordingly.
- Have a way to capture ideas and to-do items when you think of them, getting ALL of them out of your head.
- Keep you in control and not overwhelmed even if you have a TON of things to do.
We have created exactly this. Because of the impact it’s having on our lives and businesses, we call it The Secret Weapon, or TSW for short.
The Mindset: Getting Things Done
For some years, many of us that seek this kind of “life productivity” nirvana we’re talking about here have adopted practices laid down by author David Allen, in his seminal book on modern personal productivity, called Getting Things Done, or GTD for short. We ourselves have used this GTD philosophy in our personal lives and the TrueToniqs office for years, but until now, we’ve never had a great way to represent it.
In order to fully understand The Secret Weapon, the Getting Things Done book is required reading. We highly recommend this quick paperback as not only a primer to thinking about organizing yourself in a new way, but as the underlying principles on which TSW is based.
For now, though, the basic premise of GTD is that typically we tend to keep many ideas and tasks rumbling around in our heads, and a lot of energy is expended just trying not to forget to do them. Author Allen labels all of this as “stuff”. He defines stuff as, “anything you have allowed into your psychological or physical world that doesn’t belong where it is, but for which you haven’t yet determined the desired outcome and the next action step.”
This collection of stuff — uncompleted to-dos banging around in our brain — are all “Open Loops” which cause very big problems. Not only do lots of things gets forgotten, but more importantly, these undone and unorganized to-dos remain in the finite amount of memory in our mind, creating a background, ongoing noise that makes us much less productive.
GTD’s basic premise is that if you can get those ideas out of your head, and into a system that you trust, then you become a more calm, more focused, more clearheaded, and a more capable human being.
These gains aren’t just useful for business. We suggest that no matter who you are, what age you are, and what you do — a yoga teacher, a mother, a student, a truck driver, a person who’d decided to lose weight or run their first 10k or plant a garden in their backyard — this process of getting all to-dos out of your head and down into a system will create clarity and focus for anyone who has a dream and wants to accomplish it. We further suggest that a big reason these elements are partially missing in many modern-day inhabitants is precisely because we haven’t stopped long enough to recognize that we don’t have a system for tracking our growing list of life’s to-dos.
Definition of STUFF
GTD author David Allen defines stuff as:
“Anything you have allowed into your psychological or physical world that doesn’t belong where it is, but for which you haven’t yet determined the desired outcome and the next action step.”
When you make the decision to use a system that gets *every* idea and action item and to-do out of your brain and into a workable system like the one we’re about to show you, then your mind becomes more freed up to focus 100% on the current task at hand. This seems like an incredibly simple and obvious idea, but once you experience the results of what Allen calls “mind like water,” it feels like nothing short of a revolution. And that’s what we feel TSW is — a revolution in living.
Again: it’s important to read the book, Getting Things Done, to get full understanding of what we’re describing here. For now, we’ll leave you with the shortest synopsis we’ve seen on GTD, summarized by writer and speaker Merlin Mann of 43Folders:
- Identify all the stuff in your life that isn’t in the right place (close all open loops)
- Get rid of the stuff that isn’t yours or you don’t need right now
- Create a right place that you trust and that supports your working style and values
- Put your stuff in the right place, consistently
- Do your stuff in a way that honors your time, your energy, and the context of any given moment
- Review weekly
Filling in the Gap
For years, we’ve taught of our employees at Truetoniqs the basic principles outlined in GTD and use them daily. We have been true and ardent students of the system.
Author David Allen admits, though, that he doesn’t offer many suggestions on which particular tools or software applications to utilize in order to practice GTD. This is as it should be. David created the underlying architecture for accomplishing life goals; each reader and practitioner is then left to search out and put together the tools that work best for themselves and their situation. And any Google search will come up with many suggestions on which PC or Mac- based applications people are using. And we’ve tried most of them. After years of trial and error, we believe we have found the software holy grail. There have even been other GTD attempts using this exact software, but we think we have formulated the perfect mixture of ease of use, and flexibility.
In constructing a natural system, we need a way to create lists of to do items, organize them into multiple groups, and have the ability to access and filter them easily.