Looking back at the Last Years Promises

New Years Eve is coming up, and at that time most of us like to make a New Years Promise. I read recently that it is a good practice for our mental health. Making a promise makes us feel that we are still in control of our lifes. But often we find at the end of the year that we broke the promise that we gave ourselves 12 months ago.

This year I would suggest that we, even before New Years Eve, look back at the year that have passed. Sit down for a while and make a list of all the things that you have accomplished, everything from painting the fence to learning a new language. Looking at the final list you will see that the last 12 months has not been wasted, and that broke your promise wasn't that bad after all.
For a more comprehensive guide to making the list, read McGhee Productivity Solutions.

Introducing the Projects HPDA

For those of us that likes to have our life organized the analog way, Javier Cabrera of Emaginacion have a suggestion. A special card for your Hipster PDA, Filofax, whatever, where you collect your goals and Next Actions for the coming week. A nice way of tying together the Next Actions that you have spread around on different projects.

He also suggest a three month card where you have long-term action and also life values that you want to develop or master for that three months.

If you are a analog type of person, check it out.

Link: Introducing the Projects HPDA


Find and use your personal flags

Jason Sweeney has a very simple but effective way of remembering things to bring/do before leaving home next day, what he likes to call my blindingly obvious lifehack of the day: find and use your personal flags.

Now, why didn't I think of this? Lately I have forgotten my wrist watch in the mornings, the obvious solution is to place my glasses at the same place. Heureka!


The same amount of work done in less time, then relax

It is now over a year since I started to do GTD. Yes, I have certinly been Getting Things Done but I have still far to go before I reach the ultraefficient nirvana so may other GTD bloggers apperently have managed. My first feeling is "failure", but I reminded myself that I have been doing this for over a year and have no intention to stop and that is a achievement in itself. My next feeling was "please guys, get a life!".

I suspect that many GTD afficionados sometime do totally unproductive things like watching a rerun of Star Trek or play Unreal Tournament. They just don't mention it since then you would be "unproductive" and wouldn't be "moving towards your lifegoals".

From what I read on the different GTD blogs it seems that people use GTD to squeeze even more productive hours out of their life. Hey, Steve Pavlina even changed his sleeping pattern! Once again, "get a life".

For you who are new to GTD and personal productivity here's an advice: relax! You may get the impression that GTD and other productivity methods is meant to get more work done in the same amount of time as previously. That is true, as long as you don't define "time" as "all hours I am awake". I suggest that you set the goal to "get the same amount of work done in less time".

Getting the same amount of work done in less time sounds like a much better goal. If I am more productive I will get some more time to goof of, eat good food with friends or watch another episode of Lost. Your new personal productivity will immediately reward you with more possibilities to relax.

Don't feel bad when you take some unscheduled time off to do totaly unproductive things. As long as you feel good about it and you get your work done in time you are truly Getting Things Done.


Make your left brain understand your right hand

In Merlin Mann's latest entry at 43 Folders, My txt setup, he talks about using text files and how to name them in a logical way. He uses a system of meta-symbols and data fields. When I read this I was reminded about something similar that has been on my mind for awhile.

Whatever system you ultimately use for handling your "Getting Things Done", you will always make short notes to your self. You may write them on Post-Its, in a notebook or in your PDA. These notes end up in your inbox to later be processed during your review.

I have found that I have a very hard time writing complete sentences. My notes are often terse, just a couple of words quickly scribbled down. One recent example:
In my notebook was one entry: "ProcessTamer"
What it really should say was: "Download and try out ProcessTamer when you get home"

I usually figure out the meaning when I later read the note. The words trigger my memory and I remember what I was thinking when I wrote it. Handy but not quite up to GTD standards since it's not completly out of mind. I still depend on my memory to hand me all the details later.

Merlin Mann's entry made me think about how I write, and maybe I could use some system of icons, meta-symbols or tags to add information to my notes. A kind of GTD specific shorthand?
My above example could then be:
"H: DL ProcessTamer"

Another good thing with using tags is that you can quickly scan your notes and find those that use similar symbols.


Ten Rules for Web Startups

Evan Williams, CEO of Odeo and co-founder of Blogger, has written down his Ten Rules for Web Startups. Good solid advice, in particular a passage in rule #10 that caught my eye:

Nature requires balance for health—as do the bodies and minds who work for you and, without which, your company will be worthless. There is no better way to maintain balance and lower your stress that I've found than David Allen's GTD process. Learn it. Live it. Make it a part of your company, and you'll have a secret weapon.

Hear hear!