Actually Getting Big Things Done is a series of guests posts on how to make things happen from those who know how to… well… actually get big things done. Today’s post comes from C.J. Chilvers of A Lesser Photographer. The depth that C.J. packs into the simplest of concepts boggles the mind. I can’t say in pages what he manages to accomplish in a sentence. In addition to being one of my favorite verbal sparring partners (I love arguing with people who are smarter than I am), I’m continually in awe of what the man makes.
A year ago, I believed I had GTD licked. I had major goals, broken into projects, broken into next actions, all neatly arranged by context. I was working the plan. I was shipping. Then, life intervened.
Early this year, my son was born and there were some complications. That meant spending several weeks in a few different hospitals with my iPhone as my personal and work computer.
A few weeks later, I was given 350 new writing projects at work to complete within the next 9 months (in addition to the usual ad hoc work). These were not articles, but full-blown legally binding digital publications, subject to several levels of approval and government audit.
My system (and my sanity) was not ready for any of this.
I was getting a few hours sleep a day at best. At the same time, a few websites were “borrowing” my work and being rewarded for it (someday I’ll tell that story). In short, my enthusiasm for the whole web thing was waning and the weight of the world felt like it was doing jumping jacks on my head. I needed to take control back.
One of my first responses was to throw every piece of task management software I knew of at the problem. I ran Omnifocus, Things, Reminders and Taskpaper simultaneously in an effort to discover which app’s strengths worked best with this particular blend of stressors.
Each succeeded and failed in its own way. Every app had at least one essential thing missing that I loved about another. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if all the app makers conspired in secret to limit just one crucial feature each to get people like me to try them all.
I even set up a Kickstarter, turning it into a project management tool to weed out projects readers didn’t want. And weed it did.
Of course, I knew all these tools were ultimately a distraction. Maybe I needed a distraction. But even with all those distractions, even as hard as I tried to think about my mounting tasks, the most important tasks still somehow got accomplished.
They got accomplished because they didn’t need management. Taking care of my wife and son were my BFD task. Everything else was really just a someday/maybe item.
I don’t pretend to know what this means about GTD or GTD apps. I just know that 2012 became the year I lived less productively and more purposefully. I want more of less.