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June 21, 2005

woefully incomplete

I admit, things have been busy (the very thing I'm trying to fix!) and I've been neglecting reporting on what I've taken from GTD so far. So here's a quick answer to the question, "Should I pick this book up? Is it worthwhile?" Keep in mind, I'm in the middle of part 2 (i.e. the implementation).

Question: Is it worth $15.00?

Answer: Sure!

Skim section one, read section two. he spends some time reassuring the reader that they can in fact be more productive, or making the case to get organized, which you just have to go through, shake your head and keep saying "yeah yeah I get it".. but section two (the implementation) has a lot of good tips.

At heart, Allen is pragmatic about productivity in a way that strikes a chord with me. The best productivity trick for you is the one that communicates between your 'smart' side (planning the night before some critical task) to your 'stupid' side (waking up, running out the door not thinking). So part of his advice is to identify tricks that you use right now, and I would add that one needs to reflect on how these types of tricks came about in the first place before delving deeper into learning new tricks. In my opinion, you learn the most about a new trick/tool/gadget by reflecting on the problem it's trying to solve.

Allen is just as likely to offer abstract advice as well as helpful, concrete tips (what kind of folders to buy, what constitutes a workspace, why a label maker is critical, etc) which when you think about these tips, are so obvious you wonder why you didn't start doing all of this in the first place. He also presents a choice early on-- implement the "full" system, or just read through the book and pick up a few tips along the way-- if you learn at least one new trick (even if it's the fact that you need a label maker) and it helps you be more productive for the next fifteen years, isn't that worth fifteen bucks? I'd say so.

I plan to fully implement the proposed system (for a while at least), but only because I find myself agreeing with many of the recommendations and seeing the value of his insights. But then again, this is my first experience trying to formalize a "system" and get my crap organized-- perhaps if you've been burned before by other productivity gurus, you might be more jaded, and less willing to make this leap of faith.

Regardless, I can't imagine anyone not gleaning at least something useful from the book. I have yet to finish the entire process, but it already started me thinking about a few practices I already implement, and wondering why I lack consistency in their application, when they work for me so well.

June 09, 2005

Creative Post-Its

Post-It

I learned something interesting today about Post-It notes. There's a small meeting room that some of the analysts near us had abandoned when they moved into a new office space. I walked in there to clean out some of the items they left on the wall and I was impressed by some of the charts they had made using brown paper stapled to the wall, and a series of well placed Post-It notes.

I know this is only the kind of thing that I'd find interesting (heh) and it might seem obvious, but I had never given much thought to how making simple shapes & combining colors with these notes could help convey so much information at once.

Yellow and green slips can create a third type of note by folding one into a triangle and leaving the sticky side on a square of the other color.

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Pink slips were either used by themselves, or folded into a pointer shape. On this board in particular, they were used as markers along a process.

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Here's a mock up of how it looks. The content & writing of the slips of paper isn't that important-- what I was hoping to demonstrate here is that through basic paper folding and color combination, information and a sense of order comes through using nothing more than Post-Its in three colors.

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