Getting Things Done – Actiontastically

As sort of a continuation to my post On Migrations, I thought I’d post about the first piece of replacement software that I’ve found.

It’s called Actiontastic, and it’s geared toward using the Getting Things Done approach to productivity/time management. I myself have not read David Allen’s book on the subject, but simply the description of using the software (supplemented by a Wikipedia article) has given me the basic gist of the approach.

When I used my previous task management software (ToDoList by AbstractSpoon), I didn’t really think too hard about the way in which I organized tasks. I separated according to projects, but beyond that, my tasks ranged widely in scope and clarity. One task might be “E-mail quote to client,” another task might be “Make website.” The former is a good example of something that can be clearly handled and marked as done, but the latter, aside from having a somewhat ambiguous completion status, does not lend itself well to figuring out how best to spend a chunk of productive time.

There are a few major points of GTD that I’ve gotten just from reading Actiontastic’s release notes which stick with me as being good:

  1. Granularity. Focusing on every open project having a defined “next action,” that leaves no uncertainty about what must be done.
  2. Contexts – With the above actions, determining what context they must be done in – and thus being able to group actions according to context. (E.g., I am now in my car doing errands, so I should do other actions that require me to be in my car doing errands).
  3. Immediacy – Before “actions” are created, an “inbox” of items needing attention is supposed to be processed. During this process, if an action can be taken care of in approximately 2 minutes, it should just be done and gotten out of the way.

I personally welcome the changes to my organization encouraged by this new approach. I also find it interesting that, at least in my case, a search for software has led me to adopt a very different approach to the problem which I was originally searching for software to help me solve. As a software developer, I wonder about the potential for writing other types of applications that introduce people to new, otherwise unthought-of approaches to problems they face.

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