In this article I won’t go into a lot of detail about David Allen’s model Getting Things Done or GTD as I’ve written a fair bit about it in past articles. As I watch people use their iPhones I was thinking this is a marvellous tool for a component of the model. Really, the iPhone could really do all components of the model but there is one specific area of GTD that can be time consuming and laborious.
In GTD one of the first things that is done is to capture stuff that needs to be done in a general inbox. From there you process information that needs to get done or has been accomplished. Although this sounds simple and in many ways it is, we’ve become bombarded with incoming information and we have more than one thing other than our task manager that has an inbox.
In GTD our task manager has an inbox. Then we have an inbox with our mail systems which deluge us with information during the day. However, just like the task manager this inbox has to be dealt with. The mail has to be read and then if it’s worth keeping it then needs to be filed.
Finally, you probably have a storage container for the long term storage of information such as notes, emails, PDF’s and you name it. This storage container should be able to be used for any kind of digital information. In my case, I use Evernote and DEVONthink. In the case of these two, I’m now leaning towards Evernote as my bucket for all kinds of information. Although DEVONthink is far faster at the filing of information, it’s developing too many other downsides for me that I can’t get around or are difficult to get around.
The iPhone when there’s a bit of Spare Time
All of this processing information in the various inbox’s can be very time consuming. First, you have to look at it. Then you need to file it. The one problem some GTD’rs have is they create far too many tasks which sit in their inbox or system which can’t possibly be done. They might actually spend more time at the creation and processing of tasks than getting anything done a serious problem and certainly not the intent of GTD.
Accepting though there is a lot to process and it’s time consuming, the iPhone can be put to great use in this spectrum of activity. Often people, when they have a few spare minutes, start doing things on their iPhone. These spare minutes though can be put to effective use in the processing of some of the stuff we get and create in a day.
The iPhone as Sorter of Information
There are many times in the day when you’re traveling somewhere, sitting and waiting for an appointment and other such stuff wherein you could process accumulating inboxes. I find, if I have too much to read and don’t file it effectively it starts to build. Rather than doing it I actually begin deferring it which is another word for I stop doing it. It’s at, this point, to recognize this as a large part of your workflow breaks down.
However, if I do a lot of this stuff, like read my email on my iPhone or indicate the proper status of a task, at the end the day I don’t feel overwhelmed by all the stuff I need to do. I’ve done it during the few moments of downtime I’ve had on my iPhone.
You can do so much more on your iPhone using the GTD model than this but this is an excellent use of the device to ensure you’re Getting Things done. The GTD model is meant to be fluid and flexible. Yet, Getting Things Done in an orderly way is important. Why not put your iPhone to work in this endeavour thus helping you feel more in control and accomplished.