Getting Things Done

Getting Things Done
(GTD) is an action management method, a trademark and the title of the book, which describes the method by David Allen.


An abstract of core principles of GTD are as follows:

Capture everything that you need to track or remember or act on in what Allen calls a 'bucket': a physical inbox, email inbox, tape recorder, notebook, PDA, or any combination of these. Unlike other Time Management authors, David Allen doesn't suggest any preferred collection method, leaving it to the choice of the practitioner. Consequently, any storage space that is inspected regularly is acceptable to GTD.

When you process your inbox, follow a strict workflow:
Deal with one item at a time.
If an item requires action:
If not,
File it for reference,
Incubate it for possible action later.
Two minutes is a guideline, roughly the time it would take to defer the action formally.

Allen describes a suggested set of lists, which you can use to keep track of items awaiting attention:
Next actions - For every item requiring your attention, decide what is the next action that you can physically take on it. For example, if the item is 'Write project report', the next action might be 'Email Fred for meeting minutes', or 'Call Jim to ask about report requirements', or something similar. Projects - every 'open loop' in your life or work, which requires more than one physical action to achieve, becomes a 'project'. Waiting for - when you have delegated an action to someone else or are waiting for some external event before you can move a project forward, this must be tracked in your system and periodically checked to see if action is due or a reminder needs to be sent.
'To-do' items should be reserved for the next action lists.
A final key-organizing component of GTD is the filing system. Even a single piece of paper, if you need it for reference, should get its own file if it doesn't belong in a folder you already have.

Any organizational system is no good if you spend all your time organizing your tasks instead of actually doing them!

One better abstract about GDT, from
  • identify all the stuff in your life that isn’t in the right place (close all open loops)
  • get rid of the stuff that isn’t yours or you don’t need right now
  • create a right place that you trust and that supports your working style and values
  • put your stuff in the right place, consistently
  • do your stuff in a way that honors your time, your energy, and the context of any given moment
  • iterate and refactor mercilessly

Interesting research about planning

Combining Associational and Causal Reasoning to Solve Interpretation and Planning Problems.
Simmons, Reid G.
Massachusetts Inst of Tech Cambridge Artificial Intelligence Lab

Abstract : Efficiency and robustness are two desirable, but often conflicting, characteristics of problem solvers. This report presents an approach, called Generate, Test and Debug (GTD), that integrates associational and casual reasoning techniques to efficiently solve a wide class of interpretation and planning problems. The GTD paradigm generates an initial hypothesis using rules that associate features of the problem with events that can cause them. If the tester detects bugs in the hypothesis, it is debugged until a correct solution is produced. The debugger employs three domain-independent causal reasoning techniques: 1) it analyzes causal explanations produced by the tester to locate the assumptions underlying bugs in the hypothesis, 2) it regresses values back through the explanations to indicate the direction in which to change the assumptions, and 3) it replaces faulty assumptions based on a model of causality that explicitly represents time, persistence, and the effects of events. Our analysis of the GTD paradigm indicates that the generator's efficiency stems from its use of nearly independent associational rules. This enables it to construct hypotheses that are correct, or nearly so, without having to check for potential interactions between events. In contrast, the debugger achieves robustness by using causal models of how the world works to determine how events interact in the achievement of goal. We characterize domains for which GTD may be useful based on this analysis of the strengths and weakness of the two reasoning techniques.

Rethinking Gender Planning: A Critical Discussion of the Use of the Concept of Gender
Saskia E. Wieringa
Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, The Netherlands

The introduction of the concept of gender has allowed development practitioners to focus on social relations and powerstructures underlying women's subordination. Since then the term Gender and Development (GAD) has replaced the term Women in Development (WID). This approach has been welcomed by 'mainstream' development agencies. The price for acceptance has been the depoliticization and desexualization of gender planning. In this article I argue that gender should be used by gender planners in the comprehensive and radical way used by feminist social scientists. I investigate three recent texts of major theorists on gender and development issues, Kabeer, Moser and Young. I argue that by reducing gender to socio-economic issues, gender analysis loses its critical edge, its politi cal, symbolic and sexual content. I maintain that feminism should be seen as the motiva ting force behind genderplanning and planning efforts should be directed towards maximi zing the transformative potential any project or program may have.

Successful strategies of older people for finding information
Paul Curzon, Judy Wilson, and Gill Whitney,
Department of Computer Science, Queen Mary, University of London
CIRCUA, Middlesex University, London

Older people have successful search strategies for finding practical information in everyday situations but, increasingly, traditional information sources are being supplemented or replaced by web based ones. However, there are wider issues than just making information available if people are to replace existing strategies by new web based ones. In this paper we use three studies on the information usage of older people to explore the issues surrounding why they favour specific search strategy and technology combinations. The studies each investigate different aspects of information search in a natural setting and concern tasks relevant to older people as their lives change: finding e-government information and planning travel. Results suggest that a variety of measures are important in choice of strategy. Furthermore, interface mechanisms are needed that complement existing strategies, reinforce the existence and crossing of boundaries, and support interactive use of landmarks.