So having made my timetable, and having stuck to it pretty well, I felt satisfied …but at the same time something was niggling at me. This To-Do list, whilst based upon my own judgment as to what was most important in my life, felt somewhat restrictive, it was robbing me of my freedom to act spontaneously.
And then wadda-you-know, the next chapter in the book I’m currently listening to is all about time management. In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey talks about the development of time management, beginning with the introduction of notes and checklists, followed by calendars and diaries. However, use of these tools never really caught on outside of the office due to their lack of flexibility. They doesn’t account for the elastic nature of time, nor do they react well to interruptions or acts of spontaneity. They can lead people to feel so tied to their schedules that life becomes a chore. Not only that, they can serve to diminish the importance of interaction with others, and thus, inevitably, the decision is reached that this time-management thing has too high a price tag – “…so they throw the baby out with the bathwater”.
Anyway, this got me thinking. Perhaps I should consider using one of those Getting Things Done (GTD) tools again. They address the problems of basic lists by introducing contexts and enabling you to easily assign different levels of importance to tasks. So, I resurrected iGTD, a free app that gets pretty good reviews. However, after it crashed 4 times in 10 minutes I binned it and thought again.
It was then that into my head popped Merlin Mann of 43 Folders and Macbreak Weekly (and That Phone Guy). What was that software he was involved in the development of? Oh yeah, OmniFocus, winner of Macworld’s Best in Show. So, off to Omni I go and download it …and I tell you, it is a beauty.
If you are having to juggle a number of projects with multiple mini-deadlines, all requiring attention but some more urgent than others (and if you own a Mac), this is for you. It’s highly intelligent, flexible, and helps you get a clear idea of what needs doing when. Data entry is super quick and easy, and there’s iCal integration.
Merely adding all the stuff I need to do to its database has lifted a huge weight from my shoulders. I have a clear picture of every stage of every project, and can easily select items to do tomorrow from the various categories with a single click.
This emptying of my mind of ‘all these things I have to do’ has really set me free today (first day of the OmniFocus trial), it’s enabled me to let go and put all of my energy into the tasks I’ve set myself. Three homework assignments completed, a 90-minute call to my *Twinkle*, a 30 minute exercise session in the park, a little shopping escapade, and three good meals. I tell you, without Omnifocus, i couldn’t have done it.
It seems that the key is to appreciate that it’s not about time management – it’s about self-management. For me, I place a lot of emphasis upon how I visualise my workload, thus, to have a clear welcoming picture before me of things to be done actually changes my feelings towards the tasks themselves, discouraging procrastination and getting me all excited about writing a essay in Japanese on binge drinking.
I think Omnifocus have done a tremendous job by making such an easy to use yet powerful GTD tool.
Two week trial available. Take a peek at it here.