Using Things To Get Things Done

I’ve always had such a hard time getting organized. My desk is a mess and using paper or post its to organize things I need to get done just creates more clutter, as I’m one of those people that keeps everything. The more paper I generate, the more I start shuffling it around in case I might need it.

When I read the book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen as the result of a recommendation from Tom The Architect, the very first thing I thought of was that there was no way this would work for me – I would be drowning in paper that I would never throw away. For some reason, no matter how small the writing – I feel like I just might need it someday and wind up keeping it around – forever.

My first foray into automated organization was getting Things for iPhone (available for $9.99 in the iTunes App Store), thinking that, along with the rest of my life – if I had my to do lists in my phone I would pay attention to them and be motivated to actually do them. The fact that you could categorize things in order of importance, or schedule things for a certain date added even more sweetness. I could pay attention to things that were important, but remember things I wanted to do “someday”.

The main problem I had was disciplining myself to take the time to type these items into the phone. I am a touch typist and tend to try to type very fast, resulting in numerous spelling errors. I’m also one of those people that do not just “go to the place where there is an error and fix it”, but for some reason have conditioned myself over time to just delete everything I’ve typed up to the error, no matter how much, and retype. Needless to say, this kind of killed my motivation for actually keeping my list up to date. The times when I did – I was really productive – but I was still forgetting things – as the effort it took to get them in the phone was more than I was willing to spend.

Enter desktop version of Things. The desktop version gives me the ability to sit down anytime during the day (while I’m home) and be able to type and categorize my to do lists on my desktop. Once I am finished, I pull out my iPhone, open up the phone version – and everything synchs automagically. Things I have completed on my phone are completed on the desktop and things I’ve entered on the desktop are now entered on my phone – where I can leave for the day and begin executing.

The official version 1.0 of Things for the desktop (Mac only) will be released at the Macworld 2009 Expo. Until then, you can download the application for free and receive updates as necessary. Retail price for the official 1.0 version will be $49.00 – unless you sign up for their newsletter, in which case you can buy it for $39.

Now of course, I’ve signed up for the newsletter, but I would gladly pay the $49 for the productivity I’ve gained with the integration between these two applications. With both applications, you realize the true power of a smart phone coupled with your desktop environment.

Just to give you an example of the productivity gains, lets look at the numbers. Since first installing Things on my phone, I have entered 134 separate items to get them out of my head. 69 of those were entered between August and October 26th, before installing the desktop app (thanks Twitter, for tracking my life). That means that in 7 days, I have kept track of the equivalent number of items (65) that I entered in 3 months.

The good thing is that, of those entered, 98 are complete, with about 6 in the someday category and the rest sitting in queue waiting to be done. The scary thing is that I have no idea how I kept track of everything until now.

I know this is a lengthy review – but for someone as disorganized as I am this software has been a god send. I highly recommend that you give both a try and see how more productive you become – and how satisfied you feel at the end of each day being able to look back and actually see it. It has made all the difference in the world to me – and I’ll probably be the first one paying for the desktop app in 64 days, 4 hours, and 7 minutes.

Oh, and yes – this blog entry was actually in my list … 😉