Right away, I loved the idea of an app remembering things for me. Life does come at me fast. Balancing is challenging, so I appreciated David Allen’s wisdom in this week’s TEDx video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHxhjDPKfbY&feature=youtu.be).
In the first GTD phase, I used SpringPad to collect all of my to-do items in a term that quickly endeared itself to me: the mind-dump. Often I work hard to edit myself while writing, even writing a to-do list. While compiling my mind-dump list, however, I actively worked against this tendency, listing tasks in the exact order they came to me. When my list was complete, I had 47 items.
It didn’t take long to dump these thoughts onto SpringPad, which, albeit a new tool for me, was intuitive and accessible, characteristics that made integrating new tools into my routine undaunting. At first, the to-do items came flying at me and each triggered a chain reaction of thought. I recorded them all using SpringPad. The more time I spent recording, the smoother the process went. First, it felt overwhelming. Then it felt liberating!
As David Allen explains, “Crisis can actually produce a kind of calm that’s rare to find sometimes. Why? It demands it.” Forced to process all of my “floating” tasks, I had to first identify and then process each one. Having a huge to-do list can sometimes feel threatening, but actually eliminating items from that list felt empowering.
To begin eliminating items, I first determined which items were actionable. As it turns out, they all were. Then, I noted which items would take less than two minutes. I was surprised about how many fell into this category! That realization was encouraging, but it meant actually accomplishing items, so I got to work. Following is an image that depicts all of the 2-minutes-or-less tasks:
Once those items were complete, I began to delegate or defer. I found it more productive to action a task versus delegate it. For the remaining items, I used Google calendar to build a comprehensive calendar where I deferred any remaining tasks. Instead of juggling separate calendars, sticky notes, and frequent email checking, I now simply pull up my singular color-coded Google calendar and leave it up all day.
Completing this process has not only increased my productivity, but also my level of mindfulness regarding the collection and organization of to-do items. I feel like I’m sleeping better already!
Allen, D. (2012, October 30). David Allen: The art of stress-free productivity.
[Video file]. Retrieved from