Categories | Getting Started | Getting Things Done | Implementation
A challenge for many GTDers is how to have a trusted system among several discrete software systems. Typically the situation arises in the workplace where either Outlook or Lotus Notes exists, plus other systems that may be CRMs, databases, or dashboard and reporting tools. Additionally, the workplace systems might not be convenient or available for one’s personal life.
My system was working great for me. My lists were in Omnifocus on my MacBook Pro and iPhone. I used web-based Gmail, and I would copy the URL for an email and paste its hyperlink into the note field of an item in Omnifocus. I used iCalendar that syncs to Google Calendar. I also used a David Allen Note Taker wallet for my ubiquitous capture tool.
Being hired by David Allen Company created significant problems to my tidy GTD ecosystem. I would have to use Lotus Notes for company email and calendaring, with the eProductivity add-on being optional; LongJump for sales workflow (it is similar to SalesForce); and I would also have a BlackBerry. Starting a new job, with its learning curve, is challenging enough. Having one’s GTD system feel like it is about to blow up is downright stressful.
Fortunately, with the help of a couple of our coaches, I quickly got a rough plan on how to adapt my GTD system to a way that would be comfortable for me. My first priority was: I must keep my MacBook Pro, iPhone, and Omnifocus. The company supports Mac and PC users. I turned off eProductivity because I am going to keep my lists on Omnifocus – mainly because I want my lists on my iPhone, and I am comfortable with it.
Below is my current lists configuration (this is the result of a couple major renovations since I began the job). I separate personal from work. Within work I have different groups for projects:
- Inactive accounts – prospects and clients who do not have any activity for now but are on hold or on a trigger list for a future date
- Account development – prospects and clients with whom I am currently working, with each engagement being a project
- GTD community contributor – tracking projects such as writing this article
- DAC/GTD messaging – marketing-related projects for David Allen Company (“DAC”)
- Home office maintenance and operations – projects pertaining to my remote office
- Networking and relationships – non-sales relationships and projects
- DAC areas of focus and responsibility – higher altitude parts of my job
- DAC someday/maybe
When I get email from Notes that would take more than 2 minutes to act on it, I either move it to a folder in Lotus Notes called “Action Support” and create a Next Action in Omnifocus, or more often, I copy the content and paste it into the Next Action note and delete the email. So I do not use Notes to track anything: it is simply a conduit to me.
When I create an appointment, I do it in iCalendar. It syncs to Google Calendar and Lotus Notes Calendar, which then syncs to my iPhone and BlackBerry. However, when I respond to a call appointment sent to me via Lotus Notes, I need to manually duplicate it to iCalendar, because Notes does not replicate to my personal calendar system. Again, my personal calendar system is my “real” calendar but I need to use Lotus Notes for me job for the sake of others, so this works fine, if not perfectly elegantly.
When a prospective client calls me, I create a new project for her in “Account development.” In the project notes field, I paste her contact information from her email, and this is where I type all my notes, and paste relevant email excerpts. This is also where I transcribe any paper notes I have from meetings. Of course, I also create my Next Actions. But I still need to comply with company policy by using LongJump sales/CRM tool. So I create the record and maintain it as required, oftentimes pasting information from my project notes. So as Notes is a merely a conduit for me and Omnifocus is my trusted system, LongJump is a reference and reporting system for me and Omnifocus is where I actually manage my workflow.
When I am not at my desk, here is how I use my BlackBerry for email: I scan incoming emails, delete the ones I can, respond to brief-response or time-sensitive emails, and File other emails to an Action Required folder. Then when I get to my computer, I process those emails into my system.
Obviously, I have a complex work set-up with many tools I must use, plus a few that I wish to use no matter what. While it certainly took some time to fine-tune and get familiar with, I have firm control over the situation. The key reason is that, no matter how many disparate systems and tools I have, I work from Omnifocus and everything else is merely either a conduit or a reference system, from my perspective. However, I am also complying with company requirements by using their systems properly: I manage work emails, maintain the work calendar, and maintain the sales/CRM system. I simply do not use any of those systems as my personal tracking system.
To some this seems complicated and redundant. However redundant some elements of it may be, the reality is that my thinking is not redundant: I have one trusted system and it is from there that I do most of my work.