Licorize as a low effort GTD tool
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Licorize is not associated in any form with Mr. David Allen or its company, http://www.davidco.com. When referring to the GTD book, we will refer to Piatkus edition 2009.
Getting Things Done, also abbreviated as GTD, is a popular time management productivity method created by David Allen. It is presented in this book, though I find Mr. Allen’s presentations through video or podcast to be more accessible for a first approach. See for example this “Do lecture”:
Personally I am quite skeptical of any “personal coaching” ideology, but Mr. Allen seems relaxed enough not to be in danger of generating “cults” or delusions about self training that may actually be more damaging than useful. See this old Wired biographical article about him.
Licorize is not just a GTD tool: it is basically an idea collector that is compatible with several GTD practices. Our hope is that Licorize supports a quick & short cycle of “collect – organize in actions” thanks to its integration with the web worker’ online activity without loosing too much information even when collecting is a quick action.
GTD’s methodology is a way to make an agreement with oneself, about managing “ideas overload” – not to be confused with information overload: the overload GTD wants to relieve is internal, self generated, not due to external sources.
I now try to summarize how one proceeds when following GTD (this is a very personal interpretation with no pretence of neither correctness nor completeness).
My summary of GTD
Everything that comes to your mind about things to be done, thought, plans etc. must be written down ASAP somewhere, actually in the same specific place if possible: this place is the bucket (more than one bucket is possible, but let’s stick to the basics). Then each item in the bucket must somehow be processed. You must find some quiet moment in which to process the bucket’s content – it is not sufficient to collect. List making is not by itself a way to have things under control. Processing means that you have to go mercilessly through each item in the bucket and decide whether it can be made actionable, i.e. it can be restated / transformed in something clear that can be done, or not. If not, it is not relevant, at least not yet. If it is actionable, it may be you doing it or somebody else, and you may be doing it now or at a fixed future moment. That’s the normal activity, to which a great help is to ritualize a moment “the weekly review” where all items, from the basket and including all those already actionable and planned are reviewed. This ritualized check is a way to keep a “completely emptied my mind” standard.
GTD’s flow and Licorize
We will now follow closely GTD’s flow (as per the GTD workflow diagram – page 36 of the GTD book) and see how Licorize can help at each step.
While true that the main problem is your internal psychic stress, it is true that meeting many many external information sources and not having a quick way to “put it in the bucket” will contribute to such psychic stress.
Licorize facilitates putting everything that you are taking a mental note of in the basket. That is why we expanded Licorize so that with it you can collect not only bookmarks but all sorts of information, also much that is presented in other means (Tweets, RSS, DMs, e-mail, Evernote, DropBox etc.). This also facilitates keeping the set of baskets to a minimal number – possibly one.
What is it?
The fact that Licorize asks you to do a minimal classification of any information entered through types, even if you ignore tagging, is just in line with the GTD idea of asking of any incoming information: “what is this?”.
The first classification – idea, to-do, note, reminder, plain bookmark etc. is really quick but helpful.
Is it actionable?
Of the various possible classification of “in”, GTD considers asking “is it actionable” the most important one. This because “in” information tends to be vague, and as long as it remains vague, unsolvable and burdening.
Notice that both possible answers to this question, yes and no, require some further action. In this perspective, you should try to avoid adding unclassified strips in Licorize. Anyway now the weekly review in Licorize warns you about such entries.
If something is not actionable, probably the best idea is to simply trash it.
GTD also offers the possibility to classify it as a “Someday / Maybe” entry, and Licorize supports just this.
if you tag any strip with the special tag “somedayMaybe”, this will disappear. It will not be in your timeline, nor in your projects and neither in your search results.
But if you filter by the tag “somedayMaybe”, all those strips will be listed and it will be possible there to transform them into actionable items.
Yes: What is the next action
So if the information collected is “actionable”, you should somehow transform it so that it is very clear what is the action to be taken. Licorize’ ease of type transformation, and the fact that information is preserved when transforming makes it a help also in this phase.
In our opinion information transformation is at the core of GTD, and also of Licorize: it is what makes it a practical (and not simplistic) solution in the long run – we hope.
Also useful the fact that information collected with a client, or say sent as a “remind me later” from a client to Licorize can then easily be edited and transformed.
The actions to be taken “generated” from the incoming item may be single, quick, personal, or not: GTD considers various cases.
2 minutes: do it
If something is really quick, it is probably more practical to do it immediately than dragging it around.
Of course it may be that it is not you the one that has to take action; Licorize is a powerful tool for distributing actios in teams and projects, strip-by-strip, via bulk actions, or even using a Kanban-like drag-and-drop interface.
To-do items in Licorize may be deferred to a date.
At page 37 of the GTD book some example projects are listed:
R&D joint-venture video project
All these are multi-step projects, that may involve several people, each with different set of actions. All this is perfectly supported by Licorize projects.
More GTD inspired considerations
“No more daily to-do lists”
In the GTD book Allen writes under “No more daily to-do lists”:
daily to-do lists… such lists don’t work, for two reasons: … constant new input and shifting tactical priorities reconfigure daily work so consistently … trying to keep a list that must be rewritten on another day if items don’t get done, is demoralizing and a waste of time.
(Chapter 2, page 40)
I think many will identify in this kind of frustrated attempts. The point is having the actionable items list, and not trying to over-formalize work generating more wasted time and frustration. This is why adding Licorize to-do management just as an addition to an activity that you already do – surfing – could be the simplest approach.
You need to be able to review the whole picture of your life and work at appropriate intervals and appropriate levels
(GTD book, Review section, page 45)
A consistent use of reviewing is key for keeping a focused set of next actions and priorities. GTD suggest to review frequently, actually weekly. Licorize has a specific section for reviewing strips.
Licorize’s users most frequent misunderstanding of the weekly review is to consider it as an occasion to “put things in the bucket”, but the point of it is is not to add entries, but to review every item in the bucket. All your items should already be in the bucket – and hopefully Licorize’s integrations should have facilitated that.
In order to make the weekly review even more attractive, we used some gamification techniques: see here.
Out of GTD: the imperfections of human nature
A large number of GTD practitioners do not apply GTD by the book. Instead, they take what they found as the most useful parts of the GTD system and adopt it to suit their own needs. Licorize’s flexibility let’s you do this. For example, consider this simplified view of GTD: http://lifehacker.com/software/feature/practicing-simplified-gtd-335269.php . It is definitively sustainable when using Licorize.
We also added some “non standard” features to Licorize weekly reviews: a button “refill review” which adds all open todos and all readitlater and all books of last seven days. Also now at the end of the weekly review you review also all the open projects.
But… do you use it?
Do I use GTD? Well, I use Licorize, I use all the tools that it provides for GTD, I take note ASAP of whatever comes to my mind, I do a weekly review and try to turn things into actionable items. For both the “taking note quickly” and the transformation phase, I do find Licorize to be a naturally useful tool. Licorize is a fantastic tool to empty your head – the first productivity idea at the core of GTD.
In terms of personal management, I found that Seth Godin’s ideas about “shipping and quieting the Lizard brain” also have had quite an impact on the way I handle my production habits – and they combine nicely with my personal version of GTD.
See here Godin in action.
A Licorize booklet with all the references from this post: