GTD


I used a Palm Tungsten E2 for several years before moving to an iPod touch a year and a half ago. The Palm was my external brain in GTD style. They work great except that the screen goes out every two years. My solution to that was buying Staples’ $60 extended warrantee, where they would replace the unit one time, “no questions asked.” When the screen got fritzy, I would take it in, get a new one, and buy another extended warrantee. After the initial purchase price I was just renting it from Staples for $30 a year. Not bad.

This arrangement ended when the saleswoman at Staples (Eugene, OR) led me to believe that the warrantee she was selling extended the manufacturer’s one year warrantee for two more years–three years total. I naively took her word for it. When the screen died in 2 1/2 years, my warrantee had been dead for six months. Instead of re-upping I started using a hand-me-down 8GB iPod Touch from Reanna.

There are ways, of course, that an iPod is more useful than a PDA. You can watch videos, check email, and surf the net, for example. I hadn’t been missing those features, though, so what I most noticed when I made the change was that the iPod was way slower, less stable, and badly set up to be my GTD external brain, compared to my PDA. The neat-o factor was strong, though, and free fit my grad-school budget perfectly, so I spent several months slowly figuring out how to get it to do what I needed. Here’s what I came to:

For the Palm’s calendar function, I use the iPod calendar synced with iCal on my Mac desktop. This setup works adequately, though the iPod calendar is very slow to load and iCal occasionally freaks out and starts replicating “all-day” events every few minutes, which is a serious pain to fix. On the upside, both the iPod and iCal calendars are super cool to look at and you can color-code your calendars in any shade of any color. I love that.

For the address book, I use the iPod’s contacts app synced to Address Book on my desktop. Apart from being a little slow, this works just as well as the Palm.

For the Palm’s Tasks, I use Todo on the iPod synced with the desktop version of Todo. The desktop version cost me $15 extra and it was totally worth it. Toodledo online was terrible and I tried using iCal’s to-dos for several weeks first and that system sucked worst of all. Todo has its problems–it’s slow on the iPod and occasionally forgets how to sync and I have to relearn how to set the sync back up–but it’s a slightly more powerful system than the Palm’s. (By the way, I use Todo’s Lists as GTD contexts, not Todo’s contexts. Lists sort items way better. The downside is that Lists in Todo are basically iCal calendars, which can make your Lists list very long. I just put an @ at the beginning of each context-List so that they show up at the top of the list of Lists. (Leave me a comment if that explanation was both important to you and impossible to understand. I’ll try it again.))

For Palm’s Memos, I use Simplenote on the iPod synced to Notational Velocity on my desktop. Aside from Simplenote being infuriatingly slow, this system works great. It’s better than Memos. I tried out Evernote, which looked awesome–actually bought it–but it crashed my iPod every time I tried to use it.

For Palm’s Expenses, I use a project in Todo. This is not a great system, but I’m limping along with it.

Palm’s Notepad was cool and I used it a lot, but I don’t seem to miss it much now. There is probably a good drawing app for the iPod, but I quickly became conservative about adding new apps. About half of the ones I tried (Skype and Evernote, off the top of my head) crashed the iPod. For one thing, I need a stable system way more than I need a cool drawing app, and for another, I hate having to buy something to find out if it crashes the iPod.

I never used my Palm’s Media function, so I can’t really compare it to the iPod, but I’m sure the iPod would easily win in that category. I don’t use my iPod to store photos or videos, but I do love being able to store music and podcasts on it. And I do enjoy being able to stream videos on it. I also really like that I can plug a mic in and record–I keep an audio journal and this means that I don’t have to carry around an extra gizmo. (Though it sucks that Voice Memo is so unreliable. I lose about 15% of the longer recordings I make which, as a recording engineer, gives me a small heart attack every time. And I haven’t seen a recording app that seems better yet. Any suggenstions?)

And I really do love the interface. So neat! So pretty! I was fairly obsessed with it for a while. My friend Debra named my iPod “Petunia” and asked if Reanna was jealous, I was spending so much time with it.

I just entered the assignments listed on the syllabi from my first two (of four) classes–Family Theory and Gender & Ethnicity in Family Therapy. It’s all reading and writing. There are about 20 assignments that I have on repeat in my PDA, so they only show up once here. Still, I anticipate that this is about half of my workload for the next 10 weeks.

Virtual dialog entry for Family Theory    10/6/2009
Two questions from readings–Family Theory    10/7/2009
Personal Epistemology essay 1    10/7/2009
616 e-reserve Glasserfeld    10/7/2009
619 Genogram    10/7/2009
McGoldrick ch 1    10/7/2009
Read Genogram Materials folder    10/7/2009
619 Read AAMFT Code of Ethics URL    10/7/2009
619 Read Chronister, McWhirter, & Kerewsky [In Ecological Model folder]    10/7/2009
Personal Epistemology essay 2    10/14/2009
616 Pragmatics ch 2-3    10/14/2009
616 e-reserve Bateson Theory of schizophrenia    10/14/2009
616 Sullivan lecture 1    10/14/2009
619 Ecological risk and resilience worksheet    10/14/2009
Read a chapter of McGoldrick et al. that relates to your family of origin, and one that seems very different. Write in your journal about these chapters, particularly in relation to yourself.    10/14/2009
Read McGoldrick et al., Appendix: Cultural Assessment    10/14/2009
Skim McGoldrick et al., Chapters 36, 37, 38    10/14/2009
619 Genogram and ecological worksheet due    10/14/2009
619 Read Shachtman    10/14/2009
619 Skim Paniagua    10/14/2009
619 Read McIntosh URL    10/14/2009
619 Read Kincaid    10/14/2009
Personal Epistemology essay 3    10/21/2009
Family theory quiz 1    10/21/2009
Pragmatics ch 4-5    10/21/2009
616 e-reserve Jackson on Homeostasis    10/21/2009
616 Sullivan lecture 2    10/21/2009
619 Read Gone    10/21/2009
619 Read Phinney et al.    10/21/2009
619Read Sullivan et al.    10/21/2009
Personal Epistemology essay 4    10/28/2009
Pragmatics ch 6-7 and epilogue    10/28/2009
616 e-reserve Jackson on Study of the Family    10/28/2009
Sullivan lecture 3    10/28/2009
619 1000-1500 wd reflection paper (weird format–look in syll)    10/28/2009
Read McGoldrick et al,. Chapter 20, 21, 27    10/28/2009
619 Read Serdarevic & Chronister     10/28/2009
619 Read Boyd-Ball & Dishion    10/28/2009
619 Read Nguyen    10/28/2009
619 Read Ung    10/28/2009
619 Read Littleford    10/28/2009
Personal Epistemology essay 5    11/4/2009
Tactics, beginning to end of ch 2    11/4/2009
616 e-reserve Jackson: sick sad savage sane    11/4/2009
Sullivan lecture IV    11/4/2009
619 Begin reading Him    11/4/2009
619 Read Hertlein    11/4/2009
619 Read Grealy    11/4/2009
619 Read Grealy    11/4/2009
619 Read Decker    11/4/2009
619 Read Kerewsky    11/4/2009
619 Read Steele    11/4/2009
619 Read Mahalik et al.    11/4/2009
Personal Epistemology essay 6    11/11/2009
Tactics ch 3-4    11/11/2009
616 e-reserve Jackson, Myth of normality    11/11/2009
Sullivan lecture V    11/11/2009
619 Responses to clinical vignettes due    11/11/2009
619 Read Davies et al.    11/11/2009
619 Read Loschiavo et al.    11/11/2009
619 Read Swofford    11/11/2009
619 Read APA Guidelines for Psycholological Work with Girls and Women    11/11/2009
619 Read Ali    11/11/2009
Read McGoldrick et al., Chapters 10, 22, 23     11/11/2009
619 Read Beatie    11/11/2009
619 Read Carroll, Gilroy, & Ryan    11/11/2009
Personal Epistemology essay 7    11/18/2009
Family theory quiz 2    11/18/2009
Tactics ch 5-6    11/18/2009
616 e-reserve Dramatization of Evil    11/18/2009
619 Clinical paper    11/18/2009
619 Read hooks    11/18/2009
619 Read Lott    11/18/2009
619 Read Miller & Thoreson    11/18/2009
619 Read Beah    11/18/2009
619 Read Williams & Williams-Morris    11/18/2009
619 Read Reeve    11/18/2009
619 Read Root    11/18/2009
Read McGoldrick et al., Chapter 5    11/18/2009
Skim McGoldrick et al., Chapters 6, 7, 8, 9    11/18/2009
Personal Epistemology essay 8    11/25/2009
Family theory paper presentation    11/25/2009
Tactics ch 7-9    11/25/2009
616 e-reserve Tomm on Milan FT    11/25/2009
619 Read Yardley    11/25/2009
Tactics ch 10-12    12/2/2009
616 e-reserve Madanes on Stratigic FT    12/2/2009
619 Read doctoral students’ summary of Sue et al.    12/2/2009
619 Read Georgas et al. (2 parts)    12/2/2009

This has been my busiest term of school ever. I’ve got two very challenging classes, Social Psychology and Applied Data Analysis, my honors thesis, and a ten hour a week internship at Stepping Stone, a residential treatment center for adjudicated teenage boys. On top of that, I’m taking the GRE (Graduate Record Exam–a really hard test, like the SAT for getting into graduate schools) during finals week. That’s on the same day as my last final. That’s the point in my story where my classmates’ eyes bug a little. “OK, that’s crazy.”

This is too busy. I don’t like it. I like being in heavy intellectual training. I like being in this kind of shape; I can read and understand a journal article in a couple hours, for example. I enjoy being this productive, too, but I’ve gotten stressed out. About halfway through the term I started skimping on my non-intellectual stuff, to keep on top. My meditation practice is getting the squeeze–I’m rarely sitting for more than 15 minutes a day and often it’s just a token few minutes. That’s when I feel how strong my mind is going the most–when I’m sitting to meditate or lying down to sleep, this clear, powerful thinking, like a force, pushing up to the front of my head, driving my awareness and dominating my experience. I am getting enough sleep, at least. I’ve been strict with myself on that and it makes a big difference. My exercise has been getting the squeeze, though. All I do is bike, and I like biking but I also like to run, lift weights, and swim. I just can’t do them as part of my commute. I ride for transportation 30-90 minutes a day. I bike between classes. Sometimes it feels like all I do with my body is bike, sit, and sleep. Not very much walking, even.  I dance, too, probably four hours a week on average. That’s gotten some squeeze, but not too much. My songwriting and music playing has gotten the squeeze. My emotional support has gotten the squeeze. I’m down to maybe one co-counseling session a week and no phone time with friends. I’m lucky to live with good friends, so I still get supportive conversations. I get almost no physical affection, though. I can’t blame that on my term–I’m just far away from my most affectionate friends and family. Danielle, Maya, Jeannie, Mom, I miss you! I miss the rest of you too. I want to be in your lives more. I want to know how you are and what you’re doing.

But not for a couple more weeks. After this post, I’m putting my head down, business only, until the term is over. I’ll start posting again in mid-December. Have a great Thanksgiving and end of fall!

Here are some photographs of my calendar I took when I first conceived of this post, a few weeks ago. They are the first six weeks of my term. I’m a little nostalgic about how much more balanced I felt in those days. (Look at all that blue, red and pink!) Here’s what you’re looking at: I kept track of what I did, as I did it. Anything that I did for at least 15 minutes at a time made it on here. (My week calendars do not look like this ahead of time–they have only firm commitments and deadlines in them, GTD-style.) The columns are days, Sunday to Saturday, from about 8 am to about 11 pm. The purple is school stuff, like classes and studying. The blue is personal stuff, like cooking, eating, cleaning, and talking with friends. Green is office work, blogging, working in the elections office, teaching dance classes or lessons. Orange is dancing. Red is meditation and co-counseling. Pink is exercise. Yellow is Suntop stuff–chores, meetings, and outings.

Week 1

Week 1

Week 2

Week 2

Week 3

Week 3

Week 4

Week 4

Week 5

Week 5

Week 6

Week 6