GSG Cast: Getting Things Done and 43 Folders – One Month Later

March 12, 2009 - By 

It’s been one month since reading Getting Things Done
and discovering Merlin Mann’s 43 Folders.

This cast is all about what I learned from them that helped me the most.

1. Turn off email alerts.
2. Collect EVERYTHING in one place.
3. Learn how to say no or give a qualified yes.

Posted In:  Ideas Inspiration
  • I’ve read GTD, but it got a bit complicated towards the end. Overall I found some useful advice, but like all training it’s only useful if you apply it, which sadly at the time I did not.
    Having said that, i’ve found my worst distractions come from lack of focus to begin with. I’m an RSS feed addict, but I only tend to get distracted by them when I haven’t set myself clear enough goals for the project i’m working on.
    I only worked this out when I had a solid idea and worked on it productively all day without checking my feeds more than once or twice during breaks. In the past I would scatter my time quite heavily between my work and my distractions, which was naturally quite unproductive!
    It also doesn’t help that I tied my GTD tasks into Gmail, which means my email and feeds were all right there.

    I’ve “Clicked That Button” a lot over the last few days, but I count that as being productive. 😛

  • i’m addicted to Facebook and Digg, my way of solving this is to go in to my router and block those websites during certain hours of the day.

  • I found myself constantly browsing blogs and rss, it’s as “easy” as turning off my wireless unless i need to send something.. that said that doesn’t always happen. What i’ve been doing recently is using my iPod Touch/phone for anything outside of work, eg. personal emails, feeds- that way i don’t have to hide any applications therefore keeping my mindset in work.

  • Good stuff Nick, I find myself especially guilty of the “yes” syndrome. I’m not an overly organized person so I really need to work at it to keep track of things, recently I’ve been using Zenbe Lists on my iPhone for to-dos. It lets you sync to an account on their website that works pretty similarly to Omnifocus I think.

  • Great topic.

    The daily checklist is key. I’ve ended up with two lists, things to accomplish today, and long-term projects to work on/develop. I’m also trying not to be the “yes” person for everything. Friendships hurt over that.

    When I really need to sit down and focus, the coffee shop with no internet always works best for me. I’m a huge Facebook/Twitter/RSS addict and can still get them on my iphone, but somehow the coffee shop almost always works.

    At work, (it’s such a HORRIBLE thing to say) my biggest setback has been my co-workers hanging out in my edit room 6-8 times a day. Because of that, I tend to spend a good 2-3 hours daily with people in my edit room pitching ideas or shooting the shit. I love to talk mograph, production, and creativity, but I am not as efficient as I’d like to be at work. I can’t quite create “office hours,” and I don’t want to shut some people out while letting others in. Some people are starting to understand, but there are a few who I know will take things personally if I kindly ask them to cut back on the time in my room.

    Working offsite has always been my solution, but I can’t do that every day.

  • Great post! Personally, I like Cultured Code’s Things. I have it for my iPhone and it has been great. I think my biggest distraction is trying to get the creative juices going by finding inspiration online and then getting sucked in the vortex of cyberspace. I have spent a lot of my life “wishing I could do cool work like that” when all I need to do is make the time to do it.

  • Thanks Erilaz, chrisfig and PT! Well Said Byron. Yes Staticjoe, making a daily check list is really helpful for me. Especially with stuff like “make dentist Apt” or “buy coffee.”

  • great cast man! haven’t read GTD, but will definitely look into it…distractions a plenty over here too..twitter, my site(s), that facebook, blog after blog, GSG casts 😉
    that Omnifocus sounds cool as well…speaking of organization, is “Contrast” coming out soon..?

  • “i’m addicted to Facebook and Digg, my way of solving this is to go in to my router and block those websites during certain hours of the day.
    Michael Darrell”

    Thankyou, that is a great fucking shout. I’m going to do that right now, I get so distracted by the internet when I’m using it for resources/inspiration. And have to learn to shut it off. Gonna use that now.

    I’m the most un-organised person alive, I have weeks where I don’t get anything done, then some rare nights I work for from 8 pm till 3 am then don’t wake up till about 12 the following day.

    Will take some of the things said in the cast and the comments to heart, thanks.

  • hey nick,
    just wanted you to know that your blog is super rad. I found you recently as I was looking for beginning tutorials for after effects. Your lessons are just as great as the rest of your content. cheers! keep ’em coming

  • Great Video. It really made me think about organizing my life a bit more! Keep on doing those videos!

  • RSS and facebook take up way to much of my time when they shouldn’t. The last few weeks I have become less productive because I have not set any goals for myself. I think a list will work great for me.

    also great tip with the email notification!

    thanks nick
    great cast

  • For the past couple of weeks, I started this new morning routine where I open ALL my favorite sites and design blogs (about 25) in safari tabs and I don’t close the browser until I’m done looking/reading/watching at everything (quickly). It takes about 30 mins to 1 hour every morning.

    then I get to work and I don’t touch internet for the whole day (well…almost.)

    Great result in productivity so far.

    Twitter is still killing me though..

  • Good one Nick. I wish I could do that. I do see you on twitter though 🙂

  • nick I like it long. fight the urge and grow it out

  • Awesome post. Put a hold on that book at my local library. For me, iChat can be very distracting. I tend to disconnect it if I need to really focus on something.

  • I’m a disorganized person by nature and I tend to get distracted mostly by RSS feeds, Twitter, Gmail and Flickr, but I’m trying to schedule specific hours a day for these “distractions” so I can be able to do my other errands and stay in focus on my projects. Your cast was without a doubt a great help for me. 🙂

  • Cool little video today.

    My favorites are the ones about making cool shit.

  • Thanks Stuicide! I have a good post tomorrow for anyone interested in making cool shit!

  • This website is a nice distraction… just remembered that I have to create a vimeo account to send my orange thing.

  • For sure Xavier. Send it to me when it’s up!

  • Great post. I really need to boost my productivity and feel inspired to make some changes. Does anyone know of any similar apps to Omnifocus or Things for the PC?

  • Yeah…. I am another one that really needs to learn how to focus and to do things faster. I think my biggest problem is to having people around me interrupting me all the time…
    And I just cannot wait to see your inspiration post!

  • And btw, what helps me most to forget everything else when I’m working is to turn on very loud some music that I really like. All the rest of the world seems to disappear 😉

  • I work at a TV station, so more times than none, I’m being distracted by air talent or our web guy. There are three affiliate stations in this market, so I’m always watching the other two to see what they are creating and then trying to outdo them on every level. I get distracted by E-mail too. I have turned off notifications, but I have to keep it up for time sensitive purposes.

    I do love this blog…. I check it at 4:30 in the morning as soon as I get in. I did find this one to be really useful and I’m going to check into the book. I love to learn and am always open to other ideas.

    Again, you rock Nick!!!

  • That’s a good one Andréa. Loud music in some good headphones does work well.

    Thanks Rick!

  • Great post Nick, I use to keep track of all my stuff. I like it because I dont need to install any software anywhere (since I am a freelancer this is important) I just send it an email or an SMS to add reminders.

  • i think i am addicted to google reader. good words nick i am going to try to get away from it today.

  • Hey Nick,
    Good stuff. greyscalegorilla distracts me. j/k, i’m able to listen to you while I work. We’ve been listening to radiolab at our office lately, which is amazing. The show is so intense that it causes me to work harder, but it sometimes wears me down after a while.

  • Gumball Head distracts me. Nick, you distract me. I wish I got Gumball Head alerts.

  • love love love your videos. I look forward to more tutorial videos [nod nod nod]

    reading this post about getting things done reminded me of a book I had read quite a while back, “how to simplify your life”. unfortunately I can’t remember the author… [shrugs]


  • Thought with my new job behind a proxy that blocks 80% of the internet that I might be more productive. Then I discovered our guest wireless. Crap.

    I get a lot of time-sensitive emails, but have started to quit my email app and only open it once an hour. Others are starting to realize its OK if I don’t respond to emails in <5 minutes, but that was a big challenge.

    Thanks for sharing this, its definitely a process. Oh, and twitter is by far the worst distraction.

  • hey guys! check this app:

    LeechBlock is a simple productivity tool designed to block those time-wasting sites that can suck the life out of your working day.

    I Hope that be useful for someone distracted like me.

    Sorry for my english.

  • For me it’s google reader, including the icanhascheezburguer, failblog, and the whole gang.

    Thanks for posting this, I’m loving your blog.

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