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My GTD system based on Evernote

This weekend while at ACCN I was asked by Ingvald to write a blogpost about my GTD system. It is based on original GTD of David Allen just a bit simplified. I use Evernote as a single place that powers my life so here I will describe the setup and my routines.

Notebooks

I have following notebooks in Evernote where I store all the information:
Agendas – notes containing discussion topics with concrete people. It could be my wife, my business partner or any other human I should have a longer conversation with.
Inbox – a place for storing all the unprocessed items.
Next Actions – simple one-step tasks that need to be done.
Active projects – complex things that need to be done, and involve doing a series of tasks to be complete, often take many weeks to finish.
Delegated projects – self-explanatory
Inactive projects – self-explanatory
Read/review – materials to read or review later. Articles, TED talks, youtube videos, etc
Reference material – This notebook contains 18 other notebooks like agile, home, work, travel, etc which in turn hold all the reference information which does not require any action (receipts, articles, etc).
Someday/Maybe – self-explanatory
Tickler – any task that requires some action in the future and needs to be postponed to a certain date. All notes here have a reminder set to that date so that Evernote sends you an e-mail when the task is due.
Tickler folder
Waiting for – a simple task which is delegated to someone and require a follow up.
Done Actions2014 – self-explanatory
Trash – self-explanatory

This is how it looks:
Notebooks

Tags

focus – this is the most important tag. Every evening I choose 3 to 5 things to be done next working day and tag those with “focus”. I allocate 2 hours in the working day to work on the tasks tagged with “focus” and if the task is not finished (for example writing a longer blogpost) in that time it simply continues having this tag for yet another day.
.Who – tagging tasks with the names of the most important people around me (wife and kids, my biz partner, etc)

Self-explanatory context tags:
tags

Not every activity should be done

I evaluate every activity using the algorithm below:
activity evaluation

My daily routine

Here is my daily routine that I try following if I work at the office (which I have at home).

  • I start my day with 10 minutes of meditating to clear my mind
  • 2 hours doing the hard important tasks scheduled for today (tag “focus”)
  • 30 minutes having a difficult conversation (if I don’t have one, this time can be added to any of other activities as I feel in the moment)
  • 30 minutes improving finances
  • 1 hour sports
  • 1 hour reading and answering mail

The rest of the day goes into skype/phone calls, web surfing, reading, etc.

This schedule applies only to “working days in the office” which I have 1 to 3 every week. I usually have 3-4 “working days at the client” every week when I am coaching organisations or doing trainings at the customer´s site and this routine of cause does not apply to those days.

This system works for me pretty well, and yes you can steal it if you like it. If you do, I would be glad if you share what modifications you have made for yourself in the comments.

How I prepare for public speaking

After a cheer up from Henrik Kniberg today I post my checklist about how I go about preparing for a public talk (don’t like to call it presentation, because you are more likely to think PowerPoint then, which does not have to be the case ;)).

Before I start I try to jot down the answers to these questions:

  • How much time do I have?
  • Whats the venue like?
  • What time of day?
  • Who is the audience?
  • Whats their background?
  • What do they expect of me?
  • Why was I asked to speak?
  • What do I want them to do?
  • What visual medium is most appropriate for this particular situation and audience?
  • What is the fundamental purpose of my talk?
  • Whats the story here?
  • What is my absolute central point?
  • Why does it matter?

I use SUCCESs to craft my story.
Simple – the core message that is compact and profound. It functions more like a proverb than a sound bite.
Unexpected – get your audience’s attention and hold it by using surprise and mystery.
Concrete – make your idea understandable and memorable by breaking it down into terms that can be imagined by the senses.
Credible – help your audience believe and agree with your idea by using appropriate testimonies, statistics, and examples.
Emotional – get your audience to care about your idea by using specific examples of someone in need or by appealing the audience’s self-interest or sense of identity.
Stories – get people to take action by telling the right stories.

Now off to some meaty stuff:
Step 1. Brainstorm. Go analog.Be messy. See the story from all sides.
Step 2. Group and identify the core. One key idea. Organize into 3-4 main parts that support your central idea.
Step 3. Storyboard offline. Post-its. 3 slides per sheet sketches of your visuals with key points to every slide.
Step 4. Storyboard in slide sorter (if you need PowerPoint after all). Bumper slides divide the sections should be visually different.

Do some polishing touches:

  • Remove visual clutter
  • Short quotes
  • Empty space
  • Balance

Remember that good design is based on CRAP:

  • Contrast
  • Repetition
  • Alignment
  • Proximity

And finally think about delivery.

  • Be completely present.
  • Connect with the audience. Appeal to both logical and emotional.
  • Bring energy and passion to your delivery. Dont hold back.
  • Leave them just a little hungry for more.

This post is based on following books:

  • Garr Reynolds, Presentation zen
  • Dan and Chip Heat, Made to Stick
  • Robin Williams, The Non-Designer’s Design Book

Seth Godin in Antwerpen. I want a refund :)

The scene in Queen Elisabeth Hall, Antwerpen

The scene in Queen Elisabeth Hall, Antwerpen

I´m sitting on a train from Antwerpen to Brussels writing this post. I came to the Hall of Queen Elisabeth in Antwerpen just to hear Seth Godin speak. And now I´m returning back home to Oslo. Reflecting if my trip was a waste of time and money so that I could do some name dropping afterwards or was there a real value for me.

I read most of the books that Seth Godin wrote. I read his last one – “Linchpin” the same day it was available on my kindle and the idea from this book (as well as his another book Tribes) was the main topic this evening. The idea of us breaking away from our “factory work” to do the work that really matters. The idea of finding you true passion and to creating experiences for other people around it. To lead the tribe of people who shares the same passion to a place where they want to go.

I highly recommend you to read both books in full for a more persuasive copy, but I can tell you that this were these books that influenced me enough to make up the time (it is Easter holiday after all), to book flight to Brussels, take a train to Antwerpen just to hear Seth speaking for a couple of hours.

I can tell you the truth I did not hear anything new. That is why the name of this post. But I can also tell you that I´m inspired (once again, hehe) and maybe this is the kick I needed to actually do something. Seth didn´t say anything I did not know from before. No secret knowledge, no broadening of the theme (the book of cause covers more than an hour speech). I already knew the stuff he was talking about. And at the same time knowing does not equal doing. During Seth talk I suddenly realized that I don´t need more listening, I don´t need more theory, I´ve got enough. Just go do it.

So to make it clear, I do not regret a single cent or single minute spent to see Seth Godin speak tonight.
He is a great speaker, the topic is interesting. It was good seeing so many people in the audience. And it was beautiful Q&A at the end. Here is what I remember from it:

About discipline.
One guy from the audience said that he was reading Seths blog for a while and he really admires the regularity of his blog posts. And Seth answered that he did not miss a day for a long time. He also said:
Start a blog. Everybody should have one. Do a post every day and after a year you´ve got 365 of them. It´s a great thing for you even if nobody is reading it.

After a short discussion on politics and our education system a lady asked how Seth would change our schools?
The answer went like changing the system takes longer but all of us can teach our kids at home. And we should teach them two things:
1. To solve interesting problems
2. To lead
Because both things are scarcity in todays world.

One more guy like me has been coming from Munich to hear Seth speak. He said he was expecting kind of a roadmap about how to become an artist doing things that matters. And he did not get any.
Seth offered him a refund ;). He said that there is no map. If there were everybody should already been there. You should just start doing something that matters. Nobody knows the way, nobody can tell you what to do. But it happens that you get a hint from yourself. That is when your lizard brain kicks in. When you get scared of doing something, when the resistance in you arises and you are afraid. Then you maybe onto something. Do the things that scare you, overcome the resistance and maybe you wake up an artist one day.

Idea giveaway: Social salad bar chain

Here is an idea I discussed with a colleague of mine during lunch and its up for grab to you.

We discussed how one can mix social media with a brick and mortar business and came up with this brilliant move :)

Imaging you are entering a salad bar that looks like an internet cafe. There are flat touch screens along the walls and big screens hanging from the ceiling. You go towards one of the screens and start mixing your salad. You simply touch the ingredients buttons on the screen and hit “done” when you are finished.

Now, the guys and gals at the kitchen start mixing your salad for you, while the system checks if anybody else in the history of the salad chain have chosen same ingredients, if no: Hey! you can name you own salad mix, the camera in the screen snaps a picture of you, you can write some lines that will be stored together with the recipe and next time somebody chooses the same ingredients, they will see that this is YOUR mix :) they´ve just ordered.

The screens at the ceiling show what other people are eating right now in the bar, they show what salads are most popular, and most rare ones.

Of cause there will be possible to log in into the system online from home, and see the list of all “your” mixes, you can discuss them with other users. You can browse the recipes of others, you can even order online or from your iPhone one of the existing mixes in the nearby salad bar.

The menu with the existing mixes is also available on the touch screens in the bar.
You can do this for pizza chains or other businesses. Hey, I think this will work, what´s your thoughts? Share them in comments.