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I just finished reading David Allen’s great book Getting Things Done (or GTD, for short). It describes and helps implementing a system to organize all your tasks, ideas and projects (so called “stuff”). To quote the back cover:

“In today’s world, yesterday’s methods just don’t work. Veteran coach and management consulting David Allen shares his breakthrough methods for stress-free performance that he has introduced to thousands of people across the country. Allen’s premise is simple: our productivity is directly proportional to our ability to relax. Only when our minds are clear and our thoughts are organized can we archive effective results and unleash our creative potential.”

I decided to try Dave’s methods and implement GTD it in my own life. For implementing the GTD process I wanted to use digital tools as much as possible because I routinely travel between two places and work at least at three different desktops regularly. Taking all the lists, files and notes with me all the time didn’t sound too promising to me. So I started to search for software that helps me using the Getting Things Done technique. After looking at some general todo list software packages, I found that these tools were too generic for GTD and that they just wouldn’t fit well.

I tried hard to find a good GTD software package which could be used over the web. A simple desktop program doesn’t work for me as I would then have to carry the data with me on an USB stick or something similar and I would like to avoid that. The only really usable GTD software that I found was Tracks. It is a web application specifically designed for GTD. I would probably use it by now, but on the one hand it is based on Ruby on Rails and we didn’t want to install it with all the dependencies on one of our production servers. On the other hand we needed some kind of useful weekend project to test some new technologies for our next product, codenamed VirtualWay. The result of the weekend project can be seen in the screenshot below:

Our GTD client frontend

It is a basic Windows front-end written in Delphi that accesses a PHP web service. We used the project to learn how we can support Unicode in Delphi applications by using some great third-party libraries (more about that in a later posting). Additionally, we were able to work with Delphi 2005 which isn’t really new, but we are still used to Delphi 7 (SmartInspect is developed in Delphi 7) and don’t know it very well. We would like to use the latest IDE for our next product and playing around with Delphi 2005 for a side project was really useful. Additionally, although we don’t really need it for VirtualWay, we could play around with web services and make the GTD software server based. That way, I can use the same data from all the computers that I regularly access.

I will write another posting with more details about how I implement Getting Things Done and how it is working for me. This whole thing is still very new to me but it looks promising and it already helps me getting more organized.

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