Tech Junkies Crazy About 'Getting Things Done' The "Getting Things Done" method relies on many low-tech gadgets, such as Post-It notes. So it's surprising that it's become a big hit among the tech-savvy.
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Tech Junkies Crazy About 'Getting Things Done'

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Tech Junkies Crazy About 'Getting Things Done'

Tech Junkies Crazy About 'Getting Things Done'

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Michele Norris.

Now, a story that brings together high and low tech - the Internet and your basic No. 2 pencil. In his 2001 best-seller, "Getting Things Done," self-help guru, David Allen, offers a few tips that he says will increase you productivity at work and at home.

Jot down ideas as they come to you, always keep a notepad handy, and file all your notes away in 43 folders - one for every day of the month and every month of the year. The simple advice known as GTD has become a big hit with an unlikely group - technology junkies.

To understand its appeal, we checked in with Omar Gallaga, he covers technology culture for the Austin-American Statesman.

BLOCK: The whole (unintelligible) behind it is if you clear these things out of your head that are constantly rolling around in there an cluttering things up that you're - you have what David Allen calls mind like water - everything will calm down and you'll have time to think about deeper things and find people connections within your life.

NORRIS: So what does David Allen think about Post-its?

BLOCK: He swears by them. In fact, there's a whole chapter in the book of things that you should get as far as office supplies to implement GTD into your life. The one that I swear by now is the label maker, where you can neatly file your folders. I'm using it to label baby bottles with the time and date of when the milk was produced. And also, just getting this inside of our head and into the system at the moment we have that idea.

So carrying around a small notepad or a little stack of Post-it notes with you wherever you go. If you're taking a walk and you - it occurs to you you got to go pick up your dry cleaning, you write it down right then and there. When you get home you stick it in your inbox and later on you process that information into either your to-do list or you just do it at that moment.

NORRIS: Now, David Allen, as we said, wrote this book, "Getting Things Done." I've actually at his Web site now,, and I'm looking at the cool convenient list that he says everyone should have - your account numbers, your credit card numbers, you PIN numbers, basic personal numbers, affirmations, cool quotes, favorite restaurants...


NORRIS: ...vacation things to do - if you're keeping so many lists, how do you have time to do anything else?

BLOCK: Well, some people take it a little bit to an extreme, and I think his idea is that instead of just thinking about these things, getting them on paper in front of you on your to-do list to actually motivate you to do them as opposed to just thinking, oh, you someday I might want to do this. If you actually have it in paper in front of you, the idea is that you will get more of these things done as time goes on.

NORRIS: Now, these are lists that you could keep in a memo pad, a legal pad, in, I guess, a file pad or some sort of old-fashioned paper planner. But why does the GTD system appeal so much to the tech-savvy generation?

BLOCK: Well, there's a couple of reasons. One is that it's a very systematic approach to dealing with a lot of information and a lot of data that's coming into your life. And really, that's the whole point of computers, is to make our lives easier, to make them more efficient, and to deal with data in a systematic way. So in that sense, it really appeals to programmers and to techies.

The other thing is that after the dot-com boom, there was a sense that we really need to kind of simplify that. They were facing this sort of e-mail overload, spam overload. So what emerged at Sociotech conferences was what they called - jokingly called the hipster PDA, which is really not a PDA at all, it's just a notepad where you write a little to-do list down.

So that idea goes hand in hand with the GTD where you're sort of stripping these extra things out of your life that don't really help you get things done.

NORRIS: This whole GTD idea, just how big is this? If I were to put this, say, in a search engine, what would I find?

BLOCK: You'll find lots of Web sites devoted to GTD. One of the more popular ones is 43Folders, which is run by a guy named Merlin Mann, and he has created a whole cottage industry around the idea of GTD. He post a lot of blogs about it, and news items. But a lot of people blog about, you know, here's my experience with GTD, here's what I did, here's how I implemented it. And it seems like everyone has a story about how they did it, and everyone's story is a little bit different.

So it's sort of people taking the book as the foundation and adapting it to their own lives in their own way.

NORRIS: Omar, it's always good to talk to you.

BLOCK: Thank you, Michele. Great to be here.

NORRIS: Omar Gallaga covers technology culture for the Austin-American Statesman.

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