I’m a relatively organized, efficient person, but I can definitely stand to improve. So a few days into 2007 I thought I’d take a closer look at the whole “Getting Things Done” methodology, and revisit Life Balance from Llamagraphics. GTD is practically a cult, and I’m not interested in going overboard with it, but there’s certainly some sound project management and time management wisdom there. But the real kicker is that, in the week or so I’ve been using Life Balance, I’ve been having amazing improvements in my productivity.

I tried Life Balance once before, a few years ago. I remember liking it somewhat, but thinking it a bit heavy and clunky for what I felt I needed at the time. Too bad, because if I’d invested the time and effort to learn it then, I’d probably be a billionaire today. OK, maybe not. But I almost surely would’ve been more effective at both my day job and my songwriting “job,” not to mention the other areas I pay attention to.

See, here’s the thing. You know the big rocks analogy? That’s basically the way Life Balance can work. You set it up with your high-level goals and then iterate them into achievable tasks, which you cross-reference with “places” or contexts. And behind the scenes, the software is keeping track of the importance you assigned to each task and the lead time you specified in order to present you with a viable dynamic to do list. It also presents you with a dynamic picture of how well you’re meeting your balance goals by showing you a nifty pie chart of where you’re spending your time.

Anyway, I’m using it now and I love it. It’s expensive as hell, but I’m thinking I really am going to plunk down the money when the trial is up. Here’s my testimonial: this past week and a half at my day job has been incredibly crazy, and I’ve had to manage my already-full task list and add a whole bunch of extra stuff that just came up. Yet somehow I managed to get it all done AND get songs written and pitched AND keep up with household chores AND make progress on my organization projects around the house AND maintain a reasonable social life. I mean, maybe that doesn’t sound like as much as it is: we’re talking about insane levels of productivity here. I just don’t know if it would have been feasible without using Life Balance to keep me focused on what needed doing next.

I don’t know if that makes me sound like a cult member, but whatever. I’m pretty well convinced. I’m getting things crossed off my to do list that have languished there for months, without sacrificing timely response to the current stuff.

Gettin’ it all done

5 thoughts on “Gettin’ it all done

  • January 14, 2007 at 10:55 pm

    It sounds like you achieved an extraordinary amount of results in a short period of time and I’m intrigued. I like the inclusion of balance goals. I’ve been focusing a lot lately on maximizing my efficiency and could use some tools to aid with that. I’m going to look into this GTD stuff and see if it’s useful for me.

    In the mean time, my take on cults is this: If a cult meets your needs, who’s to say that’s a bad thing?

  • January 15, 2007 at 7:39 am

    Heh. I guess as long as they don’t ask you to take poisoned jello shots or whatever.

    One point I didn’t clarify in this was that some GTD purists seem to think using Life Balance for GTD is shoe-horning it into a role it’s not really designed to play. But I’m not a methodology absolutist, and I think there are lessons to be learned from both the GTD approach and the Life Balance approach. GTD focuses most on the “next action,” whereas Life Balance challenges you to think of your life goals in the biggest picture possible and then break them down into achievable actions. There’s overlap in that they both help you focus on actions, but they’re almost opposite in their philosophy of how to get there.

    In that oversimplified way, then, Life Balance works better for me because I never want to lose sight of what I’m working toward, and how much of my life I’m willing to trade to make it happen. For example, I definitely want to evolve and be rewarded in my non-songwriting profession, but I don’t want to sacrifice too much of the time I would have spent writing songs, or working on improving the house, or helping the neighborhood, or doing something good for the world, or whatever else. GTD may have some means of addressing that but I’m not familiar with whatever it may be. The approach within Life Balance makes sense to me, so I’m pretty happy to use it.

    Anyway, YMMV of course, but I wanted to be sure to clarify that since you expressed interest. 🙂

    (Also, good to hear from you! Hope you’re doing well!)

  • January 15, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    In that oversimplified way, then, Life Balance works better for me because I never want to lose sight of what I’m working toward, and how much of my life I’m willing to trade to make it happen.

    After I commented, I realized it was the Life Balance component that provided the balancing part that appeals to me most. However, after reading about GTD online I’m intrigued with the low tech approach. I can see where they might be complimentary and each extend the reach of the other.

    Thanks, I’m doing very well indeed. I feel like I’m right on the verge of having everything I want. I’ve done a lot of work prioritizing and structuring actions so that they address multiple areas of importance, but so far it’s been all in my head. It sounds like these tools would be good to have in my toolbox.

  • January 15, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    humm – will have to look into lifebalance –
    I have gone thru GTD training and it is great – but I fall off any wagon if I don’t get remotivated once in a while, but a bunch of GTD stuff has stuck and are part of my normal processes now. I’m going to follow your links on this later on

  • January 15, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    I’ve been thinking a lot about productivity and work-life balance lately. Thanks for the links, Kate. I’m curious to learn more about these resources, especially GTD. I’ve heard it mentioned several times lately.

    Rob Robinson


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