Organizing Life

Posted by Graham Wheeler on Sunday, August 20, 2006

I tend to be one of those people who accumulates vast amounts of clutter on my desk, in my room, and in my life, and then every couple of months has a big cleanout, vowing to maintain the new uncluttered state, but the cycle just begins again (I blame the laws of thermodynamics). In an effort to break that cycle I’ve recently started paying some attention to David Allen’s Getting Things Done approach.

I haven’t read his books (part of my clutter is a large number of unread books; his book was among them for a while until it went back to the library), but there is enough info on the web to get the idea. There is also a good description in the wonderful book ‘Micro-ISV: from Dream to Reality’ by Bob Walsh. One of the first things I did was look for software that I could use to start implementing the GTD approach. The two main contenders seemed to be Bob Walsh’s own Masterlist Professional, which is very reasonably priced at $25, and a Ukrainian product called MyLife Organized, which costs $60. I downloaded both and tried using them.

Sadly (as I like everything else I’ve seen from Bob Walsh) Masterlist Professional got eliminated almost immediately because it supports only flat lists (projects broken into items). MyLife Organized, on the other hand, supports tree structured hierarchical lists, which I find more appropriate. So I’m about 5 days into the trial and am using MLO daily. However, I find the price to be pretty exhorbitant for what is essentially a glorified todo list manager. I could probably write my own subset of MLO that does what I need in a few hours in C#, and that gives me the added benefits of (i) being able to customise it to my liking and (ii) being able to sell it later if it is good enough. Watch this space.

So far the biggest drawback of MLO seems to be that using the Pocket PC version to try to keep two PCs in sync does not work; things get messed up quickly. The developers suggest using a USB thumb drive to carry thedaya file around on, but I opted for synching the data file to my subversion server.

Unrelated note: Windows LiveWriter works great! It may make me update this blog a lot more regularly.