Feb 8, 2010
I have been a fan of GTD® for some time. Its focus on next actions is something I applaud (I recommend that all tasks written on the MYN-Tasks list be written as next actions). Of course, GTD did not invent the next action concept, it’s been around for decades. But it did bring it to recent focus.
My strong encouragement to use next actions in your MYN Now-Tasks list (see Lesson 6 in my Outlook book) is about the extent of the obvious overlap between MYN and GTD. MYN’s unique approach to task management is otherwise a quite different system. But they can easily be used together and so you can get the best of both. If you are a GTD user and are looking for more ways to integrate MYN with GTD, here are some ideas on how to do that. Let me know in comments section if you see more ways.
First of all, the two systems are completely compatible—there is nothing in MYN that conflicts with GTD, and nothing in GTD that I find unusable with MYN. Even better, they are fantastic when used together. In fact, many GTD users say that adding MYN principles on top of GTD solves many issues that come up in GTD if it is not used with care. And MYN’s intelligent integration with Outlook provides one way to marry GTD with Outlook, and in a very powerful way.
Here are the best ways to integrate MYN and GTD.
- Treat MYN’s Now-Tasks list (the Critical Now and Opportunity Now lists combined) as your GTD next-action list. MYN’s smart way to manage tasks there gives you much more control than normal GTD and solves the common problem of the GTD next-action list getting too long to easily review. Used correctly, MYN gives you the tools to keep the next-action list well controlled and well managed.
- Treat the Low Priority section (Over the Horizon) as the GTD someday maybe list. Like the GTD next-action list, many GTD users complain their someday maybe list quickly becomes too long to review, and tasks there just disappear never to be seen again. As a result, they they stop using the someday maybe list. You’ll see in Lesson 9 of my Outlook book (or pg 73 of Master Your Workday Now!) how MYN’s Defer to Review process solves that problem quite elegantly (and you don’t need Outlook to use it; any automated task system with start dates works—like ToodleDo). Defer to Review gives you a very intelligent way of deciding what low-priority entries to review, and when to review them. The result is your weekly review is not overwhelming, but tasks still get the appropriate attention they need. If you are a GTD user, you are going to love the MYN Defer to Review process in Lesson 9 of the book.
- Use the Follow-Up Task process (discussed in Lesson 6 and 8 in my Outlook book, and pg 94 of Master Your Workday Now!) to replace the GTD waiting-for list. It accomplishes the same thing in a way that I think is easier to use because it places the item right in your Now-Tasks list at exactly the right time. It avoids you having one more list to review.
- GTD’s definition of a project is much different from that in MYN. In GTD, any task that requires multiple steps is defined as a project, so even very small efforts are called projects. In MYN, only large efforts that require formal project management skills are called projects. However, both systems recognize the need to create a project list, and Lesson 12 in the Outlook book shows you various ways to make a projects list in Outlook that meets the needs of both GTD and MYN. With that list, you can then use the list to feed next-action tasks into the MYN Now-Tasks list. Also, look at the MORE tasks solution for multi-step tasks written up in Lesson 6 of the Outlook book.
- GTD uses the concept of Context to define where and when to focus on what tasks. It identifies tags like @Computer and @Phone that you can sort on to show you candidate tasks to work on when you are in those settings. MYN does not have a similar concept. In fact, in these days of smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices, I do not see a strong need for the Context concept. But that said, if you find the Context approach to be useful, you can easily add GTD Context tags to tasks in the MYN system by placing them in Outlook Categories (or ToodleDo’s Folders) that are then tagged on your MYN tasks. You can then use the skills you learn in Lesson 3 of the Outlook book to add a category column to the MYN tasks list in the To-Do Bar or TaskPad. Or use the Customize button on ToodleDo. Either way, you can see those Context names in your Now-Tasks list, and even sort on them.
Those are the obvious ways that GTD and MYN can be used together. I think you will find that TWC-MYN solves the common challenges people have with GTD, but still lets you implement all of GTD’s principles. And I think you will find that GTD principles help clarify how best to use MYN. Feel free to use as many or as few of the ideas above to merge the two systems. And let me know how it goes.
(Getting Things Done and GTD are registered trademarks of the David Allen Company).