On your task management system

Eddie Smith wrote an interesting article in which he compares GTD to Thermodynamics. Sounds strange, but it's a good and insightful read. I found it especially timely given my last couple of weeks.

You see, right now, OmniFocus is showing me that I have 42 overdue tasks. A quick glance at my Inbox shows me an additional 39 unprocessed items. Clearly it's useless at this point.

I'm usually quite good at managing my system and keeping on top of things, so how did it get to this point? Well, about two weeks ago I got the flu. Badly. I stayed at home feeling lousy and missed a few days at work. Although I tried to keep up with at least emails, I inevitably fell behind. By the time I was feeling better, the truly urgent issues I needed to attend to were glaringly obvious. OmniFocus or not, I knew what I needed to do.

So what happened? Well, I jumped straight into action and managed to get through the critical tasks. I didn't even open OmniFocus until today. I actually wrote the top tasks in Post-It notes and chucked them as I completed them.

Eddie hits the nail in the head when he writes:

Your highly structured GTD system works well in calm regimes, but not so well in chaotic ones. However, unlike statistical models, which seem to only get more complex and less elegant, I think you’re better off making your system simpler the more complicated the outside world gets.

Spot on. OmniFocus (and similar software) is great and genuinely helps me maintain my life in order… when things are relatively under control. But when the shit hits the fan and I need to act quickly, fiddling with my software for hours in order to organise my work day is a waste of valuable time. When something is urgent it'll be glaringly obvious.