Getting Things Done with Cashboard

Since it's release in 2002, we've been huge fans of David Allen's Getting Things Done.

Getting things done book

For those not familiar with GTD, it's a productivity system that helps you organize your life by thinking more clearly. GTD focuses on collecting all of those "things" you need to do, getting them into a reliable system, and doing them!

The book has been wildly successful, and you can find many people's interpretations and GTD cheat sheets available online if you look.

Isn't GTD only for personal tasks?

Some people might argue that strict GTD is only good for your personal life - but we think the methods GTD uses can help in your professional life as well.

Getting Things Done in a nutshell

Amongst other things, GTD focuses on asking the question "what should I do next?", categorizing those things into doable actions (tasks), then doing them. We think this is certainly applicable to managing your professional life inside Cashboard.

Disclaimer: We don't claim that this is a full representation of GTD - just how you can apply the principles to Cashboard project management. You should read the book! It's great.

Professional GTD strategy

Cashboard's concept of projects goes hand in hand with GTD. David Allen defines a project as something that requires at least two steps.

Start by creating a project in Cashboard (Create > Project).

Setting up a project for GTD

Projects inside Cashboard organize tasks into lists.
Create the following lists inside your project to mimic GTD best practices.

  • INBOX
  • Next steps
  • Waiting
  • Someday / Maybe

Here's an example of what your project board might look like.

GTD project board

Capturing tasks

When a client emails you to make the logo bigger, you should do one of two things.

  • If it takes less than 5 minutes, do it now.
  • If it's more involved than that, record it in your project INBOX list as a task.

After doing that, you're free to delete the email and get on with your day. Don't worry about categorizing, labeling, or assigning the task just yet. The idea is simply to record it so you won't forget it.

Cashboard Mobile makes a great companion for recording INBOX items, even when you're away from the computer.

The project INBOX list is a focused area for you to record all items that you need to do.

Sticking to good GTD strategy, try to come up with a title that reflects a real physical action. You can even record sub-steps in that process as the description of the task. As you can see here, tasks can contain a wealth of other meta-data, like person assigned, label color, description, and due date.

steps within a task

Using Textile markup it's dead simple to create sub-lists of steps with a task - as shown here.

Processing your INBOX

When you're near a computer again and it's time to get some things done, you need to process these items in the INBOX list.

From here, you'll want to go through items one by one, adding due dates for time sensitive tasks, delegating them to your employees, and moving them to the appropriate list inside your project.

  • If items are "pie in the sky ideas", move em over to Someday / Maybe.
  • If you are held up on a task and waiting for someone else, throw it in the Waiting list.
  • If nothing is stopping you from doing it, put it in the Next steps list.

The next thing to do is of course......get some work done!

Filtering items for maximum productivity

Recording tasks this way you'll find that your project quickly grows huge. This is where filtering tasks becomes a huge benefit.

By using the Filter Tasks menu, you can easily search all tasks by title, person, label color, and due date.

Filter your task list

We tend to "tag" tasks with contexts in the title (like #office, #on_site, #phonecall, etc). Doing this allows us to quickly find all items we need to do while at the office, or while on site with a client.

If you have important tasks, set due dates on them. You can use the filter menu to show only items due before a certain date.

Using a calendar for task reminders

Having a calendar of your date sensitive tasks is also a primary component of GTD. We've got you covered there too - providing a calendar of Cashboard events as an iCal feed.

We recommend setting up alerts inside your calendaring application once you've subscribed to the Cashboard feed. Doing this will ensure you never miss something you're supposed to get done.

Weekly review

Finally, you should schedule a weekly review on each of your projects. Most people pick the beginning or end of the week to do this.

The weekly review ensures that you've got everything categorize correctly, have no loose ends to deal with, and that your system is junk free. Lifehacker has an excellent summary of what you should do in a weekly review, so we won't go over it here.

If you're not following a system now, you certainly can benefit by implementing GTD into your workflow.

Are you getting more things done?

We'd love for you to discuss your productivity methods in our discussion forum.

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