Need to Get Things Done? Go hang out on your Thinking Rock for a bit.
Strategies for promoting and selling online are not the only things that technology can help independent music businesses with. Efficiencies, workflow and time management are often just as critical.
I’ve been using David Allen’s Getting Things Done system for – well – getting things done. I fall off the wagon from time to time, but it’s amazing how well the system works when you actually use it.
But I’ve struggled to find the piece of software or online tool that does the trick for me. Sure, it’s designed as a paper-based system, but it really appeals to my inner geek — who, as it happens, shares a lot of interests with my outer geek. I may actually be geek all the way through.
In Thinking Rock, you enter thoughts and things-to-do as they occur to you, then process them according to whether to do it, file it, or delegate it. It took me about half an hour of reading the instructions to get up to full speed with it, but it is exactly the right thing, implemented in exactly the right way.
If you delegate something, it’ll prompt you to send an email then and there to get it handled. If you mark something as ‘for information only’, it’ll file it away in a neat and orderly system. If you set something up as a ‘to do’ you can classify it as a single task, or as part of a larger project. You can defer things, and you won’t see them on your list till the appropriate day — and you are encouraged to categorise each task according to the context you’d have to be in in order to do it.
The only thing it could do better for my purposes is to integrate more seamlessly with iCal (I’m on a Mac, but Thinking Rock works across all platforms). Currently, it saves an updated .ics file every 30 seconds or so, which you then open in iCal. Brilliant — but I’m even lazier than that.
Auto-synchronisation would be superb. I already sync my iCal to Google Calendar using Gsync which is wonderful, as I have 3 other people adding things to my Google calendar for various reasons, and my iCal also syncs to the calendar in my phone.
Having this one last piece of the puzzle operate automagically would be superb — but this is the tiniest of quibbles with what has been the most incredible and revolutionary addition to my personal and professional productivity.
You haven’t yet read Getting Things Done? Oh my God.
I’m broadly skeptical of personal development books, because the bad ones are SO so bad. But when you’re as lazy and disorganised as I am, a system really helps. David Allen’s GTD completely transforms your productivity without being a ‘time management’ regime — and it turns geeks like me into evangelists.
Now, I say all this because last time I mentioned tips about time and productivity management, I had a lot of emails from people who run independent music businesses asking me to talk more about this stuff. Apparently, when left to our own devices, we all tend to operate in chaos.
Better organisation equals do more stuff with less effort… equals make more money from music. Suits me.