To complete my previous post about GTD, I want to mention the fatal flaw in this methodology.
Getting Things Done tells you to determine the next action you need to do for all of the stuff/projects you need to do. That is good! Once you do that that action, you can go onto the next.
I’ve, in effect been doing that for Behold. Behold’s Future Plans list is the ToDo list of subitems I need to do to get Behold to become that “perfect” genealogy program. Once I pick the next item from the list, I determine the first programming “Action” to do to get that thing done. Another action follows that action and so on until that item is complete. Then I go onto the next item.
Do you see the problem here? It is the problem that has caused Behold to take so many years to get to this point. Each item has many actions, often many more than you (or I) would expect. Doing them one at a time and only worrying about the next one is a great way to stay sane and is one of the best things GTD teaches you. It helps you continually make progress.
But the problem is that GTD does not necessarily get you any closer to your final product. You keep adding new ideas to the ToDo, often faster than the items can get done. The product gets better and better but the end keeps getting farther away. Something is missing from Getting Things Done to focus you. Some method to prioritize and schedule what you do.
How to fix Getting Things Done
I don’t think it’s very hard to fix. Simply add Joel Spolsky’s Painless Software Schedules methodology into GTD. Joel wrote this in 2000, and now says the article is obsolete, but don’t believe him. PSS is very simple and integrates with the actions of GTD too perfectly to ignore. You need add only 5 columns to your Actions to implement it: an original estimate, a current time estimate, the time elapsed, the time remaining, and a priority column.
You only need a list with 4 to 6 simple columns to implement GTD, and only 5 more if you want to go the extra step and prioritize and schedule the things you want to do.
Remember, any system has to be simple and fun to use or you won’t use it.
Genealogy software needs a simple but useful ToDo list. I’ve now got the model to implement one, if and when I get there.
In the meantime, I’m continuing my push towards Behold’s beta.