Personal Productivity: GTD + Agile and Priorities

Currently, I practice GTD using Omnifocus [pdf link] as the execution tool. I believe this system to be the best out of all the systems I’ve tried thus far, yet I still struggle with prioritization. After completing a few weeks of agile training with our awesome Rally coach Ann, I began to think of how I can apply agile principles, particularly the prioritization methods, to help solve the priority issue.

The first major difference that struck me is the prioritized backlog that is central to agile vs. the list of next actions split by context that is key to GTD. In trying to follow the non-prioritization ethos of GTD, I always have this feeling in the back of my mind that perhaps I’m working on the wrong thing at a given time. My work around has been using due dates and flags within Omnifocus. Specifically, due dates are for items that have some consequence if I fail to deliver on that date and flags are action items I’d like to complete that day.

Here are some initial thoughts of how to apply concepts from both GTD and Agile within the framework of the GTD weekly review in order to achieve some level of prioritization.

  1. Start with your list of projects and stack rank them in order of priority.
  2. Make sure every project has a clear next action defined along with a context.
  3. When you are ready to work, considering your context, check your calendar, check items with a due date and then grab the top most item from stack.

I believe Omnifocus respects the ordering of your projects, so now, when you look at a particular context it should display the next most important item at the top.

The main difference between this method and what I currently do is the ordering of the projects within Omnifocus. One challenge with this method is that grouping projects by folder (in Omnifocus) may no longer be feasible. In that case, I would have one folder to archive all projects I’m not going to work on during the next week and the rest of the projects would be stack ranked outside of that folder. Perhaps using a tagging method could help organize the projects without of folders. I’m not sure yet how this would effect planning at the project level since I like to be able to drill down to a particular project’s folder and work with the sub-projects within.

Are you using Agile or GTD in your own personal productivity system? Do you combine personal with business? Have you merged ideas to create your own custom solution?

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