Last summer I read the wonderful book by David Allen, Getting Things Done. The book helped to answer many of my questions regarding how to manage the growing demands of life. The downside of the book is that since completing it last summer, I have been searching for just the right tool to help me track all the things I need to accomplish. I have tried using excel, a variety of web solutions, hipster PDA's, gmail, and on and on. While I believe I have made great strides in getting better organized, I have struggled to find a system that I am completely comfortable using. Some are too cumbersome. Others are not portable. Some are expensive and difficult to use, while more still are easy to use but restricted in their functionality. With the release of Google Spreadsheets, I believe I am one small step closer to organizational nirvana.
Google Spreadsheets does not have all of the functionality of Excel (it does have much of it, but not all.) The application may not yet be the answer for my hardcore number crunching needs, (give them a few weeks), but for simply organizing and categorizing my projects, tasks, and contexts the program is great. I can categorize, classify, highlight, mark completed, indicate status, list actions, and all kinds of other really dorky things that make me feel all warm and fuzzy. Because the program is web based, I can access it anywhere I can get to the Internet, making it completely portable. Should I be without Internet access, the ability to download sheets to a thumb drive works as a backup. What if, God forbid, I am not at a computer at all? I keep tiny printed versions of my project lists tucked in the back pocket of my Moleskine notebook, so that I am always armed with my info. Too much back-up? Perhaps. It is a work in progress. Still I think Google Spreadsheets will make a big difference in my personal productivity. Note that I am using a hybrid of digital and analog methods, so this may not be a great plan for you. Still, if you love GTD, but are not in love with your GTD system, Google Spreadsheets is worth a look.