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Saturday, January 22, 2005

Getting Things Done vs Agile

I've been reading Getting Things Done (GTD), just because of all the stuff I've seen written about it all over the web. To explain briefly, it's about techniques to get yourself in control of all the things you need to do in your life, both professionally and personally. Being very interested in all things agile, I have been looking at it from that perspective. Do other agilistas out there have this experience? You find yourself saying "let's just do the simplest thing that could possibly work" in completely non-technical situations? Anyhow, I believe there are certain parallels:
  • Many adherents believe in using low-tech solutions, especially index cards. Exhibit A. Exhibit B.
  • Both are designed to work with human nature, rather than coming up with a system and then trying to get people to fit around it.
  • Periodic review and reflection are a vital part of each.
  • The work which needs doing in each is listed in simple "bullet point" style.
  • The whole point of each system is to get stuff done as efficiently as possible so that you have time for other things.
There are some things which might seem to be contradictory:
  • GTD stresses getting everything down on paper. Agile stresses verbal communication over everything.
  • GTD suggests delegating work by email as first preference, face-to-face as last preference. Agile prefers face-to-face to email wherever possible.
The first of these is not really a contradiction - GTD talks about getting something down on paper for everything you need to think about. But this is just one line in a list as a marker or reminder. So the "Next Actions" of GTD are really like Stories for yourself. Which brings us back to the final bullet point of the previous list.

I've started putting the recommendations of GTD into place and I'm finding it useful so far. Right, so I can cross off "Write blog entry on GTD vs Agile" from my "At Computer" next actions...

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