As many of us know, David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology is a tried and true system for increasing productivity and freeing up time. But finding the right task-management applications to complement this system can be a lengthy and tedious process.
Luckily, there are all-in-one programs out there that merge many of the task management apps together in one place for a fluid and productive experience. Here I explore, unpack and analyze one such system to see how it pairs with the GTD methodology. So lets take a look at IQTELL, one of the more prominent all-in-one systems on the market today.
At a Glance
IQTELL is a web-based, cross-platform system that incorporates your calendars, e-mail accounts, tasks, lists, and contacts. It allows you to link information between folders to create comprehensive “actions” that include any necessary information. This may include documents, e-mails, related links, notes and anything else that might be relevant to the task at hand.
You can also combine multiple tasks into a single project and share this folder with your contacts for collaboration. For example, if you’re remodeling your bathroom you can start a project called ‘bathroom remodel’, add the action ‘choose shower tiles’, link websites and phone numbers of various tile shops and then share this project with your wife. IQTELL’s folder system allows you bind or parse your tasks to the size of your liking for individual or collaborative execution.
Using the Funnel
In order to operate under the GTD methodology, the first step is to capture all your tasks and information. IQTELL recognizes this and supplies you with various folders to house your information—in whatever form it may come in. Your folder menu includes your e-mail accounts, calendar, projects, actions, purchases and references. You can add additional pre-set folders or create your own so that regardless of the volume, your information has a place to go. The ‘capture everything’ principle of GTD is an important one, and this program makes it easy to do so.
This is a major selling point of IQTELL as an all-in-one system. Although some productivity experts groove with multiple task management apps at once; as a GTD subscriber it’s essential to employ an information funneling system at some capacity. And IQTELL provides that system.
Getting it Organized
Task management applications are like your garage: a great place to put your stuff but they’re only functional if they’re organized. If you can’t sort your information efficiently, then you can’t set your next actions efficiently. And as we know, setting next actions is a fundamental aspect of GTD. Let’s see how IQTELL supports this principle.
I’ll start with the e-mail features since IQTELL provides some powerful tools on this front. As mentioned above, you can link multiple accounts to your dashboard which represents your inboxes separately under the e-mail folder. When you receive an e-mail, you can immediately direct it to a current action, project or simply set a reminder for that e-mail. You can also create a new action or project on the basis of that e-mail if you so desire.
To elaborate on our example above, if Jack from Tiles-R-Us e-mails you about the tile samples you ordered, you can redirect the message to your ‘bathroom remodel’ project which your wife now has access to. If she also has IQTELL, it will show up in her projects folder. If not, she’ll receive an e-mail with all the project information.
This active e-mail filtering system is a tremendous complement to the GTD methodology. By making your information actionable on the front end like this, as you receive it, you form task lists more efficiently while getting closer to that elusive Inbox Zero.
I especially enjoy these features through IQTELL’S mobile interface since it allows you to sort e-mails on the go. Most other features are also available on the mobile app, except your calendar, which I was a little disappointed about. That said, the app provides a fluid experience and is certainly a functional component of the IQTELL system.
Another thing I noticed was that IQTELL didn’t import my custom Gmail folders. If you use this aspect of Gmail extensively and have your e-mails redirected based on Google algorithms, then this could be an issue for you.
The Bottom-up Approach to Goal Setting
Another defining characteristic of David Allens methodology is his bottom-up approach to goal setting. Allen believes that the most efficient way to create long-term goals is to start with your short-term goals: the tasks that beg your attention today and distract you from your future plans. The structure of IQTELL provides a pretty strong framework for this particular approach.
The sequence works like this: at the start of your week you input all your tasks into the actions folder. You can send these tasks to your calendar, set due dates and reminders and share them with others if necessary. Then you ‘star’ the items you plan to execute next. This command sends those items to your ‘next actions’ folder. This two step system allows you to parse your actions into daily portions so that you’re not looking at an overwhelming task list of fifty unchecked items. We all know how comforting that can be.
Another crucial function of the tasks folder in IQTELL is the ability to set a ‘time needed’ figure for each task. This is another important aspect of GTD since our implicit timelines for taking care of things often represent a best case scenario rather than an accurate estimation. By allocating an explicit amount of time for actions you start to gain a feel for your actual daily output and can start planning accordingly. All this means you’ll know what you need to do, how long it should take and on which task to start.
By increasing your front-end efficiency, medium and long-term goal planning becomes a lot more manageable as you can simply extrapolate your actions and projects into the future.
Ultimately, if you subscribe to the GTD methodology, IQTELL can be a solid partner in crime. The structure of the system supports main principles of GTD including funneling your information, creating actionable tasks and using a bottom-up approach to goal setting. If you’re looking for the integration of multiple task management applications in a single destination, IQTELL might be worth a try.
Contributed exclusively to the Daily Mac View
Written by Dylan Smart