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Getting Things Done for Technical Communicators

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A TCUK15 workshop by John Kearney and Karen Mardahl at the ISTC's technical communication conference on September 29th in Glasgow, Scotland. Script for the workshop is at http://www.mardahl.dk/2015/10/29/the-getting-things-done-workshop-at-tcuk15/.

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Getting Things Done for Technical Communicators

  1. 1. Getting Things Done
 for
 Technical Communicators #TCUK15 workshop John Kearney & Karen Mardahl 29 September 2015
  2. 2. Agenda 1. Introductions 2. The little exercise 3. What is GTD? 4. How does GTD apply to techcomms? 5. Real-life examples 6. Tools & methods 7. The big exercise 8. What’s next?
  3. 3. Intros How did Karen and John end up doing this workshop?
  4. 4. Two David Allen quotes…
  5. 5. Two David Allen quotes… “We teach what we need to learn the most.”
  6. 6. Two David Allen quotes… “We teach what we need to learn the most.” “The greatest human fear is being out of control.”
  7. 7. Two words… Control Perspective
  8. 8. Agenda 1. Introductions 2. The little exercise 3. What is GTD? 4. How does GTD apply to techcomms? 5. Real-life examples 6. Tools & methods 7. The big exercise 8. What’s next?
  9. 9. Exercise Get ready to write on a piece of paper or your device...
  10. 10. Exercise 1. Purpose
  11. 11. Exercise 1. Purpose 2. Vision
  12. 12. Exercise 1. Purpose 2. Vision 3. Ideas
  13. 13. Exercise 1. Purpose 2. Vision 3. Ideas 4. Structure
  14. 14. Exercise 1. Purpose 2. Vision 3. Ideas 4. Structure 5. Next action
  15. 15. Exercise 1. Purpose 2. Vision 3. Ideas 4. Structure 5. Next action (The “natural planning” model)
  16. 16. “... a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention…” - Herbert A. Simon, 1971
  17. 17. Agenda 1. Introductions 2. The little exercise 3. What is GTD? 4. How does GTD apply to techcomms? 5. Real-life examples 6. Tools & methods 7. The big exercise 8. What’s next?
  18. 18. What is GTD? Self-management. Key elements? 1. Control 2. Perspective
  19. 19. What is GTD? Workflow to get control (based on “natural planning” concept): 1. Gathering 2. Processing 3. Organising 4. Reviewing 5. Doing
  20. 20. Agenda 1. Introductions 2. The little exercise 3. What is GTD? 4. How does GTD apply to techcomms? 5. Real-life examples 6. Tools & methods 7. The big exercise 8. What’s next?
  21. 21. How does GTD apply to techcomm Karen and John share examples. Start thinking about what YOUR examples might be.
  22. 22. John’s GTD for TCUK Presentation 1. Purpose: To present at TCUK. 2. Vision: I get through the presentation, noone dies, I get good feedback, I get asked back! 3. Ideas: Key takeaway(s), draft slides, themes, photos, topics, intro plan, timing check. 4. Structure: Key takeaways, intro plan, themes. 5. Next Actions: Capture takeaway points, compile notes made so far, plan weekly time slots, rough out intro.
  23. 23. More examples • Dealing with Helicopter Boss • Juggling demands from two different groups with different models • “License Pack” story • Boss respect • Peer respect • Vaccine against Imposter Syndrome • Making your work visible
  24. 24. “Indeed, the limitations of both working and long-term memory are such that you cannot rely on them to recall all the important facts when they are needed.” - Francis Heylighen & Clément Vidal (2007)
  25. 25. Agenda 1. Introductions 2. The little exercise 3. What is GTD? 4. How does GTD apply to techcomms? 5. Real-life examples 6. Tools & methods 7. The big exercise 8. What’s next?
  26. 26. Real-life examples • Colour emails • Hashtag emails • Mail emails! • Kanban TOC • Life-preserver • Travel plans
  27. 27. Make sure your system is sustainable. It should be a benefit, not a burden. Some do fine with just a to-do list and a weekly review.
  28. 28. It feels good to feel good about having your work organised!
  29. 29. Agenda 1. Introductions 2. The little exercise 3. What is GTD? 4. How does GTD apply to techcomms? 5. Real-life examples 6. Tools & methods 7. The big exercise 8. What’s next?
  30. 30. Tools and methods • Squeeze ball • Noise-cancelling headphones • Productivity tools • GTD folders • Scans/photos • Dictation • Siloing • Reviews, daily and weekly • 2-minute tasks • “20-minute” chunks
  31. 31. The Terror of Unstructured Time
  32. 32. Focus
  33. 33. To-do list? or Time-to-think schedule?
  34. 34. Agenda 1. Introductions 2. The little exercise 3. What is GTD? 4. How does GTD apply to techcomms? 5. Real-life examples 6. Tools & methods 7. The big exercise 8. What’s next?
  35. 35. Now it’s your turn - hands-on time!
  36. 36. Sharing from the hands-on activities “This slide intentionally left blank because it is your canvas.”
  37. 37. Agenda 1. Introductions 2. The little exercise 3. What is GTD? 4. How does GTD apply to techcomms? 5. Real-life examples 6. Tools & methods 7. The big exercise 8. What’s next?
  38. 38. What’s next? What will YOU do next, now that the workshop is concluded? What are your… Next Actions?
  39. 39. Reference John “@jk1440” Kearney Karen “@kmdk” Mardahl
  40. 40. Image & quotation credits • Lego. Skyblue-lego. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/ File:Skyblue-lego.jpg#/media/File:Skyblue-lego.jpg • Lion. ”Just one lion" by Picture by user:Robek, repositioned by user:Wulfstan - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Just_one_lion.jpg#/media/ File:Just_one_lion.jpg • Squirrel. ”Sciurus-vulgaris hernandeangelis stockholm 2008-06-04" by Photograph by: Hernán De AngelisCampephilus - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https:// commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sciurus-vulgaris_hernandeangelis_stockholm_2008-06-04.jpg#/media/ File:Sciurus-vulgaris_hernandeangelis_stockholm_2008-06-04.jpg • All other photos private • GTD poster shared with kind permission from Customer Service at The David Allen Company • H.A. Simon quotes from Simon, H.A. (1971): Designing organizations for an information-rich world, in: Computers, Communications and the Public Interest, Martin Greenberger, ed., The Johns Hopkins Press. Referenced in Heylighen Francis. & Vidal, Clément (2007). Getting Things Done: The Science behind Stress-Free Productivity. http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/Papers/GTD-cognition.pdf 41

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