Getting Things Done (GTD) is David Allen’s blockbuster time management approach. AutoFocus (AF) is Mark Forster’s method for staying organized, which is gaining popularity quite quickly. Though they have they same goal, I’ve not seen two more dissimilar ways of achieving it. As I try to keep myself organized – and (no surprise) doubtless end up designing my own time management system – researching what’s available is an important part of the process. And while this is neither an exhaustive nor an authoritative comparison, it has been beneficial in my own thinking. So I thought I’d share.
I’ve been advocating for the use of concept maps for years. I’ve even written papers about it. But I’ve also spent most of my time writing plain, linear text. Scholarly papers, courseware, grant applications – these are all the basics of academic communication, and they’re all just strings of words. So it’s been hard to practise what I preach.
Recently, though, something happened that really opened my eyes to the very significant benefits of diagrams in general and concept maps in particular. So significant was this experience, that I want to share it in the hope that I can help others who are also struggling with the confines of linear text.
A student of mine, apparently taken by my enthusiasm for design, once asked me how I had come to the field. This gave me pause, because as I tried to formulate an answer, I found myself pushing further and further into my memory. Finally, I told the student, “It’s a long story,” because I realized it all started when I played in my parents’ gravel driveway as a child.
I think the story is interesting, not because I love talking about myself, but because of how natural a progression it was. It suggests to me that we really are a blend of our basic individual natures and what experiences we’ve had.
Perhaps one of the greatest shortcomings of our modern and sophisticated society is the disparity between those who think they’re entitled to something and those who do not. Until we get this sorted, we stand precious little chance of living in a truly fair or reasonable society.
One day, I was on my usual way home, and was exiting the Yorkdale subway station to get my car. At the exit, there are two sets of double doors that swing outward. I habitually steer right through these doors to avoid foot traffic entering the station to my left. Indeed I almost always use the rightmost door. That day, there was another person just slightly ahead of me and to my left. This person went through the left mirror image door, just in front of me. She only pushed the door open halfway, which required her to step to the right as she went through and she ended up right in front of the door I was about to use.
In case you’re confused by my description, consider the image below. This is the view going in to the Yorkdale station entrance, so the door I used is the one on the extreme right. The one next to it is the one the woman used.