To Do: Climb the Summit of Productivity; Be a Better Person

?Too much stuff to do; not enough time.? It may as well be my motto some weeks ? in fact I?ve been meaning to print bumper stickers, but haven?t gotten around to it yet.

Well, apparently this state of affairs is not an isolated one. More ways and means of getting stuff done than I?ve ever seen before in one place (and believe me, I?m a nut about these things) were on display earlier this month at a conference called GTD Summit -- the first worldwide meetup for devotees of a system called Getting Things Done. I had the pleasure of attending as part of small Yahoo! delegation invited by the conference?s organizers, the David Allen Company.

Productivity tools remind me of gambling strategies ? everyone thinks they have the perfect system, until they go broke. But one approach seems to generate consistent wins for many: eight years ago, in a book of the same name, David Allen published the Getting Things Done methodology. The book has sold more that a million copies around the world, and has inspired or caught the attention of countless websites, blogs, web 2.0 gurus, software applications, ?unconferences,? and even paper filing systems. (I confess I?m a fan myself.)

At the sold-out San Francisco shindig, the full array of offerings was on display, from orthodox tools embedding Allen?s methodology precisely, to creative software and new ideas tied only to an underlying and seemingly universal pain: People overwhelmed with more ideas and stuff to do than time. And while Allen does have a specific system, the Big Idea behind GTD is to capture all of your commitments in a trusted system ? and sleep easier at night.

I met folks from the Netherlands, Poland, and a guy who claimed to be the only GTD devotee in India. The caliber and breadth of the speakers (CEOs, prominent VCs, even a U.S. Air Force General) and the distances attendees were willing to travel to be there proved the point: GTD is not a proprietary program, but rather an open platform for an inspired community of people and companies hoping to make the world a little easier for the rest of us to manage.

To his credit, David Allen is embracing this broader community even when its methods are pretty far afield from his own approach, knowing that a rising tide lifts all boats.

Sound familiar? It should ? here at Yahoo! we?re building services to support getting things done. Hundreds of millions of users worldwide rely on tools like Yahoo! Mail, Yahoo! Search, and My Yahoo!, to start their day and manage their information and projects. Now, we?ve opened these starting points up to the community of web developers who want to make them more useful. Yahoo!'s open platforms make it possible to add almost any functionality developers can think of right into the workflow of some of our most popular tools.

We work to make our products as good as they can be, but we also know that the Web is always going to be bigger, more creative, and have more inspired designers and developers than any one company. For example, we worked with the developers at LabPixies to create Calorie Calculator, a simple handy utility you can add with a click to My Yahoo!.

Based on some of the companies we?re working with today, and some of the entrepreneurs I met at GTD Summit, there?s a lot more goodness in the pipeline.

If you have ideas for more, or better yet, if you want to build an application that taps into Yahoo?s massive user base, please get in touch with us at productivityapps@yahoo-inc.com.

But even if you?re not building applications, and instead you?re busy managing a project, running a company, or just trying to keep your household from coming apart at the seams, know that there is a better way than trying to keep it all in your head. And stay tuned for great tools integrated into Yahoo! products, brought to you by developers from across the Web.

Greg Cohn
Director of Business Development & Strategy
Yahoo Open Strategy