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GMD

I’m always
extremely slow to pick up a trend (let alone a hype), in mathematics as
well as in real life. It took me over a year to know of the existence of
_blogs_ and to realize that they were a much easier way to
maintain a webpage than manually modifying HTML-pages. But, eventually I
sometimes get there, usually with the help of the mac-dev-center. So, once again,
I read their gettings things done with your mac article long after it was
posted and completely unaware of the Getting Things Done (or GTD) hype.

At first, it just
sounds as one of those boring managament-nonsense-peptalk things (and
probably that is precisely what it generically is). Or what do you think
about the following resume from Getting
started with ‘Getting things done’
:

  1. identify all the
    stuff in your life that isnÕt in the right place (close all open
    loops)
  2. get rid of the stuff that isnÕt yours or you donÕt
    need right now
  3. create a right place that you trust and that
    supports your working style and values
  4. put your stuff in the
    right place, consistently
  5. do your stuff in a way that honors
    your time, your energy, and the context of any given moment
  6. iterate and refactor mercilessly

But in fact there is
also some interesting material around at the 43 folders website which bring this
management-talk closer to home such as the How does a
nerd hack GTD?
post.

Also of interest are his findings after
a year working with the GTD setup. These are contained in three posts :
A Year
of Getting Things Done: Part 1, The Good Stuff
, followed by A Year of
Getting Things Done: Part 2, The Stuff I Wish I Were Better At
to
end with A Year of
Getting Things Done: Part 3, The Future of GTD?
. If these three
postings don’t get you intrigued, nothing else will.

So, is
there something like _GMD : Getting Mathematics Done_? Clearly, I
don’t mean getting theorems proved, that’s a thing of a few seconds of
inspiration and months to fill in the gaps. But, perhaps all this GTD
and the software mentioned can be of some help to manage the
everyday-workflow of mathematicians, such as checking the arXiv and the
web, maintaining an email-, pdf- and BiBTeX-database, drafting papers,
books and courses etc.

In the next few weeks I’ll try out some
of the tricks. Probably another way to state this is the question “which
Apps will survive Tiger?” Now that it is official that Tiger (that is, Mac
10.4 to non-apple eaters) will be released by the end of the month it is
time to rethink which of the tools I really like to keep and which is
just useless garbage I picked up along the road. For example, around
this time last year I had a Perl
phase
and bought half a meter or so of O’Reilly Perl-books. And yes
I did write a few simple scripts, some useful such as my own arXiv RSS-feeds,
some not so useful as a web-spider I wrote to check on changes in the
list of hamepages of people working in non-commutative algebra and
geometry. A year later I realize I’ll never become a Perl Monk. So from now on I want to
make my computer-life as useful and easy as possible, relying on wizards
to provide me with cool software to use and help me enjoy mathematics
even more. I’ll keep you posted how my GMD-adventure goes.

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