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Where do these lists get, uh, stored (kept? shelved? filed?)?

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  • Where do these lists get, uh, stored (kept? shelved? filed?)?

    Hello all.

    This new GTDer has a question that you'd think he would have got answered by now after re-reading The David's book three times, with additional focused scanning Stunningly, embarrassingly simple, here it is: WHERE DO YOU KEEP THE LISTS?

    In other words, how do you keep the GTD lists such as Projects, Next Actions, Someday/Maybe, etc. after you start them? Jot them on a loose sheet of 8 by 10 paper and post on the fridge? Make a file folder in my alpha file labeled appropriately? Write "Projects" (and Next Actions, and so on) at the top of a page in a three-ring binder along with other pages devoted to the other lists?

    I find reference after reference to a wide array of required lists in Mr. Allen's terrific book, but no sign of where he teaches the best physical location(s) for each of said lists.

    Thanks in advance. I'm loving the process, but this question has become a snag. Am doing my big fat initial mind sweep this weekend, thanks be to God.


  • #2
    I haven't been on in ages, but I bring a lot of people to GTD in my work (I'm a grad student and a lot of grad students are looking for effective ways to get at their work).

    The answer is, you put the lists wherever you want. In whatever form is most comfortable for you, based on whatever categories make the most sense for your life. It can be electronic, it can be paper, or as Kelly Forrister is fond of saying, you can write them on your leg if that's easiest. GTD is totally platform-agnostic.

    That said, I always suggest that people start with some sort of paper planner. One of the big things I see people do is dive way into organizing lists on iPhones, RemembertheMilk, Google Tasks, or any number of other things and the next thing you know, GTD has become this huge overblown thing that freaks them out and causes resistance. There's a nice article on creating a paper planner written by the great folks here at davidco and available for free download:

    You can also just throw the lists you create into a file folder. As you get more comfortable with GTD, you'll become more aware of what best works for you. And it may need to be rejiggered! When I was working as an admin, I loved my giant Planner Pad, which had my lists and my calendar, and I could leave it on my desk all day. Now that I'm in grad school, I've discovered I need super portable, super long lists, and I have a moleskine with 7 contexts--each term I buy a new one and transfer over any leftover action items. But I've learned what works for me.

    Check out the Gear and Software threads, too. You'll find lots of people talking about their gear there--I've found that useful for brainstorming when I've needed to think about my system.
    Last edited by jesig; 04-09-2011, 12:24 AM.


    • #3
      Where and how you store your lists is going to be driven by where and how you do your workflow steps.

      I collect into my personal GTD system while I'm at the office ( on a client's system ), on the move and at home. So, for me, my collector is an email mailbox. I can email it from a client's PC, or from my smartphone or from my own laptop at home. If I were paper based, it would be a small notepad that fits in one hand or a pocket.

      I do clarification on paper on a desk ( client's office, hotel, cafe or home). All I need here is access to my collector mailbox on my laptop or smartphone - synced mailbox does this, plus a notepad for scribbling.

      I organise at the same desk, using the outputs of my clarification. So I need all the places I organise to to be there. If it were paper at home, then folders labelled with the list names might make sense, in something like a bookshelf reserved for your GTD lists, at arm's length without getting up. I'm mobile in my work, so my lists are on the laptop.

      I execute my actions on the move ( shopping, etc ) or at home or at my desk with my laptop. So I have my projects and next actions on my laptop and synced to my smartphone - I use a GTD app for this.

      I do weekly, monthly and yearly reviews at home at the desk, so again, I need everything at arm's length from the desk without getting up.

      So I think the trick is to mentally run through your workflow and support that with the right media.
      You might come up with a hand-held notepad for collection and next actions (front & back), plus a set of folders all within reach of a desk for clarification, organising and review.
      Last edited by pxt; 04-09-2011, 01:39 AM.


      • #4
        He avoids saying where to keep them as it's totally personal choice. Some people love electronic software, whereas for others the simplicity of paper lists in a folder with dividers for categories (contexts, someday maybe etc) works perfectly.

        And of course there's those of us who prefer hybrid systems using a variety of tools.
        I have my next actions and calendar in Pocket Informant, an iPhone app. This also holds my project list, and I have another app - Awesome Note that acts as my electronic tickler file for home, and I use Outlook as my electronic tickler file for work.
        I use word files for project plans, and also someday maybes. I have a checklist app for my checklists for home, and use word for my work checklists.

        My need for electronic is so it can be completely mobile and portable, and I always have it with me.


        • #5
          Yup, the answer is what works best for you, and like was mentioned, there is a whole darn forum on this site dedicated to systems!

          For me, I work in one office each both at work and home, and I prefer simple electronic tools. At work, Outlook (clean inbox most of the time, holding folders in three priorities - time critical, normal, and Someday/Maybe, plus a waiting for response folder, and of course an archive reference folder) and plain old text files named log.txt, Next Actions.txt, and Projects.txt, and at home, Tomboy notes on linux, a very simple sticky note application. I like Tomboy Notes mainly for the hyperlink capability.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Patrick Coffin View Post
            Where and how they will be engaging and accessible to you so that you like to look at them.

            Paper planners work, so do lots of electronic systems. GTD is about the process and systems not the implementation.

            Personally I use an iPod Touch with Omnifocus for my action lists, project list by areas of focus, electronic tickler items and for some of my project support material. Additional project support is in DEVONThink, electronic files on my mac and paper files. I have a paper tickler file for paper things. I use iCal for my calendar and also struggle with but use SplashShopper for shopping lists and most checklists. Apple Mail is an inbox for me not a list or tickler holder.

            I'd suggest you create a project, go through the entire natural planning model with it that is "define my GTD system tools" as that will both give you practice in how to do project planning but also allow you to really think about what will or won't work for you and how you wish to implement GTD.


            • #7
              Thanks to all

              Great feedback, and quick. Thanks!