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Has anyone gone back to paper?

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  • Has anyone gone back to paper?

    I'm just back from a conference where I left my real GTD life behind and took some conference-specific projects and actions with me. My tools were a notepad, a pen and a highlighter.

    I loved it and am considering migrating my GTD system back to paper.

    If anyone here has abandoned an electronic system for a paper one, I would love to hear from you. I'm a bit apprehensive about the migration so I would appreciate hearing as wide a range of successes and failures as possible.

    In the meantime, I'm going to work from some printouts so I can easily go back.

  • #2
    For short time periods

    I've never permanently gone back to paper, but I sure wouldn't rule it out. At times, when I've either grown numb to my system or just needed a change, I've switched to paper for a few months. I never switch my calendar, however; I need that to be electronic. As I was writing out my lists, by the way, I got rid of a whole bunch of stuff. It's really easy to get clutter in an electronic system, isn't it?

    I think you need to do what attracts you. If you are attracted to paper, make the switch! If you find you don't like it after a little while, go back. No matter what your system is it will do you little good if you aren't attracted to it!

    Comment


    • #3
      Years ago, before GTD, I carried a Palm Pilot for a year, then (when its
      battery conked out and I lost my data) switched back to
      carrying instead a pocket-sized paper calendar, which I've done for years and
      continued through GTD. My paper calendars have never or almost never
      been lost, misplaced or seriously damaged e.g. due to rain or from
      accidentally being run through the laundry, so in my experience
      they're more reliable than the electronic device. (In theory I could
      have backed it up more often.) I like paper: you can write in different
      sizes, on a slant etc., you don't have to spend any time turning it
      on or off, you can immediately recognize a page you'd just been
      looking at because of the unique handwritten markings, and stuff is always
      on the part of the page you remember it being on.

      I also do a lot of things on computer, and at times I've kept lists of actions
      on the computer, but now I'm happy with lists of actions on paper: many of
      them one action per sheet of paper (with or without other information on the
      same page), and many of them brief notations in a pocket-sized notebook
      I carry along with my paper calendar. (I re-use sheets of paper by erasing
      if they only had a few words.)

      I like the feel of lists of actions on paper. Perhaps I prefer to be telling
      the computer what to do rather than vice versa.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by cfoley View Post
        I loved it and am considering migrating my GTD system back to paper.

        If anyone here has abandoned an electronic system for a paper one, I would love to hear from you. I'm a bit apprehensive about the migration so I would appreciate hearing as wide a range of successes and failures as possible.
        I've occasionally tried to move to paper, usually in the context of being unhappy with my electronic system. I invariably run screaming back to electronic as soon as I possibly can. With roughly 200 active projects at any given time and nearly 600 in someday/maybe paper is just flat not an option for me.

        BUT, if paper appeals to you and you can deal with the hassle of writing on it regularly (I also have bad writing and can't always read my own scribbles later) then go for it.

        Comment


        • #5
          Hybrid works for me

          I have done both - started doing GTD with paper (Time/Design) 16 years ago, then Palm, etc. etc. Am now working a "dual system" - I have a paper planner that includes:
          • my "master calendar" (a composite of my day job calendar, personal items, and calendar that my husband & I share for our business). I enter anything I know I'll want to keep track of on this master calendar. I find that entering these things by hand in one place makes me more conscious to what's going on.
          • Project & Action lists
          • Blank paper for taking notes
          • Reference material

          My husband and I share a Google calendar that I can also access on my iPhone. I have errands lists in the Notes app on my iPhone.

          I've just found over the years what works for me in paper and what doesn't. When I tried to make myself ALL one or the other, it never worked. But I am much more conscious to my lists and more careful about how I word actions and projects when I use paper. I cross-reference projects and actions with notes, weekly review, etc. and found that in my electronic days (daze?!) tags, folders, etc. just ended up making my eyes glaze over!

          But I agree with others who counsel you to go with what you're innately attracted to, and don't feel that your system has to be either paper or electronic. Just try to be objective as you're building it, and notice what is and isn't working (weekly review time is great for this)... There's a little nagging voice that will let you know if you listen to it!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by cfoley View Post
            I'm just back from a conference where I left my real GTD life behind and took some conference-specific projects and actions with me. My tools were a notepad, a pen and a highlighter.

            I loved it and am considering migrating my GTD system back to paper.

            If anyone here has abandoned an electronic system for a paper one, I would love to hear from you. I'm a bit apprehensive about the migration so I would appreciate hearing as wide a range of successes and failures as possible.

            In the meantime, I'm going to work from some printouts so I can easily go back.
            I've done it for conferences and workshops, up to 3 weeks at a time away from home. It works for me in that framework where most days are taken up with talks, discussions and engaged reflection, and only a few next actions are generated per day. However, it breaks down quickly in my actual life, where I have more to track, changing quickly.

            Comment


            • #7
              "Impossible to do on computer."

              See also Martin Ternouth's description of his paper-based project management system.
              Search for the 2nd email by "Martin Ternouth" on this page:
              http://www.edwardtufte.com/bboard/q-...?msg_id=00008c
              (control-F on most browsers can be used to search for a string on a web page.)
              He argues that paper is superior to computers for processing large amounts of
              information.

              Comment


              • #8
                Never left paper

                I used to use a Palm Pilot (wouldn't it be great if they got that band back together again?) for calendar and contacts. Now I use a Droid and cannot imagine entering all of my contacts each year! I also like the Droid and Google calendar.

                But I find that I cannot think and type as well as I can think and write/highlight/erase/scribble etc. Brightly colored file folders neatly labeled in a drawer have never lost their appeal. I love recycling Dilbert cartoons from the daily rip off calendars to use for NAs.

                So I've never gone over to the (dark) electronic side.

                Comment


                • #9
                  When I first started GTD I got into the whole list management apps, and new, cool tools that I could use with GTD, jumping from one shiny new object to another.

                  But after awhile I found I wasn't using them and I was getting behind on keeping my lists up to date.

                  So I had to go back to paper, and focus on the fundementals of the GTD principles.

                  Then once I got those down as habits, and really understood most of them, then I made the move back to digital.

                  Then I dropped my Iphone last year and sent it to a repair shop.

                  Well when it was at the repair shop the guy thought he would do me a favor and jailbreak my phone, and I lost all my data.

                  So I had to start all over again with paper and because I was scared of losing my data again, I stayed with only paper for about 6 months

                  But within the last 2 months I have started using a hybrid of paper and digital.

                  I use a Google Calendar, which I like because I can access it anywhere.

                  And for my lists I have the Things IPhone app, but I only insert 2 weeks worth of info into it.

                  For any actions or projects that I have that are 3 weeks or longer away I keep them paper based, and then once a week I add one weeks worth into my Things app.

                  I find that this helps me feel secure in case I lose data again.

                  And obviously like most others I have some reference on my laptop and some paper based. Same with my tickler files, project support files, and someday/maybe files.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I use paper when paper is the most efficient for me. I always care a pen and a Moleskine Cahier Pocket for capturing when I don't have any technology options. I also use business card size notes and a Levenger Two Row Note Card Bleacher to capture, organize, and review items on my main desk. The key for me is to just process these into my electronic world as soon as I know they won't be handled during a normal work day.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Thanks for all the advice, encouragement and words of caution. I have moved most of my action lists to paper and am experiencing an overall improvement. Paper is nicer to manipulate, easier to read and more flexible in terms of layout, drawing, tearing, folding, highlighting, etc. I’m half way through my weekly review and it was a pleasure to scan through my action lists. My project lists are still digital and the prospect of reading through them is so daunting that I’m writing a reply here instead.

                      (It’s not all bad though. I’m going to try printing them out for the review.)

                      Some things I’m having difficulty with, or have to think about my options for:

                      Deadlines
                      My digital system handles this nicely with due dates and saved searches. At the moment I’m writing due dates in red beside actions. Hopefully, I’ll stay engaged with my lists well enough for this to work.

                      Start dates and Ticklers
                      I used start dates on my digital system to cater for both of these. I’m not sure if I want a physical tickler system so I might stick to a digital one. My biggest issue with a physical tickler file is where to put it. It’s true that I wake up (almost) every day in my own house so that’s a perfect time and place to check it, but I spend most of the working day at my office which is where and when I want to tickle most items.

                      Calendared Actions
                      I like Google calendars too much to leave it but it’s a lousy place to put action items. As much as I hate the idea of two calendars, I’m trialling an action calendar: Page-a-day with only action items that must be done on that day. I’m not sure if I want to store deadlined items there as well as on my action lists and I’m struggling similarly with start dates.

                      Repeating actions
                      Some are ideal candidates for the action calendar. Others are a bit more flexible. I remember some long threads on here recently that I should probably go back and read.

                      Again, thanks for all your advice. If you have any thoughts on these issues I’ve highlighted, I’d love to hear from you.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by cfoley View Post
                        Deadlines
                        My digital system handles this nicely with due dates and saved searches. At the moment Iím writing due dates in red beside actions. Hopefully, Iíll stay engaged with my lists well enough for this to work.

                        Start dates and Ticklers
                        I used start dates on my digital system to cater for both of these. Iím not sure if I want a physical tickler system so I might stick to a digital one. My biggest issue with a physical tickler file is where to put it. Itís true that I wake up (almost) every day in my own house so thatís a perfect time and place to check it, but I spend most of the working day at my office which is where and when I want to tickle most items.

                        Calendared Actions
                        I like Google calendars too much to leave it but itís a lousy place to put action items. As much as I hate the idea of two calendars, Iím trialling an action calendar: Page-a-day with only action items that must be done on that day. Iím not sure if I want to store deadlined items there as well as on my action lists and Iím struggling similarly with start dates.

                        Repeating actions
                        Some are ideal candidates for the action calendar. Others are a bit more flexible. I remember some long threads on here recently that I should probably go back and read.

                        Again, thanks for all your advice. If you have any thoughts on these issues Iíve highlighted, Iíd love to hear from you.
                        Tickler: I use a paper tickler file, and I have it at the office. I keep personal and work things in it, and it's the first thing I look at (after I get my coffee and boot up my computer!)...

                        Calendar: This is where I actually have multiple calendars (paper, Outlook, and Google), which wouldn't work for everyone, but works for me. My planner has my MASTER calendar. I try to be pristine with what I put on any of my calendars - really only actions that HAVE to be done on that day, plus reminders of looming deadlines (!)

                        Repeating actions: I'll use a digital reminder and/or tickler file depending on the nature of the repeating action.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I only use paper with GTD Inbox

                          Only in collection stage, I use paper to record the idea, then, I send the project to my omnifocus in iPhone, set the date, context, repeat properties... then do it and review weekly.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I can'y answer that question exactly, but here:

                            I am experimenting with project management software, and I expect that I will eventually use Amode for that purpose. I will have GTD-type lists; but when I am doing my ToDoToday list, it is in my daybook. At night, I work on any cleanup.

                            Of course, if I had 125 things to do each day, this system might well be inadequate.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              i use hybrid.

                              paper for my current projects list, and action lists,

                              i organize reference information on either paper or freemind mindmapping software .

                              i use basic tools and so its free to evolve and it does keep evolving !...its like seeing a kid grow..

                              why should i limit my gtd tool to the imagination of the person who designs a gtd software.............

                              i mean ...if i use a digital gtd tool.....it wont evolve...right ?

                              and i cannot tweak it ..as i am not a programmer.

                              paper works great for me........as i use a lot of sketches and colour pen markings.
                              ..

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