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  • Combination paper and electronic

    My implementation of GTD is a combination of both paper and electronic items. I'm wondering if this is really a good idea or not. Here is what I do, I have physical paper folders for Next Actions, Waiting For, Someday/Maybe, Read/Review.

    I then have an @Projects folder on my computer that contains all of my projects. Each project is a separate Word file with a list of all the items to be done as well as the goal for the project. I have the projects as Word files, because I'm a fast typer (much faster than I can write on a pad of paper) and I can brainstorm the project. I also find that projects change and it is easier to add/remove things from a project in Word than it would be to change the project list if it were just a list of things on paper.

    One problem I have with this system, is that I often have to get a sheet of paper and write down a next action for some project and stick it in my paper folder. I like having the paper folder of next actions, but I wonder if I'm just creating some extra work for myself? I'd hate to have to give up the paper though, because I often have some thought pop into my head while I'm working on something on the computer, so I stop for a minute, write it down on a piece of paper, toss it in my inbox and continue with whatever I was doing. I find myself catching much more stuff this way that used to fall through the cracks.

    Another thing, is that I also have 2 lists on a Palm. I have a calls list and an errands list. I decided to put this on my palm, because these things I can do at home, work or when I'm on my way somewhere else (errands).

    I guess I'm feeling like having 3 separate places for my lists might be a little too much, but it has been working well so far.

  • #2
    Both paper & Electronic

    If it works for you, I don't see any problem with it.

    I use both PDA and paper, too. Neither one on its own worked for me. Now I have the best of both worlds!

    Janice

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    • #3
      I think your @Projects is actually probably more like backup data and information for your projects. I brainstorm on the computer well also, so for things like planning holidays, I just have a document in the computer where I keep all my notes and ideas.

      I don't have a physical inbox because 90% of what I need to do comes from my head - I just have pads of paper lying all over the house so I can write down ideas when they come. Then I sort the information into my master project lists (paper system) and then my next actions (also paper system). In your case, maybe your paper notes could be your "inbox" and then you could put them in your PDA or wherever you keep your next actions.

      Personally, I would keep all of my master project lists (not necessarily supporting data also) and next actions lists all in the same place. The reason would be that it is much easier when you have a moment to take a step back and define your work, everything is there and so you can think it through (make sure you have next actions for all your active projects and pick what next action to work on next).

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      • #4
        I also think a hybrid of paper and electronic is just about ideal. This can take many forms. It sounds like you have a very workable system. If you are unsure that your N/A list is working well for you, you might try making that part more electronic. For instance, you could type it all up on the computer and keep it updated, sorted and organized there, but you could print it out frequently and work from it as a paper document. New items can be added directly to the electronic document or handwritten on the paper document or on cards placed in your in-box. This might let you take more advantage of the benefits of digital while keeping the benefits of paper as well.

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        • #5
          I keep as much as possible in Outlook, and print out calendars and todo lists to be part of my Hipster. I just fold the letter-sized paper into sixths and put it into the clip. I will say that my implementation isn't perfect (stuff still slips through entirely too often).

          Comment


          • #6
            paper-electronic

            Originally posted by gnugrep
            My implementation of GTD is a combination of both paper and electronic items. I'm wondering if this is really a good idea or not. Here is what I do, I have physical paper folders for Next Actions, Waiting For, Someday/Maybe, Read/Review....

            I guess I'm feeling like having 3 separate places for my lists might be a little too much, but it has been working well so far.
            Your system sounds eminently sensible. The primary criterion for 'good' is how well it works for you.

            My system is a similar paper-electronic hybrid:

            I manage my projects using the Outlook GTD Addin, documenting what's done and what needs to be done in each respective 'Master Project' task. In addition, each project gets its own physical file. I keep printed copies of each project's master task in its respective physical file. I also have physical files for NAs, scheduled actions, waiting, and someday. However, for purposes of project management, the electronic version is the master.

            I record additional project notes, actions, ideas, and so on in one of three places, as convenient:



            • my computer;
            • on the paper copy of the respective project's master task;
            • on a small notepad or piece of paper.
            I update my electronic records to reflect the changes and additions during processing or review.

            In other words, I manage projects and actions electronically, and use paper for primarily for collection and reference. In fact, I do most of my initial collecting and capturing on paper.

            So:
            • There are different contexts -- access to resources and tools, state of mind, energy level -- in which we collect (just as there are different contexts for doing). The collecting context affects the availability and convenience of different collection tools and methods.
            • For most of us, one version of our lists must be designated the master.
            • It's essential to keep the master and auxiliary records consistent (in sync) through frequent processing and review.
            Thoughts anybody?

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by mscudder
              In other words, I manage projects and actions electronically, and use paper for primarily for collection and reference. In fact, I do most of my initial collecting and capturing on paper.

              So:
              • There are different contexts -- access to resources and tools, state of mind, energy level -- in which we collect (just as there are different contexts for doing). The collecting context affects the availability and convenience of different collection tools and methods.
              • For most of us, one version of our lists must be designated the master.
              • It's essential to keep the master and auxiliary records consistent (in sync) through frequent processing and review.
              Thoughts anybody?
              I would have to second the last three points above. I have recently gone from an almost completely electronic system using a Palm (except for collection which is mostly paper) to a combo using a pocket size planner. The reason for the 'switch-back' was mainly to have a paper calendar. I have a weird mental block to the Palm calendar even with using a KeyDates add-in. So I pop my Palm into the front of the planner and now also use the rest of the pages for collection.

              The key is 1. keeping my planner calendar (master) 'synced' to Outlook and 2. that I process the info that I put in the planner and put it into my Palm/computer. My projects and tasks lists are ever-changing, so I find it easier to maintain these electronically.

              It has been a couple months. So far, not so bad. I have had past trouble developing my weekly review as a habit, but my combo system has made them more criticall (in my mind) and more regular. I have been able to discover other benefits to my WR's in the process.

              Comment


              • #8
                The problem with a computer-only system is the inertia that you need to overcome to get up and plug a NA into the computer when one comes to you when you are not at your computer. Therefore I think at a minimum, some secondary capture system, very often paper based (for me, a pen and some cards) is usually an important part of the GTD system, although for many a PDA based system could probably function as a complete system in itself.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by gnugrep
                  One problem I have with this system, is that I often have to get a sheet of paper and write down a next action for some project and stick it in my paper folder. I like having the paper folder of next actions, but I wonder if I'm just creating some extra work for myself? I'd hate to have to give up the paper though, because I often have some thought pop into my head while I'm working on something on the computer, so I stop for a minute, write it down on a piece of paper, toss it in my inbox and continue with whatever I was doing. I find myself catching much more stuff this way that used to fall through the cracks.
                  Well, honestly to me it does sound like extra work. And I also wonder if you are conflating the "Collect" and "Organize" steps. The result of "Organize" is lists of projects and actions that you have decided to do after collecting all your inputs (including ideas) and processing them.

                  I sometimes capture ideas by writing them down on paper. But I later process them and put them in my digital (PDA) system. Absolutely everything I want to do is in that PDA which is always with me.

                  Now if I am at my computer, I do not stop to write the thing down because I can type a lot faster than I can write. Plus I can actually read what I type, too. I keep Palm Desktop running in ToDo list view, INBOX category, hit CTRL-N to make a new INBOX item, and go back to what I was doing before. I also use the Palm Desktop/ToDo/INBOX for brain dumps whenever possible. If I have tons of ideas to get down, it saves so much time to type them! I then import the INBOX into my organizing software of choice, though of course you could print out the lists too.

                  Originally posted by gnugrep
                  I guess I'm feeling like having 3 separate places for my lists might be a little too much, but it has been working well so far.
                  If it is working well, then perhaps no need to fix it. But before you said "One problem I'm having. . ."

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