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My GTD system breakdown

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  • My GTD system breakdown

    Hi,

    I just wanted to see how everyone had their GTD systems setup. I'll give a fairly detailed overview of mine. I'd be curious to see what people think of my setup, and I'd love to see how others have theirs setup. For my "work" I run multiple e-commerce websites, as well as consulting for two very different companies which will give you a little bit of context.

    Paper
    For the handling of paper I have a simple office depot folder box, with plain letter file folders in alphabetical order. I handle my labelling with a Dymo label printer which I have hooked up to my PC. The three folders I have at the front of my box are: @ In Basket, @ Next Actions, @ Someday/Maybe. I use a folder as my in basket, as I deal with minimal paper in my work.

    Everything else is handed on my notebook computer which I tend to have with me unless I am on holidays. The main software that I use for GTD is Outlook 2003, Outlook Express, and Free Mind mind mapping software. Outlook 2003 is used to handle my Calendar, Contacts, Next Actions, Projects, and Notes. I use Outlook express to handle almost a dozen different work related email addresses. And finally I use Free Map for mapping out my levels of focus.

    For Outlook 2003 I use tasks to define my projects and next actions which are broken down like this:

    ! Checklists - this includes any kind of checklists like my weekly review, or any temporary lists like "things to bring for camping trip"
    ! Daily - a list of things that I do almost everyday.
    @ Contact - anyone I need to call, email, or even instant message
    @ E-commerce - next actions for any of my ecommerce websites. I also have two sub-categories for each business which covers the customer service aspect: Next Action & Waitlist. This is little different than what most people have setup, but I find it very important to have each business compartmentalized.
    @ Errands - anything when out and about
    @ Consulting Company #1
    @ Consulting Company #2
    @ Personal
    @ Waiting list

    I know David Allen likes to break every thing down by context, and I do but just a little differently. Since I am always at my computer, and I tend to define my contexts by what type of work I am doing. (ie E-commerce, Consulting Company #1, etc)

    Then my projects are broken down in the following categories:
    E-Commerce
    Consulting Company #1
    Consulting Company #2
    Personal
    Personal Development

    My Someday / Maybe list is broken down as follows:
    Books
    Business
    Business Ideas
    Entertainment
    Music (with sub-genres)
    Personal
    Personal Development
    Technology (gadgets, fun projects, etc)
    Travel
    Video (Movies, TV seasons, etc)

    And finally I have a victory category where I drag my completed tasks, just so I don't feel like they are disappearing.

    I use Outlook Express to handle all my different email accounts for the many different projects I am involved in. I have an identity for each, and I switch many times throughout the day. Each e-mail account has the standard: @ Action, @ Review, and the @ Waiting. If I have a lot of action emails to get through, I sometimes even break down the action category by project.

    To handle my higher levels of focus I use FreeMind, which is an excellent open source program that seems to be continually improving. I have a mind map for each level: Areas of each responsiblity, 1-2 Year goals, 3-5 year vision, and finally my Purpose. I have each file linked in Outlook 2003 on the menu bar, so I can bring up it very easily. To me mind maps have been the missing link in GTD between my actions/projects and my higher level thinking. I struggled with creating lists in Outlook for my higher levels of focus but it just didn't seem to give me a good overview like the mind maps do.

    For my work I am required to do an excessive amount of web browsing so it is very important to manage my existing and incoming bookmarks. To handle this I have setup a @ review category, that I drop any useful bookmark into - then I typically file it or delete during my weekly review. I also have a @ Someday / Maybe list which is broken down by books, videos, music, ideas, etc. And is typically filled with loads of items on Amazon.

    Well that's pretty much it, I hope I didn't bore you all to death. I'd love to see a breakdown of some of your systems.

  • #2
    Thanks for sharing that, TyQ. You filled in a hole for me. I still have the @calls category, and you made me realize that in the realm of instant communcation (and the fact that I really don't like talking on the phone) @Contact would be a much more appropriate context.

    I have come to realize that I could probably survive GTD with a cheap paper planner, but since I spent so much time and energy talking my wife into the Dell Axim, I've worked hard to adapt my GTD system to an electronic method. I'd already done it for Franklin Covey, so GTD wasn't that hard.

    I have Outlook 2003 at both work and home, and Pocket Informant on my Pocket PC. I like Pocket Informant, which is a very powerful program, and I have though about just using the Pocket PC as a stand alone, but Outlook has it's benefits too. I sync the Pocket PC with both work and home. At home, I have my ISP email account, Gmail, and I use ypops to get Yahoo. I'm trying to switch everything over to gmail, which I am highly impressed with. I have a few hacks that I got from Michael Hyatt at http://www.michaelhyatt.com/workingsmart . He has a category called !Daily Disciplines, and offers a macro to set it up. I created a button on the toolbar, so I press that every morning and get a list of the daily tasks that I should do to keep myself focused and in health. I know, some of you might wonder why I don't add "don't forget to breath" to a list like that, but I've found it to be a very good idea. I added a !Today category, but I'm still working on it. For tasks, I have !Weekly Planning (another macro I got from Michael Hyatt), @Agenda, @Anywhere, @Errand, @Home, @Home Computer (I use Log Me In, so I'm almost always connected to my home computer), @Someday/Maybe (Still working out the bugs in that one), @Waiting for someone, and @Work. I also have a non-@ category for projects, which I review and assign a next action to the appropriate conext. For my appointments, I keep the Franklin Covey hack of placing them into roles, ie Husband, Father, Employee, Family, etc. I have a few categories that I use for notes such as collection, Goals, Planning, Reference, etc. I just found and downloaded Free Mind yesterday, so I haven't played with it yet. When I used FC, I tried to put everything into a role, but I'm finding with GTD that I need different categories for tasks, appointments, and notes.

    I'm still working out email folders. I try to clear my inboxes every day. I added "Waiting" and "Read" folders to my home inbox. For paper inboxes, I have a three tiered one at work. The top is for outgoing, the middle is in, and the bottom is for support material. I take my inbox from home, put it in my work bag, and sort it out at work. I do this because I have a one year old and a one week old, so I really don't have time at home to sort my stuff, but work allows me to set my own priorities so I can easily squeeze it in.

    I hope that was helpful to you, and thanks for the @Contact idea.

    Comment


    • #3
      Nice topic for a thread!

      While I'm still starting and adjusting to the system, I'm also interested in knowing how others set-up theirs. Hopefully, once I'm adept in the practice of the sytem, I get to post mine.

      Keep 'em coming guys!

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks!

        Thanks for sharing, I really like everything you are doing and am going to pick out some things that will help me because of your post.

        I downloaded FreeMind and can't wait to "see" my responsibilities in a more visual way.

        Again, thanks for several tips I'm going to try to implement soon.

        Do you think that by writing down your trusted system, it has helped you? I was thinking that it might be a valuable "look" at my system (however, it's not really a trusted system, yet) to see the holes that have erupted without realizing it.

        Comment


        • #5
          Actually, writing it down made me realize that I do have a coherent system. In the time it took to think it through and organize my thoughts to explain it, I realized that I'm mostly there.

          Comment


          • #6
            I have one system for work, and a separate system for home.

            At Work:

            I have two plastic physical inboxes, one for In and one for Shredding (important documents that I have to take to the office shredder). These are stacked; the inbox on the top and the shred box below.

            I use a Hipster PDA at work, using 4x6" index cards organized as follows:

            Actions (all on one card)
            Waiting For
            Projects
            Cards containing command references and processes that I have to follow ("Here's how to log in and perform a build for project X").

            I have a small filing cabinet; the bottom drawer holds all my folders. I have my 43 folders in front.

            Every morning, I empty that day's tickler files into my inbox, and perform a mini-review during which I look over the work I have to do, and sketch out a broad schedule of things to do today. I work on a broad variety of tasks, so this is vital for me.

            I find that if I take up to half an hour preparing for the day, I am vastly more productive than if I just leap into my work.

            On Monday mornings, I perform a full-blown weekly review. This can take up to two hours.

            At Home:

            I have two filing cabinets, and in the top drawer of one is my 43 folders. When I get home, I dump that day's tickler files into my inbox. I process my inbox throughout the course of the evening. I have my regular inbox stacked on top of another inbox that's for pending bills.

            I have a PDA/phone on which I've been storing personal grocery lists, shopping lists, etc. Unfortunately, it broke recently, and I think I'm going to have to replace it with a cheap phone, so I'm thinking of transitioning to a Hipster PDA at home.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by TyQ View Post

              To handle my higher levels of focus I use FreeMind, which is an excellent open source program that seems to be continually improving. I have a mind map for each level: Areas of each responsiblity, 1-2 Year goals, 3-5 year vision, and finally my Purpose. I have each file linked in Outlook 2003 on the menu bar, so I can bring up it very easily. To me mind maps have been the missing link in GTD between my actions/projects and my higher level thinking. I struggled with creating lists in Outlook for my higher levels of focus but it just didn't seem to give me a good overview like the mind maps do.
              Can anyone show me how it's done or perhaps give an example? With the advice, I downloaded Freemind, but I'm struggling with how to connect all those levels.

              Looking back at the book, I think DA skittered through the levels above areas of responsibility. There was a fairly lengthy discussion about the 10k and 20k levels, but DA simply merged the 30k to 50k levels, so my map's 30k to 50k levels are mixed up too. My mind is spinning because of graphical links all over the place.

              I would love to see how you guys cleanly connect areas of responsibility to the goals, visions, and ultimately purpose.

              Or maybe you guys have a better way of *capturing* your higher levels. Please post! Thanks!

              Comment


              • #8
                Thank you for this TyQ. I had an @Internet next action to "Find freeware mind mapping/brainstorming program". I just checked the task as "Completed"!

                Thanks for the help in closing out an action.

                Keep up the good work.

                -Jeff

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