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How do you decide which tools to use?

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  • How do you decide which tools to use?

    I have been attempting to use GTD for nearly 2 years now. I have and use some of the "standard" tools such as an Inbox and a Labeller. My normal capture tool is paper (either notebook or foolscap). My other major in-channel at work is e-mail where I use the company-standard Outlook.

    I also use Freemind as a mind-mapping tool.

    The area though where I have never settled on a consistent tool-set is the Calendar and the Lists (including NAs, Projects, Areas of Focus and other ad-hoc checklists and lists).

    I have flitted between managing these in Outlook, the Palm Desktop and Outliners - namely trials of Bonsai and Life Balance. All the time I have synched to my aging Palm M105.

    In truth, I rarely use the Palm at work as I spend 80% of my time in front of my PC. However, I do use it at home and like that fact that it gives me a complete picture of all my work and personal commitments.

    The problem I have though is deciding on which tooling would allow me to me most productive. I prefer using Outliners but from a practical point of view they are just too time-consuming to maintain and don't handle e-mails.

    As much as I dislike Outlook, my intuition tells me this is the way to go as it allows easy tranformation of e-mails into tasks and calendar items and I can easily incorporate a reference system using folders.

    My intuition also hints that I should drop the Palm synch at work. In truth I never take work home and would prefer to keep a separation between my work as a Project Manager and my home life with 3 young children and a partner and a house to support and maintain. The only common component between home life and work life is the calendar and I could manage that manually. I could then use the Palm to manage my home life and synch it to my PC at home (and perhaps use an Outliner to manage personal Projects and NAs).

    So, in effect, I would have 2 systems. A work one and a personal one. In terms of tooling they would be quite different and would require separate Weekly Reviews.

    I guess I just needed to get this out of my head - but if anyone does has any thoughts/ideas or tips to share...

    Thanks for listening,

  • #2
    Separate systems for home and work are OK.

    Originally posted by jac
    So, in effect, I would have 2 systems. A work one and a personal one. In terms of tooling they would be quite different and would require separate Weekly Reviews.
    I think it is very good and healthy approach to have separate systems if you have clear division between home and work. And to use different (appropriate) implementations in different environments is more effective than to be orthodox.

    I suggest you to have only one link between home and work systems. If you treat home system as master and work system as slave you can include in your home Weekly Review checklist the following item:

    [ ] Weekly Review at work done.


    • #3
      2 systems

      jac, I'm having a similar issue of fitting both work and personal items into a single GTD tool. I like your idea of keeping a separate system for work. I rarely do work outside the office, so I don't need to have work tasks on my home system, and I don't want all my personal info on the company Exchange server. I think keeping two separate systems may be simpler than the selective manual syncing I've been trying to maintain.

      I still carry my Palm to work with my personal NA'a, but apinaud suggested in response to my post, (, using Yahoo Calendar to make my system available on line. You can export only from both locations to produce a combined view available from home and work.


      • #4
        I use a contact management product called Time & Chaos and in a separate forum we have a thread about how to apply Time & Chaos and David Allen's GTD principles:

        Any suggestions here or there appreciated.


        • #5
          I use my Palm as my home calendar/tasks/memo's and Outlook at work. My Outlook at work does not get synched to my palm. My Palm does get synched to my Palm Desktop at work and home though. I keep a cradle at work and at home for my palm and all my personal information is available to me at work. This way I can keep organized with my personal life at work but I never have to worry about work at home.

          It works well for me.


          • #6
            It feels very natural to me to have separate systems for work and home. My home system is a Palm PDA synched to my home PC for data backup. My work system is a set of lists in MSWord outline format on my work PC. I naturally have a home reference file system at home and a work reference file system at work.

            The only common item is that all calendar events go on the PDA whether work or personal. I also keep a category in my PDA for personal items that I must do at work, such as call the dentist.

            DA recommends having one system for everything and this makes sense on some level. Especially if you own the company and can freely do personal stuff at work and may well do a lot of work stuff at home. I personally don't, so separate systems work well for me.