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GTD & College

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  • GTD & College

    Hi, I am almost done reading GTD, so I'm really sorry if this is covered in the book.

    I am not an executive, I am a student. I can see clearly how GTD works well within the framework of a job, but when you add school to the mix I have a hard time wrapping my mind how I will work GTD into how I do school work.

    As things stand, when I have time, I pull out all my materials for the class that I am doing work for. Book, laptop, pens, pencil, and my folder come out and I begin work on whatever assignment I have. I have a seperate folder and notebook for every class and I keep all my materials in my back pack, apart from my filing system.

    How can I fit this into the context of the GTD system?

    Should specific assignments be on my next actions list? Should my classes be filed with projects or should I keep them separate? Should I only keep one notebook and rip out all my notes, put them in my inbox and file them accordingly?

    Has anyone successfully integrated GTD with school?

    The GTD system is so powerful because it allows you to break down tasks into their smallest components and fit them all into your schedule wherever they fit. It also requires you to have ONE system for getting things done. I noticed that I get my school work done in a different sub-system, and it feels like it will be at odds with having an overall system for doing things.

    what do you think?

  • #2
    For assignments, it depends on the assignment. "Read Chapter One of War and Peace" is probably a Next Action. "Write term paper on Crimean War" is probably a project. If all of your assignments are Next Action-sized, or at worst small projects, then you may not need a full-blown GTD implementation to handle them. If they are all project-sized, or if you are doing a major research project like writing a thesis, you probably need a more complex system.

    I would say that if your school-oriented subsystem is working, there's no particular reason to change it, or at least not to change it all at once. Instead, you might try handling one or two classes (probably the ones with the most complex assignments) with a GTD-style approach and see how that works.

    If it were my system, I would probably treat each class as an area of focus, with a set of projects/assignments belonging to it. From there, you could break the specific actions for each assignment down into contexts just like any other tasks. Your contexts are probably more flexible than many people's, but there are still resources that you can't (or don't want to) carry around with you. "Read Wikipedia article on Crimean War" can be done anywhere with an Internet connection, while you'll probably want a biology lab for "extract penicillin from bread mold."

    Details like the number of notebooks to keep are really up to you. I would imagine that most of your notes contain very few next actions, so they don't require the kind of detailed processing that notes from a company project meeting might. One way to handle it would be to just put a box around action items as you write them down, then copy them out to whatever NA list you use at the end of the day. That lets you keep all your notes on a given subject together, which is probably best when test time comes around.

    Good luck!

    Katherine

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by zmobie View Post
      Hi, I am almost done reading GTD, so I'm really sorry if this is covered in the book.

      As things stand, when I have time, I pull out all my materials for the class that I am doing work for. Book, laptop, pens, pencil, and my folder come out and I begin work on whatever assignment I have. I have a seperate folder and notebook for every class and I keep all my materials in my back pack, apart from my filing system.

      How can I fit this into the context of the GTD system?

      Should specific assignments be on my next actions list? Should my classes be filed with projects or should I keep them separate? Should I only keep one notebook and rip out all my notes, put them in my inbox and file them accordingly?

      Has anyone successfully integrated GTD with school?


      -----

      The GTD system is so powerful because it allows you to break down tasks into their smallest components and fit them all into your schedule wherever they fit. It also requires you to have ONE system for getting things done. I noticed that I get my school work done in a different sub-system, and it feels like it will be at odds with having an overall system for doing things.

      what do you think?


      Hi there ,nice to have a a fellow student here


      I will first just tell you the about the first question you asked or I think you did ask

      FIrst tell us what stationary you use , what I do basically is I carry ONE single ring binder file to college with stationary inside, and for each subject/class I collect note in it .
      When I do come back home , I organize it and keep it in diffrent files folder , keeping seperate folders helps during exams .

      For special notes and HW given , or your thoughts over the assignments can also be inserted accordingl on a diffrent color stationary , so this way when in college say a/c is being taught, i complete my work , and write a small note to me ,

      DIDN"T understand IInd part of a/c , go home , check and review
      Do same Types sums modified

      And in this way a small checklist is created for my TO DO !!



      if u are getting something out of this let me know , we discuss more



      II.
      What subsystem do you use now ? Yes it will feel odd in the beginning(hell for me it still is)

      Comment


      • #4
        Hi there Zmobie.

        While I'm not a student anymore, and I just stumbled across GTD a few years after graduation, I think I might be able to help clear things up a bit.

        There are a few things that I think can help with the interpretation of GTD to make it work with how you currently work, and grow to help with getting things done other than school.

        Originally posted by zmobie View Post
        As things stand, when I have time, I pull out all my materials for the class that I am doing work for. Book, laptop, pens, pencil, and my folder come out and I begin work on whatever assignment I have. I have a seperate folder and notebook for every class and I keep all my materials in my back pack, apart from my filing system.

        How can I fit this into the context of the GTD system?
        First off, I think the way to look at your notebooks and folders for each class as support material. Basically, each of your classes is a project (so is each assignment, but more on that later). Thus, having a folder for each of these "projects" makes sense. As far as the notebook, I don't see a problem with having these kept separate per class either. Basically, the key is to make sure you are processing the info you take down to ensure it makes it into the system from a project and NA standpoint, but this doesn't necessarily mean tearing out the pages. Keeping them in individual notebooks makes things a lot easier for retrieving information down the road. As long as you, say, read through your notes from the class on a regular basis to ensure that the information involved already has any NAs or projects captured (could be at a Weekly Review or more frequently, depending on your schedule), the system works without having to change the current method of notetaking.

        Originally posted by zmobie View Post
        Should specific assignments be on my next actions list? Should my classes be filed with projects or should I keep them separate? Should I only keep one notebook and rip out all my notes, put them in my inbox and file them accordingly?
        This comes back to my earlier comment regarding classes and assignments both being projects. Now, the GTD definition of a project is something that takes more than one physical action to come to completion. Obviously, a class falls under this heading. Likewise, I'd venture to guess that your assignments do to. I know in my last year of school, out of 10 classes, I had 9 major group projects/presentations/papers due. Each of these assignments was a project in and of itself. Also, smaller assignments were frequently projects as well. Even if it was just a review an article and summarize them, it could be broken down into research what article I'd want to do, find the article, print it out, read it, make some comments, write the draft, maybe review that, etc.

        I think the key point is that in school, a lot of things constitute a project, the one system GTD states primarily involves keeping a single repository of your Next Actions, and a single general reference filing system (Project Support Material can be different).

        The other key thing with GTD is that the system is what you make it. A lot of GTD is a process, but it can be remarkably tool-agnostic (just look at the various implementations on this forum!), so take the lessons of GTD, and find a way that works for your life!

        Good luck, and I hope this helps!

        Adam

        Originally posted by zmobie View Post
        Has anyone successfully integrated GTD with school?

        The GTD system is so powerful because it allows you to break down tasks into their smallest components and fit them all into your schedule wherever they fit. It also requires you to have ONE system for getting things done. I noticed that I get my school work done in a different sub-system, and it feels like it will be at odds with having an overall system for doing things.

        what do you think?

        Comment


        • #5
          The name of the methodology is "Getting Things Done," not "Follow David Allen's Rules." If your current system is effective, don't change it until it becomes ineffective.

          Using GTD as a basis:

          A project is just a defined goal. Do you have any goals? You could define "Complete ECON 102" as a goal. But you have other goals within that goal, such as "Complete term paper." That's certainly a goal. So, you could choose to define both the completion of the class and completion of parts of the class as projects.

          I would certainly define work like term papers and studying for tests as projects. Completing a course is sort of automatic; the class will be over at the end of the semester, whether you worked on it or not. It's still probably helpful to define its completion as a project, as it will remind you of other work to be done during your Weekly Review.

          The Next Actions lists and Project list are bookmarks. They're there to remind you of the work you have to do. The lists are not your work. You can put your work (notebooks, study guides, etc.) in whatever filing system that works for you. Note that a bookbag can be a filing destination.

          Does that help? Any questions that we haven't answered?

          Comment


          • #6
            Hi everyone,

            I've been using GTD for the past couple of years (with various levels of success) to organize my life and my University work. I am a mature student (29yrs old) completing my 2nd BSc.

            I'll share some more thoughts that you might find useful.

            First off, besides the Academic aspect, I find GTD excellent in organizing the rest of my life. Nothing slips through any more and thus I have a more focussed mind when I sit down to study.

            I have the following categories:
            .study
            @c
            @h
            @call
            @out

            The 4 lower ones are self evident ... @c is for all my work on the computer (online and offline), @h is at home, @out is when I'm out and about. Note that when I input a task in the @out category, I first put the location so as to make it easier to identiy, eg. "Library: photocopy Mishkin book ch.3" or "Town: buy milk"

            Now, as for my .study category: First, I use a dot ( . ) so as to bring it first in outlook. I've separated my courses in Projects with an Outcome like "I have a grade of A in Money & Banking" for example. I only have these projects, currently 3 in the category .study, without breaking down each assignment into a project. I think your Outlook views would become cluttered and not really user-friendly with too many projects if you did that.

            All the brainstorming of what I have to do goes into the Project notes in Outlook as well as resides in my binders. I bring everything together during the Weekly Review, where I review my notes from last week for actions, see what I need to do for next week, place hard deadlines on the calendar.

            As for day-to-day, I only keep one or two NA per class. This keeps me focused. Once I complete a N/A I replace it with the next one. These could be anything from "M&B: Read ch.3 in Mishkin book" for my Money & Banking course to "SMod: download and print Ass.8" for my Spreadsheet Modelling course. For me, the idea of the NA is to get me going, as I can be a procrastinator at times .... So, once the Ass8 is downloaded and printed, I could find myself working on it for 2 more hours. The NA for that would be "SMod: complete question 3, Ass.8" once I stopped working (like a bookmark of where you left, if you want). Like I said, all ideas for future Actions are kept in my project support list. And so forth.

            A final note is that I try to keep my email inbox as clean as possible. I have archive folders and transfer all mail as required, or delete a lot of the junk we receive. This keeps me up to date and proactive at all times.

            I sync all of the above with my Smartphone (currently an HTC S620) so as to have access to them throughout the day.

            Hope this helps,

            L
            Last edited by Loukas; 12-07-2006, 04:30 AM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Awesome, Loukas! Looks like black belt GTD to me.

              Comment


              • #8
                Wow, all this has been extremely helpful!

                Thanks everyone.

                My current system is that i have a school-bag with all my "stuff" in it and when i have time I pull out my bag and "work" on homework. This isn't very effective or efficient because usually I get caught up on little next actions that won't allow me to go forward on little assignments.

                I like the idea of treating all classes as projects and any multi-step assignments as projects as well.

                Thanks everyone, I have a much clearer view of how to GTD

                Later!
                Andy

                Comment


                • #9
                  I posted about the school-facing bits of my system here: http://www.davidco.com/forum/showpos...98&postcount=5

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    re: multiple notebooks

                    Using separate notebooks for each course and keeping everything in one backpack may be good for some, but I found that organizational system was excessively heavy--I got backaches from lugging it all around. Because I needed to mininmize what I carried around, I adapted a single notebook system.

                    How I worked it: One spiral notebook was used at a time, with files for each course. The current notebook was used for class notes and assignments. At the top of each page I wrote course name and the date. Each evening notes were torn out of book and placed in the file for the course. Thus studying for tests was easy--I just pulled out the appropriate file to review.

                    The last page of the notebook was a running "To-Do" list. (With GTD, this could be the NA page.) Always easy to find there, and when everything had been done, I could just tear page out, and use new last page.

                    I tried to avoid ever carrying textbooks to class--way too heavy--except for statistics book, and that went with me only on days when I was going to work on homework in library. When I read the text before lecture, I would note questions on a page in notebook, under header "Questions fof (name here) class." If my questions did not get answered in lecture, I had them handy to ask prof.

                    Rachel

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