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  • My Complete GTD System iCal--Moto Q--Moleskin

    I feel like Iíve finally been able to design a system that works for me. Iíve debated about going hi-tech vs. low- tech and I think getting lost in between those things left a lot of holes in my GTDíing. So a few weeks ago I finally cracked the code, and what I present here is what I feel is my (almost) airtight system.

    Tools:
    Mac Powerbook G4 (iCal - - kGTD - - Missing Sync )
    Squared Pocket Moleskin
    Motorola Q
    (1) General Purpose Black Wire In basket
    (1) Standing Wire 6 or 8 Folder Organizer (open project support folders)
    (1) Large Filing Cabinet for Reference
    (1) 31 Fan Folder for Days of Month + 12 Folders for Months of Year
    (1) Red folder labeled IN always in laptop bag with me
    (1) Black folder labeled TODAY always in laptop bag with me
    (1) White folder labeled @READ always in laptop bag with me

    My biggest problem with my previous all digital system was the lack of a dependable, ubiquitous capture device. Even though I always had my Moto Q with me, ideas flow better when I can write them onto paper. In addition, I was having trouble with organizing ideas captured on the Q. I would have to make a new task in the Q, sync it to my iCal via missing sync and then make sure to look at that category of new tasks and process them into my system. It was cumbersome, inefficient and I didnít do it on a consistent basis.

    This led me to think that I needed to go with a paper-based system but I wasnít a fan of the hispterPDA with all the index cards. I had used Moleskin before and felt it was small enough and looked good enough that I wouldnít mind carrying it with my Q everywhere. It fits in my pocket or laptop bag without being a burden either way.

    My Moleskin hack is as follows:

    Four color tabs, equally separated and labeled as: ďNext ActionĒ, ďProjectĒ, ďDropĒ, and ďProject ListĒ.

    ďNext ActionsĒ
    My Context List:
    @HOME
    @ERRANDS
    @CAMPUS
    @ONLINE
    @POWERBOOK OFF
    @POWERBOOK ON
    @8 x 10 DUMP
    @WAITING ON
    @PERSON
    @PRINTER/FAX
    @CALL
    @OFFICE

    I write in the moleskin in a Landscape mode, so I have lots more room left to right and since Iím left handed, I donít smudge the right pages. Each action follows this template:

    { } description of the next action (date created) @CONTEXT

    { } can be filled with:
    {x } to mark completed (I also cross out the whole line)
    { →} moved forward (to another action or S/M)
    {5 } if an action requires a small amount of time >2 minutes, Iíll note that here
    { P } Moved to Project
    {# } I use a circle with a line through it here (not #) but this means it was moved to iCal

    The { 5 } or whatever number actions means how many minutes it would take and help if I want to scan for some quick things to do to get some momentum going. This is clutch in the morning when Iím not at full capacity but need to start moving on something.

    PROJECTS

    Each new project gets added to the back project list. Project lists are labeled alphabetically, going Project A-Z then AA-ZZ, etc. Each project has itís own page or a couple of pages if I know itís going to be a long-term goal. If itís going to be so long it needs more than 2 pages (actually 4 front and back since a page to me in landscape is actually 2 pages), then it needs to be broken into different projects all together.

    Projects go as such:

    Project { } : Name of Project Date Created Page Number
    Completed x: Description of what makes this a successfully completed project

    Almost all projects are created after an 8x10 Dump. You might have caught that in my context list, and this might be my most frequently used context. It basically means that I sit down to a clean piece of 8x10 graph paper and mind map, sketch, list, or whatever it takes to generate the ideas I need about a given project, task, higher altitude. The ability to just write it down is invaluable and allows a lot of excess to shake out of the bottom where as in my old system it collected and caused back up.

    DROP

    Each DROP page is numbered and then each entry gets a letter. This is my ubiquitous capture section and the thing that has made my GTD actually Flow. Each night I review my DROP, which contains notes from the whole day. These will go into the NA's, project, S/M, etc. Phone numbers, possible next actions, sketches, everything goes in here. I try to go top to bottom, but some times a note only takes up a small portion of the page so I circle/box it off, place the letter as large as possible and keep it stored there if needed for future reference. Usually this is not the case, and after a process session I can cross them out so Iím not scanning my whole drop for info. After a weekly review the drop is basically all accounted for since itís typically project support or delegated to some other part of the system.


    PROJECT LIST

    This is as simple as it sounds.
    Project { } : Name Date

    Thatís it.


    I use to try to use a kGTD-iCal-Moto Q system but it didnít work as stated above. I did, however, keep the kGTD for my Someday/Maybe list. Sometimes Iíll add to it from my drop or from an 8x10 session. I felt that a part of my old system dragging me down was having the S/M list always with me. I donít need it, itís stuff I either canít or wonít do now so no point to always be able to access it. The kGTD system is nice because Iím familiar with how it runs, and hopefully if Omni focus ever comes out I can still migrate back to that if I decide to.


    My iCal is my hard landscape and I sync that to my Moto Q about twice a day. I'll do this in the AM as I add appt. from my Gmail during my morning process and then once towards the end of the evening.

    Iím able to keep my Gmail inbox at zero by following the rules of do it, delegate it, or delete it. Iíve found that if I get to my inbox 3 or 4 times a day, I can keep it to zero. Every so often Iíll have a slight build up, but nothing ever gets to the point where I canít zero it out in 30 minutes or less.

    Right now Iím without a printer or fax at home (any flatbed combo machine recommendations are welcomed) so for now I have to delegate these to next actions when Iím at either one.

    Being a fulltime student, intern, and starting my own small business in the coming weeks demands that I have my laptop usually with me at all times. So I keep the IN, TODAY, and @READ folder close to me for most of the day. If I have support papers for NAís, these go in my red IN folder. For project support, I have separate folders that I take with me each day.

    At home I keep a huge plastic bin divided by letter for file folders as a reference system and use the 43-folder system (I refer to this as my vault) right next to that.

    At night I empty my inbox, Gmail, process DROP and scan my moleskin and iCal for things coming up. I try to leave a small post it or NA ready for me in the morning so I can get right into the swing of things. In the morning, I grab anything from the corresponding day folder and put that in the inbox. Again, a quick review of my iCal and moleskin and then Iím off.

    Thatís basically it. If I was so inclined, I could see a complete move over to the moleskin to include my calendar and contacts, but unlike a lot of people, I actually like the iCal-Address Book set-up and since my Moto Q is small enough, the one-two punch of the MoleskinQ seems to be working great for me right now. The only hole in this system is for when Iím at the gym. I get a lot of ideas as Iím working out and I havenít come up with anything as a way to capture these yet. Typically, I try to hold onto or use the visualization technique David mentioned in the podcast which has led to decent success. Since I use an iPod and not a Q for my Mp3, carrying both is not an option. Iím thinking of just carrying an index card and small pen with me since I usually have a pocket anyway.

    I thought Iíd share my system because it was always helpful to see others when I was starting out. If you have any questions or see something funky, let me know, this is always a work in progress.

  • #2
    Thanks for the post. It's interesting to see how you have adapted GTD to your needs. It would be great to see some pics, especially of the formatting in your Moleskine..

    Oh, at the gym, I carry a notepad and pen. It is usually one of those extra hotel notepads that I've kept from some of my trips. Then I just tear them off and throw them into in for processing. I seem to get a lot of ideas while at the gym as long as I don't get too caught up in E True Hollywood Story on the TVs.

    Darla

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    • #3
      I'm also interested in that moleskine picture.

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks for posting this!! I'm trying to develop a similar system and I really like your ideas. I'll be able to utilize my next Moleskine a lot better. I've been experimenting with the one I bought a couple of months ago.

        I'm not quite following you though here...

        Originally posted by gotbisco View Post
        PROJECTS

        Each new project gets added to the back project list. Project lists are labeled alphabetically, going Project A-Z then AA-ZZ, etc. Each project has itís own page or a couple of pages if I know itís going to be a long-term goal. If itís going to be so long it needs more than 2 pages (actually 4 front and back since a page to me in landscape is actually 2 pages), then it needs to be broken into different projects all together.

        Projects go as such:

        Project { } : Name of Project Date Created Page Number
        Completed x: Description of what makes this a successfully completed project
        You have a project list. But what do you mean by labeling them A-Z then AA-ZZ?

        Just to clarify, you list your projects on your projects list, then dedicate a page or two to each project? Does this become your NA list for that project or do you record that on your NA pages? And if so, what do you put on the page or two you dedicated to the project?

        Thanks. I was clear on everything else, I just can't get my brain around this. I'm probably dense.

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