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  • GTD for students?

    Hi all,

    I'm a med student who's been on the GTD system on and off for a few years. Although I find it helpful for dealing with everything else, I find that my implementation breaks down when it comes to dealing with the sheer volume of inputs presented by schoolwork. I found this forum at 43 folders ( but if any of you have any other good resources, message boards, advice, etc related to this specific topic please post them here.

  • #2
    I'm working on my PhD, so take my suggestions with that in mind.
    • I create each class as a Project, then have subprojects for each deliverable (paper, test, presentation, whatever) that have next actions. If you don't like subprojects, you could create each deliverable as a project itself, perhaps with the class name embedded in the project name (Class1: 45 minute Presentation on subjectA).
    • I immediately use the syllabus to put all that information into my calendar, including reading assignments. Due dates, test dates, everything they give us (which, of course, varies wildly from prof to prof)
    • Reading assignments go into the next action/task list with a due date because of the volume. They go into the correct context however, and based on suggestions here for the longer ones I put the page I need to start on (ie how far I've gotten) without a specific goal of how far to get. Some people have suggested making each reading its own project, but since for MOST these are single actions (read journal article on new technique, read chapter 5 of textbook, etc) that doesn't necessarily make sense to me.
    • I have started blocking out time in my calendar for reading, since that is a BIG chunk of what I have to do (read and absorb). All that means is that during that time I turn off email, mute the phone and ask my husband to not be running in and out of my office all the time. Once I get to the writing stage of a project, that time can be reassigned. it's not rigid, but it is a way of keeping me aware of what I need to do. I don't try to decide how much I will read or which material; just make an appointment with myself to do it.

    What other kinds of things are you struggling with?

    (btw, all this will be refined in about a month when a new term with new classes starts up....)


    • #3
      FYI, I posted and the responses led me to a NUMBER of excellent resources for students - just keep following the breadcrumbs.


      • #4
        Hi misanthropic777,

        Thanks for the suggestions! I'm on summer break now, but I'll be sure to implement some of them when the heat is on again.


        • #5
          I've been looking at different threads mentioned above in more detail, and actually my situation doesn't seem to apply to them very well. These seem to be aimed more at students reading, researching and writing. In my case I am more focused on processing and memorizing large volumes information in short periods of time (mostly for exams), as well as preparing for small-group sessions. Of course this does involve significant reading.

          Does anyone (student or otherwise) have suggestions or resources related to applying GTD for this kind of situation? Suggestions from non-students whose job descriptions are similar to the above would also be welcome...


          • #6
            Hello! I also took bachelor degree online on medical transcription, hopefully I can graduate this year..
            Do you have any resources dealing with this coursE?


            • #7
              Hi Swervie,
              I am a PhD student and I'm starting to implement GTD. I have done a lot of the thinking stages and encountered some of the same issues about how to categorize. I think that maybe your situation isn't that different from the type of reading and lab work I do a lot of. After all it is always about cranking widgets. We just need a neat but not overly complex way to categorize them.

              What if you had a project for each large/broad "unit" of info you need to master. Say you are doing an Obstetrics rotation... I would create project called "I've completed my Ob rotation" (or unit of study if you aren't at the rotation stage yet). Under that you would have subprojects that categorize things further in a way that is useful to you. Maybe... "I've mastered the anatomy involved" and "I've completed the case study work" or "I've completed the group project" etc. etc. these will really be dictated by the way your work comes at you. But think of the "big chunks" and treat them like baskets in which to put next actions you can actually do. Under "I've mastered the anatomy" you could do @Read: Read chapter 16 and @Learn: Make flashcards or @Learn: Practice with flashcards for 30 min. Assignments for classes get dumped here as they come to you and also you can dump things here that you decide you need. I like this for myself because it makes me think of what I need and think about how long to spend at it. I'll have something like "@Write: Do crappy draft of intro on topic X - time limit 15 minutes" for example and that means I do a timed brain dump on that topic and then move on to something else which might be editing and revising it or I might pick a different kind of writing task not related to the intro if I feel I need to get away from it. I might even shift contexts if I then want to do some reading or if I need a mental break I'll pick a "gel jockey" task from my @Lab context and do that. Cranking widgets!

              I know these are unusual contexts but this is what I do as a PhD student where almost all of my job happens in either the lab, the field or the office and when I'm in those places I have huge chunks of time and a wide variety of ways I could potentially divide them (all needing to be determined by me which is often just enough proverbial rope as they say). Having things like @Read and @Write are, to me, implicitly also @Office but they allow me to choose based on what I have the energy for. At the beginning of the week, I review my schedule and block out chunks of time for reading and writing and pipetting etc. based on my general feelings on what things need the most attention that week. This is based on the deadlines I have looming near.

              GTD implementation is so personal and specific and sometimes the flexibility is a little overwhelming. I know that the above is not one size fits all but maybe you will find a useful kernel in it.

              Last edited by Shanana; 08-11-2007, 01:56 AM.