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  • Paper-based implementation of GTD

    Is there anyone who is implementing GTD using a paper-based system? I would be curious on how you are doing it. I am tired of fighting with my Palm and a tool that just does not seem to work for me.

    Specifically, do you make a list of projects or does each project have a seperate page? When you enter a project into your system, what else do you include? Intended outcome? A list of next actions? A mind map?

    Any additional hints and information would be useful.

    Thanks,

    Alan

  • #2
    Re: Paper-based implementation of GTD

    Hi -- I'm using a Jr Size Day-Timer for my GTD lists, specifically home/personal. I use Steve Bell's Excel GTD sheet for managing work lists.

    I have mine set up just as David Allen describes in the tips and tools section of this site. Works great. In my Project section, the first page lists only ACTIVE PROJECTS, that is, stuff that is absorbing my attention for the next week-10 days. After that, are several Smday/Maybe pages. I date each entry.

    [When you enter a project into your system, what else do you include? Intended outcome? A list of next actions? A mind map?]

    I try to phrase the project such that it starts with an action verb, ie, "Install backup battery in UPS" or "Sell my old comic books"--this is the vision I'm working toward. When it's checked off, I know that project is done.

    A separate tab is labeled PROJECT NOTES, per David's suggestions. Each page (pages) is dedicated to a single project. This is where I disgorge any next actions lurking in my brain. No particular order, just splat on the page. Pages aren't big enough for mindmaps, but that could be done. I don't have a page defined for all my someday/maybes, but I do for my active projects. It's a convenient net to catch any ideas related to any projects.

    I keep my address info in my Psion -- more convenient and searchable. So I use the Address tabs to index reference material. "Sprint Conference Call" procedure is behind the S tab. "Gift ideas" list is behind the "GH" tab.

    For the weekly review, I remove my action lists from the binder and update them as I review the Projects list. When they're updated, I insert them back into the D-T.

    I like the tactile feeling of the D-T, seeing a whole page at one time, etc. I can also tell when I'm falling behind. On my @ lists, I write big so that only 3 or 4 tasks are on a page. I record the date on which a task is entered. When a task is done, I cross it out.

    So, for example, on @CALLS, tasks are "8/31 Hotel for 9/19 reservation", "9/8 Dr. Taylor for appointment" , "9/10 Call Rani re party."

    If i've crossed off the hotel and Rani, but I'm well into next week and Dr. Taylor hasn't been called, then I'm procrastinating that task, for some reason. Since I can only remove a page when all tasks are crossed off, it behooves me to get undone tasks renegotiated or completed.

    Sorry for the long post. Hope it's helpful.

    mike

    Comment


    • #3
      Paper Planner setup / testimonial

      Hello Alan,

      Have you seen our article at:
      http://www.davidco.com/pdfs/tt_paper_organizer.pdf

      There you'll see a real blow by blow outline of the paper planner along with some of the "best practices" of managing workflow with that tool.


      Personally, I used a paper planner for about two years. Here's how I used it:

      My projects are all be grouped on a Projects list, and each of those should have a "next action" on the appropriate action list, until the projects are finished.

      Using paper, I made sure to visually word each next action so I knew, without having to think, to which project it referred.

      THen, whenever I finished a task, I put a yellow hi-lite line through the completed action and wrote the NEXT action on the appropriate list. Again, the weekly review of the inventory of open loops (Projects List) is critical to making this system work; that's where you ensure all your current projects have moving parts.

      Best wishes!

      Jason
      jason@davidco.com

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks for the information

        Mike,

        Thanks for the information! It was very helpful! Just out of curiosity, what do you use as a calendar, weekly or daily? How do you handle day specific but not time specific tasks?

        You said you keep your home/personal stuff in your D-T and your work stuff on an Excel spreadsheet. Is there any over lap between the two? How do you handle that?

        Do you do anything to integrate long term goal planning, your mission, roles, and values into your process and your tools?

        Thanks again!

        Alan

        Comment


        • #5
          Jason,

          Thank you too for the information! Yes, I have read the article, and it there is a lot of good info, but I seem to be more interested in the details.

          When you used a paper system, did you use Day-Timer, Franklin, or another? What did you use as a calendar, weekly or daily? Did you also use the monthly calendars? Did you use an integrated system between home and work? Any issues with that?

          Did you, and do you now, do anything to integrate long term goal planning, your mission, roles, and values into your process and your tools?

          Thanks again for your reply also!

          Alan

          Comment


          • #6
            Hi Alan,

            Another paper-based GTD-er here. Answering some of your questions:

            I use DayRunner pages (like the design and the paper holds real ink very well). And I integrate work and home stuff.

            I have experimented with size and format and right now, after three years of using the "pocket" size have gone back to the mid-size, "classic". I resisted sizing up because I carry it everywhere (my family calls it "The Book"), but the smaller one was just bursting at the seams and it was impossible to reduce critical work-related documents to fit.

            I use both weekly and tabbed monthly pages. I keep 3-months of weekly pages in The Book at one time -- the current month, the past month, and the next. Appointments farther out than that get put on the monthly pages, and as I add a month, I transfer details from that month to the weekly sheets.

            I track both work activities and home/family activities in the book. Family activities on the monthly pages are color coded (me, husband, daughter) which makes it easy to see potential conflicts to plan around at a glance. I use the weekly pages to track appointments and date-specific ticklers or to-dos; the left column for each day for appointments the right column top for work-related, right column bottom for home. This works for me because like many I do home-related stuff from home and vice versa.

            I posted somewhere else on the forum that I keep weekly time-frame lists as my next action lists, one for home, one for work, side by side (just works for the rhythms of my particular work needs and style). I have two sets of tabs, the front set are home/family focused and include tabs for goals/objectives, homemaking (decorating, shopping, menus, garden, etc), finances, and general personal notes. Behind my weekly pages are work tabs: a tab for general notes, another for a comprehensive list of active/open projects, another for project action plans (one page per project), one for contacts (agendas with others, voice mails, etc), and a fifth one with current work financial reports and data.

            My tel/address pages are mostly personal/family, with a few critical work entries. I keep my work-related address book in Outlook, at the office, though I'm planning to print out a list and put in The Book (just haven't got around to that yet)

            All this gets processed through my weekly review, which actually has two parts: Friday afternoon at work, and usually early Sunday morning at home. I generally review only work stuff at the office on Friday, but usually on Sunday -- at my kitchen table, in my slippers, without the phone ringing -- can complete the home review and then return to additional work planning/review if needed.

            Makes Monday morning almost worth looking forward to (with a deep breath!)

            Sorry for the long post, I got carried away.
            Marcia

            Comment


            • #7
              Paper/Palm Hybrid

              I've used a combination of a Palm and Franklin Covey for some time now. Each does some things that the other can't. My Palm syncs my work calandar, addresses, and inbox email. The ease of editing makes it natural for me for keeping a project list and catagorized to dos. That's all with the out of the box Palm apps.

              But I have two problems. I need monthly and daily calendars to write on as my tickler system. I also can't take notes on the palm. So I write brief daily notes on each day page, keep track of big events on the monthly calandar pages, and take notes for meetings and set up agendas in a back section. I have a few notes sections in the back for agendas, reference (like an outline from GTD of the weekly review) or inspiration (summaries of useful books). These are things I've just never wanted to use the palm for, because I need to write them.

              If there's one thing I've learned, it's use tools for the task at hand. Don't try to force the task to the tool.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Thanks for the information

                [Just out of curiosity, what do you use as a calendar, weekly or daily? How do you handle day specific but not time specific tasks?]

                I have monthly calendar pages (the big picture), and use the weekly calendar as a graphic view of my week's activities.I waver between the vertical 2pg-per-week calendars (each day is its own column) and the Day-Timer 2pg-per-week where appointments are on the left and tasks on the right. Work tasks go at the top and personal start from the bottom.

                Day-specific--either a tickler folder or a timed task in my Lotus Notes calendar at work. For personal, I make an appointment to do the thing in my D-T calendar.


                [You said you keep your home/personal stuff in your D-T and your work stuff on an Excel spreadsheet. Is there any over lap between the two? How do you handle that?]
                Slight overlap. I do have a page for @WORK and a someday/maybe for my office. But I try to transfer those to the Excel spreadsheet during weekly review.

                No, not much overlap. I've been doing it this way for so long, I can't conceive of blending them. To me, work takes place at work, which is where all my support materials, calendars, etc., are. I don't want to shlep that junk around in my DT. The DT is my personal (emphasize 'personal') memory machine and holds all non-work stuff. Not a terribly wholistic view of my life, I guess, but it works for me. That's the test.


                [Do you do anything to integrate long term goal planning, your mission, roles, and values into your process and your tools?]
                Not consciously. Never studied Covey so never did any of that. I do keep a list of goals in my Projects section and I review it every week, along with everything else. When I review "Take piano lessons" for the 143rd time, and really think about it, something might twig me to move it from Someday to Active, and then put a phone call on my CALLS list. And then that long-term goal is finally put into motion. But until then, it remains on paper and out of my mind till my intuitive mechanisms let me know I need to do more with it. Trust your tools.

                Hope this helps -- mike

                Comment


                • #9
                  Jason's response to Alan Webber

                  Hi there,

                  I'll respond in the same manner as Mike...question, my response:


                  <<Thank you too for the information! Yes, I have read the article, and it there is a lot of good info, but I seem to be more interested in the details.>>

                  <<When you used a paper system, did you use Day-Timer, Franklin, or another? What did you use as a calendar, weekly or daily? Did you also use the monthly calendars? Did you use an integrated system between home and work? Any issues with that?>>

                  I started using a paper system while attending a GTD seminar in 1997. So, I made my own. My calendar was a TWO page, weekly view. It had enough room to write "just" the hard landscape. I did TRY to keep separate calendars, and after I missed a couple of meetings/appointments (because the reminder was on the "other" calendar), I went to ONE calendar for everything.

                  <<Did you, and do you now, do anything to integrate long term goal planning, your mission, roles, and values into your process and your tools?>>

                  I have an inventory of "executive-level" thinking at each of the levels:
                  20,000 (for example: (Areas of Focus: Volunteer, Speaker)
                  30,000 (for example: (Publish a book.)
                  40,000 (for example: Own another home.)
                  50,000 (for example: Support sustainable learning systems and behaviors for students of all ages.)

                  I review these "whenever" I think I should, making sure that I have collected all the "active projects" that could be embedded in them. Again, long-term or someday/maybe, there is a difference!


                  Jason
                  jason@davidco.com

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Take a Look at Time/Design

                    Hi All,
                    I'm new to GTD, so I apologize for the lateness of this post to the topic.

                    As I was reading the book, I realized the GTD philosophy is similar to the European planner system I used a few years ago. It is called Time/Design and can be found at www.timedesign.com. The system and forms are somewhat expensive since they come from an European source. The thing that struck me was how the pre-printed forms seem to fit right in with David's philosophy and process.

                    If you are looking for a paper planning system that is compatible with GTD, you should checkout Time/Design.

                    They also offer a compact version for people who use a PDA.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I just took a quick scan through Time Design's site and the online walk through reads very much like GTD. Don't know which came first but the similarity is too close to be random.

                      -s

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Actually, I think David did work with Time/Design on that concept, so it's no surprise that GTD and Time/Design remind of each other.
                        /jonaz

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Recent work with a "low tech" system

                          Just a couple of weeks ago, I met with a client interested in setting up a paper-based system that moved as fast as they did.

                          Because they were relatively "desk-bound," we worked to create a system that would be available, easy to use, and bullet-proof. We started by creating "stacks" of like actions. (We had a stack of notes @computer, another @phone and so on.)

                          Then, we created a manila folder system. By labeling the folders the contexts he worked in, it was easy to clear the clutter and process the piles. Also, late in the coaching, it became more apparent that this system would work. He started writing next actions on slips of paper and "tossing" them into the right bucket...the bucket he wanted to see when he could take the like actions.

                          In speaking to him later, I found this to be a great solution to his particular needs. Fast, easy, and predictable. Now, when he's on the way to a meeting, he brings folders like @Calls and Read and Review. In the time he has before the meeting starts, he "gets to work" those extra few minutes. Using that time, he said, allows him to leave work in time for dinner at home!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Recent work with a "low tech" system

                            Jason,

                            This is the type of system I'd like to set up at work, Jason, but I have some questions about it.

                            I have set up folders similar to the tabbed sections described in the paper-based planner instructions in the GTD web site tips section ("Next Actions", "Waiting For", "Projects", "Someday/Maybe". I have a physical Inbox, email, and voicemail as collection baskets. I have an A-Z filing system in place.

                            Questions:

                            How did the client you described manage his hard landscape? I am considering a simple large desk calendar - the kind that sits flat on top of your desk. (though I am a Computer Systems Administrator - I would prefer to have everything as paper-based and independent of my computer and the network as possible)

                            Did the client receive work via email? How did he manage that - print it out and get it into the folder system you set up? How would you recommend handling it?

                            Would you recommend a list of active projects in a Projects folder, and individual project pages with supporting materials in a Project Support folder?

                            Is there anything else you could tell me about this system? I work almost exclusively in my office, and a folder-based system appeals to me.

                            Thanks for your time and your generous contributions to this forum.

                            Max Smith





                            Originally posted by Jason Womack
                            Just a couple of weeks ago, I met with a client interested in setting up a paper-based system that moved as fast as they did.

                            Because they were relatively "desk-bound," we worked to create a system that would be available, easy to use, and bullet-proof. We started by creating "stacks" of like actions. (We had a stack of notes @computer, another @phone and so on.)

                            Then, we created a manila folder system. By labeling the folders the contexts he worked in, it was easy to clear the clutter and process the piles. Also, late in the coaching, it became more apparent that this system would work. He started writing next actions on slips of paper and "tossing" them into the right bucket...the bucket he wanted to see when he could take the like actions.

                            In speaking to him later, I found this to be a great solution to his particular needs. Fast, easy, and predictable. Now, when he's on the way to a meeting, he brings folders like @Calls and Read and Review. In the time he has before the meeting starts, he "gets to work" those extra few minutes. Using that time, he said, allows him to leave work in time for dinner at home!

                            Comment

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