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I'm Very Mobile - Best GTD System/Tools?

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  • I'm Very Mobile - Best GTD System/Tools?

    Hey guys, I would very much like to implement GTD in my life, but the importance of having a "home base" where I have an Inbox and process it is emphasized, giving me a problem. I spend about 50% of my time in a cubicle, 20% of my time on the road in my car on various-length trips, 20% at hotels/peoples' houses/wherever I'm traveling to, and 10% at home (typically just enough time to read for an hour and then pass out for a solid 3-5hrs sleep).

    After a lot of google searching, I'm not finding a lot out there that is customized to such a mobile lifestyle, short of getting an iPhone, blackberry, or palm device, which I cannot do at this time. What other tools are fitting for such a variety of environments, with no real consistent home base in which to process? What sites or blog posts out there describe an adjusted or modified GTD process that surrounds such a lifestyle?

    Thanks in advance for any help!

    -Evan

  • #2
    Search this forum for paper-based systems, set up the one that makes sense to you (some trial and error may be necessary), get the smallest portable file carrier or briefcase that will fit your needs, and keep your system in it, ready to travel with you.

    Comment


    • #3
      GTD Virtual Study Group Podcast

      Hi,

      There was a Podcast a while back covering being mobile with GTD which I found very useful as I have a "full time" desk at work, but very little space for anything at home, the tips and information were very useful, especially as I'm now going to be working from home and very much mobile.

      I've put the link for the website for you, however, you should also be able to get this via iTunes if you have a podcast.

      http://gtd-vsg.blogspot.com/

      Ross.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by rossbale View Post
        Hi,

        There was a Podcast a while back covering being mobile with GTD which I found very useful as I have a "full time" desk at work, but very little space for anything at home, the tips and information were very useful, especially as I'm now going to be working from home and very much mobile.

        I've put the link for the website for you, however, you should also be able to get this via iTunes if you have a podcast.

        http://gtd-vsg.blogspot.com/

        Ross.
        Great! I did find the specific post: http://gtd-vsg.blogspot.com/2008/05/gtd-on-go.html

        I'll download that after work!

        I appreciate the quick responses, and I'm very open to further input on implementing GTD in a very mobile and always-changing environment!

        Thanks,

        Comment


        • #5
          No specific advice, just a heads up.
          I think on the GTD fast CDs David Allen says he is on the road most of the time. So it's a well tested use case

          Ok, some thoughts:
          Can you use your cubicle as a homebase to a degree? Or are you being hawkeyed into busywork all the time?
          I'd think a paper organizer is the way to go for on the road. Make sure you still have an inbox, either a section in your organizer, or a section in your briefcase/luggage etc. You are going to end up with a lot of scraps. Make sure you gather and process them regularly.
          Also, without gadgets you are more limited in information space. Make sure you plan for what you need, don't be a walking library, but do keep the important stuff.

          Apologies for anything blindingly obvious

          Comment


          • #6
            Ready-Set-Do!

            I just released the 1.4 version of Ready-Set-Do! which has a new shuttle-feature for interacting with your "home base" computer. Basically anywhere you have email access -- a friend's computer, your iPhone, your smart phone, an internet cafe -- you can request items from your computer to work on as well as mark items complete.

            You can also use Ready-Set-Do! with a thumb drive. So if you have more than one computer you can use it on both.

            Another alternative would be ThinkingRock which is a Java application that also works on a thumb-drive.

            There are lots of options, but what works best will have to factor in all of your unique needs. Everyone who becomes a veteran GTDer has to tailor tools and resources to meet their unique needs. If you don't need the technology then paper is probably best. But if you do, a Mac laptop with your tool-of-choice is the way to go.

            And I would recommend Dwayne Melancon's Genuine Curiosity blog which has always had quality posts on the portable lifestyle. It is one of the best.
            Last edited by Todd V; 07-02-2011, 12:24 AM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Linada View Post
              Ok, some thoughts:
              Can you use your cubicle as a homebase to a degree? Or are you being hawkeyed into busywork all the time?
              I'm not even allowed to pull out my cell phone. I'm using portable firefox since everything is on lockdown on the network computers... I can use a notebook for "notes" and file folders, though, and access websites like toodledo and whatnot.

              I have a new Macbook, but again, can't pull it out during work, where a lot of "stuff" comes up.

              -Evan

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by ahheck01 View Post
                I can use a notebook for "notes" and file folders, though, ...
                May I offer then, Evan, that paper is definitely the way to go for your case. I switched from OmniFocus/iPhone to paper about a month ago and have never looked back. I have the 5.5x8.5 GTD Jr. Coordinator and don't miss anything about my former all electronic system, which I used for over a year. It seems like it might be a step back at first, but it's the ultimate in customizable and portable in my opinion.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Jon Walthour View Post
                  May I offer then, Evan, that paper is definitely the way to go for your case. I switched from OmniFocus/iPhone to paper about a month ago and have never looked back. I have the 5.5x8.5 GTD Jr. Coordinator and don't miss anything about my former all electronic system, which I used for over a year. It seems like it might be a step back at first, but it's the ultimate in customizable and portable in my opinion.
                  Sounds great! Can you provide more explicit details on your system, where your inbox is, how you process and track action items, etc? Is everything done through just the GTD JR coordinator? What else do you use? I'm looking to duplicate someone already successful with the process if possible

                  Thanks for the reply!

                  -Evan

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Best of luck with this! Maybe I can help. I'm not Jon, but I can talk about my portable, mostly paper-based GTD system.

                    I carry a small pack of index cards with me everywhere (about 20 cards at a time). That pack is about evenly split between checklists and blank cards. This is my ubiquitous capture tool. Any new ideas and projects go on the blank cards. When I get near my inbox, I toss those cards into my inbox.

                    I have a standard physical inbox, but for a Road Warrior like yourself, an accordion folder--or even a file folder--should work just fine.

                    I maintain my Next Actions, Projects, and Waiting Fors on pieces of paper on a clipboard: Next Actions on one page, Projects on another, and Waiting Fors on a third. I update this using a mechanical pencil.

                    My Someday/Maybe and 30,000-foot documents are digital, but you could certainly maintain them on paper. I'd keep them in your project support files.

                    However, your project support files will be your main limitation. I think I've seen portable, plastic file boxes - a few inches thick, large enough to fit file folders, and sporting a carrying handle. You can keep your most active physical files in there, and swap them out as appropriate whenever you're in your cubicle.

                    (Come to think of it, if I used a portable, plastic file box like that, I'd treat the front of the box as my inbox. Just dump notes into the front, and process as soon as I can.)

                    Does that make sense? Did I answer your questions completely?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Super cheap and leakproof GTD system--paper-based

                      Here is a system that can work great for someone who is on the go. It is a light and fast but simple system that is effective and drop-dead reliable. It is almost entirely paper-based, though I use the computer to type up my lists (optional, depending on your handwriting).

                      Here is my system, made up of Best Practices, that can work under any circumstances:

                      UBIQUITOUS CAPTURE TOOL: buy a Note Jotter (M by Staples: $10)-- http://www.mbystaples.com/journals-a...te-jotters/78/

                      To use it, fill it with index cards (dirt cheap), grab a pen (I use the Uni-Ball 207) and carry those everywhere. You'll be hooked once you know what it's like to have NO LEAKS.

                      Best practice: date each card. Best practice: use a binder clip to hold all filled cards together. If you carry it in your pants, best practice is pen in your right pocket (if right-handed), Note Jotter in the other side--you can be writing in less than one second if you need to. Best practice: toss the bound index cards into your Inbox whenever you return to it. Best practice: put a package of 100 cards in your cubicle, somewhere in your car, or in your EDC (everyday carry) bag..

                      INBOX:
                      Get a collapsible, expanding file folder ($6 at office supply store) or a plastic folder, depending on how much you carry around. A single plastic portfolio can carry LOTS of paperwork. Carry your Inbox with you from site to site (cubicle-->hotel-->home). All bills, receipts, documents, etc., go in there for later processing.

                      ORGANIZING--General Reference & Active Projects
                      I chose my favorite workspace and put in a file cabinet. One drawer is labeled Reference A-Z (I'm not much of a packrat once I realized what all was in there). The second drawer is Active Projects. Both drawers are organized alphabetically--one is for support material for current projects on my list and the other is for reference (including past projects--no moving parts).

                      Best practice: get a Brother P-Touch labeler ($25-50)--you'll never regret it. Best practice: label the file with whatever keywords come to mind when you stick the document in the folder (e.g. I have "Birth Certificate", "Passport", "Exercise records", "Lawnmower manual", etc.).

                      ORGANIZER:
                      Back at Staples, by yourself a set of 8 (or 12 if you have lots of contexts) heavy plastic dividers for a 3-ring binder. With your labeler, label both sides of the tabs as follows: Calendar, Next Actions: (context), (repeat for each context--I have 3), Projects, Waiting For, Someday/Maybe, Lists.

                      Note: my contexts are simple. I use Next Actions: Home/Office (including all non-communication computer stuff), Next Actions: Calls & Emails (all communication), and Next Actions: Errands (anything that involves leaving my property). I don't need the @Anywhere or @Computer-but-not-Internet. I would rather have a few broad categories that are well-defined.

                      For your CALENDAR tab, use whatever you like.

                      For me, the Best Practice is a one-page Calendar that I invented. Create a new document in your word processor. The top half or so of the page will be filled with a table: 3 rows by 7 columns, representing the next three weeks. Each cell of the table will have the date in 14 pt. bold font. In each cell, I type (in 6 pt font) the items for that day. Note: I rarely have more than 8 entries or so per day, so this is plenty for me.

                      On the bottom half of the page, create 2 columns, like a newspaper. Left column contains a list of the days in the future, for the rest of the year, that already have something planned. Example: May 15 - Softball Tournament 7 pm, Cascades park. Another example: June (any) - Yearly purge of General reference (1x/yr).

                      The right column contains a miniature yearly calendar, just big enough tor read the days/dates for the rest of the year.

                      During your Weekly Review, you will erase the top line of your 3-week calendar, and cut and paste the bottom two rows.

                      Voila. On one page, I can have my entire year's events written out and can see a mini-calendar to be able to plan things months in advance. That Calendar page goes under your Calendar tabbed section, of course.

                      NEXT ACTION LISTS:
                      I use a simple word processing document and type in the items that are new. If I am not near a computer when I am processing, I write (by hand) onto the list. If the item is not done by the next time I'm processing near a computer, I will update the electronic version (removing crossed-out items) and print out a fresh copy at least every several days--in the meantime I don't need anything that takes electricity in order to have my list totally up to date. Cost: 5 cents.

                      Best practice for Calls/Emails: Make an Address Book. Create a document in a WORD PROCESSOR consisting of a table with two columns. Format the page so it is in columns and so a cell on the left column needn't line up with the one on the right. In small font (6 pt), enter in the contact information you need for everyone you call that you may ever want to call again. I have hundreds of entries, including all family, friends, and work contacts, on 3.5 pages.

                      Best practice: tuck this Address Book behind your Calls & Emails list. Every time you get a new phone number, process it into your Address Book by hand or on the computer. You can always purge stuff later. Don't bother using a program specifically for Contact Information--too cumbersome, and the directories they print are way too big.

                      Best practice: store business cards in your files, but copy the information you need from them into your Address Book.

                      WAITING FOR, SOMEDAY/MAYBE, PROJECTS, LISTS:
                      Each of these is just a printout from a simple electronic document, updated by hand or electronically when I process. I use 12 or 14 pt font for the title and 8 pt font for the body of the list.

                      Best practice: have all lists (NA, SDMB, WF, Calendar, etc.) automatically insert the date of the last time you opened it so you know how recent a given printout is.

                      Best practice: if you create those documents electronically, put a single folder on your Desktop called DAY PLANNER. In it, put the file for your Address Book and for the list for each of the other tabs. When it's time to update, open the folder, select All and then Open them, all at once.

                      Best practice: on your desktop, also create a folder called Projects, containing all of the digital Projects information. Do the same for Reference. In it, put one folder per Reference item or Project. Those can later be subdivided if you need to, but you want to get in the right ballpark with as flew clicks as possible.

                      Note: I use an email program and use Print to PDF (aka Print to File) directly into the appropriate folder.

                      PLANNER:
                      To carry your tabs around, you can use a clipboard, plastic folder, or binder. I have used them all, and they all work. Clipboards are good because you can get to your lists QUICK and have a good writing surface. My total planner is 1/4" (1-2 pages per tab except Lists and the Address Book). If you use a portfolio/folder, put a medium binder clip on the top left of your tabbed packet. If you want a nicer binder, look at copy places for a slim Presentation Binder--I got a simulated leather one for $8 at Kinko's and it looks sharp. Currently I use a portfolio.

                      PROJECT PLANS:
                      I either mind map these OR I will use a blank document, put the name of the project at the top (with an inserted date, as discussed before).

                      PROJECT SUPPORT:
                      Filed in Projects drawer of physical or electronic system.

                      Hope this helps... it's lengthy but I"m tired.
                      JohnV474

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by JohnV474 View Post
                        Hope this helps... it's lengthy but I"m tired.
                        JohnV474
                        Tremendously! I may make some adjustments to utilize a Moleskine hacked for GTD like I've seen many places on the web, but I will definitely utilize several aspects of your process!

                        Anyone using a hacked Moleskine for GTD on the go?

                        -Evan

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