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New GTD'er! Critique my Implementation Before It's In Full Swing!

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  • New GTD'er! Critique my Implementation Before It's In Full Swing!

    I've been using a spiral bound notebook to track next actions and projects, so I can gauge what contexts I use, and their relative proportions.

    I'm going to be primarily using a Moleskine (5x8.25" Ruled, 240pg,Hard Cover), and I'm divying it up like so:

    1 page for Index/Table of Contents
    30 pages for @home
    20 pages for @work
    25 pages for @phone
    30 pages for @laptop
    10 pages for @errands
    35 pages for @anywhere
    20 pages for @[undefined]
    45 pages for Projects
    10 pages for Waiting For
    8 pages for Someday/Maybe's
    3 pages for Areas of Responsibility
    1 page for 1-2 Year Goal(s)/Vision
    1 page for 2-5 Year Goal(s)/Vision
    1 page for Life Vision/Purpose
    Total: 240 Pages

    My Calendar is in my Blackberry, Synced with Google Calender
    My Tickler Files are contained within Calendar
    My Laptop Bag contains two pockets, one for Inbox on the go, one for Reference Material that can't be stored digitally.

    Critiques? Suggestions? Warnings?

    Thanks!

  • #2
    A couple of thoughts. I don't use Moleskine. So, I can't speak from direct experience. But I would suggest, first, a loose leaf notebook rather than divvying up your context pages. They'll be much easier to work with in loose leaf format. Second, what would you use the Table of Contents for? Third, you'll likely use everything from 20,000 ft on up (Areas of Responsibility, Goals, Vision, etc.) infrequently, so inclusion in something you'll carry with you everywhere is an unnecessary addition. They're good to have at weekly, quarterly, and annual reviews, but not every day. Fourth, I tried doing a tickler file electronically/in my calendar and I found myself missing the point. "Ticklers" in a calendar is called appointments and day-specific information. A tickler file is better when it's physical--a place to store the airline tickets for your upcoming business trip to Chicago or an agenda for a meeting your attending next week or birthday and anniversary cards to mail to friends and family. DA talks about a tickler file being a post office you can mail yourself a letter/item through. It works much better for me that way than electronically.

    Comment


    • #3
      I have about 150 someday/maybes and only 70 next actions. I think your 8 pages for s/m compared to the rest is out of proportion. I think dividing up in pre-estimated numbers of pages will drive you crazy at some point. You write "spiral bound" notebook (didn't know moleskin had them, but that's besides the point ) so you could rip out pages if you wanted. May I suggest that you just allocate one page per context, and when one is full you start an additional page for that context even if it's not in sequence. Eventually you'll only have a few left on the first page and they can be transfered to the second page if you want to consolidate. You could use sticky bookmarks to create little tabs, although I've found it goes fairly quickly to leaf through pages to find what you're looking for.

      Loose leaf is probably easier though. There are loads of nice planner binders out there. For years I used a small filofax with a zipper, before I went electronic. Moleskin notebooks are nice though. I do carry a small one as a "capture tool", really like it

      Best wishes!
      Christina

      Comment


      • #4
        Just to key off what Christina said, that's what I've heard alot of GTDers using Moleskine notebooks for --- capture. I don't think I've ever heard someone say they used them for organizing.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Jon Walthour View Post
          Just to key off what Christina said, that's what I've heard alot of GTDers using Moleskine notebooks for --- capture. I don't think I've ever heard someone say they used them for organizing.
          I did for a while, and there are a number of Moleskine-based implementations out there on the web. I eventually decided that loose-leaf pages are essential, though. Things get too cluttered if you can't throw old pages away.

          Katherine

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by kewms View Post
            I did for a while, and there are a number of Moleskine-based implementations out there on the web. I eventually decided that loose-leaf pages are essential, though. Things get too cluttered if you can't throw old pages away.

            Katherine
            Whether loose leaf or otherwise, how do you reference what project an action is associated with, so that when you complete it, you can see what the next action is to move forward with that project?

            Thanks,

            -Evan

            EDIT: Also, what moleskine-equivalent loose leaf notebooks are out there? I love the moleskin look, the function, the feel of the pages, the quality - but I do agree that this system begs the ability to add and remove pages without ripping. Ideas?
            Last edited by GTDerEvan; 05-04-2009, 04:31 PM.

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            • #7
              I think with a Moleskine or other non-loose-leaf you have to be a bit more forgiving. You won't always have the pages in the exactly the right order you want. I also agree you will probably need more pages for someday/maybes. You may want to think of moving that section, along with the horizons over to another notebook, since it really isn't necessary to carry it with you daily. You will also probably need the additional space for some blank note pages, so you can quickly capture ideas if you aren't carrying a separate notepad for that.

              On a side note, I will add ticklers to my tasks - not my calendar - in my palm. I just date the task and put "t:" in front of the task so that I immediately know what this is when it shows up on a particular date. I've been doing it for a few months now and it has worked great. I also use and really rely on my physical tickler (that sounds embarrassing if you don't know what I'm talking about.)

              Comment


              • #8
                Evan,

                Looks like a good start to me. I'd get rolling with it and pay close attention to what works and what doesn't. I don't know anyone who ends up with anything even remotely resembling the system they start with, and time spent sharpening all of your pencils and lining them up in neat rows takes you away from the real work in front of you.

                You've got some real challenges ahead of you. Spending 50% of your free time in your car (I'm curious, of course, about why you're doing all of that driving outside of work -- do you have a side job as a pothole inspector?) and working in an environment where you can't acces your cell phone, internet or personal computer -- these are very, very challenging constraints. A paper-based system of any kind seems like the ideal way to go, and is very easy to change as necessary.

                I second the opinion of whoever recommended that you focus on emptying the biggest inbox you've got: your room. The psychic relief from this one act alone will benefit you more than any microadjustments to your capture/process/organizing system.

                Get rolling (in your case literally) and let us know how it goes a week/a month/a quarter into it. I'm looking forward to hearing how it goes.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by ahheck01 View Post
                  Whether loose leaf or otherwise, how do you reference what project an action is associated with, so that when you complete it, you can see what the next action is to move forward with that project?
                  I generally don't. If the next action is phrased correctly, it's obvious which project it belongs to. Any further planning information that I need is in the project support materials.

                  EDIT: Also, what moleskine-equivalent loose leaf notebooks are out there? I love the moleskin look, the function, the feel of the pages, the quality - but I do agree that this system begs the ability to add and remove pages without ripping. Ideas?
                  You might have a look at Levenger's stuff. Very high quality binders and paper -- although with prices to match, unfortunately.

                  Katherine

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ahheck01 View Post
                    Whether loose leaf or otherwise, how do you reference what project an action is associated with, so that when you complete it, you can see what the next action is to move forward with that project?
                    I agree with Katherine here. I, too, was worried about this issue since in my electronic days all that was connected via database relationships in OmniFocus. That said, I've had no problem keeping track of connections between projects and NAs on my Actions Lists. Two things in conjunction keep it all together for me: first, as Katherine said, proper phrasing of the NA makes the connection (e.g., Call Fred RE: number for the tire store); second, as DA says all the time, do a weekly review religiously--then the connections are refreshed in my head at least once every week ("Oh, yeah, I need to call Fred about that number for tire store because I need to get my tires changed soon"). Believe me, I'm a very forgetful person. But I don't seem to forget the NA to Project connections with these two habits in place.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by kewms View Post
                      I generally don't. If the next action is phrased correctly, it's obvious which project it belongs to. Any further planning information that I need is in the project support materials.



                      You might have a look at Levenger's stuff. Very high quality binders and paper -- although with prices to match, unfortunately.

                      Katherine
                      Hah, wow, I thought I was getting spendy with the Moleskine. I may practice with what I have for a couple weeks, then graduate to Lavenger when I prove to myself that I'll stick with it! Then it's just an investment, not an expense, right?

                      I think I'm going to go the route of having each context as subsequent pages, then just going to the next blank page when a specific context page fills up - I'll have corresponding tabs for each context labeled.

                      I'll give the first 120 pages to next actions/waiting, and the second half will be projects, someday/maybe's, Areas of responsibility.

                      Any final thoughts before I put ink on the moleskine this afternoon?

                      Thanks again for all your awesome help!!

                      -Evan

                      Edit: The soon-to-be format:

                      2 pages for Index/Table of Contents
                      124 pages for Next Actions/Waiting
                      68 pages for Projects
                      36 pages for Someday/Maybe
                      4 pages for Areas of Responsibility
                      2 pages for 1-2 Year Goal(s)/Vision
                      2 pages for 2-5 Year Goal(s)/Vision
                      2 pages for Life Vision/Purpose
                      Last edited by GTDerEvan; 05-05-2009, 08:00 AM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ahheck01 View Post
                        I think I'm going to go the route of having each context as subsequent pages, then just going to the next blank page when a specific context page fills up - I'll have corresponding tabs for each context labeled.
                        Please correct me, Evan, if I'm misunderstanding you, but are you saying you're going to have 1 page for each context and then go to the next blank page when one page of a context fills up? That seems to me it would be very confusing. So, for example, page 1 is @Calls, page 2 is @Computer, page 3 is @Home, page 4 is @Office, etc. Now, you've created, for example seven pages, one for each context. Now, a week later, your calls page is full, some calls you have made and crossed off, some are still yet to be done. So, now you turn to page 8, the next blank page, and title it "@Calls, page 2" or something like that. Now, your calls list is split across two pages (page 1 and page . An alternative would be to tear out page 2 and copy the remaining NAs from it to page 8. Am I understanding you correctly?

                        If I am, this seems very awkward. Either you're going to be eventually flipping back and forth throughout your NA pages to see all available NAs for a given context or you're going to be spending an inefficient use of your time recopying NAs from nearly full sheets to new, blank ones. You'll be doing enough writing in your paper system, keeping your NAs and projects in sync and notated appropriately, I'd think you'd not want to make anymore of that than necessary. What's wrong with a loose leaf notebook, where you can insert blank pages wherever you want and, when that @Calls page gets filled up but not yet all done, just add another page right behind it? I hope I'm not being unduly harsh in my critique, but you did want to hear suggestions and warnings. In my opinion, a bound notebook where one cannot move pages around easily would be a headache in the making.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Jon Walthour View Post
                          What's wrong with a loose leaf notebook, where you can insert blank pages wherever you want and, when that @Calls page gets filled up but not yet all done, just add another page right behind it? I hope I'm not being unduly harsh in my critique, but you did want to hear suggestions and warnings. In my opinion, a bound notebook where one cannot move pages around easily would be a headache in the making.
                          I do want to hear this! Thank you! I just haven't been able to find something even remotely as slender and subtle as the Moleskine that allows me to add and remove pages. If I found that, it would be a Goldmine - it would last potentially forever!

                          I'm 100% for your suggestion, but I spent all last night searching online and in stores for something that serves this purpose, and found nothing that wasn't girly, huge, or incredibly cheap/tacky.

                          Help wanted!

                          Thanks!

                          -Evan

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ahheck01 View Post
                            I just haven't been able to find something even remotely as slender and subtle as the Moleskine that allows me to add and remove pages.
                            I use a clipboard. One page per context. Makes me feel like a NASA scientist.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              My implementation is neither subtle nor slender, but I really rely on my clipboard. One page per context. It's really satisfying to get rid of a page of fully crossed out next actions. I'd find a moleskine without removable pages hard to deal with, but I know people who do it.

                              Also, trying to mark what projects your NA's go with is too much. Learn to just trust the system as is, and you'll discover it's not necessary.

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