The remaining GTD Tools I used to build my Corporate army of GTD Champions.

Date: Wednesday, July 30, 2008 by GTD Times Staff

Even if I had everyone in my organization trained in GTD I couldn’t picture people at my office implementing it. Mainly because they didn’t have the tools ready and handy in front of them to actually collect and crank their personal widgets. So before I began the training process I went on a several months search to find the perfect set of tools to distribute to all the Senior Management of Vakil Housing.

What tools did everybody need?
Intray/In Basket: We needed An intray/in basket for collection. This was pretty simple to get.

A Personal Collection Pocket Collection tool:We designed a pretty neat one for ourselves. More details here.

Filing Cabinet: I was quite particular that the Filing Cabinet we purchase for everybody would be swivel distance away. We used the Mercury filing cabinet with regular Hanging Folders.

A Calendar or Diary: Some used their mobile phones to store appointments but for most we got them a regular 2007 or 2008 Diary.

List-Management Tool: Finally we needed a system/tool for everybody to manage their Project & Action Lists. This is where I got stuck.

The List Management Tool we needed had to fit the following criteria:
– It had to be portable. Since most of the attendees would be from our Engineering Division or Marketing, they are required to go out of office for work. Hence a Desktop based system (such as Outlook) or Web Based system (such as Remember The Milk) would not work.

– Cost-effective. Yes, it had to be cheap. We were rolling this out throughout the organization. So that knocked out most Digital systems such as Blackberrys, Palms and Windows Based PDAs. (However, subsequently we did hand over Blackberry devices to certain Senior staff members).

– Flexible enough to add/remove Categories: Unlike a Digital System (Blackberrys, Outlook etc.) there’s no really neat & tidy way to adjust categories/sections/contexts in paper based systems. Most notebooks with dividers like so many of these don’t have tabs. If they do, like this one, they are fixed. So, the problem is that if for a particular Context Say @Calls you may not have too many entries, but you are stuck with the 50 or 100 pages that are below that particular Divider because you can’t adjust it.

Finally once again after months of hunting, one of our own employees presented me what seemed like the perfect GTD Tool for us. The Solo 5 subject Notebook:

What made this perfect is:
It’s quite portable, Not as big as a Box File


The Dividers are removable! This is such a boon because if you run out of space in one section, you can replace the divider in another place of the notebook and start another section. Or if you know you won’t make too much use of a particular section, you can adjust it so that there are not too many pages beneath it.

They’re very well microperforated, so the pages tear out quite neatly.

The 5 Dividers Cover most of the Categories required by GTD:

We can add additional sections/categories for additional lists with the help of these 3M Post-it Flags

After discovering this Brilliant GTD Tool, we bought one for all those undergoing GTD Training at our office and we could finally begin our GTD training sessions. How did we go about the training so that almost all Senior Managers at Vakil Housing understand Project & Next Action thoroughly as well as Bring their Inboxes to zero almost everyday?  Stay Tuned for the next post in this Series.

10 Responses to “The remaining GTD Tools I used to build my Corporate army of GTD Champions.”

  1. Intchanter says:

    Is anyone aware of letter-sized notebooks substantially similar to the notebook described in this article? I’d love to get my hands on a few of these, but would much prefer letter (after tearing at the perforations, if possible) over A4.

  2. A great post!

    Please allow me to very respectfully formulate an observation about the Solo 5 Subject Notebook. Would I be correct in assuming that you meant 17cm X 21.5 cm, rather than 17mm X 21.5 mm. An inch is 25.4 mm?

  3. A great post!

    Please allow me to very respectfully formulate an observation about the Solo 5 Subject Notebook. Would I be correct in assuming that you meant 17cm X 21.5 cm, rather than 17mm X 21.5 mm! An inch is 25.4 mm.

  4. Hi Pascal,

    Thanks for the compliment on the post. Yes, you’re absolutely right. The dimensions were supposed to be in cm rather than in mm. Have sent a revised image to the editor for it to be corrected. Thanks for pointing the error out. 🙂


  5. I use a list system that is very similar to this except I use a circa notebook from Levenger. That way all of the pages are movable and your notebook never runs out. You just remove the pages you are done with and add some more. It also comes in different sizes from the size you chose all the way down to index card size. I use the indexcard one.

  6. Arif & Ali,

    It must be exciting to be able to roll this out with your own senior management. All employers hope their managers will do good work. You guys are providing your senior managers with the tools to pull it off‚Äîboth the system itself and the actual, on the ground, equipment to get the job done. I think I’d be pretty happy working for an employer that went through the trouble to teach me those skills, which would be useful not just in the job, but for a lifetime, and outfit me to be successful.

  7. Hailey – thanks so much for the great tip! Those are really neat notebooks. Will certainly do a little R&D to see if similar notebooks are here in India.

  8. Michael – Yes Michael, it’s exciting, challenging and quite time-consuming too. In the beginning it was a bit of a concern if the time we were spending towards GTD was worth it or not. But then we didn’t have any other option. If we were to have confidence that:
    – absolutely ever single instruction given is going to be carried out to the best of one’s ability.
    – And that any “should”, “need to”, “have to” that individuals in the organisation come up with are going to be executed,

    the only way we could achieve that is by really doing our very best in teaching this methodology.

    So therefore, we put in our heart and soul behind the training. We have climbed somewhat high on the GTD ladder. But we certainly still have miles to go.

    Thanks for your wonderful comment, Michael. Great to have you on GTD Times too. Looking forward to your posts 🙂

  9. Jacki Whitford says:

    All –

    I am with Hailey. I use the Circa notebook exclusively, because I can put in as many tabs as I want, and paper and index cards in any size I want.

    I have the large size and the junior (desk) size. I use the larger one when I have to carry MSPROJECT schedules and other 8X11 printouts. I can move all my desk size papers, and any index cards into the larger one with no problems.

    I also love the Levengers provides different style papers to use – blank, grid, lined, etc.

    You can buy sample circa notebooks to try in any size, and a sample stack of index cards punched to add to the notebook.

    I suggest doing that first, to see if you like the system. Then if you do, you will want to choose a leather binder – or like i did, the leather journal front and back covers.

    The other reason I bought the Circa journals is because I was tired of having my 3-ring notebook rings reset. They widen as you open your planner to take pages out and put them back in.

    With Circa, the pages easily come out and can be put back wherever you want them.

  10. Arif Vakil says:

    Thanks for your comment Jacki! I’ve made a personal note, to relook at Circa. My only concern is that since we’re based in India, if I run out of paper, is there any alternate source that we can get locally or will I be dependent on Levenger in US?

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