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.
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.
Paper Planner setup / testimonial
Have you seen our article at:
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.
Thanks for the information
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?
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
Jason's response to Alan Webber
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!
Take a Look at Time/Design
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.