Longstreet asked me for the details of how I implement GTD in the hierarchical outliner application called Achieve Planner. What follows is my answer to him. I don't think this would be of much interest to anyone not using Achieve Planner.
Obviously I have customized AP to fit the needs of my job and lifestyle and you would need to make adjustments to accomodate the specifics of your life.
I spend most of my time in AP using the Outline tab (Go, Outline). Within the Outline tab, I have customized my view (View, Customize Current View) to show the following fields in this order: Focus, Icon, Priority, Completed, Name, Target Start, Deadline, Assignee(s), and Keywords.
At the top of the Outline tab I check the "Group by category" box. This places all my projects and tasks under the Personal and Work categories, and groups them by Results Areas. I have 9 personal Results Areas and 14 work Results Areas. Results Areas in AP are what David Allen calls Areas of Focus in his GTD book. It's similar to what Covey calls roles. I like to see my projects and tasks grouped by Results Areas. All my Purchasing projects and tasks are grouped together, all my Finance projects and tasks are grouped together, all my Human Resources projects and tasks are grouped together, etc.
I color code all my items by priority (Tools, Options, Display, Priorities).
I wrote a lengthy write-up a while ago titled "GTD 2.0" describing my overall strategy for implementing GTD in AP. The gist of it was that I use what AP calls "Priorities" to segregate active from inactive items.
At my Weekly Review I assign priority codes to my projects. A project gets an A priority if I plan on doing some action on that project in the coming week. It gets a B priority if I plan on doing some action on that project in the coming month. C if I plan on doing some action in the next 3 months. D is more than 3 months.
On possible future tweak would be to reduce the priorities to 2 or 3 from 4. Please note that what I am suggesting with regard to priorities is the same thing that the David Allen Co. trainers do. They just don't use A, B, C, D. But the forum is full of advice like, "Put everything into Someday/Maybe, except what you plan to work on next week." In my implementation of AP, that could translate into, "Assign priority B to everything except what you plan to work on next week, which gets an A."
Going through my outline view column by column I have:
Focus: I like to assign a focus to some projects or actions for the next week. An A priority means I will do something. But a focus means I will try to commit significant effort to the item.
Icon: I like using the icon to differentiate projects from tasks.
Completed checkbox: when it's completed I check the box and the item disappears from the view.
Priority: I never filter on priority in this view. But I need to enter a priority when I create a new item.
Name: I use the convention that projects begin with subject and end with a verb in the past tense: Will instructions prepared, Vanguard assets allocated, Health Insurance contract signed, etc. Tasks (NAs) begin with a verb in the present tense (if I am the person doing it): call John, measure table, organize cabinet #4, etc.
Target start: I just added this. I like to keep a record of when I entered the item. It's especially helpful when I call someone who hasn't done what they said they would in time.
Deadline: I don't assign every item a deadline.
Assignee(s): I filter on this field frequently throughout the day. A lot of my job is keeping tabs on what others are supposed to be doing. Many of the items in my system are Waiting Fors. When my supplier Frank calls me to tell me what a great job he did on the last bunch of widgets he sent me I filter this column for "Frank" and remind him of the 6 other jobs that he promised to have to me last month and which I still have not received. The AP grid system is great at displaying lots of information in one screen. This is a great feature.
Keywords: I use this field for GTD's contexts. I keep my contexts very simple: Home, Office, Errand, Someday, and Waiting For.
Once a week I do my Weekly Review. AP has an amazing view in the Outline tab called Active Project Priority. It enables me to filter all my A Projects and their children irrespective of the children's priority. So my Weekly Reviews go much fast than they used to go prior to using AP. First I filter all my A Projects by using the P-Priority field. Then I filter my B Projects. I usually skim through my Cs and Ds rather quickly.
My Active Project Priority columns are the same as above. The only difference is that the P-Priority column is added.
You will notice that AP has all kinds of very powerful tools and gizmos that I do not use. I don't use the Task Chooser. I don't run the Schedule tool to find out which items are overdue. I don't use the Project Blocks and I don't use its Weekly Schedule, since I have a calendar in Outlook. My feeling is that these are great gizmos but I have decided that they are not worth the overhead. I want to spend as little time as possible massaging my system and as much time as possible doing.
I currently have 182 projects. I don't feel overwhelmed, since many of these projects are Cs and Ds.
If you have any questions, I 'll do my best to answer them.