I am a new user of the Getting Things Done way of life and decided that the best way for me to start was a paper based system. I have never been a gizmo person and have found the simplicity of paper based the way to go for me. The book has been eye opening and was immediately useful to me.
Prior to starting GTD, I realized I needed a “system” and for the last twelve years I have been using simple spiral bound notebooks or composition books under the theory that I needed to write in one place to track everything. I never quite accomplished this as I always had a paper calendar as well. Now that I am using GTD, I realized that the previous system had many limitations, but I always found that it was better than what most of the people around me were using. At least I had my “to do” lists and a record of my phone messages in one place. I was always resistant to something that was not bound, because I thought things would fall out, not get in etc. I now realize that a single notebook gets cluttered with the done things and that you would need to tab it to have access to the lists and they would always move making it slower to use.
My “system” is a flexible cover ˝ inch binder set up and tabbed as follows. Each Tab has a hand written list or notes behind it. The total cost to get going was less than $15.
1. A plastic pocket that I can put things into. Usually it is things my wife gives me, i.e. bills, medical claims, information etc.
2. Projects – Work
3. Next Actions – Work
4. Calls - Work – This is calls I have to make and I use it to empty my answering machine and cell phone.
5. Work – Waiting For
6. Notes – Work
7. Personal – Projects
8. Next Action – Personal
9. Calls – Personal
10. Waiting For – Personal
11. Notes – Personal
12. Misc. Lists – This is songs to learn to play, books to read, books I have loaned etc.
13. GTD Information – This is print outs of the work flow diagrams and weekly review articles, so I can keep the system up easily.
Additionally, I bought a bunch of 8 ˝ by 11 pads of paper that are already three hole punched so I can quickly take notes and put them into the notes sections. I am thinking of removing the notes sections because, I am afraid they will pile up and I am thinking it is better to put them into the plastic holder in front until I can process them, so I see them and act on them rather than bury them in the middle.
I do keep a separate paper calendar for appointments only and do not put anything in it unless it must happen on a certain day or time. I usually also have it on a list in the binder as well. I hope this helps others who like paper, or are looking for a quick start of implementing GTD.
It only took a couple of hours for me to download from the notebook to the new system and I have been able to get my in-basket to zero pretty quickly. I do feel a surge of productivity and am more relaxed as well.