I've been tagged! I feel like a real live blogger now.
gtdfrk, of the Getting Things Done blog has invited me to tell you all about my "Killer GTD Setup." And since I love talking about this stuff, here we go...
Over the years I've tried a zillion different systems. Though I'll admit I do enjoy switching around and setting up new systems just for the fun of it, the truth is that with each change I learn something new, and my setup gets a little bit better.
Here are the three main things I've learned about myself and GTD:
- I need to use paper.
- As much as I love index cards, having to shuffle through them all the time doesn't work for me. I need a list.
- It's got to be simple.
A system relieves no pressure unless it truly handles its job 100 percent...Real systems must be solid enough to hold up in the toughest reality--when we least feel like maintaining them.and
The effectiveness of your system is inversely proportional to your awareness of it.These insights, and much experimentation, have led me to my current masterpiece. Are you ready for such a mind-blowing revelation? You're sure? Ok, here goes.
Write things down in a notebook.
Phew! That was rough. Take a moment to digest. Re-read and make sure you understand. I'll wait.
Seriously, this is my current scheme: I have a Levenger Circa notebook with two sections. The front of the notebook is filled with blank paper, which I use to write notes throughout the day. I usually keep a few days worth of notes in here, before moving them out. I start each day on a new page, and date each page. That way it's easy to move notes into an archive.
The back section of the notebook, behind a divider called "Reference," is where I keep my lists. I have projects lists, next actions lists, and someday/maybe/waiting for/reminder lists for both work and home. I also keep reference lists in this section, like stuff that I've bought that I'm waiting to be delivered, and restaurants I might want to go to.
I also have a pocket to hold loose stuff.
That's basically it. I have in-boxes at home and work. Here's my home desk:
I keep my files nice and neat:
I use my Circa punch and label maker frequently:
I keep all my contacts in Gmail, and use Gmail for all my email accounts. I make generous use of Gmail's archive feature to process my in box to zero. I keep my calendar on Google Calendar. I keep personal documents in Google Documents. I use Google Reader for all my blog reading.
I take lots of notes, and I always have my notebook nearby. I use my Circa notebook for everything, including meetings. I process my notebook when it's convenient, going through my notes to look for new projects and action items and adding them to the appropriate list.
Here are some key insights that I've had during my experiment with GTD:
- You have to write everything down. The knowledge that you have captured the information, even if you're not going to do anything with it, is absolutely necessary. Knowing that the information is out of your head gives you the confidence and comfort to let it go.
- You have to trust that you will review your notes. If you write it down and never process it, you won't trust your system.
- You have to be realistic, and have what David Allen calls "clean edges." Your next actions list is sacred. Do not put anything on there that you don't really have to do. The next actions list is not the place for "could dos," "might dos" or "someday maybes." It has to be stuff you're really going to do.
Oh yes, and I hereby tag Brett Kelly, at the Cranking Widgets Blog, because I think that's the best blog name of all time.