Sunday, March 7, 2010

My GTD Setup

This is going to be the first of a series of articles on my GTD set up and how I tweaked it to fit my needs.  I follow the GTD workflow model of Capture and Process into Do, Defer and Delegate categories, and I will take a side journey into the realm of “Should-ing”  ( how I determined which projects were the right ones for me to take on) as I explain how I use several tools in managing both life planning and how I deal with the everyday interruptions that inevitably occur.


Getting Things Done: The Art Of Stress-Free Productivity

The very first tool is David Allen’s book.  The processes explained within it are some of the best when it comes to dealing with the things that come into my sphere of influence when they have little or no structure in and of themselves.  If you haven't read it yet, you should, but if you just want a primer click here.  He has written follow ups to the book that expand on areas, but for pure basics it is the best place to start.  The remainder of my posts will assume you have a fair understanding of the GTD process so I will not do a rehash of this system, but will concentrate on the modifications I implemented.

My own set up has  a decidedly electronic bent present in the implementation, even though most of my inputs are non electronic in nature. I will list the tools first and then go into the modification I made to each in follow up posts.


Planning is probably the weakest part of my GTD set up.  I have really tried to find a perfect fit for me, but have been unable to do so.  All the different tools allow for some, but not all of the functions I need.  I am current working with OneNote 2007 to see if it’s tagging abilities will let me slice and dice the plans up to look at every project individually as well as by timeframe.  I think I am making it too complicated, but any system has to be trusted and should be bent to the need of the individual not have the individual make all the adjustments.


My primary reference holder is also done with  OneNote.  It is here that I can contain most of the reference material I need to keep as well as plan my larger projects , and have the ability to link the action steps to my other tool, Outlook 2007.  I have had OneNote available to me for some time now, but have only recently been using it as my main filing system for virtual documents.  I have installed Microsoft Live Mesh on my computer, and through that, the OneNote folder is synced with the cloud so I can access the same files on my laptop if needed. 

Another reference bin is a physical filing cabinet, with one drawer for the current items (bills, statements and other such what have you), one drawer for archive, one drawer for unused supplies (file folders).  It is organised much like it is suggested in Getting Things Done.

On my desk is a vertical file holder that serves as a holder for the the short term recurring items, like monthly bills, and for the project folders that are frequently updated.  For example, through out the year personal income tax receipts are kept in the filing cabinet but that folder gets moved into the vertical holder when there is  less than two months to go until the filing deadline.

Capture and Process

Outlook eventually captures and sorts everything that happens on the daily level.  It has been customised to a fair degree and as such it deserves its’ own post.  I have two in baskets in my home, one by the phone in our main living area and one on my desk in the office.  I carry a Blackberry with Note2self installed on it to get the random ideas into my inbox at home.  As well I carry a Dayrunner zippered binder when I run errands.  It is here in Outlook that the Calendaring and Action lists get pushed to the daily action plan. Applying the GTD methodology is where I have spent the most time to date in modifying Outlook.


The next post will deal with Outlook and the modifications I made to make it usable for me.

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