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Going back to paper - "GTD and Paper Planners/Organizers"...

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  • Going back to paper - "GTD and Paper Planners/Organizers"...

    Now, as I am gradually returning to basics (meaning paper, see another thread) questions pop up as I let go of the digital domain.

    I had a quick look at David Allens paper GTD® and Paper Planners/Organizers and this is a great help.

    While I fully understand the concepts of the calendar as being the hard landscape, my working hours are clearly defined by what is happening within corporate Outlook. Meetings pop up and are cancelled constantly, and synchronizing this "by pen" would simply be too complicated. Synchronizing my work phone would do this job, but things that go beyond normal working hours, e.g. travelling or late meetings, would also go into my paper calendar to avoid conflicts. All personal appointments, day-specific items and information would go into the paper calendar as well. Any views on this?

    The document also holds guidelines for projects and goals:

    Projects/Goals Section
    Use this section for keeping lists of the larger than single-action things you need to keep track of, such as projects to complete, goals to accomplish, and ideal scenarios to envision.
    In this Projetcs/Goals section, it is also mentioned that a list of Someday/Maybe projects should be included. This makes perfectly sense. But it is also noted that goals and objectives could be included:

    You may also want to use this section additionally to keep reminders of any larger goals and objectives. What do you want to accomplish in the next year? Three years? Five years? Customize your own lists which will help keep you focused on the bigger picture - personally and professionally.

    I used to have projects and goals in separate sections, but them seems okay. This used to be in a password protected "trusted device" and moving to paper, I am a bit concerned about including all goals from 0 - 50000 feet, both professional and personal ones, in a paper based system.

    Another section focuses on plans and notes:

    Project Plans/Notes Section
    This is a place to hold all your thoughts, details, plans, and miscellaneous support materials for your projects.
    I have earlier included this in my projects (above) and I find it a bit hard to see the difference between this section and the earlier projects section.

    Also, what seems historically rooted, a contacts section is mentioned:

    Contacts Section
    Use this section to capture information about people and places and to record important numbers. You may choose to record names, addresses and contact numbers in a strictly alphabetical manner, one letter per page. As an alternative, you may decide to separate your contacts between personal and business, or in any other configuration which makes sense to you.
    To me this would work far more smoothly using mobile phones; my work phone synchronizes with corporate Outlook at the office and my private phone is backed up at home - gave up on paper based contact lists years ago and can not really imagine it would work out that well...

    For now, I am working with a simple and inexpensive notebook with index tabs, simply to put up a structure I can make work, feel comfortable with and trust (meaning reliable, not secure though). Might opt for a good A5 Filofax, maybe with D*Y*I Planner add-ons later - now I know what I want for Christmas...

    Anyone else been through this? Comments on the "GTD® and Paper Planners/Organizers" document?

    Last edited by Tech; 11-10-2010, 10:01 AM.

  • #2
    Hybridizing a few things -- Calendar in Outlook, Contacts on phone -- has worked out fine for me.



    • #3
      I have always been a paper user and find it is no problem to use Outlook for appointments and contacts and use a paper system for projects, actions waiting for etc. My current system is very simple an utilizes concepts from GTD as well as stuff I designed for my needs. The main point being you can use technology for what it is great for like; appointments, email on the go and contacts while using paper for what it is great for; ideas, projects, agenda lists, actions, waiting for etc.

      Good luck


      • #4
        To be honest, I like working with paper but my work is done 90% on a computer.

        I couldnt co-ordinate electronic with paper, so I just played around massively with digital ways of doing things, and bought an iphone to smooth the process.

        I use dropbox, evernote, remember the milk and google calendar. As far as I know outlook can sync with remember the milk, google calendar - my I phone has a remember the milk app, and syncs with google calendar.
        It collects my new emails anyway too so I see those if I am out an about.
        Google calendar also syncs with the iphone calendar as well as having an app so its there when I am not in signal - remember the milk goes off like, and evernote syncs in the cloud.

        So far things have been synced up when I need them, I use dropbox for my data so thats available on my iphone and any computer i use either through the app or the web interface, plus its a great way to share docs, as is google docs - which i use to collaborate on with someone acrross the world from me.

        I felt i was tied into the digital world, and that even tho I prefer paper and a fountain pen, it was actually a bad system because it just didnt allow me to be flexible and keep up to date!


        • #5
          Nothing says your complete system has to be in 1 binder.

          I use Google for my personal calendar. I set up a separate Gmail account to which I synchronize my work Outlook (calendar only). I display my Gmail work calendar and my families' calendars on my calendar, so I can see every thing on 1 screen.

          For tasks, I'm currently working with RTM. I am violating a cardinal GTD rule, by putting some of my tasks on my white board at work. I use the board for short term to do lists, normally project based. I have a project to load a new table into the data warehouse, so I'll break down the tasks; create stage table, load stage table, analyze lookup joins, talk to X for field calculations, etc.

          It does expose me on occasions that I work from home, but I can snap a picture of the white board on my phone and email it to myself when I plan to be home the next day.

          What ever works.


          • #6
            No cloud, no gadgets...

            @jrdouce, Nutrition Dude

            I badly envy you all your freedom in choosing tools, and as much as my personal preferences also would include using the cloud and a digital trusted device like the iPhone, a change of job (as mentioned in a separate thread) has effectively taken away the option of working with any of the wonderful options you are listing.

            In reality, I also very much doubt that bringing my work related Next Action lists outside company premises as a part of GTD content in my trusted device, is acceptable according to corporate directive on information security. This is likely also the reasoning behind preventing synchronization with personal gadgetry and cloud based services. I do have USB access, but no admin rights. Might sound a bit square, and a company like this is not getting a "GTD Compliant" stamp, but the scenario is in fact not uncommon.

            So paper, supported with some rudimentary synchronization of a basic Nokia phone at work, seems to be the way forward in this setup. But thanks for some great input...



            • #7

              I've had several stints in luddite organizations that make it impossible to use any modern productivity tools.

              All is not lost, however. I have stated before, I've never been more successful with GTD than when I was on a paper system. My biggest "need" for a cloud solution now is the number of input streams I have to deal with and the "CYA-reply to all" o culture in the corporation. I simply don't have time to copy dozens of emails into a paper system and continue to review all the replies containing additional information. I can simply cut-n-paste it all into an electronic system.

              I remember the second DA seminar I attended - still not yet called GTD. People, including David, were adopting Palms . The 3 was current. People were bombarding David with questions of how to automate things, how do you attach this or that, what apps have you installed. David's answer to everything was that he just used the basic 4 apps the same way he had in his paper system. NA Lists (no due date or priority), notes, contacts and calendar. He stressed repeatedly that that was all that is needed. He was also adamant about the distinction between managing next actions and project management. Most of the complexity people introduced was the result of trying to manage complete projects in the system.

              Sorry if this is a ramble, but that seminar stuck with me. It reminds me to step back and ask myself if I'm over complicating things. Paper is simple.


              • #8
                I agree simple systems can work brilliantly. I follow two main rules and this gets me 80% there. They are write in one place, which for me is a spiral notebook and maintain a simple A - Z filing system, which is paper folders. If I follow these two rules I am at about 80% which is good enough most times. The time cost to gain the extra 20% is not worth it for me at this point.