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Starting GTD with unique work setting

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  • Starting GTD with unique work setting

    Hi! I have read Getting Things Done and lurked here and on a few other forums and sites. I'm now ready to start implementing!

    My biggest issue is how/where to set up. I work part time from home and part time in an office. To make things even more complicated, they recently took away our set office space. We now have lockers and need to book our space whenever we are in the office. Even if we will be in the same space for multiple days we need to clear our space each evening.

    For the most part, I have been making this work by having a folder that I carry back and forth and trying to keep most things on my work computer. However, if I really create all the files suggested, I'd be carrying a lot around with me in addition to a laptop! I work in NYC and take a ferry to work so this will be cumbersome.

    Does anyone have any suggestions as I get started?


  • #2
    Don't think that all the files suggested have to be hardcopy. A lot of people on the forums have digital tickler files. I'm transitioning that way myself as I work from the office, another office site and from home, and find that keeping things portable and electronic as far as possible is the way to go. We are also moving into a new building this year and the amount of storage we'll have is scarily small, so my office will pretty much only store essential reference and the corporate files. I've reduced my project files into 4 lever arch files, with a divider for each project. (4 - one for each area of focus. I keep my AOF fairly broad). Like you I have a portable file, which has manila folders for inbox, support materials, and filing. If someone gives me a paper document, I always either scan or ask for the electronic copy.
    As a principle I try to keep hardcopy/electronic for the company files, only electronic as my working files. Of course there are some support materials that just work better as hardcopy, but by keeping this to a minimum I've already made huge improvements, and find that the 4 folders are enough for hardcopy support.


    • #3
      Hi there,

      First, sorry to hear you have to "hotel" for your office space. That can be a drag, but definitely workable.

      Here are some suggestions for getting started:

      1. Pick a list manager you'll trust to track your Project lists, Next Action lists, and Calendar. Paper or digital your choice. It often works well to have it in the same tool where your email comes in already, but not required. Don't get too bogged down by this step. Go for "good enough to try" for now, instead of waiting to find the perfect list manager. Here are some suggestions on choosing a list manager.

      2. Take a total inventory of what has your attention and get it into that list manager. Use the GTD Workflow diagram to help you make those decisions. That would include anything that currently serves as an inbox too (email, voice mail, meeting notes, etc.) BTW, taking this inventory becomes an ongoing process beyond the initial implementation.

      3. Setup a functioning system to store your digital and hard copy Reference. You don't need to carry this around with you everywhere. Just make sure you have a good place to store those non-actionable things in your life and know how to get back to it.

      4. Setup some hard and soft copy "pending" folders to hold your work in process (i.e. actionable items that have backup information you need to hold on to.) I carry two folders around with me when I'm working: Action Support and a portable In folder. Like this. I like plastic because they don't get trashed in my bag.

      I'd start with those 4 and see how you do. #1 is pretty easy, if you let it be. #2 will take the most time, but don't let that overwhelm you. Go for a clear head first. #3 and #4 will likely happen organically as you start to make decisions in #2.

      Go for some small wins (versus all or nothing.) Appreciate that implementing GTD is a journey, and an ongoing practice like a sport, and not a one time event. It took time to collect it all in your life, it will take time to get it processed and organized. But you will get there.

      Hope that helps!


      • #4
        Originally posted by dfalek View Post
        I work part time from home and part time in an office.
        While your case is extreme, a lot of people juggle home and work offices, and there are lots of good software tools available to help, depending on what tools you are allowed to use. Evernote and dropbox come to mind immediately, and many people use various google tools. You may find that home is your primary office, and if that is the case, you can set it up however you want. Without knowing more about your job, I don't think I can say much more.


        • #5
          Thanks for the tips! I work for a large corporation and they block access to personal email and sites like Evernote.

          I have done some list manager research and am going to give toodledo a try since I can sync to my iPad and iPhone. Also, I can access it at work.

          I'll adjust my portable folder strategy to have one dedicated to be an inbox.

          I'm excited to get started!


          • #6
            Having to clear your office space each day may have disadvantages, but it can have
            advantages, too. Martin Termouth's system calls for clearing your desk at the end
            of the day; you'll automatically do that, so you don't have to struggle to develop the

            One option is to keep GTD lists on your laptop (if you have to carry it anyway);
            you can just do it in ordinary text files, or you may be able to use special software.

            I use two paper notebooks for GTD. One is letter-sized and I can add and remove pages.
            The other fits in my pocket. These days I mostly just use the one in my pocket,
            but I carry the other around in my backpack anyway.


            • #7
              Sorry -- often without my intending it, my posts make my systems sound better
              than they actually are. I forgot to mention that I also have a tickle file at work
              and another one at home, each too big to carry around; and I probably have a bunch of other
              stuff too. A tickle file could be implemented on a computer, even just in a text file.
              You could maybe keep a tickle file in your locker.