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1 item / paper vs. save the woods?

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  • 1 item / paper vs. save the woods?

    I remember vaguely that David said something about writing only one item on a piece of paper - why should we do this even if we are concerned for our environment ?

  • #2

    So, what number of notes is enough to justify a sheet of paper?

    Eight notes?
    My notes are small. If I wrote 8 notes on one sheet, it would be the same as 1 note on 8 sheets. If one of those notes is "take out recycling"... bonus!

    I think world-changing ideas are created in the GTD system. If it took me 1000 single notes to generate that one idea that saves a forest (or a community, or a life), then clearly the bigger picture wins the day.

    Thanks for posing the question, Tom. What does everyone else think?



    • #3
      In a paper based system, that piece of paper could become your project handle, complete with the goal and some level of notes/planning. The other side could be your next action, with space to check off and write the next-next action when it is complete.

      However, I think the real reason is to make processing easier. If I capture a load of stuff in a list, I find it very difficult to focus on just the first item. I can't help myself scanning down the list. One piece of paper per item forces me to focus.

      If you are worried about the environment, you could use smaller pieces of paper (I use post its), the reverse side of something that would be binned otherwise, recycled paper, a voice recorder, the notepad on a smartphone, etc...


      • #4
        I'm so glad that someone brings the subject. I've struggled with this issue for some time, and still am, in a way. It is true in my case too, as mentioned above, that one item per page makes processing easier. But it feels a bit of a waste to me, so I usually write down like three or four captures (when they are small, single keywords and the like), on a single notebook page.

        Against the temptation of scanning all the items, I use very clear boundaries to separate them. I like a notation shown in one of the webinars: date on the left, a horizontal line across the whole page separating one idea from the next very clearly, and you cross out the block or put a tick mark below the date once you've processed the idea. And yet, there are still times when I catch myself sliding and have to tell myself 'wait a minute, you haven't really processed the previous idea... one thing at a time, my dear'.

        I guess this is a good argument in favor of going digital...

        Just my erratic two cents...


        • #5
          Surely just at the beginning?

          I saw this but assumed that this is just in the initial collection phase. Now I have a single sheet folded into A6 that I collect with and these are processed to lists in contexts.


          • #6
            Originally posted by vic_lh View Post
            so I usually write down like three or four captures (when they are small, single keywords and the like), on a single notebook page.


            I guess this is a good argument in favor of going digital...
            Why not just tear the paper into four?

            Going digital probably means seeing your captures in list form.


            • #7
              Use Smaller paper

              I use a 3 x 5 spiral notebook for capture and while I don't always stick to one item per side of the page I do make very clear distinctions between and rarely put more than 2 on a page. For my initial capture years ago I used the back sides of the daily calendar sheets I tore off and saved as scrap paper anyway. So recycling worked.


              • #8
                Don't understand the need for it myself. I capture into a notebook. I rule a small column on the left hand side of the sheet for symbols - like a tick when each item is processed.
                Focus on the principle - make processing easy - and then work out for yourself how best to do that.


                • #9
                  I cut 8.5 x 11 sheets into 4 pieces (as cfoley suggests). Each piece is big enough to capture something (as a general rule).


                  • #10
                    Use small pieces of paper.

                    Originally posted by Tom.9 View Post
                    I remember vaguely that David said something about writing only one item on a piece of paper - why should we do this even if we are concerned for our environment ?


                    • #11
                      I agree with others that you can use a smaller recording instrument. I noticed in the Best Practices Talk (free) that several of the group, including David, mentioned using 5 x 8 pads.

                      I also think creating one electronic note could work as well. I use Evernote to do this when I am out (although I do use small paper pads in some locations).


                      • #12

                        I think one of the concerns here is focus.

                        If you write an item on a piece of paper, no matter whether index card size or poster board size, it is the only thing that you are looking at when it comes to processing.

                        For me, when I am processing, it actually is more difficult to process if I see 15 other items that I need to process, because I start wondering how they relate. That's why I refuse to process from a list.

                        Evernote, as mentioned earlier, creates basically, a digital list.

                        I capture using paper, email, and digitally, but when I process my digital items in Omnifocus, it allows me to use the focus feature so that i can block out all other items in my inbox. That is a big selling point for me.

                        One piece of paper, one piece of digital information... At least until I reach what I believe to be "black belt".


                        • #13
                          I put one item per paper, since that is so helpful to me for staying focused when processing. Sure, I do use more paper than most people with this setup, but paper is still very environmentally friendly compared to about anything else we keep around. I haven't done the math on it, but I'm convinced that my total life consumption of paper probably equals out to something ridiculously trivial in the category of travel, food production or electronics as for environmental impact. Now, this is not to say that re-using paper isn't a good thing, but for me that's not a trade-off that is worth it.


                          • #14
                            I use an erasor

                            I like one-item-per-page, with a whole letter-sized page. It helps me focus on one thing at a time, and it provides an inviting place to write additional relevant information.

                            I re-use paper that already has other stuff on one side.

                            When I'm finished with an item, if the total amount of writing is small enough, I erase it all and re-use the page. I've re-used pages multiple times. I use 2B (soft) pencil leads, which erase well.

                            My system is partly based on Martin Ternouth's paper-based project management system, described in the 2nd email by Ternouth on this page:
                            (on most browsers, use control-F to search for Ternouth, or scroll down to the
                            13th entry, which begins "This is a follow-up to a post I made on this thread eighteen months ago.") There are also other interesting comments about paper
                            on that page, including one at the bottom about the advantages of pale
                            grey paper with white lines.


                            • #15
                              Buy scratch pad paper for capturing

                              Scratch pad paper is thin, cheap and designed for disposability. Just toss in the recycle bin after you process it. I get mine at Office Depot; it comes in a pack of ten. The pads are roughly 4x6 (perhaps a little less)