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Lists, paper, folders

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  • Lists, paper, folders

    I am keeping a paper-based system (I'm burned out on PDAs and I like writing by hand). I have my reference folders (A-Z and no hanging folders is a real lifesaver for me), my tickler file, and my project list.

    But I'm having a hard time with the NA lists... should I have a folder for each context with a single piece of paper (or as many as it takes) and the lists? One folder with all the lists? Should the list items be items on a page or individual pieces of paper/notecards, which is what the book seems to recommend in one spot, but which seems crazy to me if I have 100+ next actions...

    And what about real lists (grocery lists, books to check out at the library, etc)? Is there a list of lists?

    Newbie questions, I know, please forgive me

  • #2
    Get a notebook...

    Get a notebook with several sections. Designate each section as a "context" with the last few being for your fixed lists you mentioned. Personally, I am sour on the PDA, but realized that it does everything well except the NA's which I keep in a book form. My context is limited to my desk, so I can keep a single list of what needs to be done in this one notebook and it all works out well. The PDA holds the projects, calendar, notes and any store lists since it is more portable.


    • #3
      I use a PDA, but if I were going to use paper I would use the tabbed notebook suggested by the previous poster. Although it's workable to have folders set up by context, I think it would be a little more convenient to use a notebook.


      • #4

        Certain next action items warrant a notebook as described above. However certain dedicated projects, may need a 3 ring binder type of solution. Only thing is you will have to be fairly diligent in keeping up with the binder for next actions during your weekly review.


        • #5
          Index Cards for NAs

          I keep my NAs on index cards. The context is written at the very bottom of the card so I can hold a stack of them in my hand and very quickly sort through to the right context.

          One nice thing about them is, if you have enough space, you can lay them out on a desk and see everything you can do at once in whatever combination of contexts you choose.

          There is also a nice bit of reward when you cross out the last remaining action on a card and can throw it away.


          • #6
            When I do my mind sweep (periodically, at my weekly review), I often use notecards and write each item on a single card. This makes them much easier to process, at least for me. I think this is what the book was referring to with notecards - the mind sweep (particularly in the initial set-up phase).

            I use a PDA, but I do have several folders labeled by context for support items. I used to keep all NA related support items that weren't associated with a project in a single Action Support folder, but it was unwieldy to sort through.

            So, if you are using paper, I guess you could take a similar approach - create folders for your different contexts, and have the first page of each be a list of the next action.

            However, one of the things I like about my PDA is the ability to switch between context lists easily (for example, right now I could do @Internet and @Calls items). So, I think, if I was using paper, I would prefer to have the lists close together. In that case, the binder approach sounds like a great idea, and you can file support material in a pocket folder behind each context list.

            Just my opinion...


            • #7
              been souring on PDA myself

              I've been contemplating a move back to a more paper-based system for my NA's.

              The pro's of a PDA for me is the ability to move things around on lists, and attach extensive notes to an NA.

              The downside is the limited view.

              On the GTD CD, DA says "until you can see it all in a snapshot . . . ". Having to switch screens to see all of the context lists that are at play during a work day (@computer, @phone, @agenda, @work, etc.) doesn't do that.

              So my suggestion is to go with whatever paper configuration will allow you to see what you need to see, when you need to see it, in a way that will allow you to assess priorities as you go along.


              • #8
                Lists, paper, folders

                I followed David Allen's reccomendation on setting up a three ring binder. Inexpensive highly effective.

                I keep a section for Projects where I keep a list of all Projects. The first page in the section list all the projects with precededing pages dedicated to each individual progect-Keeps notes contacts related to etc.
                The next section is devoted to next actions-all context comingled on continous sheets. I use the left margin of notebook paper for the context designation, the mid section for the context description and the right margin for the date completed
                Completed N/A s get crossed off with a red pen.
                When moving to a new sheet any remaining actions get carried over to the new sheet (big boost to the weekly review- forces you to deal with stagnant items)
                The next section I keep notes ( meeting agenda etc)
                The last section I keep a contact file
                Oh BTW at the very front I keep a monthly calendar printed from my palm desktop every Sunday for that view of hard landscape.
                The binder as opposed to spiral or bound approach gives you more flexibility to suit your flavor.

                Hope this helps some

                Productive in Baltimore


                • #9
                  I just started a few weeks ago, but I've been using a small A5 sized binder, which keeps lists in separate categories and you can move bits of paper around as much as you like.

                  Next actions at the front, projects at the back, and spare paper in the middle for me!

                  It's good to have a small folder because you can fit it in a bag easily and it doesn't feel too kind of clipboardy neurotic when you carry it around



                  • #10
                    An alternate thought -- I just picked up a plastic, expandable, multi-pocket file folder with from Target. Three ways you could work this:

                    1. Keep your actions in Outlook tasks, minimize all but the context you want to highlight, and then print out a sheet for each context. Throw them into your NA pocket.
                    2. Writing by hand, build your action lists on individual pieces of paper. Throw them into your NA pocket.
                    3. Write your next action and its context on an index card, and just throw it into your NA pocket. (You could increase the visual appeal of this method by color-coding by context.)

                    The thing I like about the expandable file is that you can basically throw whatever you need to in the appropriate pocket, nothing ever falls out, and you can use it however it's fastest. Thinking of getting on for my tickler items as well.