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Ultra-Minimal GTD Implementation

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  • Ultra-Minimal GTD Implementation

    I'd love to hear ideas on how to set up a very minimalistic implementation of GTD (no PDAs or binder/Covey type planners).

    I'd love to base it around supplies that can be found in any retail superstore and I'd like the reminder lists to fit in my pants pocket.

    I've considered index cards - has anyone implemented GTD with these - how?

    Any ideas are appreciated.



  • #2
    I will take a stab at this one. Here is one way you could structure a system with nothing but 3X5 cards:
    1. Have an index card for each project (instead of each task). Write the name of the project at the bottom of the card phrased in such a way that you will know when you have completed the project.
    2. On the top line of the card, write the next action.
    3. If you know what the NEXT next actions will be, continue listing them on the card one underneath the other.
    4. As you complete a next action, highlight it with a highlighter and make sure you have at least one next action listed below it.
    5. Use the back of the card to make notes regarding details of phone calls, confirmation numbers, and other info related to the project.
    6. Organize your cards by context. All cards where a phone call is the next action will be sorted together, all cards where an errand is the next action will be sorted together, etc. You could put a rubber band or paper clip around each context.

    You will be "done" with a card when the project has been completed. In other words, you have accomplished the last line on the card. The card will contain all of the next actions that led up to the completion of the project (you could even date the next actions as you complete them). All of your miscellaneous info will be on the back. You may want to keep a 3X5 file box of your completed projects.

    This is just a thought of the top of my head. Hope it helps.


    • #3
      Index card system

      Let me second Frank's recommendation, from the standpoint of someone who used pretty much exactly the system he recommends.

      Not sure if anyone will remember, but this idea was actually a system that sold (predominantly through airline magazines) about 10 years ago. You'd buy portfolios or inserts for your preferred binder. The inserts/portfolios had slots for notecards on which you'd list projects and next actions. I used it for probably 2 years before migrating to Covey. I migrated b/c 1) Covey was very in-vogue in my organization, 2) I liked the daily record of events feature, 3) at the time, the inserts only came in 8.5 x 11 inch format, and that made schlepping the binder around a bit much for me, and 4) standard index cards were a bit long for the slots, so the options were ordering huge quantities from the supplier or trimming your own index cards; since I hate the idea of not being able to restock at a moment's notice, I opted for the index card route and I got tired of trimming by hand. I'm not sure whether the system is sold any more; haven't seen ads for them in years.

      In retrospect, the system worked pretty well, and as you've noted, it's easily adapted to GTD. And while the binders made overviewing easy (the project names "peeped" out of the slots so you could in effect do the horizontal landscape scan of your project list in about 30 seconds, and then pull the card for the one you wanted for vertical scanning), they wouldn't be even close to necessary. As I think back on using the system, I'm amazed how useful it would be with GTD, and although I find my Palm an invaluable aid, if I had to be somewhere without it, this might *very* well be how I'd adapt...

      Bottom line: Frank's recommendation is both do-able and usable. I'd give it a try.



      • #4
        I think you are referring to ScanCards. I had an old phone # for them, and it turns out it still works--(800) 848-2618. I used ScanCards for a couple of years back in the early 1980's.

        The advantage was supposed to be that you saw all of the projects you had at a glance and could check the status of any project. The disadvantage that I found was that you were always just looking at the "big picture" rather than being able to hash out the tasks, organize the tasks in a fashion that would get them done quickly, and then go about the business of accomplising the tasks (and hence completeing the projects). I found myself using the portflio less and less and simply using the cards. That way I could see what the tasks were more easily. I left that system for a paper planner, which is a system I stuck with until going to a Palm and Outlook a year ago.

        Interestingly enough, I have though about ScanCards a great deal over the last year. What I am doing now is very much like having electronic cards. I put the name of the task in the subject line and have the note section available to record the NEXT next actions, notes from phone calls related to the tasks, etc. When I accomplish the tasks at hand, I so often simply cut and paste a new task into the subject line, change the category and change due date as needed. It's really like having an index card with all the pertinent data only in electronic form.


        • #5
          Scan cards

          I remember them well , not only does the phone # work --I tried which took me to executive --

          they even did a software version of scan cards (it's now only 29.95 because it's not Y2k compatible)

          They claim their system is used by 450 of the fortune 500 companies.

          Seems like a fast and easy way to do GTD without a palm --but I think it'd be weak in any areas besides projects. I always disliked the shuffling between cards (if you didn't carry "the system" ) --very easy to replicate with a palm for sure. Of course none of us knew about GTD back then

          I'd be curious to see how their sales have been affected since the palm came out in 96. I dropped the cards with my first daytimer also.


          • #6
            Scan Cards--That's it!

            Thanks for reminding me of the name and company...I hit the site for a few moments, and it brought back surprisingly fond memories. (Go figure.) Cheers! --Bryan