About to move back to GTD on paper - what folder/paper-binding system to use?

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss Tools & Software for GTD' started by Ship69, Apr 3, 2017.

  1. Julie_Flagg

    Julie_Flagg Registered

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    I use a red Letter size paper circa Levenger notebook and usually keep it at my desk but will take it to important meetings- and I travel with it . It makes for a pretty direct daily and weekly review - it is particularly good to know exactly where my projects are and what I need to do next. As a surgeon , I like to feel things- it is a real stake in the ground for me and I like a lot of grounding. I love being able to turn a divider and point to the name of a patient that I am waiting to hear from - it helps my brain to click and keep track of things and ultimately reduce "mind buzz" and worry. People know that with the notebook I am unlikely to drop an important ball. It lets me spend more time getting things actually done. I tend not to loose things like my good pen (always in my shirt pocket) and have never lost the notebook. The notebook and the lists are attractive to me and I like thinking and planning and reviewing in them- they are not a thing of beauty and I am not at all artistic- this is a very functional, basic, simple system- workmanlike. It is also very quick- instantaneous- open the notebook and BAM- start getting things done! What could be better?
     
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  2. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    Just like iPad? ;-)
     
  3. Julie_Flagg

    Julie_Flagg Registered

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    Good point - I am still old enough to appreciate the tactile benefit of pen to paper and the more or less consistent location of a particular project or that special phone number in the notebook. Plus I don't have to go through the upheaval of off and on again omnifocus, Evernote or Wunderlist which is just about to be shut down! Plus I just like the feel of pen and paper- it is a definate plus and I 'll take all the pluses that I can get.
     
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  4. chirmer

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    I may be just shy of 30 years old, but I also love the feeling of pen on paper. I've come to realize I learn and remember things better when I hand-write them. I have used a paper system for 90 days now and am really enjoying it. It's slightly terrifying, being dependent on paper, but I've kept work journals for five years now and not lost a single one, ever, even once. So, the worry diminishes when I remember this :)

    For me, I switched because of my tendency to over-complicate my system. Pretty soon I've added in 20 new things that help me get 0 more things finished, and I realize I've done it again. I've gone down the tech rabbit hole. I'm forcing myself to use paper for at least 6 months to get rid of that habit. After that, we'll see - but so far so good!
     
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  5. photodiva

    photodiva Registered

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  6. photodiva

    photodiva Registered

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    Very interested in this thread! Chirmer, if you have time, it would be great to hear how you've implemented a paper system. I have had the same experience of you, overcomplicating things and having some things on paper, some in tech apps, until it's just a blur.
     
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  7. RS356

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    I'm enjoying this thread as well. I keep coming back to paper, despite my many attempts to go digital. The benefits I experience with paper are many:

    - Increased focus and ability to be fully engaged in my work, family, or community activities;
    - Less friction in my system - there's no learning curve with paper;
    - More freedom - I don't feel the need for constant connectivity in order to be productive.

    Here in the United States, it was a holiday weekend, and I used some of the extra time to migrate back to paper. For those curious, I'm using a Filofax filled with blank paper. It's dead simple, flexible, and familiar in a way no app has been able to replicate.
     
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  8. Longstreet

    Longstreet Registered

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    I am really enjoying this thread. I think I will move back to paper too! I love digital "things", but one can get so lost in them and you find yourself working on the "system" versus actually doing real work. :rolleyes:
     
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  9. Longstreet

    Longstreet Registered

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    Still thinking about it. I love paper, but I also love my Nirvanahq system. Hmmmm....
     
  10. sesteph6

    sesteph6 Registered

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    WOW does this resonate! I have bounced around systems SOOO much! I have been considering either going to paper ... back to the basics.
     
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  11. Longstreet

    Longstreet Registered

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    Me too....still thinking about it!
     
  12. RS356

    RS356 Registered

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    I'm in no position to persuade anyone, but every time I switch systems, I remind myself that I'm only one weekly review from going back. :D
     
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  13. TMac

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    I've been stuck between digital and paper for far too long. For those of you who are using paper, can you share some of the details of your setup?
     
  14. RS356

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    To be fair, I rely heavily on digital tools for file storage, addresses, and shared calendars (Google at home, Outlook at work). The main part of my system is housed in a personal sized Filofax, modeled on the David Allen Company paper planner setup guide. I have the following sections:

    1. Inbox
    2. Calendar (I use Filofax's Week on Two Pages format)
    2. Next Actions, Agendas, and Waiting For
    3. Projects (The first 1-2 pages are my projects list, followed by any project plans and notes. I start a new page for each project, but not all projects need supporting materials)
    4. Someday/Maybe (Following the same section format as Projects. I keep multiple lists for Projects on hold, books to read, places to visit, and other ad hoc lists)
    5. Focus & Direction (my higher horizons and goals)
    6. Reference (checklists and miscellaneous items).

    Regarding the materials themselves, I use regular blank paper rather than forms. I find that blank paper gives me the most flexibility for notetaking, mind mapping, and sketching. During my weekly review, I ensure that my paper calendar matches its digital counterpart. This seems cumbersome, but it allows me time to pause and consider whether an appointment should be deleted or renegotiated.

    I keep coming back to this streamlined setup after nearly 15 years of practicing GTD. It just works for me. I've also used a Levenger Circa, although the smaller sized Filofax is currently a better fit for my needs.

    Hope this helps!
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017
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  15. chirmer

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    Sure! I'll try to not write a novel :)

    Tools: Staples ARC system (until I save up for my dream Filofax), fountain pens/wood pencils, Google Calendar, Evernote

    Yes, I do still use Google Calendar and Evernote. We live and die by G Cal at work and it's too much work to maintain a paper planner in addition to G Cal. Plus, my Apple Watch was the best decision I've made in a long time - having my calendar events on my wrist has been a lifesaver. So, I still use that. And, I use Evernote for long-term storage instead of a paper filing cabinet. I just don't have the physical space for one, and Evernote is safer and more useful for me.

    Outside of those two tools, everything I have been using for the last few months has been analog. I used a notebook for a while, but lists ended up everywhere and tasks got dropped, so I pulled back out my ARC discbound system and set her up. I intentionally keep it as dead simple as possible - I will add things back in as I come across a need for them.

    INBOX. A sheet at the front of my binder. I cross each item off once I've clarified it and put it on a task list. I also have a pocket in front of my ARC for loose sheets to process.
    ACTION LISTS. Pages of 3mm grid I printed myself on quality paper. I have separate lists for my Contexts: @desk, @website, @enterprise (work software), @social media, @branch (other library in our system), @supervisor (for my weekly supervisor 1-on-1s), @agendas, @waiting, @someday. I add contexts as I need them, and remove them likewise (for example, I just left a committee at work - out went that context list!). I put deadlined items in my task list with the date they're due to the left of the task box. Scheduled tasks are, rightly so, only on my calendar.
    PROJECTS. I put at least two sheets of paper in for each project, which is separated by a sticky tab thingy (photos below show them). I do not organize this stuff except to put the project's full name and end result at the top of the first page. Everything else is an info dump. I mark tasks by putting task boxes near them, notes are random text or delineated by a dash, etc.
    NOTES. I have a notes section at the back for various things I like to keep on me that don't relate to a particular project (holiday schedule, coffee log, GTD guides, etc.). I also keep my loose paper back here, available to pull into projects or context lists as needed.

    GOOGLE CALENDAR. I put all of my work events and scheduled tasks on here. I also put all deadlines on here. I use one calendar for everything. Tasks are marked with brackets at the front, which I type an x inside once the task is completed. Deadlines look like scheduled tasks but have !!! in front of them. I use the default Calendar app on my iPhone because it syncs best with my Watch. I don't use Google's Reminders calendar because it doesn't sync outside the Google Calendar app. One calendar to rule them all!
    EVERNOTE. I scan anything I want to keep into Evernote. I'm pretty liberal with this as I'd rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it. I sort everything by tags. Every project has a tag that starts with a period (so they're at the top alphabetically).

    I do my weekly review Friday at 4 p.m. which consists of:
    1. Go through each context list and mark tasks done/cancelled as needed.
    2. Go through physical, paper, and digital inboxes and clarify tasks, events, projects, and reference material as needed, adding to lists, my calendar, or Evernote.
    3. Go through each project and make sure every actionable task for that project is in an action list.
    4. Go through past week, upcoming week, and the week after on my calendar, adding any new tasks or events or cleaning up cancelled ones there.
    And that's really it. Colors mean nothing, intentionally. I collect fountain pens and use them daily - and half the fun is changing out the ink colors. So from one day to the next, I don't often use the same pen and ink combo. I also only use wood pencils because of stationery snobbery. So, my notes and lists are an amalgamation of colors and writing utensils, which means my signifiers are symbol-based. Highlighters are a nope as they smear most fountain pen inks.

    Photos! And I'm happy to answer any questions or clarify anything.

    [Click for photos]
     
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  16. photodiva

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    This is great -- so basic. Thanks for taking the time to post this. I especially liked your checklist/tracking sheet. I'm in publishing, so I have lots of recurring tasks as well. Thanks again for an inspiring post!
     
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  17. RS356

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    @chirmer, what a great writeup, thanks for sharing! What tool did you use to create your grid paper?
     
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  18. chirmer

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    I actually just used Adobe Illustrator :D I'm happy to throw together any page layout folks need if it's quick, though! There's also http://generatedpaper.com/en/ - they're high quality templates.
     
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  19. nonnie95

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    I have been a huge fan of the Time/System products! (Formerly called "TimeDesign").
    David mentions them in some of his earlier talks and this is the system he used for 18 years:

    http://www.timesystem.us/A5_Day_Planner_Binders_s/29.htm

    It is elegant, intuitive and covers many of the bases needed for a functional GTD system. It comes in two sizes. I've always used the larger business size instead of the compact size. I paid about $150+ for my binder (which still looks great a decade later) and then about $45 per year for the annual set of refills. I confess, however, that I feel a bit in limbo between electronic and paper. I've been primarily paper-oriented for over a decade but would like to find some middle ground between the two. I recently started working for a much larger company where appointments are being changed constantly, so a paper calendar just isn't as functional anymore. I'm in the process of researching the right set of tools. Grateful to have found these discussion threads.
     
  20. nonnie95

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    I feel like you and I are on opposite sides of the same coin - I've been almost exclusively paper for over a decade and feel like I need some electronic tools and you are shifting back to more paper.... :)
     

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