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. gcherney

    gcherney Registered

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    I have found the most emotional peace with an electronic/paper system hybrid. Calendar and contacts are managed digitally and projects, notes and tasks are managed on paper.

    Here’s my basic setup:

    Binder: Filofax Malden A5 (purple)

    Tabs: Notes, Actions, Agendas, Projects, Plans, Someday, Self, Family, Finances, House, Work

    Paper: Calendar is one page per day, with 3 months in my binder at a time (last month, this month, next month). I use monthly calendar tabs with one sheet behind each tab as a future tickler list for any items occurring outside of the next month. Other than the calendar pages I use only the standard filofax lined paper and blank paper, so no special forms. The lined paper is used for all lists and the blank paper is used in the Plans tab for my project Mindmaps.

    Pens: I use a Cross Century ballpoint pen (blue ink) and a Sharpie highlighter (blue). The highlighter is used to cross off completed items on my action lists so it’s really easy to see open action items.

    Approach: Every day I transfer my digital calendar items to my daily page, along with any day specific actions. To paraphrase Kelly, I have my appointments and “snack” on my lists in between to complete actions. Lists are managed as described in the GTD books.

    I am a bit of a GTD purist, so I like the nice clean set up that is very reminiscent of the paper GTD coordinators that used to be sold. My lists are pretty classic (Anywhere, Computer, Errands, House, Office, Phone) and I have separate project lists for each life area (Self, Family, Finances, House, Work) to help encourage balance between the areas.

    The only drawback for me in this system is carrying around a binder and the dork factor when I am not at work. When I need to have it with me outside of the office, I just carry a small messenger bag small enough to hold just the planner, so I can have my hands free. When I don’t take the planer with me, I use my GTD note taker wallet for capture. I also use my phone for capturing photos or emailing myself a note on occasion, but I prefer to use the note taker wallet because I remember things better when I write them. I have repeatedly learned in my years of switching between systems that with digital I suffer from “out of sight, out of mind” and I miss things, making me less productive. I also get a little emotionally burned out staring at a screen all day.

    I also find using paper makes me way more productive in boring meetings I am required to attend, particularly when I disengage, because I can easily do project planning or clean up my action lists and people assume I am taking notes. I notice all the people taking notes digitally are automatically assumed to be working on email instead of paying attention (whether they are or not), so working on paper conveniently allows me to avoid the stigma related to using digital tools.
     
  2. Ship69

    Ship69 Registered

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    Yes A5 is a good size. The one problem I have with the Filofax A5 is that it's impossible to fold it back on itself like you can with a spiral bound notebook. That makes it harder to use when space is tight and also when holding it by hand. And the one problem with most spiral-bound notebooks is that you can't add new pages where you want them, when you start to run out of space in any given section. The only system that I found that does work well in this way is the Japanese A5 "Twist Ring Note" by Lihit Lab.

    For now, I have moved back to digital even though I agree with all the disadvantages @gcherney mentions.

    There are many advantages of paper (e.g. "instant on"(!), faster to get to tabbed sections, ease of marking up, the inherent discipline of not being able to edit what you have entered...) but one thing that bugs me is hard it can be to find things (i.e. no text search!). Also when using paper, it is hard to connect you next actions with your projects list and being a v slow reader, I found myself starting to colour-code things, which became a slippery slope!

    FWIW, I am back using MLO, this time in a slightly different way from before, but despite its undeniable power in many and various way, I still don't really like the way it works and I find myself wasting a LOT of time configuring and re-configuring it.

    In order to not lose track of things that I have entered a while ago, one thing I am experimenting with using MLO is having lists that are a hybrid of both "Date Added" order AND "priority" (for which I am using the Importance field). What I do is group things coarsely by Priority/importance (it comes with 7 levels) and then within each level of Priority/importance tasks simply appear in the original order in which they were added (i.e. in "Date Added" order).
    By using this combination I can flag up a few really urgent things by ramping up their Priority/importance and then pick off things by using wherever possible the Date Added order, and I will thereby be confident that nothing will get left behind. The only reason things will ever get left behind is if I consciously decide that the item is NOT as important as I previously thought it was, rather then it's neighbours being fractionally more important.

    Anyhow it seems to work quite well for now, as it avoids me needing to scan up and down lists. I just try wherever possible to do the first item in the list, at whatever level of priority (i.e. a fusion of importance + urgency) that I am currently working at. And where my list of actions for today that isn't urgent is too large for comfort (it normally is) I can easily look at the same list Context by Context.
     
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  3. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    Your setup is very similar to mine. Common for R&D people? ;-)
    I totally agree that electronic systems are dangerous because of the inherent "out of sight, out of mind" design constraint.
     
  4. photodiva

    photodiva Registered

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    gcherney, Thanks for sharing your setup! I like how streamlined and simple it is. I'd be interested to hear more about your project mindmaps -- also how and where you organize other kinds of project support material.

    And TesTeq, I thought you were all digital with Nozbe -- are you back on paper?
     
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  5. RS356

    RS356 Registered

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    @gcherney Thanks for sharing your setup! I'm currently using one very similar: A personal sized Filofax Malden, a week-on-two-pages calendar, and sections for notes, actions, projects, someday, higher horizons, and reference. Indeed, even our contexts are similar, although I've added @Yard for those actions at home requiring good weather. I embrace the "dork factor" and also use Braintoss on my iPhone for capture on the go. Highlighting completed items is the way to go for quick scanning.
     
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  6. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    I'm a big supporter of Nozbe. For those who like electronic-only solutions it's a good choice. I test their new releases and use Nozbe for selected Projects management. But my main "production" GTD system is very similar to @gcherney 's.

    I've recently described my tools here:
     
  7. larstein

    larstein Registered

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    I too have tried every software program known to man. I also am seriously considering returning to paper. The only obstacle holding me back is that fact that so many of my projects and tasks originate with e-mail. For those of you using paper what have you found to be a best practice?
     
  8. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

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    I don't use paper, but I also don't pull emails into my lists in any way. If, say, I get an email from John Smith asking me about a bug in the Widget report of the Gadget program, I type a task into my system that looks something like: "Widget bug--Email from J Smith 2/21/18". Then when I get to that task, I go back and pull up the email by searching for it.

    So if I used paper, I'd just write the same thing.
     
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  9. RS356

    RS356 Registered

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    This is exactly what I do in a paper system.
     
  10. Steffen

    Steffen Registered

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    Thanks for the detailed walk trough! My experience with digital tools have been the same as you. They are fast and smart but they don't enable me to do the things I need to do.

    Writing on paper is slower but also more mindful.

    I will be trying to setup my system just as you!
     
  11. Julie Flagg

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    I use a big red letter size Circa notebook- I like it because it does fold back on itself.and it is quiet (no loud clack when I add or remove papers)- it works. It is easily spotted on my desk, kitchen table, at meetings, on the couch. I have my notetaker wallet always that can stand in the the Circa notebook for opera nights and formal dinners etc.
    I use a standard gtd set up for the Circa notebook- simple but elegant.
    Here is a little talked about GTD truth - because you use the system so hard everyday - all day- you don't loose the Circa notebook or your pens, keys, checkbook, wallet because you have a system. GTD means that you take care of things that matter. I have had a letter size filofax since I was an undergrad in the 1970's and didnot loose the filofax in the 25 years that I had one.Then I had a 10 year run with assorted electronic systems from the TREOS, to Omnifocus to evernote and then went back to paper plus Iphone/ Outlook . I never was as fast with the fussy electronc systems as I could be with paper especially with mind sweeps. The Circa notebook is the core of my system and it just would not dare go missing. I would be about as unlikely to loose my eyeglasses that I put on when I wake up and take off when I go to bed at night. Both are simply part of me.

    It travels in my Tumi bag which would also not dare to go missing. In the unlikely event that it goes missing for a moment , I can mentally back pedal and locate it. I take it to all meetings, travel, vacations.

    It is where weekly review happens.

    If it ever was stolen or burned in a fire- the system is part of me and I would get another big red circa notebook and I think that i would have the system up and running within a few days- Bam . The contact list is in outlook and in the cloud- that is essential and would be hard but not impossible to resurrect.
     
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  12. Ger80C

    Ger80C Registered

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    This is a very good point, and something not recognized when it comes to paper systems most of the time. Thank you.
     
  13. OF user

    OF user Registered

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    John Forrester mentioned Time/System, which I have a blast using. Initial order is pricy but subsequent orders are not that bad. Plus if you have a Filofax A5, I don't think you have to buy another binder.

    Sort of fun doing GTD with one of the forerunners of GTD.
     
  14. OF user

    OF user Registered

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    Frankly, I like paper just because I am so digitized everywhere else in life.
     
  15. OF user

    OF user Registered

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    I also think that boredom with the tool is really boredom with your system or a part of your system. Hence, we have the GET CREATIVE part of our weekly review to look forward too. @John Forrister : it may be interesting to hear stories of things coaches have done during GET CREATIVE - article or short video.
     
  16. aderoy

    aderoy Registered

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    Sadly Time/System in the US seems to have collapsed, website in maintenance mode since Feb?
    Also Time Manager has stopped all paper planners as of May.

    These two had been the major 'players' for list based task management imho.

    Now it is mostly Filofax, Franklin, DayTimer, Harvard Planner etc type unless Bullet Journal fits your needs. Filofax may be the closest publisher of list based paper planners. Did carry TimeDesign (Time/System) for 20 years, switched to TimeManager when TimeSystem US would have printer problems, delays etc in the last few years of sale. Does seem the Europe based TimeSystem is still available may switch over for 2020.

    Bullet Journals does not have the structure that I need.

    Now where is the charger for my Palm E2? LifeBalance or DateBk should still be on the beast.
     
  17. OF user

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    Time/System in the US looks defunct. I ordered my refills from Germany. Took about 12 days or so. Exchange rate is not too bad for pricing.
     
  18. Ger80C

    Ger80C Registered

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    If the current paper systems on the market do not suit you or are not available in your country, there are always do-it-yourself options to pursue. I remember http://diyplanner.com/ being a helpful resource, with lots of self-printable inserts (also lists) in the various typical formats (A5, junior, etc.)
     
  19. aderoy

    aderoy Registered

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    Looked at the UK site, does not have Canadian holidays, then when the shipping/duty costs are added brings the costs to approx $130 cdn
     
  20. OF user

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    DIYplanner is still around and someone design a Time/Design like template. But printing inserts is just not my thing. If it was, I would likely use the DAC stuff that is sold here.
    Regarding Time Design, is the $130cn just for the inserts?
     

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