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

Sarahsuccess

Registered
Hello

I am about to move back to having GTD on paper. I need advice about what sort of folder or paper-binding system to use.

HARDWARE:
My thinking so far - I want something:
- with replaceable sheets of paper (so that I can insert new sheets when space runs out)
- that takes up as little physical space a possible. So:
- it should fold back on itself i.e. opens up to 180degrees and lies flat on the desk
- be tall and thin (so that I can get lots of tasks visible at once)
- if it has ring-binder this needs to have fairly small actual rings (to make it pocket sized, or nearly that)

Each list I would have a tab that sticks out that I write on, with the name of the list, so that I can flick back and forward between these lists.
Right now I am using a Mead Five Star “Flex Hybrid Notebook Binder”.

I think it fits all of your criteria:

-It uses replaceable sheets of paper like a looseleaf binder.
-It would only be as thick as the thin (but sturdy) plastic front and back cover and the amount of paper you put between.
-It completely folds back on itself
-It uses 8 1/2 x 11 3 ring binder looseleaf paper, so lots of tasks can be visible at once.
-The rings do not take up a lot of space.

This is a link:

https://www.staples.com/mead-five-star-flex-1-subject-college-ruled-hybrid-notebook-binder-80-sheets-assorted-designs-08120/product_865918

Or this:

https://www.amazon.com/Hybrid-NoteBinder-Binder-Notebook-72011/dp/B003O3H2G0

I will admit that one drawback/con is that the rings are not effortless to open. You have to physically pull apart each of the 3 rings in order to open them to add or remove paper.

But it meets all your other criteria.

I use it with Post It flags or tabs for dividers, such as these:

https://www.staples.com/Post-it-Stickies-Flags-Tabs/cat_CL165756

BTW I do not profit when you click on those links.
It is on my someday/maybe list to learn how to set up affiliate links, so that when people click on my links, I profit if they purchase. But it is not an active project yet. ;)

Hope this helps.
 

Sarahsuccess

Registered
Tools: Staples ARC system (until I save up for my dream Filofax), fountain pens/wood pencils, Google Calendar, Evernote
Chirmer, thanks for sharing your system and how you use it. Its a great tutorial on implementation of gtd :). I viewed your photos. I am back to using paper.

I am a little confused though. You say you use the arc discbound system, but the photos show a filofax type binder with rings. Perhaps this is not an important detail. What do you find are the practical differences between arc and filofax?

On another note, do you write out a daily schedule?

Thanks

Sarah
 

aderoy

Registered
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?
The cost would be for annual refill only. Have a binder that is holding up well, no need for replacement.
The style is something that is a good fit for me the (fold-over task lists is not available anywhere else). Paper wise not good for gel or my favourite fountain pen, so mostly pen with some pencil.
The DIY planners templates are OK yet do not have fold-over task lists.
 

OF user

Registered
I use fountain pens on Time/System - no issue. Paper is not Tomoe River but it is pretty good. I have used regular paper for lists and moved them in between days so that they sit next to my calendar. Not as good as fold over but not bad either. In other words, you can mimic Time/System with any planner, just not as elegant or convenient.
 

Geeko

GTD since 2017
Can anyone actually explain to me what this Time/System database is that everybody is talking about? I couldn’t find anything substantial about it on the web (except that it exists).

For next year I am thinking about switching from Filofax to Staples ARC for my lists and a journal-like calendar. I just have to find a calendar that fits my needs (one week on two pages, one column per day with time marks from 07:00 till 22:00, weekend in one column without time marks).

Cheers,
Tristan
 

aderoy

Registered
Since the main US site is no longer, used the web archive for this link (from 2006):
Overview
https://web.archive.org/web/20060514161457/http://www.timesystem.us/shop/betterbydesign/howitworks.htm

PDF of the Quick Start
https://web.archive.org/web/20060526064640/http://www.timesystem.us/shop/adobe/quickstartpostersm.pdf

Used a Caran d'ache Leman Fine FP with Sailor Blue/Black ink on the 2017 & 18 paper from the US, bleed like mad, unusable. Trusty pencil. Unknown if Europe papers had been any different.
 

mcogilvie

Registered
Can anyone actually explain to me what this Time/System database is that everybody is talking about? I couldn’t find anything substantial about it on the web (except that it exists).

For next year I am thinking about switching from Filofax to Staples ARC for my lists and a journal-like calendar. I just have to find a calendar that fits my needs (one week on two pages, one column per day with time marks from 07:00 till 22:00, weekend in one column without time marks).

Cheers,
Tristan
TimeSystem used to be TimeDesign, a Europe-based competitor with DayTimer, Franklin and Filofax. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, David Allen used to do presentations on time management using their product. I have only seen pictures, but as I recall, the Data Bank was a reference area of the planner. The planner also had fold-over pages that seemed very snazzy back in the day.
 

chirmer

Registered
Chirmer, thanks for sharing your system and how you use it. Its a great tutorial on implementation of gtd :). I viewed your photos. I am back to using paper.

I am a little confused though. You say you use the arc discbound system, but the photos show a filofax type binder with rings. Perhaps this is not an important detail. What do you find are the practical differences between arc and filofax?

On another note, do you write out a daily schedule?

Thanks

Sarah
Hi Sarah,

The photos are actually of the ARC discbound notebook. I don't own a Filofax or any binder-based planner (yet; I'm sure I'll cave someday). The ARC looks like one from the top, but it's (sadly) not actually a Filofax ;)

I don't actually do this paper system anymore, but when I did, I did not do a daily entry. The lack of one actually drove me away from that process - my mind just needs a daily todo list. I have hundreds of next actions in my context lists - having to choose from that every time I get a task done stressed me to the point of tears. I need that daily entry, and to do that slog of a job once, in the morning, with coffee.

I now track everything digitally but start each day with a daily entry in my notebook, where I put my day's meetings/events and tasks. At the end of the day, I update my digital lists with what I got accomplished, and this system works really well for me. I'm playing with keeping a Backlog in the back of my notebook where I track what I need to work on, but I haven't found a way to make it work with the million files it seems to take to get some of my tasks done. So more work is needed there... but for now, the combo of digital and analog works for me :)
 

TesTeq

Registered
Can anyone actually explain to me what this Time/System database is that everybody is talking about? I couldn’t find anything substantial about it on the web (except that it exists).

For next year I am thinking about switching from Filofax to Staples ARC for my lists and a journal-like calendar. I just have to find a calendar that fits my needs (one week on two pages, one column per day with time marks from 07:00 till 22:00, weekend in one column without time marks).

Cheers,
Tristan
>>> https://timesystem.com/pages/our-concept
 

John Forrister

GTD Connect
Staff member
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, David Allen used to do presentations on time management using their product. I have only seen pictures, but as I recall, the Data Bank was a reference area of the planner. The planner also had fold-over pages that seemed very snazzy back in the day.
Your recall is excellent. If you attended one of David's seminars back then, there would be a Time/Design box (binder and pages) under your seat at the start of the day. The fold-out pages allowed you to look left to right at your projects, actions, and calendar all at once, without removing any pages from the binder. Very high-tech!
 

TesTeq

Registered
Your recall is excellent. If you attended one of David's seminars back then, there would be a Time/Design box (binder and pages) under your seat at the start of the day. The fold-out pages allowed you to look left to right at your projects, actions, and calendar all at once, without removing any pages from the binder. Very high-tech!
The advantage of such approach is that you can get the BIG WIDE PICTURE of your runway. You cannot fold out your computer screen so windows overlap or are narrowed to unreadability...
 

Geeko

GTD since 2017
Your recall is excellent. If you attended one of David's seminars back then, there would be a Time/Design box (binder and pages) under your seat at the start of the day. The fold-out pages allowed you to look left to right at your projects, actions, and calendar all at once, without removing any pages from the binder. Very high-tech!
Sounds really interesting. since as far as I know Time/Design is compatible with Filofax I could try it for next year.

Cheers,
Tristan
 

Sarahsuccess

Registered
The photos are actually of the ARC discbound notebook. I don't own a Filofax or any binder-based planner (yet; I'm sure I'll cave someday). The ARC looks like one from the top, but it's (sadly) not actually a Filofax ;)

I don't actually do this paper system anymore, but when I did, I did not do a daily entry. The lack of one actually drove me away from that process - my mind just needs a daily todo list. I have hundreds of next actions in my context lists - having to choose from that every time I get a task done stressed me to the point of tears. I need that daily entry, and to do that slog of a job once, in the morning, with coffee.

I now track everything digitally but start each day with a daily entry in my notebook, where I put my day's meetings/events and tasks. At the end of the day, I update my digital lists with what I got accomplished, and this system works really well for me. I'm playing with keeping a Backlog in the back of my notebook where I track what I need to work on, but I haven't found a way to make it work with the million files it seems to take to get some of my tasks done. So more work is needed there... but for now, the combo of digital and analog works for me :)
I looked again, and those rings are arc discs. Maybe I had an optical illusion the first time because the discs are metallic (?)

Thank you for your reply and explaining how you do it now.

I want to share that I found the following youtube video online. It is a paper based system that uses daily calendar pages. Even though it's not meant to be gtd, I think it is in sync with gtd principles. I do it this way now, with a few minor changes. I consider the daily pages a daily calendar as per gtd. I use daily calendar pages that have 2 columns, one column has the hours in a day, for timed events, or time blocks (Longstreet, I’ve been paying attention) and the other column is for untimed events that need to happen that day. I add a section for actions not tied to a certain day, of course, as per gtd. I like that it incorporates mindsweeps.

 
Last edited:

chirmer

Registered
I blame you all. I caved and am now an owner of a Filofax.

For next year I am thinking about switching from Filofax to Staples ARC for my lists and a journal-like calendar. I just have to find a calendar that fits my needs (one week on two pages, one column per day with time marks from 07:00 till 22:00, weekend in one column without time marks).
If you end up unable to find one you like, let me know. Now that I own a Filofax, I'm going to be making some inserts of my own and am happy to make a layout like this if you like. When I get home this evening I'll link to ones I've made before for my ARC (dingdong me only saved them as Illustrator files, and I've moved on from Adobe at work but not at home).
 

cherylshoemaker

Registered
Please keep us posted on your endeavors with paper! I am always fighting a civil war within myself, because I adore paper/stationery and collect fountain pens as a hobby, but also love technology, apps, and trying to squeeze out the most efficient system (often at the expense of getting actual tasks done). I currently do a hybrid system and it's really taxing some days. I wish I had the courage to move fully back to paper. At least for now, I can live vicariously through you all who do make the plunge :)
Can I ask what system you are doing now? I am also in marketing and toying with going from Trello back paper or just reorganizing my trello. I need some inspiration!
 

chirmer

Registered
Can I ask what system you are doing now? I am also in marketing and toying with going from Trello back paper or just reorganizing my trello. I need some inspiration!
Sure! So my method is really to have lists for the few contexts I have (@desk, @social media, @website, etc.) with a card per task. Then I write notes, attach files, set due dates, etc. as needed. It works super well, but I've been getting a teeny bit bogged down in putting tasks in Trello that don't have need of any of those things - it's a lot more work than just writing it down. So I recently bought a filofax with the goal of putting my lists to paper once again, but having lists also in Trello. If a task has extra files, notes, etc. and I need to create a Trello card to store them, I will create a card on the same list it's in inside my filofax and put (Trello) at the end of the task in my paper note so I know to look there for its task files.

This way I can work 75% from my filofax, which can sit open next to me on my desk vs. take up the screen real estate I need to get work done, reduce friction in making lists, and only put support material in Trello. I've only just begun this process and will do most of the cleanup this weekend, so I can't say for sure yet if I like it or not, haha. But fingers crossed! I definitely like working from the filofax more than constantly having to flip to Trello. I focus better on paper. I can't count how many times I go to open Trello, but my email blips and I go there... then off to social media to check the post on our Page... 45 minutes later, still haven't opened Trello...
 

cherylshoemaker

Registered
Yes exactly! Every time I go to Trello I get lured into the world wide web forever and get no actual tasks done. I like Trello for project planning - name of the project as a list name and then a card for each task that needs to happen for the project to be a success. Like you I keep a card with all the project files attached so it's all in one place. During my weekly review I've been looking at each project and writing in my paper notebook all the things that really need to happen that next week to keep the projects moving forward and work from contexts on paper from there. When it all works, during my next weekly review I can quickly archive the trello cards under each project that I did that week (I only make trello cards for bigger project milestones and save the detailed next actions for my paper planner).

I'm debating how to get my next action lists back in Trello or to just keep doing on paper. Would love to know if the 75% filofax is working or you go back to digital! Thanks for all the insight!
 

mclDeveloper

Registered
Yes exactly! Every time I go to Trello I get lured into the world wide web forever and get no actual tasks done. I like Trello for project planning - name of the project as a list name and then a card for each task that needs to happen for the project to be a success. Like you I keep a card with all the project files attached so it's all in one place. During my weekly review I've been looking at each project and writing in my paper notebook all the things that really need to happen that next week to keep the projects moving forward and work from contexts on paper from there. When it all works, during my next weekly review I can quickly archive the trello cards under each project that I did that week (I only make trello cards for bigger project milestones and save the detailed next actions for my paper planner).

I'm debating how to get my next action lists back in Trello or to just keep doing on paper. Would love to know if the 75% filofax is working or you go back to digital! Thanks for all the insight!
Hi,
there are apps that allow you to use pictures / other files in your notes,
in addition you can create a structure of such notes, just as you imagine it in your head - nested one.

I had been using the "real" notepads for quite some time (without mentioning school) and the biggest obstacle had been - search.
Few weeks / months after writing I can't really find what I need "now".

This is where "digital" saves the day :)
Another bonus is flexibility of editing - in a real note you can't just easily (hello mess with pencil and eraser) add something to the middle, re-arrange some paragraphs even whole note structure, which is 2 dimensional on paper.
In digital - dimensions are limitless.

I'm working on one of such apps and would be glad to share what I've got.
 

Geeko

GTD since 2017
In digital - dimensions are limitless.
That’s true but structure is very limited. Paper allows you to create lists, mindmaps, drawings, visual notetaking and so on with the exactly same set of tools. I don’t know any app that is as versatile as paper is. But the biggest downside of paper is that it is not easily searchable.

Cheers,
Tristan
 
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