GTD and (or versus) Log/Journal/Diary

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss the GTD Methodology' started by AFG, Sep 24, 2018.

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Do you keep a log / journal / diary, in addition to GTD's lists? If so, how many pages per day?

  1. 0 - I don't keep a log/journal/diary

    33.3%
  2. 1 - circa 1 page of log/journal/diary per day, e.g. in a day planner page

    55.6%
  3. 10 - circa 10 pages of log/journal/diary per day

    11.1%
  4. 100 or more pages of log/journal/diary per dayt

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. AFG

    AFG Registered

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    Very. Several thousand lines of elisp org-mode customization. Much coloring and styles, custom tags, but also a few thousand lines of extended functionality.

    I love org-mode (and emacs), and in a text-only world Linux/Windows I would use just those. Emacs user since the 1980s.

    Unfortunately,

    a) I depend on being able to save screen snips into my log, and never found a good way to do that in emacs. Found scripts that would save clipboard image to a file, and paste a file: link - but this breaks when org-mode items are moved to a different directory. Never managed to get all the hooks needed to move the image object, and/or rewrite the links. Really want the .org file to be in a tar archive, with images in same tar archive - archives are just folders that you can use file based

    b) I know of no good way to use org-mode on a phone. I tried https://orgmode.org/manual/MobileOrg.html . I even tried running emacs on my (then) Android phone. Neither worked well.

    c) when I switched from org-mode to OneNote, I got the nice feature of OCR / text search within tge bitmap images. Not available in emacs/org-mode, as far as I know.

    d) now, I want to start using my watch for capture. Using Apple's Reminders app, or Just Press Record.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2018
  2. AFG

    AFG Registered

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    Sounds very cool. I did much of this back when I used a paper log - even the cute "change a dot into a > or < or ..." trick.
     
  3. petdr

    petdr Registered

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    Not sure if you've seen Orgzly . It's good for displaying orgmode data on the phone. I use the widget searches to display agenda etc... It's not good for data entry but it's great for making the orgmode info viewable on the phone.

    I've been trying Termux on my Android phone. I can install emacs and run orgmode on it. It works very well, complete with the added CTRL buttons and shortcuts. The downside is I have not figured a way to access my org files in Dropbox. But you sounds more tech savvy so maybe that's not a problem for you.

    Although I guess all that's moot since the screen capture seems to be the main hold-up for you. I save all my screen captures, docs, etc.. in a dedicated folder in my virtual file cabinet and attach screen captures, docs, etc... from there. I do not move or change names of files; if needed, I make a second copy and note as such in the edited file name when I move them. I try to keep it simple; I've read the ways to sync or update the attachment but that sounded above my basic skills :)
     
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  4. msnjuegos

    msnjuegos Registered

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    Hi Chirmer! I loved your method. I want to start writing with the bullet journal method but I was afraid of being overwhelmed with GTD and Bullet Journal method at same time. A question: Do you use the bujo as a log/record of facts in the day and to planning or do you also write dreams, ideas, happy moments, etc (like a personal diary)?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  5. Gardener

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    Returning to this topic:

    I did create that garden notebook. Then I tried a bullet journal. Then I tried other uses of notebooks. And now, for the past few weeks, I've been using a paper notebook for my work tasks, and another for my personal stuff, and to my surprise, so far I use the work notebook more reliably than any GTD-esque system I've ever used. The personal notebook is also getting increasing use--my error there, I think, was in trying to divide major hobbies into separate notebooks. I've pared six notebooks down to three--work, garden, and Everything Else.

    So I'm going to describe it. I'm using tiny bits of bullet journal rules, and some of the simple scanning rules.

    - 250 page notebook with numbered pages. It's a pretty notebook. I use pretty sticky tabs. I use pens (always the same kind of pen, but I misplace pens, so I have a couple dozen) that I like a lot. These sensory elements may be part of why it's successful so far.

    - I divide the notebook into 50-page blocks. (Though since I only use one side of the page, it's 25 pages, with page backs for adding later scribbled notes.) So contrary to bullet journal rules, I am hoarding pages. I don't mind jumping from the end of one block to the beginning of another, but when I tried to do a purely indexed bullet journal, I very much minded having to page around every couple of pages.

    - The blocks are marked with sticky tabs.

    - The main block is "Capture". I enter thoughts, kinda bullet journal style. Every new capture page gets a header with the date that I started the page, but I don't start a new page for a new day, nor do I add a date in the middle of the page when I start a new day.

    - I have a sticky tab on the oldest active capture page and the newest capture page.

    - I scan through the active capture pages one or many times a day, simple scanning style.

    - I mark each item with its fate--checked off, cancelled, moved, marked as duplicate, whatever.

    - As the oldest capture page gets mostly done, I move its surviving items to the end of the capture list, however many pages later, and mark the old page as no longer active.

    - Or I might rewrite an old page or pages to new pages just because in that moment I feel disconnected from my lists. Rewriting the items (which is also a bullet journal thing?) seems to serve as processing--I may combine two items, or explode one item into several or veto one as no longer worth considering. Yes, it's weird for one list to contain items at greater or lesser levels of processing, but for some reason it works--so far.

    - Another block of pages is "Topics". When I find myself entering a lot of items in the Capture that would usually be addressed together, I'll move most of them to a Topic page, and leave either one item (a pointer to the page) or two items (a pointer to the page plus a next action) in the main Capture list. So, many Topics pages are essentially Project pages.

    - Repeating tasks in the Capture list ("Do a load of laundry", "Clear my email inbox") get checked off and rewritten at the end of the list.

    - I also create other pages in Topics and sometimes give them stickies. Right now, in the work notebook, I have a Dates page for non-meeting deadlines I might forget, and a Today page for stuff I want to specifically do today. I suspect I'll keep using Dates and I won't keep using Today. Oh, and I have Someday/Maybe pages in Topics, though if those don't fairly promptly move back into Capture, they get moved out into either my work or my personal filing systems. If a meeting is coming up, I may have a Topics list for an agenda. I put the packing list for my last vacation in Topics. Stuff like that. I suppose this is like a "spread" in a bullet journal.

    - I may also create a Topic page and then move items from it to the Capture list. This is more like normal process of conceiving of a project and then spawning actions. I do it that way less often.

    One elements that I find puzzling but pleasing is that nervous-making tasks, ones that would normally repel me, feel less threatening when written in ink on paper, mixed in among bunches of other items. I don't know why. I can't tell yet if I'm less likely to procrastinate on those tasks (though it looks like I am), but I have much greater tolerance for their presence and thus for scanning my list.

    Except for the garden, where much of the project support material is in the garden notebook, other elements of my system are still electronic--my calendar, the Mac/iPhone Reminders app as an inbox and for ticklers, Scrivener and Evernote as my filing system and project support material, etc.
     
  6. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    Awesome! I've also found this "indexing small pieces" thing in BuJo repelling. Thank you for the 50-page block idea!
     
  7. chirmer

    chirmer Registered

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    I do both! My work bujo tends to be more facts/planning, but I don't hesitate to jot down ideas as I go. My personal one is more of a journal, where I do a bit more longform writing and less planning, but it's still there. I also make it a habit to mark down what happens during the day as quick bullet points, because that's what I reference the most when flipping back through my notebooks. So a daily entry in my work notebook might be something like:

    0607 Fri
    x TAB ad
    x SLP spreadsheet to all staff
    x Message re: ebook auto renew on notices email
    o 5:15p CoC mtg re: Kids Zone
    - Chris W. stopped by re: jazz rehearsals
    x Call Anna re: ILLs
    • Read Leap TT questions from Linda
    - Coffee run w/ Ashley
    - Shelf signs - seasonal w/ tree?


    There's a smattering of tasks (most marked completed), an event (meeting), some notes, a new task, and even a bit of brainstorming there at the end. At the end of each day, I go through my day's entry and deal with each item. Unfinished tasks either get migrated to the next day's entry, moved back to my monthly task list, or moved to my Backlog - the back of my notebook, where I keep my running list of tasks that are to be done when I can, as well as future tasks I don't need to worry about in the immediate timeframe.

    An entry in my personal notebook might look more like:

    0607 Fri
    o Payday
    • Get mail
    - Gaiwan arrives
    - Went to bed too late last night, waking up this morning painful. Resist l'appel du Reddit.
    - Gas light on
    • Get gas
    - Hilda hasn't barfed nearly as much since switching dry food. Seems to eat more of it, however. Not as filling?
    o Garage sales in afternoon
    ...- 123 Main St 9-4
    ...- 456 South Rd 10-7
    ...- Look for bookshelves
    ...- 789 Division Rd 9-6


    So they're similar, but different at the same time. I tend to do more micro-journaling on the day to day, with calm evenings leaving me enough time to do more reflective longform journal entries. These are some examples of what my small journal snippets might look like. Almost every day has one or more of these.

    And both keep me sane! As time goes on (and since I last wrote in this thread) I'm depending on my notebooks more and more, and using digital tools less and less. I have just found that too many times the friction needed to keep a digital system going is more work than its worth, and I'm too tempted to fidget around with tools. Paper can only do so much, so it really helps me do just what I need and no more, and then spend the rest of my time getting work done.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
  8. msnjuegos

    msnjuegos Registered

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    Thanks for your answer, chirmer. I have a personal diary in which I record my thoughts often, but I have always been interested in to try with a planner, and the Bujo is a excelent method (I haven't read the book yet). I think I will give it a chance, thanks for sharing!
     
  9. AFG

    AFG Registered

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    This is quite similar to how I am using MS OneNote. Sure, I am trying to do it on computer rather than in paper - but I am inspired by many years of using paper journals with greater success than computer based.


    OK, that's paper.

    Amen! "Pretty" = visually attractive, with visual distinctions helping place things in your mind. Probably not just visual - I'll bet the tactile sensation of the notebook cover helps.

    This is the main thing that I hope that doing things on compoyter might help with. But, heavens!, there's so much more needed to making this usable than just having links. It needs to be easy to make links. Bidirectional links. Group links. Make links and then move linked clones away.


    Your "Capture" is my "Log - Raw - Inbox". I used to have "capture" in its name, but that was too long.

    Like you, my "Topics" is in some ways "Projects".

    I keep trying to get rid of my "To Do Today" lists - but they keep rising again from the dead.

    Oddly enough, you would think that this would be easy to do on computer - but it isn't. At least not with the tools available to me in OneNote. I've tried hacks like creating special bookmark pages, linked to by a top level reference page. I have not found anything satisfactory so far.

    In some ways I think the main thing about context lists, is that it tends to pre-filter the lists to scan accordibg to what you might have a chance of doing. E.h. while waiting for a meeting on the hour.

    Do you use Bullet Journal like codes for this?

    I'm looking for a set of BuJo codes that are easy to type, and recognizable in plain fints.

    You'd think that OneNote tags would be good for this. Not so - although possibly because they are so inconsistetly supported. And do not appear in the page list.

    I assume that you move them manually. I.e. by copying?

    While I often do this, I am somewhat obsessed by also maintaining accurate history. So I tend to make link pages, and move the original on, while leaing the link behind.

    Hmm.... I suppose that you copy on paper, possibly crossing something out. Whereas I used to move in OneNote, leabing nothing behind. And now I try to move, but leave links behind.

    What about irregularly occurring tasks? Like, the list of clothes and electronics you really want to take on nearly every plane trip?

    Keeping my Topic/Projects pages and my Log/your Capture pages consistent is my current bugbear. At least, trying to do so effirtlessly. Once linked it is mostly okay, althogh it is still annoying ti have to click through links. My main problem is accidentally creating something in my defgault LOG that should be moved to a Topic/Project, and vice versa.
     
  10. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

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    Yep, it seems totally logical to use Contexts...but the loss of them with the paper journal seems to not only not be a handicap, it seems to be an advantage. I can't quite wrap my mind around why. It does, of course, require that lists be short, but I require that lists be short in software or on paper, so that's not the big factor for me that it would be for others.

    I'm too untidy with a pen to do nice little satisfying dots and things, so I changed most, possibly all, of the markings:

    - Every item gets a long dash.
    - When I finish something, I put a check through the dash.
    - When I find a duplicate, I put a D through the dash.
    - When I cancel something, an X through the dash.
    - When I move a thing elsewhere, I turn the dash into a right-pointing arrow.
    - When I'm done with a whole page, I put a right-pointing arrow on the top right of the page,

    I think he uses left-pointing arrows for something; whatever it is, I don't have that need.

    If I were doing it by typing, I'd probably just replace the dash:

    - Blah
    X Blah
    D Blah
    > Blah

    Huh. What to use for the checkmark?

    / Blah?

    Sort of unsatisfying.

    Yep, I rewrite them.

    Instead of crossing the old one out, I do the right-pointing arrow, but, roughly the same.

    I don't really care about history, but the method inherently leaves a sort of history that allows me to kinda sorta approximately guess when things got done. Kinda. Sorta. OK, let me think about that, with a fictional scenario:

    - I finish my last Capture page and create a new one, Capture 6/5/19.
    - Halfway through that page, I enter "- take black boots to be repaired"
    - The next page is Capture 6/8/19. So if I look at this later, I know that I had the original thought somewhere between 6/5 and 6/8.
    - The next page is Capture 6/10/19.
    - In the middle of that page, I copy "- take black boots to be repaired".
    - In that page, I check off that item.

    So I know that I did the thing on or after 6/10. But I can only guess how long after by looking to see when it appears that I closed out that page, and that's going to be a guess based on where any "leftovers" on that page ended up.

    Certainly not highly accurate. :) It's good enough for me.

    For that specific example, I would probably have a Topic page with a packing list, and the Capture page would just have "- Pack for Friday," for example.

    I'm sure there are other examples, but my mind is a blank. I do have a "- Read fiction!" item and it's a little fuzzy when I should check it off and rewrite it. If I don't have an active book I'm reading, it goes unchecked. When I start reading one, I check it off and rewrite it. But if it takes me a week to read it, what to do with that item? That question doesn't bother me, but I don't have a clear answer, either.

    Just yesterday I used up my last Work notebook and started a new one--I'd been hoping that I could use a (nice) spiral notebook, so that I could lay it totally flat. I was wrong. The tactile experience is not at all pleasing, and I think I'm going to need to move it again, or I'm at risk of losing the habit.

    (In fact, I just got up, found one of those didn't-need-it hobby notebooks, cut the few used pages out with scissors, and I'm going to copy the active stuff AGAIN, to the new notebook. I sound exasperated, but, not really.)
     
  11. Rostane

    Rostane Registered

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    I don't keep a journal but my task management tool records all the "Done", with date and time so I can see what has been done !
     
  12. Gardener

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    Just returning to this thread to note that now that I've finished my first personal notebook and am moving on to the second, I'm shrinking the blocks to 25 pages. 50 pages is more than some categories will ever need, so either I waste a lot of pages, or I come back later to reclaim some of a block's pages, and, bleah. Too complicated.

    So the new notebook has Capture (page 1-25), Someday (27-49), Topics/Projects (51-75) and Scribbling (77-99). When Capture fills up, it will get 101-125. And so on, up to 250 pages. I hope the result will be less wasted paper, and if not, at least less annoyance.
     
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  13. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    Thank you for the update!
     
  14. Sarahsuccess

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    To me it seems like the LOG is the Capture stage and the GTD lists are the results of Process and Organize stages. In my opinion, copying stuff from the LOG to GTD lists is not “violating the principle of Once-and-Only-Once”, but rather the gtd practice of Processing and Organizing. I like the idea of integrating a daily log, bujo style and gtd Next Action lists. I especially like how Chirmer described her practice and I appreciate her sharing. Thanks for starting this thread.

    [edited to add: In my opinion, you would copy from the LOG to GTD lists if you want to keep a record of when you Captured, and you would move stuff from the LOG to GTD lists as you Process and Organize if you don’t need or want a record of when you captured it.]

    [edited to add: Personally, I need to Capture as one step, and then Process and Organize as a next step. Maybe others can Capture, Process, and Organize as one step. In moving stuff from my Capture (LOG) to gtd lists, I have to go through the thought process of Processing and Organizing. If I set up computer searches direct from Capture, I would miss the important thinking that goes along with Processing and Organizing and I might “grow numb to my lists” (to quote David Allen). ]

    I’d appreciate to know whether or not others agree with this.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2019
  15. Gardener

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    I feel like I'm missing something--whose Once-and-Only-Once principle is being discussed? (I realize you didn't raise it first, so I'm asking in general, not necessarily demanding an answer from you specifically. :))

    I'm fairly sure I don't believe in that principle, but if it's a part of GTD practice that I've missed, I need to consider seriously what role it plays--something that I don't believe in in isolation could nevertheless be essential to a larger practice that depends on it.

    I've always assumed that was the usual--not necessarily prescribed, but usual--process. Making a list of thoughts, then moving those thoughts into preexisting or new projects, feels like the usual sequence of events. Once a project exists, it wouldn't be unusual to create new tasks right inside it, especially after the last task is completed and the project is empty, but when I was doing this fairly conventionally, in OmniFocus, that was true of a minority of tasks.

    Now, I'm being weird--in the paper notebook system most things stay in Capture or Someday, in the form of individual line items, and get worked from Capture. I can come up with a dozen arguments against this, but the argument for it is that it's working. I have a history of dropping my system over and over and over, and that doesn't seem to be happening with the notebook/kinda-simple-list method.

    I have added a little bit of context to my Capture lists--I've started preceding some items with a letter or two, circled, so that I can scan more easily for a context. Actually, a context or a project, come to think of it--the circled "DC" means "declutter", which is a project. Or even an area of focus.

    OK, y'know, I'm gong to analyze all my circled letters right here:

    B: Buy
    DC: Declutter
    R: Repeater. These are things like, "Fridays, clean out my mail." So if it's a Friday and I'm scanning my lists, I should do it, check it off, and add it again to the end of the list. If it's a Tuesday and this is deep in the list, not checked off, odds are that I didn't do it on Friday and I should do it and check it off. If I had a ton of these, it might be logical to put a day in the letters--RF, RSA, RSU, RM, and so on. But, no.
    T: Travel-
    W: Work (most work stuff lives in another notebook)
    F: Farm (the .1 acre vegetable garden) But this isn't a context, because I use it for farm-related tasks, not tasks to do specifically at the farm.

    Hmmm. OK, this doesn't map as neatly to GTD as I might have thought.
     
  16. Sarahsuccess

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    I was quoting from the initial post of this thread from AFG. But I think in fact it is not true that moving things from in-box to GTD lists is violating “handle it once”. David Allen himself moves things from his inbox/Capture to his different “buckets”. He keeps a small notepad on him for capture and he places those notes either in the inbox on his desk or in a red folder for when he travels. Once he processes the note he throws it away.

    DA talks about this on page 124 of the 2001 book Getting Things Done: “handle things once...[means] eliminating the bad habit of continually picking things up out of “in,” not deciding what they mean or what you’re going to do about them, and then just leaving them there.” He also says, “handling things just once is in fact a bad idea. If you did that you’d never have a list, because you’d finish everything as soon as you saw it. You’d also be highly ineffective and inefficient since most things you deal with are not to be acted upon the first time you become aware of the...A better admonition would be, “The first time you pick something up from your in-basket, decide what to do about it and where it goes. Never put it back in “in”.

    In my opinion, if working from Capture works for you then stick with it. On page 143 DA says, “if you [have] only twenty-five next actions, a single “Next Actions” list might suffice.”

    Perhaps the act of adding contexts, either digitally with tags or on paper by adding letters as you mention, is Processing and Organizing. The item doesn’t necessarily have to be moved.

    I think it is true that some items in the inbox take more thinking than others to decide what the true next action is.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2019
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  17. Gardener

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    That makes sense. I would interpret it as meaning that if you pick up a thing, do something with it. Later, you may do the next thing and the next thing, but it should progress down the road. Moving something from inbox to lists seems like progress down that road.

    Really, I would say that even moving things to a "Figure This Out" list counts as progress down that road, because it keeps my main inbox clear of junk that I might look at over and over. Ideally, I would figure it out immediately, but if I realize, "Drat; I have no clue and I won't until I ask Joe", I'd want to corral it for later. I could formalize that process- -for example, I could have a project called "All inbox items are clarified" with a repeating action, "Clean out the Figure This Out list." I realize that's not how it's supposed to work, but I like to accept and manage imperfection. :)

    Huh. I just counted, and one page of my notebook holds approximately fifteen items. At about the three-page mark in Capture, I get twitchy and start moving things to Someday or Topics/Projects, copying the survivors to a new Capture page, and the result is usually that it shrinks down to about a page and a half of active Capture items. So I get uncomfortable at just under twice that number (3x15=45) and comfortable again at a little under that number (1.5x15=22ish). It could also be about page turns--if my writing were smaller or my notebook larger, I might be comfortable with a somewhat larger number.

    I also have two notebooks, Work and Personal, so that's already one natural split--two notebooks, each with roughly 25 items. I briefly had five notebooks--Work, The Farm, The Novel, Decluttering, and Everything Else--but that was where the physical nature of paper was too much. The Farm is now just project support material, and I cut the used pages out of the others and will reuse the notebooks later.

    Yep, plus I think a lot of the Processing and Organizing happens when I reach that three-page discomfort level. I scan my lists and realize that they're at three or four page with many items checked off. I start rewriting those items and I realize that item isn't relevant until winter and should therefore go to Someday, that item has a prerequisite and should go to Someday, that item has a prerequisite but I want them both done soon so I rewrite them together in the correct order, those four are suitable to becoming a list with a pointer (like a list of items for my next trip and an action to do a test pack), and so on.

    I'll use this as justification for the Figure It Out structure. :)
     

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