Simplicity and the triumph of paper. Maybe.


Switch to Paper

GTDWorks;64537 said:
Good to hear, Tspall. Anyone else switch to paper lately or have left a paper system for a digital one? How's it going?

I switched almost entirely to paper a few months ago when the GTD Coordinator came out. I picked one up from a local Staples. I get many tasks via email at work but I still get a charge from being able to cross each item off when it is complete. :-D


I love gadgets but...

I love gadgets - I had a Palm in 1996, upgraded to the Palm IIIc in 2000, a Sony Clie in 2003, and have had a Blackberry since 2006. I love having live access to my email and setup my BB/Outlook using the GTD Outlook whitepaper on Connect. I like that my lists were so accessible but found that I missed the "real" feeling of pen & paper. I find that I have more peace of mind when I write my lists, projects, goals etc... Love crossing off completed tasks. So my current setup is a mix of paper/digital:

Gear: Blackberry/Outlook and GTD Coordinator, Notetaker wallet, GTD Folders
Inbox: Email, Tear-off legal pads, Notetaker wallet
Calendar: both paper and BB/Outlook
NA Lists: paper
Agendas: paper
Projects/Goals: paper
Project Plans: paper and digital
Reference: paper and digital
Contacts: BB/Outlook

I really happy with my setup and have stuck with it for quite a while (amazing for me since I love to tinker). Can't say enough good things about the GTD Coordinator product from DavidCo/At-a-Glance. If you like paper, you'll love this product. My only complaint is that the binder is a bit flimsy/cheap - i'll probably upgrade it in a year or two... The guts are well made, simple and speed up the implementation of GTD with the examples/tips given.

Your mileage may vary...

- Kevin S.


How big a binder are you using?

I switched back to paper about 6 months ago, but my frustration is with my binder not being able to hold enough pages... so I have it split into 2 Circa Junior-sized notebooks with 1" rings. One has my calendar and my daily notes pages (blank pages for running notes from meetings, etc, that I then process into my action lists) and a small section for my S/M lists (just because they don't fit in the other notebook). The other notebook is all of my action lists and my higher altitudes - my project list (it helps SO much to have just a simple project list organized by area of focus -- fits on one page), followed by numbered tabs for each area of focus. That way, I have some basic project support materials with me and a place to put notes that occur during the day related to various projects). Overall, I'm happy with paper, but not with the split-notebook design I have.

Any suggestions? I'm wondering, as I describe the setup, if I should put the calendar, daily notes and next action section into one notebook, and have the projects and S/M items in the other notebook? Just thinking out loud.. I'd appreciate any input you have!




how many calendar pages do you have?

I recently removed the 'notes' section from my myndology notebook and decreased the number of pages in my calendar (I do a week a page with a side bar for notes).

that could decrease the pages (so you can put it all in one place).

Now I have:
Personal tab - which has 2 pages for next action lists, a project list page and project notes pages

Work - 1 page for next actions, project list page and project notes page (not so many though - because most of those go in the project support folders)


Info & lists


Horizon - Not sure if I want to keep it there, but probably...


I'm still fiddling with my other capture tool. I need something to capture my meeting notes, random thoughts and etc...but I need a pen attached. but I am happy with my original set-up. Perhaps you can try decreasing the pages in your notebook and turning the other notebook into your capture tool?


I have switched entirely to the GTD Coordinator and love it. While using Franklin-Covey, I used the 2-page per day and would keep one month worth of the daily pages. That's about all I could keep there with my Projects, Next Actions, S/M lists, and the other stuff I stored there.

With the Coordinator, I can hold a full year of pages (week on two pages) plus all the other lists/pages I have.

Secret with paper planner use: hoe it out regularly! If I empty the outdated stuff during my weekly review, and process the receipts every other day or so, I have no problem with sufficient room. But if I let it go and don't process it regularly, it gets too full and I'm noticing that I don't have enough room.


# Calendar pages

I have just the 2-page-per-month tabbed calendar pages (Franklin Covey pages, hole-punched for the Circa). I still carry a Palm for my main calendar and alarms (like "doctor's appointment, need to leave now!) -- haven't found a way to make paper beep at me!

I mainly use the paper calendar pages when I'm in a meeting and need to easily see the next several months at a quick glance.

I am going to try re-arranging what goes in each book -- have been too swamped lately to act on the idea, but a quiet stretch this afternoon and I'll give it a try. Thanks for the input.


Reporting back on my progress

It has been a couple of weeks, and I'm liking how I have things arranged now in my paper planners.

The way it is now, after the reorganization, is that the Notes & the Next Actions & the Monthly Calendars are in one notebook (the ‘daily’ notebook, if you will), and the Project stuff and the Someday Maybe stuff is in the OTHER notebook (the ‘review this stuff weekly or as needed’ notebook). It FEELS so much better. I don't have to use both notebooks whenever I am working with my system, which I had to do with how it had been set up.

I went to the Levenger store after work two weeks ago (living in Northern Virginia, there's a Levenger's store at Tyson's Corner) got some cool, brightly colored divider tabs (stiff semi-translucent plastic dividers in bright yellow, green, blue, orange & magenta) for some of the internal divisions of the notebook, and new clear plastic covers. Then at the Natioinal Gallery gift shop last week I found a Tiffany-lamp-inspired scarf that I bought and scanned and did a color print of. That is the new "artwork" for my "weekly" notebook -- the plastic Circa covers are great because you can customize the look of the notebook however you want.


Great idea!

Wow! I've been experimenting with how to use both paper and digital, and this is a unique idea to have a "daily" and "weekly" notebook (Circa lends itself so nicely to this!). Also love the idea of your cover - that just sounds so appealing. Could you post a pic?



MargaretW;66126 said:
The way it is now, after the reorganization, is that the Notes & the Next Actions & the Monthly Calendars are in one notebook (the ‘daily’ notebook, if you will), and the Project stuff and the Someday Maybe stuff is in the OTHER notebook (the ‘review this stuff weekly or as needed’ notebook).

I've got to admit that I never thought of this...what a good idea!It would definitely cut down on space and also make it easier to organize a weekly review since you can have both notebooks open at the same time. No flip-flopping back and forth. Thanks for the idea!:)



Hi Claudia -- thanks for asking about a photo -- I'd have never thought of taking a picture of my system. How do I post a photo here? I clicked the insert image icon and it asked for a URL... (I'm hoping with a name of "photodiva" that you can help! :D I have already taken some digital photos of my books.



Hi Margaret,

I think you have to upload your photo to Flickr or another photo-sharing website, and then you post the link to it here. If you don't have a Flickr account, it's free and easy to get started.

Can't wait to see the pics!



Photos posted

Claudia -- I think I got it figured out and have it organized in a way that makes some sense.

Here's the link to the first photo in the group.

And for people who don't know Flickr yet, you you can browse the rest of the photos I posted in the "Circa setup for GTD (set)" display (to the right of the main photo) by clicking on the thumbnail of other photos. (Don't know if that is a clear description or not -- it took me awhile to figure out how to get the link to take you straight to the scarf-pattern cover and not start at the last photo I loaded!).

gator -- I use 2 junior sized Circa notebooks (the Franklin Covey "classic" size). I also use one of their much smaller ones as a bedside log of books that I have read.

Thanks for suggesting I post the photos -- it was fun to learn about Flickr in the process!



great pics!

Hi Margaret,

I thought I posted a comment on your Flickr photo set, but now I can't find it. Anyway, thanks for sharing those photos - lots of creative ideas for using Circa!