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Follow-up: My "Killer" GTD Setup

In this post I expand on my current GTD setup to show you how I handle someday/maybe lists, project lists and support material and how that works with my notebook planner.
My Killer GTD Setup - Follow Up

Getting Things Done In 2017

Want to know about my 2017 Planner setup? Click here

GTDFrk posted some questions regarding my original post on my “Killer” GTD setup so I thought I’d expand on them a bit more in a separate post rather than quickly answer them in the comments. So, here we go…

Where is your someday/maybe list?

I don’t really need a someday/maybe list to be honest. If there’s a film I want to watch I stick it in my LoveFilm rental list (which is similar to NetFlix in the States I think), If there’s a book I want to read I buy it or put it on my Amazon wish list. The only things that I really need to list as “Someday/Maybe” items tend to be enhancements to my blogging software which I note at the back of my Moleskine.

Basically, If I get something in my head then I tend to just go off and do it rather than put it off.

Where is your project list? (or is the stack of forms your project “list”?)

The “main” project headings go in my Moleskine. If a project has a couple of actions I don’t bother with a form, if it has more that a couple of actions, or the actions are unclear, I make up a form for it.

I need to have everything in one place. I’ve messed around with separate project lists, next action lists and context lists before but I found that I’d ignore some tasks and do the ones that I like. For example I detest talking to people on the telephone so I was constantly ignoring my “@Phone” context list. Having them as part of my main list – in other words bunging everything together – means that my guilty conscience kicks in every time I see a “phone” item I’m ignoring and it gets done a lot quicker!

So basically my workflow for a project is that if it has 3 or more steps it goes on a project form, if not then I simply write down the (2) actions on my main list.

Where is your project support material and your reference system?

I have an online “Code Bank” where I keep all my useful code snippets. Everything else is filed electronically on a work server or my Home PC (depending on whether it’s work/home material of course!)

On the rare occasions that I do get any paper documentation for projects these go in a project folder (work) or get scanned in and saved to my PC (home). The only paperwork I used to keep was my bank statements but now I’ve moved completely over to electronic banking I don’t need to do that any more.

Is it just me or do some next actions look like projects (multi-action items, that is) on your next action list?

Probably! However, as I mentioned earlier, if there are a small number of steps or the steps are quite clear I don’t bother breaking everything down. Being a Web Developer would mean that if I broke everything down into next actions I’d end up with an action list of about 10,000 items per “project” which is a rather daunting figure!

If I’m working on something like that I take the bigger view and just get a piece of paper and write down the three/four bullet points I want to achieve for that section of code. For example, if I was creating a login screen for something I’d put down “Create Login Area” as an action on a Project Form, then separately from that on a bit of scrap paper I’d put:

  • Check username/password
  • If okay login, if not, error message
  • Allow Retrieve Password
  • Check input for blanks and illegal characters

What I try to do is not complicate things too much with the finer details until I decide to work on that area otherwise I’d just look at it and say “That’s too complicated, I don’t want to work on that today!”.

Personally for me, the simpler the task looks (whether it’s simple in reality or not) the more likely it is to get done!

It seems to me there is some redundancy in keeping your project forms with next actions and a next action list?

Not really. The main project heading goes on my list which is essentially a “Task” list rather than an “Action” list although there is a great amount of crossover and I do make sure I use “action” word such as “call”, “write”, “email” so I know what I’m supposed to be doing. The list essentially serves as a reminder for me of all the commitments I’ve made and to whom. They then get broken down elsewhere (on the project form for example) so that I don’t overwhelm myself with the amount of stuff I’ve agreed to do – it gets scarey sometimes!

If an item is an the project form then there’s no need for it to go on my main tasks list and I use the project name on the task list as a reminder to check the project form.

My Conclusion

My Moleskine

I suppose after reading that my system may sound a little “clunky” to some people but I find it’s what works for me – and that’s the point really isn’t it?

I’m still enhancing it (and I probably will be forever!) but I find it quite workable and it’s the first system that’s truly allowed me to free my mind and not worry about what I’ve got to do and when as I know that 99% of it is there in my little Moleskine. Why 99%? Because there will always be a couple of items that someone asks you about when you can’t note it down and it may take until your next mind-dump to get them into your capture system. For those items (which are generally thrown at me on a Friday night when I’m down the pub) I put on a piece of paper and stick it in my wallet, it then gets put in my system the next day.

The main thing to remember is that there’s never going to be one solution to managing your tasks, I think that sometimes we think that if we get the system in place the rest will follow but everything stays them same so we move on to another system. I’ve realised that it wasn’t the system I was using that was at fault, it was me. Now I understand that, I can get one with “Getting things Done” whilst making only minor changes to my system rather than spending more time on the system than the processes I was supposed to be working on.

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6 Responses

  • Katy says:

    “Hey Kurt – Apologies for the delay!

    I just write them in the next free spot. It does become a bit crowed with projects and actions but if they aren’t all in one place that I check (i.e. on another list or at the back of the book) then they won’t ever get done.”

  • gtdfrk says:

    “Katy, I’ve gotten more than I asked for! A whole separate post just to answer my questions… thanks for taking the trouble! My questions about your GTD setup are more than sufficiently answered. I agree with you that a GTD system is personal and needs to be customized to suit your specific needs. I did notice that your GTD system is heavily biased towards your work as a web developer, correct? I tend to have a million personal and professional items in my GTD system. For instance, my someday/maybe list contains over 200 items, which could be work related or personal. Whatever works for every person’s life, right? 🙂
    Thanks again for the detailed information.

    -gtdfrk

  • Katy says:

    “I aim to please! Glad you liked it!”

  • ubuntuthinking says:

    “Just a thought, where do your deferred actions live? In my palm, they just stayed undone.”

  • Katy says:

    “They still hover around in my Moleskine for ever and a day!

    They’re marked with a circle for Action, when I defer it I mark a small arrow next to it to show it’s been deferred. I can quickly see them as I scan down the pages.”

  • Kurt says:

    “Hi there, may I ask where do you actually keep the project headings? Do you turn the Moleskine over and write on other side or do you just keep writing them on the next free spot? Would seem difficult to flip through all the pages until you find your project headings.

    Great post btw, inspired me giving it a try my self!

    /Kurt”

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