Since 2009 I have used a GTD paper system housed in an A5 Filofax.
Although the basic principles of its construction have not changed, some of the detailed implementation has been tweaked, most recently as a result of the GTD Setup Guide for Paper Organisers.
I have been working a “GTD-esque” system for over 10 years since I first came across David Allen in 2000. At that time David had published some of his ideas on the Internet and it was a year later that his “Getting Things Done” book was published.
My GTD system replaced a Time Manager system that I had acquired about 10 years earlier. Claus Moeller’s Time Manager system, for which I still have many of the books and guides, brought together the hard landscape of the “Calendar” and a list of “Key Areas” (akin to GTD’s Areas of Focus) with “Tasks” (GTD Projects) and “Activities” (GTD Next Actions). The alignment with GTD isn’t perfect and the Time Manager system had a much firmer connection between these Key Areas, Tasks and Activities and the Calendar which probably worked better in the more certain times of the 1980s and early 1990s. The Time Manager system had wide range of forms to suit different purposes and had its own ring binders that had a different ring configuration to all other binders. Operating such a system was costly unless your employer was willing to foot the bill!
As I read David Allen’s book I realised that the system that he was proposing was “technology agnostic” and I could, in fact, design my own system around his GTD principles. Since that point I have always had a paper system but I have continued to try electronic solutions.
My GTD System is still, and will always, be changing as my needs change. I plan to continue to follow the philosophy behind GTD but the system must be flexible and perhaps, above all, cheap to run. Apart from the David’s books and CDs, membership of GTD Connect, a memorable attendances at a couple of David’s seminars, and a few other bits and bobs, I have never bought any GTD “forms”. I have made my own (in Microsoft Word) and these have evolved with the system. As I mentioned above, the recent GTD Setup Guide for Paper Organisers caused me to change the style of some of these forms and to simplify the structure of the system itself.
The paper system is still housed in an A5 Filofax and contains the following:
- Plastic protector covering a Mindmap showing the layout of the Filofax
- Plastic pocket to collect odd scraps of paper, bills etc.
- Notes/In with blank ruled sheets containing notes taken (and some blank sheets)
- Calendar section with Annual Events Checklist (birthdays, anniversaries, etc) and printed calendar pages from Outlook (two pages facing each other covering one week).
- Action Lists, currently including Anywhere, Calls, Computer, Errands, Home, Read, Waiting For, Someday/Maybe Agendas (now has its own section as a result of the GTD Webinar on Paper GTD Systems)
- Projects & Goals containing the Projects List and Areas of Focus List.
- Project Plans & Notes where all the Action Support material for projects is held.
- Reference containing useful lists and other material
- Spare Forms
My Filofax structure is replicated on my computer system with a file structure that matches the structure within the Filofax with a few subtle differences:
3 Action Lists
5 Projects and Areas of Focus
6 Project Plans & Notes
9 Spare forms
These folders are mapped and synchronised across two computers (desktop and laptop) and on a cloud using Dropbox and also, at the moment, Sugarsync whilst I decide which one to go with in the future.
The forms used in my A5 GTD System can be downloaded from the forms page.