Posted by: Simon | July 9, 2008

Update 3: GTD Hybrid System – 30 Day Trial

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As the past (very cold) week has unfolded it no longer feels like a “new thing” to be using my Moleskine Cahier to manage my GTD Next Actions and Projects. It feels quite normal. The GTD part paper, part electronic system I’m trialling seems quite viable for my circumstances. My original thoughts are here with my first week here and my second week here. Next week I’ll need to make a decision on whether to make this a permanent change. In the meantime here are three more observations I’d like to offer about my trial:

1. I have not been re-writing my lists as part of the weekly review to make them neater or to group all the current next actions for a context together. This wasn’t deliberate but I have now discovered I like leaving them as they are because it gives me a very quick visual appreciation of which tasks have been around longer. There are no dates and I don’t feel I need them. Simply seeing an older next action active on a list causes me to ask myself what I’m doing to move on it so that I can get it done. When I created my paper lists I committed to myself that if I was going to spend the time and effort putting the next action on the list then I better be prepared to do something about it. Some of my stale next actions have caused me to re-assess this and in some cases I have realised that I am no longer committed to them for one reason or another. So, they move to Someday/Maybe or they just get deleted.

2. Consistent with previous weeks I am finding I’m naturally reaching for my Cahier to determine what to do next. This is a good feeling as I know that I’m not being distracted by latest and loudest which, particularly at work, is quite easy. More than before I believe I’m capitalising on those little gaps of time before meetings much better. This is in part because I’m not turning to Outlook for my lists and then getting sidetracked with email. Even though I open a separate window for the Calendar and Tasks and one for Email it’s often proved a trap in the past.

3. Related to the last observation is one I’ve made that I’ll need to work on fixing this coming week. That is, I have found I’m not as attuned to my Calendar in Outlook as I sometimes need to be. Whereas before I made the Calendar the centre of my GTD universe now this emphasis has shifted and my Next Action lists in my Moleskine are. The outcome has been not quite enough consistent attention on those next actions or tickled reminders that are day specific sitting atop the calendar. Nothing has been missed at the end of the day but the focus hasn’t quite been there.

Okay folks, I’ll offer a final post on my trial next week including my decision on whether to make this change permanent.

Got any thoughts or ideas of your own on the shift to paper?

Please use the comments area to discuss.


  1. I agree that having the notebook or whatever you want to call it makes it easy to pull out and work on it in pockets of time. I like a paper calendar. It allows me to see the big picture rather than a piece of blocked out time on a computer where I have to click on to see the details.

    As far as making a final decision. How about only deciding for now. I’m a woman. Nothing is ever final. Remember, we change our minds! :O)

  2. [...] here for Update 3 of the [...]

  3. Agree Laurie that we should always remain open to the possibility of change and doing things a different way. Not always easy :) . And I have a friend who has a new productivity system almost weekly – that would be hard for me to keep up with! Just got to find that happy balance…..

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