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.

Posted by: Simon | July 2, 2008

Update 2: GTD Hybrid System – 30 Day Trial

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Okay folks, another week has gone by and I’m still going with my trial of a GTD combined electronic and paper system. Last week I wrote about some of the set up experience and of some initial reactions. This week I want to make three more observations which are focused on day to day use:

1.  During the week I have felt more in control in that sense of knowing exactly what is I’m not doing compared to when my next action lists were electronic. I’ve been very comfortable committing to unplanned things that were more important as it was easy to make that call. My electronic calendar in Outlook still contains fixed time and fixed day commitments and I have transferred a couple of things from my paper lists to specific days as circumstances have changed.

2.  I have found myself scanning the lists in the morning and picking next actions that, all things being equal, I want to get done that day. I tried doing that with my electronic lists but it never came together in the same way and I don’t feel the commitment was there. I have therefore made movement on things that were stuck on my electronic lists. I’d stare at them as they went stale. This has meant that my sense of achievement has been high and psychologically I get a kick out of crossing through the task when it’s done.

3.  This one is in the weeds. It’s about the physical set up of my Moleskine Cahier. It has 80 pages so I have allowed roughly 8 pages for each context that I have. My tiny Post-It soft tabs with a single letter (double for Projects) for each context are going well. They’re not getting dog-eared. I ordered my context lists with Calls at the front followed by Home, Office, Computer, Errands, Waiting For and Someday/Maybe. Then I have three sets of Project lists – Personal, Work and Delegated. The order works well for me because the ones I will need are grouped near each other. I have not, as I had planned, been synching to Outlook by copying next actions as part of the weekly review. This is partly because I did my last weekly review in a cafe without a computer (only had my BlackBerry with my calendar). It’s also because I’m not seeing the value in it. I may make a photocopy of various pages as a precaution but I think that’s all I’ll do.

Click here for Update 3 of the trial.

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

Please use the comments area to discuss.

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