Super Simple GTD Approach For Traveler’s Notebook

by Steve on January 11, 2013

How to get GTD functionality into the traveler’s notebook format? I could use an entire notebook, and many people have documented approaches to that. Patrick Ng has some really nuce lether tabs he uses in a notebook. Or, I could try something simpler.

In my former system I used a sheet of paper for each project and treated each sheet as a kind of log to keep notes and define the next action. Id then transfer those next actions to a single sheet organized by a few contexts. That sheet would be folded and kept in a pocket. The idea was that the project sheet forms a record of the project, while the next action list became an inbox as well.

I can’t recall ever using the project sheets for reference, so do I really need them? I decided to see if I could live with just a simple project list, which would be far easier to carry around me. I checked the book to see if Allen had anything to say about it, and indeed he mentions simple lists as an acceptable method.

So I took a piece of 100+ lb cover stock, folded it into thirds, and slipped it into the center of a notebook. Then did the same with a regular sheet of paper. The cover stock is the project list, and the second sheet is the next action list. I can add or cross off projects as I need to and replace the sheet when it gets too full or too beat up.

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The next action has six sides which lend themselves to contexts, and so they were labeled.

I like:

  • Easy to find. The thing about traveler’s style notebooks is that the center of each book has an automatic bookmark.
  • Know where to find it.
  • Doesn’t get all beat up so easily.
  • Gives me an excuse to carry the notebook everywhere.
  • Cheap and easy to make.

I don’t like:

  • Too easy to ignore. While the center of a notebook is easy to find, it’s not usually where my focus is. When I use this kind of notebook I get used to ignoring the notebook’s tendancy to flop open to the center. Which is where the list is.
  • I hate feeling like I have to carry the notebook everywhere.
  • Slow to use. While standing in a store aisle, or wherever, a paper list is easy to pull out and add to. The notebook (particularly one loaded with stuff) is harder.

I used it for a while, and it worked ok but I don’t have as much confidence in it as my old system so I’ve actually gone back to my old system. However, for many I think this will be a good solution.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Dan February 4, 2013 at 2:28 am

I would recommend checking out http://www.Gtdagenda.com for an online GTD manager.

You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, and a calendar.
Syncs with Evernote, and also comes with mobile-web version, and Android and iPhone apps.

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