Thought I’d write an update on my current incarnation of the GTD system. It’s been a lot of yeas since my first GTD iteration blog post, and I must say I’ve both changed, and not changed, the way I apply GTD.
Reading up on my previous blog posts on the topic of GTD, I can now see that a lot of my worries year 2014 was about what exact tool and UX I wanted. A lot was about having multiple ways of taking notes (“mind dumping”) – text, images, audio – but in the end, the collect part of GTD has turned out really low-fi for me: just use my GMail inbox(es) to dump thoughts into, then use the daily routine of trying to reach 0 items to process them.
I must confess that this is a hard habit – since life keep getting in the way over and over again, keeping 0 mails daily I’ve found to be very hard. In fact, I’ve even come to view the 10+ inbox as an indicator of being overworked or overwhelmed. Important stuff, but a separate blog post.
So without further ado, here’s my current GTD system:
- In basket. GMail inboxes! Extremely simple, and one less tool to worry about. Trying to keep it below 10 emails (all 3 boxes), but it’s hard as I mentioned.
- Someday/maybe. This is a Google Keep list.
- Reference. This is something I don’t actively use; possibly one could view my journalling is a sort of reference, or the issue trackers (see project plans).
- Projects list. This is still kept in a Google Sheet. I’ve customized what columns I use since last time:
- Project name/sentence – describe what the project is about. E.g “Hike trip summer 2022”, “Blog about GTD system 2022”, “Sort out wardrobe”
- Why/motivation – describe why this is an inner commitment to me, why is it important enough for an active project?
- Goal image. This is a joyous column, which describes a situation after the inner loop is closed, and what I can observe from that around me.
- Next step. The obvious next thing to try/do/learn from w.r.t this project. Closely linked to Project plan
- Project plan/reference. Usually a link, e.g. to a github repo, or a tiddlywiki page, or a description of where I keep the reference material for the project.
- Project plans. This is very very dependent on project. Could be anything for an issue tracker on GitHub, or a post it on the kitchen wall, or nothing tangible at all (in my mind).
- Waiting for. Nowadays, I’m moving orders for goods, mail-threads, support tickets I’m involved in etc to an “Am waiting for” label in GMail; this is really convenient and relaxes the brain. I have that system in each of my 3 mail boxes (private, work, client).
- Calendar. I still use Google Calendar(s).
- Context TODO lists. Still using Google Keep notes with titles, e.g @tram, @browser, @office etc. and it is quite enough, however the lists are drowning in other notes; it’s just too easy to add another note in Google Keep! Need to tweak this.
End note: An essential part of any GTD system is the so called “weekly review”. This is were you scan through all projects (point 5 above), to find next step, or close them down because they are either done, or not something you want to work on any further at the moment. This practice is the one I fail with most of all parts of the GTD “ideal” – even more so than the daily 0 inbox dogma. It’s just so exhausting! I think I’ve done it maybe 3-4 times – in total! It takes me about 2 hours each time, and is tremendously rewarding, like “life changing rewarding” – getting some real progress/actions to take on all those “inner commitments/open loops”* and … I have no excuse other than procrastination – my procrastination skill is just as good as anyone elses! 🙂
*Inner commitments/open loops I my preferred understanding/expressions for projects today.