I’m going to break down how I’m optimising my GTD system for others to follow. If this is not interesting, feel free to skip this entirely.

I’ve managed to create 26 contexts, which in GTD-speak means categories. In GTD, we break down our tasks by context, not by project.

I’ve listed them here:

  1. Online Research (next action)
  2. Books to read (checklist)
  3. Blog (checklist)
  4. Someday/Maybe
  5. Habits (New context, keep in mind, review weekly)
  6. Calls (next action)
  7. Weekend/Longer tasks (next action)
  8. Projects (Perspective)
  9. April (Diary)
  10. Monthly tasks (Checklist)
  11. Waiting for
  12. IFA (someday maybe)
  13. At Home (Next action)
  14. Sell (next action)
  15. Renew contract reminders (checklist)
  16. Bath Travel Checklist (checklist)
  17. Higher Revelations (perspective)
  18. Clothes to buy (someday/maybe)
  19. At computer (next action)
  20. Borrowed / Loaned (checklist)
  21. Should I buy? (Someday maybe)
  22. Short story ideas (someday maybe)
  23. Book ideas (someday maybe)
  24. Blog II (Checklist)
  25. Music (checklist, similar to books)
  26. Speak to (next action)

This list is too cumbersome, and too many of these aren’t next actions. The first thing I’ve done to make viewing and accessing these list more easily is to use small post-its as page markers that make it easy to open to the right page quickly.


This has helped, but I think I need to break down these lists further into different notebooks by categories. Let me show you how I plan to do that:

Projects list / Perspectives: One of my goals for 2017 is actually to have a complete projects list by the end of the year. So having a dedicated notebook for what in GTD are called the perspectives of 10 – 50,000 feet is a good idea. I refer you to making it all work for further reading.

Someday Maybe notebook. I’ve categorised a variety of these contexts into someday maybe. For me someday maybe are items that don’t fit into the priorities this year, but that I don’t want to forget about.

Checklists: The end of the month checklists is a useful one but only at the end of the month. I don’t need to see it all the time.

Week / Month Planner notebook: There is a concept in GTD called 43 folders and a website for it (now abandoned but still has some excellent articles and conversations with David Allen to find). The way it works is is that some items you don’t want to be reminded of now, but on a certain day. The solution is to create 43 folders: 31 for the days of the month, and 12 for the months of the year. Every day, you grab your folder for yesterday and move it into the next month. For example, I know I can renegotiate my mobile phone contract in November. Well the good people who run my phone contract aren’t going to remind me, so I better remember myself. So, I put myself a reminder in the November folder.

Next actions: Things like calls, emails, research, speak to, at home should all contain next actions. These are the things I want to see first when I have some time. I’ve compiled these all into one notebook.

Journal: I like to keep a notes in a physical journal: sometimes these are trashed, sometimes they are the inspiration for blog posts which end up being published. I also like to make notes when I’m reading as I plan to write reviews of the books that I am reading.

To summarise, here’s what my GTD system will look like at the end of this weekend:

  1. A4 notebook (recycling an old one): Someday/maybe lists. Only needs to be reviewed when checklist is active or during weekly review.
  2. Fresh A5 notebook with next action lists at the front and monthly lists at the back. Will probably need a fresh one every year.
  3. A5 notebook for keeping a journal and taking notes while reading
  4. A5 notebook: Perspectives (Projects, Areas of Focus, Goals, Vision, Purpose/Principles). This is perhaps a bit over the top for this, but I want to dedicate a single notebook to it as part of emphasising the importance of the goal.
  5. Evernote: I’ve decided to use my evernote account to capture my checklists. I don’t have a desk and I don’t have many places to keep this many notebooks, so I decided to put these into digital format. Eventually I’d like to move a lot to evernote, as it saves me having the physical notebooks.



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