ZTD catch up – Easter

Summary of the week: a bit of a struggle really. My GTD system (A5 notebook) has quickly become cumbersome and it’s taken me a little while to think of a solution. In the meantime, as soon as my system becomes slow, I procrastinate about putting things in it, and my mind wants to take back control. This is well described in the GTD book, and below I’ve described my experiences first hand.


One of the biggest characteristics of any system that anyone is trying to implement is that it has to be frictionless. One of the reasons for the two minute rule is that it can take that long to put something in to your system and retrieve it, so if something takes less than two minutes, it is best done now.

I like having an analogue system and I’m finding that input is pretty much seamless, but output is more difficult.

I have managed to generate over 20 contexts in the month that I have been doing capture / process and I’m finding it a dull task to flick all the pages to get through to what I want to see. Each of the contexts has one page, and being an analogue system, someday/maybe might be right next door to blog ideas. I don’t need to review someday/maybe when looking for next actions to a diary or similar (see below), so the system is too slow.

In part, the fact that I have generated lots of contexts is good: it means that my system can readily generate new contexts. Usually, if I come across something that I don’t know what to do with (a hum item), it’s usually because I need to generate a new context for it. I find that especially with reference material, if I don’t know where to store it, I need to generate a new folder to accommodate it. This is usually a subtle sign of my job description beginning to change as I take on new responsibilities.

One of the minor issues I’m having is that in the same notebook I have a variety of the lists: project support material, checklists. I’m thinking that I will have to split these into different notebooks by category.

There is temptation to start over with a new system rather than trying to work the system. Lubricate the system so that things go in and out easily. I’ve changed system many times. This is the first time I’m using paper: I’ve used Omnifocus and Wunderlist in the past and I’ve found them very useful, but I’ve ended up calling time on Omnifocus twice and wunderlist twice.

With capture being so much faster with a pad, I’m pleased I’ve moved to analogue. It is possible that the best system is an analogue capture followed by a digital clarify / organise, but I get the feeling that that isn’t the case.

Few things in life can rival the feel of nice paper, a beautiful notebook, and a smooth fountain pen.


Eventually, I’m probably going to need a new notebook. I am using one for journalling and my GTD system and it’s all a bit odd. I probably need to separate the two out. I also have been tempted to buy a diary, but I probably simply need another notebook just to write down goals for the week / weekend. A diary would be over complicating matters.

I’ve written a post about how I fixed the problems here.

netflix binge

I also confess to bingeing on Netflix this past week, I have really enjoyed watching the available seasons of Mythbusters, but I also noticed I stopped reading books. It hasn’t helped that my son has had chicken pox this last week and I have stayed home to look after him in the mornings as he is excluded from nursery.

Time to jump back on the wagon!


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