Re-reading Getting Things Done

Last week, I forgot to remind my students of a major milestone due that day in class.  I was able to send out an email after class, but I realized that my organizational system needs some tweaking.  Re-reading David Allen's Getting Things Done has been on my list of things to do for a while and I'm glad I did yesterday.  My original design and associated habits were not working as well as they could.  As I mentioned last year, I organized OneNote and Outlook based on this advise online.  It worked better than my previous system, but not as well as it could. 

After re-reading GTD, I realized that the setup I used did not stay true to GTD principles.  I rarely used the Lists section, mostly because I combined my Next Actions and Goals into the same page.  I had a Read/Review section that I did not devote enough time to reading and reviewing.  And I was guilty of leaving things in the inbox, rather than moving them to the appropriate list.  Most importantly, I didn't have a tickler file to remind me of things to do in the future. 

So I've already started making changes.  I started with relabeling my Lists folder as Next Actions and added pages for At Office, At Home, Agenda, and Read/review (moving it from a separate folder unto this page).  This is far more consistent with Allen's suggestions in GTD.  The advise I had followed had me splitting my Next Actions in different folders and different applications (OneNote and Outlook).  Things kept getting missed that way.  With my changes, I hope to better keep track of my Next Actions.  Also rearranged my folders, so that Next Actions is first, highlighting its importance. 

I'm also going to change my Goals folder into a Priorities and goals page.  Once a week, I'll review my priorities for that week and list the major projects, meetings, or roles that need my attention.  I want to avoid duplicates between Next Actions and Priorities/Goals, as that will kill me if I forget or get lazy. It can also be demotivating when I don't accomplish specific Next Actions in the week.  By changing my thinking on priorities, I can simply look at the list and remind myself what Next Actions I should focus on without guilting me to work on things that are listed by not priorities.

I really do not see a need to duplicate all of my next actions in Outlook.  Instead, I'll use Outlook tasks as a tickler file that may link back to pages in OneNote when there are specific things to review on specific dates.  This makes sense with the due date feature in Outlook tasks.

Now that I have used GTD for a while, especially where I have veered from the practices he recommends, I see just how good his system really is.  When I do veer from it, I generally run into problems.  When I stay true, the system rocks.  In fact, I'm adding a tickler item as I speak to remind me to review his book in 6 months.  I'm sure there are more gems I can gain by another review.


  1. For implementing GTD you can use this this application:


    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 Google Calendar, and also comes with mobile version, and Android and iPhone apps.

  2. I also recommend you take a look at http://GTDnext.com for managing tasks and projects. It's the newest system around and has some major advantageous over the older systems on the market.