Tuesday, September 25, 2012

GTD and Thought Capturing

So over the years my organization skills have been both good and bad. Lately in an attempt to get reorganized I have been looking into setting myself up a GTD (Getting Things Done) system mixed with Old school Journal/Note Taking system.

The reason for this is because I'm very forgetful, I need reminders and ways to remember things without storing it in my brain. My wife can verify that I'm horrible at remembering important things and dates but I can remember odd science references from PBS Nova Shows I watched as a kid that have no relevance in my work or personal life today.

After getting my current job I really wanted to get a handle on tracking day to day things at work and at home and make sure I stopped procrastinating (I'm better but have a ways to go). Additionally I wanted to keep track of all my random mental thoughts, projects and important information I know I need to be better at remembering. So after reading a few articles on line I grabbed a few Moleskine notebooks (I love these things), a writing utensil and installed Evernote with Wunderlist then set to organizing things.

Here is my set up so far:
Online (Synced between Computers, Tablet, & Phones):
Evernote: for organization of blogs post, things I want to read later, clipping web articles/sites and an online archiving repository thanks to setting up recipes in ifTTT to auto copy my blog and twitter posts.

Wunderlist: For Online Task List Organization (work in progress see To-Do book below). I really like this app but I have not really gotten use to using it over my pocket notebook. I'm trying to use it more but time will tell if I stick with it.

Offline (a.k.a Old school notebooks. Pic below.):
To-Do/Quick Notes: Reporter Style Moleskine. This is a great little notebook because it's only slightly bigger than my phone and fits in my back pocket for when I do not have my backpack with me. I try to always have this with me if I ever need to write something down. I try to use this mainly as my To-Do list but will take notes with it. Case in point few weeks I met with a house inspector and as this is all I had on me I wrote down all the things he pointed out beyond what he wrote in the inspection report as we walked through the house. Also I always have a pen strapped to this notebook as well.

Work Notes: Large hardcover Moleskine with Grid line layout. I really like the Grid lines for keeping my handwriting in check and being able to draw out flow charts and processes of applications I support. Nothing from here goes into Evernote or online outside of the internal work intranet for security purposes.Note though that side work project items for planning out my own business do not go in here either they go in the next listed notebook.

Journal:  Large softcover Moleskine with line layout. This is my personal notes/thoughts repository. Everything not related to my full time work goes here and eventually ends up in Evernote. I mainly use it for larger things that would end up taking up more than a few lines in my To-Do/Quick Notes notebook. I think I will be switching to a hard cover grid layout when I fill up this one (see work notes for why).

Calender: 18 Month Weekly notebook planner (Small). I'm always forgetting important dates (Except my anniversary and wife's birthday!) and since it is small it takes up no room in my backpack to have handy to got something down or look something up. Both work and personal items go in here.

Some people at work asked my why I don't go all online with this system. I can see their point sense I have a PC, laptop, work laptop, two smart phones and a tablet I'm practically always connected and have the web accessible 24/7.

The reason I keep notebooks is I prefer to write out things over trying to use my fat fingers on my mobile phone. I do not always have my other devices with me either. I love Evernote but more times than not it becomes this black hole of things I have forgotten about and when I physically write something down I tend to remember it better. Also I don't want to be tied down to always having to be connected to the internet or constantly syncing things between devices. If my phone dies I want to be able to keep going with out having to worry about recharging it to mark something off, update a note or jot some thought down I want to remember.

Like others I "prep" my moleskines similar to what is found here: Hacking a GTD Moleskine. Look for the 1 through 3 numbers of the "Preparing the Moleskine" Section. I have found the use of a first page index invaluable for finding things I wrote down previously. I also use little post-it color tabs but not as described in the link above to help with tagging important items in my to-do list.

I know my system doesn't match up to what GTD gurus say you should do but right now it works for me. I think that is the underlining thing to take away. I'm sure that as I get use to using this system I will change it here and there and possibly consolidate things to have one book for work and one for all my personal items.

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