Categories | Getting Started | Getting Things Done | Implementation | Inspiration
I have followed astrology over the years as a fun hobby. I have heard that it takes something in the ballpark of over five million years for someone to have the exact same astrological chart as another person. I am new to GTD, but I would venture to say that the same goes for one’s GTD system. The investment banker may not have the same GTD system as the soccer mom, just as the CEO of a fortune 500 company may have a very different system than the ambitious entrepreneur. My job for the David Allen Company could have a very different set of lists than the equivalent job at another company. We all have our own needs, goals and routines that will make us our own unique star in this vast galaxy of purpose.
So where did I start, and where did I end up? The funny thing is I have not added many more than the lists David Allen recommends we start with. While the contexts seem simple, he really gives us the foundation of what our lives revolve around, such as home, work, out-and-about, people and tools. To have actions organized for all those moments is indeed “advanced common sense.” So here are my lists: Projects (work and personal); Agendas; Anywhere; Calls; Computer (work and personal), Errands; Home; Office; Read and Review; Routines; Someday/Maybe (Work and personal); Tickler; Waiting For (work and personal), and Reference.
The ones I rarely ended up using were ‘Anywhere’ and ‘Read and Review.’ Now to make my earlier point, some people would be surprised that a DAC employee is not utilizing these two lists. The truth is the ‘Read and Review’ folder I have at my desk grabs my attention much quicker than yet another item to have to stare at on my computer. It is simply a preference to print them out; paper in my hand just feels more enticing, and isn’t that the name of the game? I didn’t find the ‘Anywhere’ list fit my needs that well because I don’t have a PDA that syncs with my lists. I print it out my lists on paper before leaving the office and stick it in a ‘home’ folder that goes with me anywhere I go after work.
Now for the lists that have become my essentials. One of them is my digital tickler file. This is my favorite and most-used GTD list. An important tool that makes this list work so well is my “Today” view on my list manager. When I come into work, I know that I can click on my today view and it is like having a personal assistant telling me exactly what I have to do so that I don’t have to think about it. I see all of my contexts that carry that day’s due date and my tickler beautifully situated at the bottom reminding me of every random thing I need to take into consideration that day- whether it is a project I would like to reassess for work or a reminder to pick up my dry cleaning. I love that my calendar remains my “hard-scape” of events, while my reminders remain strategically placed on this list so that I only see them on the day it is necessary to see them.
Another unique list that my staff GTD coach turned me onto during my training process (we are all coached and mentored in GTD when we start with the company) is a list called “Routines.” This might be the smartest list ever created, especially for beginning a new venture. Within this list I have categories such as Daily, Weekly-Mondays; Weekly-Fridays; Monthly on the 15th, etc. I even created a category for protocols for both of my roles at work. This list is a resort for my memory, because it allows it to take a permanent vacation. It is like an advanced checklist, but a checklist for all those things I want to make sure I am regularly evaluating. I check two areas of my list manager daily: my today view (which shows everything due that day in every context, including my waiting-for’s) and my routines list. The rest I will visit in my weekly review. And yes– the trust is there, it has not failed me once.
I find that whatever lists work for me are the best lists. I know people who create lists and delete them when they no longer need them. I have learned that one of the best assets I can bring to GTD is my creativity. I am continuing to explore what works for me, and celebrating that I have built a foundation to trust, let go, and take action.