Categories | Community Contributions | Gear | Getting Started | Getting Things Done | GTD Toolbox | Implementation
This is a Community Contribution from Mike Vardy
I’m a fan of gadgets. I love shiny new objects that promise to deliver bigger, stronger and faster results. The problem with a lot of these shiny new objects is that there is a learning curve for most (if not all) of them and even when the knowledge is set firmly in place, they are only part of the equation. It’s the other part that often lets us down. That other part is us.
We often get bogged down in the details, mired in a slew of hidden tasks that pile up in our electronic folders and leave us with our heads spinning. And as a bit of a technophile myself, I’ve had it happen to me on several occasions. When this happens, I turn over my trusted system to a device that I can trust with its implementation: paper.
Paper is a powerful device in its own right. It is simple in both design and execution. You write something down, and with the act of writing it out you have enhanced your chance of doing something productive with it.
There’s no framework as to how you lay out your productivity plan when you have a blank piece of paper in front of you. You can build your own, use an existing template or adapt an existing system to make it your own. As long as you’ve got a system in mind, you’re only limited by how it appears on paper by your own imagination. In a sense, paper is freeing.
There is simplicity in using paper over electronic devices. It doesn’t have an operating system that needs rebooting, and it is always wireless. If you hand someone a piece of paper with action items on it, they can look at it and understand it without having to refer to a manual. The only operating system that would ever require rebooting when paper is used is the user.
The cost of paper is another bonus. Costs can range from a few dollars for a simple junior legal pad to hundreds of dollars for elegant paper products. Again, it is the user who will define how well the paper is used — so an expensive planner could be worthless if not used diligently while a dollar store legal pad that is used extremely well would be priceless.
Whether you choose paper to implement GTD or some form of software comes down to personal preference and choice. Some, like me, might use software to handle the bulk of their work while using paper to outline other work. It all comes down to to what works best for you. Paper is a great gateway device for someone getting started with GTD. For those who have more experience with the methodology it can be used to great benefit as well. Anyone with some GTD know-how can tailor paper to the fit the system.
The key is not tailoring the system to fit the device. Doing that will result in doing very little.