My way of getting things done

I’ve been on the road a lot this year. A few people have asked me about my cool little notebook after customer meetings.

For about the last year, I’ve become a big fan of the time management techniques of Getting Things Done. There are thousands of articles and book reviews about the system, so Google it and read more if you are interested.

GTD appeals to me because it’s all practical techniques meant to be applied to the mess of stuff on your desk and in your mind today. There are no high level philosophies or gut wrenching self discovery processes to master over the next fifty years. You can start using parts of this stuff today.

Some GTD highlights:

  • Get all the “stuff” out of your brain and off your desk.
  • Immediately capture all new ideas, thoughts, and tasks outside your brain.
  • Only put hard dates on the sacred ground of your calendar.
  • Turn all “to-dos” into defined “next actions”
  • Maintain multiple to-do next action lists based on your physical location and capability… this means if you are sitting in an airport with a cell phone and 10 extra minutes, you can quickly see a list of things that can be done in that context… and they aren’t mixed in with things that’s can’t be done in that context, like “mow the lawn.”
  • The 2 minute rule: if it takes less than 2 minutes, do it now. It will take longer to file it away in some fancy organizational system.
  • End every day with 0 emails in your inbox.
    (If you do nothing else, do this!!)

GTD is system-agnostic. So, you can implement these processes with all kinds of fancy computer phones and Outlook exchange tasks. Or, if you prefer, you can do it with paper index cards.

I’ve always been a high-tech redneck. I absolutely love gadgets and fancy software tools. But, I’ve opted to stay low-tech with GTD and mostly use a simple paper notebook. Doesn’t require batteries and works everywhere!

circa After a year of trying a few different styles of notebook and planner configurations, I’ve settled on what I consider to be the best option: The Levenger Circa notebook system. I think there is a similar but cheaper option, “Rolla Notebooks”, at Staples.

These notebooks are bound together with little round buttons, so it is easy to remove or add pages wherever I want. That way, I can keep the thickness of my notebook/planner to a minimum. Not like my good old corporate days of lugging around a 3 pound Franklin Planner!

Go buy “Getting Things Done” and then check out the Levenger catalog.



  1. […] Upon reflection this year, I’ve realized that my time management system has slowly degenerated. A few years ago, I found David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) system and instantly fell in love. GTD can be accomplished with a variety of tools, and I originally zeroed in on an old-school, paper-based GTD system. […]

  2. […] that just plain works for me: David Allen’s Getting Things Done. You can read my GTD overview here. I really like this system because you can immediately apply bits and pieces of it without having […]