What options do I have to maintain a reliable system if I prefer to stay «unplugged»? This time, I'm going to present a variant I've tried for a few weeks, using the D*I*Y Planner printable templates.
Office supplies I've used
- a loose-leaf
- a big pack of paper sheets (50+ for the lists; punched ones are more convenient, but need more care during printout)
As usual, if you wish to try this, I recommend using a standard loose-leaf (A4, A5, whatever format you like and is common in your country). Most of the paper-bound «time planning systems» are designed to make a difference here - with respect to punch holes and formats. I've avoided them, since the respective supplies of filler paper and dividers are neither ubiquitous, nor easy to find, nor cheap..
I downloaded the official D*I*Y Planner templates in PDF format, choosing the appropriate paper format of the core package (A5 in my case). The core package contains a lot of forms and not all of them are related to GTD. For all forms, there are left and right pages - very convenient for double-sided printing.
As a matter of fact, I even did not use all GTD forms, but just three:
- The To Do list template offers up to two description lines per item, a completion checkbox and a convenient Due Date box. An additional Delegated To box allows for closing an item and recording whom you delegated it to. This template is very nice for next action lists - the templates include an Actions list, too, that differs only by not having a Delegated To box, so you might like to use that instead. On top of the list, there is an underlined space where one may put the respective GTD category.
- The Waiting For list template offers all boxes and sections of the To Do list, plus an additional field for the Delegated Date. A template highly suitable for tracking delegated tasks or items I've lent to others.
- The Agenda list template is great for remembering things to discuss with others (@Jim, @Joe, ...) or during periodical meetings (@WeeklyStaffMeeting, ...)
That was sufficient for me. For my daily work, I did not need anything more.
There are several other useful templates. Maybe the Combined Actions template is nice for tracking meeting outcomes, since you can note (next) actions as well as Waiting For items on a single page, side by side. The Project Outline template is helpful to sketch project ideas. An there is the Priority Matrix, an incarnation of the Eisenhower matrix that may be useful in deciding whether to delegate a task or not.
What Worked Well for Me
Keeping the number of used templates down to three reduced my stress level a lot. There is not much that can go wrong with choosing the right one for the job. And there is no need to consider how many spare printouts per template to put into the loose leaf.
Having polished To Do and Waiting For templates was speeding up the list maintenance a lot, compared to blank pages with an ad-hoc layout. I guess my eyes prefer a bit more structure. Plus, it is absolutely straightforward to create a new list for any category you wish. The Agenda lists are a real life saver. Before I used them, I kept forgetting lots of issues I wanted to discuss with various people or in various meetings.
What Did Not Work That Well for Me
When space is running out on the front page of a list, I continued on the back. Since I don't enjoy transferring the remaining items from the front to the back, I needed to flip pages. That is not very convenient.
For simple lists that you want to take out of the loose leaf, e.g. @Errands, the templates waste a bit too much space. It would be a pity to discard a whole sheet of paper just because of 3-5 shopping items.
What I'll stick with
For office purposes, I'm perfectly happy with this approach and I am still following it. For lists like @Errands, I stick with the Post-It variant.