Tuesday, July 22, 2008

As Minimalist as it Gets: GTD on 3 x 5 cards

I have been coaching an increasing number of clients on using Getting Things Done (GTD) strategies to get organized and on top of the myriad details one has to manage to live in today's world. It helps to make it all more straightforward and doable, which, as you see on the descriptions of my blogs minimizes stressor spillover into our relationships and the things we passionately want to do with our lives.

Bits and pieces of GTD have seemed quite helpful for different clients, each with their own unique needs. One very understandable obstacle to getting going with the approach is that the GTD computer programs which are most helpful either take a fair amount of time investment to set up and learn, or they are just plain expensive.

I happen take care of most of my GTD needs between an older Mac laptop and my iPhone. I do like to use cards and a pen as well though for writing things down ("capturing" in GTD speak) on the hoof. That iPhone keyboard, for me, just doesn't lend itself to fast flexible entry of of ideas and details on they fly. So there are lots of reasons why someone might want a paper or notecard-based version of the system.

I came across this post by Joe Ely over at the GTD Times on setting up a GTD system with index cards and a binder clip, that's it—which is well worth sharing. I've seen different set ups like this around the web at first facetiously, and now commonly, called the hipster PDA. If you want to get an idea of how huge this phenomenon is just check out a google search of the term. Even more fun is a search of hipster PDA hacks, modifications of and improvements on the basic notecard with binder clip system. 

There is also a whole movement of people using Moleskine notebooks in a similar fashion, all with their own sets of rituals and hacks. The link I provided for Moleskines shows a much broader range of uses for the notebooks. I had to give you that one because the art that some people use them for, for me anyway, is stunningly, jaw dropping good. But google "moleskine hacks" or "GTD" and "Moleskine" if you want to see how those are used by more folks than you can count good old GTD purposes.  If you've followed any of my links over to 43Folders in the past, you may already be familiar with much of this, but I digress. Back to the mission of the post:

Joe Ely's article on setting up a GTD notecard system sans all the cultural references and elaborate innovations mentioned above is the most straight forward explanation of a solid GTD system that uses common, inexpensive materials that I've seen. And it manages to include all the essential details including use of color coding for contexts and a very intuitive and useable notation system. Check it out. It is so good, it almost makes me want to set my computer aside to give it a whirl.

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