Category Archives: GTD, My Review

This is my review of the GTD book and methodology of the Getting Things Done Personal Productivity Book,

David Allen – Making it all Work

The new book from David Allen is now available for pre-order at the Amazon bookstore.

The book is being hailed as the sequel to the fantastic “Getting Things Done” and aims to start with the GTD book left off. Concentrating on winning at the game of work and the business of life.

I have already pre-ordered this via Amazon and I am sure lots of other people will also be doing who have been involved with the GTD Methodology.

Here is some blurb from the David Allen’s website.

From the author of the bestseller “Getting Things Done,” comes a new book that will change your life. “Getting Things Done” hit a nerve and spawned a movement with businesses, students, and techies all the way from Silicon Valley to Europe and Asia. Now, David Allen leads the world on a new path to achieve focus, control, and perspective. Throw out everything you know about productivity—”Making It All Work” will make life and work a game you can win.

How I Solved the Problem of Collecting Tasks!

Hope you are all having a productive day!

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One of the major improvements in my life since starting following the Getting Things Done Methodology, is the reduction of Open Loops. As we all know, Open Loops are those tasks floating around in the ether, that we should be doing, but we do not actively record.

An Open Loop is anything pulling at your attention that doesn’t belong where it is, the way it is.

Anybody who has read the Getting Things Done methodology will understand what I am talking about and if you haven’t, you don’t know what you are missing to get this area of your life under control.

You could say I am a busy guy. I am actively involved with 5 of my own companies. I have four children, a wife, and an active social life. Now, I have a LOT to get done! I also had a lot of Open Loops before I made the decision to get my life my organized. If you are anything like me. Numerous times in the day, you would remember that you had some task to do. This could be related to your business, home life, or other. It could be any random task that either just comes to you, or something you are doing jogs your memory and bang, there it is. You are at that moment presented with a task, and one that needs collecting.

Now, I have a pretty good memory and I used to try to remember these tasks in my head. Big mistake, and the start of an Open Loop. Then, the next day, or whenever, something would again jog my memory and I would be left with the same task entering my mind that needs completing. Some of these were important tasks that really did need to be collected and I, as I am sure you all, sometimes forgot things that were important.

Removing these Open Loops from your life is one major step towards getting organized and it is no surprise that a lot of the first chapter of the Getting Things Done book covers the importance of closing these Open Loops.

Now, one of the most important aspects of removing these Open Loops is to record the action/task as soon as it comes into your mind, without exception. It is the procrastination of not writing these down that make them into Open Loops. I much prefer Closed Loops!, Tasks and Actions that are recorded into a system that I trust. This is all part of the very simple GTD methodology.

The very simple way that I have embraced this, is to very simply write things down as they come to me. Now, you need some tools to do this, a pen and paper.

I had read about the Moleskine Notebooks on various sites such as and thought they looked pretty cool so I went ahead and bought one from eBay. Well, I wrote a post about my thoughts on Moleskines, and must admit that I love them to bits. There is something about the quality that makes you take pride in writing, and collecting your notes into them.

I own the small pocket Moleskine notebook, as well as the large Moleskine notebook. Both of these are hardback books. Now these books are fantastic for taking into business meetings and I must admit the larger one has had a lot of use. The small notebook normally goes away on trips with me, both personal and pleasure. The problem I find with these Moleskine’s is that I cannot easily take them everywhere with me.

So, there were still times when an action came to me that needed recording and left me scrambling for a pen and paper to write it down. I have played with PagePacker, which is a pretty Cool Mac Application that allows you to print mini books full of Calendars, Lists, and also the GTD Flowchart. Luckily, I noticed that Moleskine did a range of products called “Cahier”. The Moleskine Cahier is small pocket sized book with a softback. It is slim enough, with only 64 pages, to fit into the back pocket of your trousers.

The new Moleskine Cahier [kaa yáy] Notebook Series are each offered as a set of 3 notebooks, featuring a flexible soft cover, acid-free paper and visible side stitching on the spine. The last 16 sheets of each notebook are detachable, by means of a micro-perforated edge, perfect for exchanging loose notes. Inside the back page there is a spacious pocket for notes or clippings.

Now, since buying a pack of three of these for a very reasonable £5 from eBay, I have tried to carry one with me everywhere to enable me to record my thoughts as and when they spring into my head, to remove all Open Loops from my life.

So, now I have the paper sorted out, next is the pen!

I have quite a few nice pens. Some I have bought myself and some bought for me as presents. I really like and own a few Mont Blanc pens, but the idea of carrying a £200 pen around with me doesn’t fill me with warm feelings, especially when I tell you about my Space Pen experiences!

After reading various blog posts about Fisher Space Pens, I decided to go ahead and buy one. It cost me around £20 for the Space Pen Bullet. This is a little pen that is the normal size when the cap is attached in writing mode and half size when the cap is closed. Quite cool. These use pressurized cartridges so they can write upside down, underwater, and in space, hence the name. Now I believe in GTD, but not enough to take my pen with me swimming or the next time I go on a Lunar Mission!, so that did not really bother me but one great side effect of this technology is the fact that due to the fact they are pressurized, it makes them so the ink does not leak out all over your trousers. I used to keep the Space Pen in the little coin pocket of my left jeans pocket. many a time I would reach into my pocket and pull out my shiny space pen, stand on my head and collect my thoughts into my nice Moleskine Cahier notebook!

Only problem was, after losing three pens, and having one washed in the washing machine (I blame my wife for not checking the pockets:) it became a rather expensive obsession!

So, loathed to spend another £20 on these pens, I was forced to look for an alternative, to strive to find the perfect solution for recording my thoughts, and keeping those pesky Open Loops, well and truly closed!

Do you know what?, I think I may have found the answer!

I am a golfer. I play, or try to play as much as I can. I have played since the ages of 8 and I am pretty good at it. What does Golf have to do with GTD I hear you ask?, well, I remember using some Golf Pencils when I was younger that used to clip to the golf scorecard. So, after 2 mins searching on good old eBay, I managed to find some using the search term of “golf pencil”.

Golf pencil

I bought 100 of these pencils for around £3.50, that is around $7. So, they work out at 7 cents per pencil. In other words, I can buy 571 of these pencils for the price of one Fisher Space Pen. These pencils come with a clip on them

Because the Moleskine Cahier has only 64 pages, the clip will either clip inside the front cover of the notebook or right up to the middle of the notebook to save your page. I clip the pencil to the notebook as you can see in the image below. This then goes in my back pocket and has been there for the past two weeks.

I have travelled over a thousand miles in the car with this in my pocket and the pencil holds up just fine. You can sit on it, twist it, throw it, bend it, shake it!, and at the end of the day if you do break or lose it, you are not going to lose sleep over 7 cents!

Moleskine Cahier This little bit of simple help has changed the way that I am able to record my tasks, as the enter my head. I am no longer scrambling around trying to find a pencil, as I always have one to hand, in my back pocket, nicely attached to my pocket notebook.

Closing my Open Loops has been the largest change that implementing GTD has brought to me. If I could say one thing to you about the Getting Things Done methodology, it would be to carry a notebook, write down the thoughts as they enter your head. It is simple, yet revolutionary. You have t get into the habit of carrying the notebook with you everywhere, pretty much as you have to wear shoes, you also have to carry your notebook,. I feel naked without mine now and it has just become a part of my daily life to carry it.

Phew, ranting over. Hope you have enhoyed this post, if you have, I would love to have a comment and please add anything you can and agree or totally disagree with my thoughts.

Keep having that productive day!

Five Processing Tips for Getting Things Done

Getting Things DoneWell, I survived the collection and processing stages of implementing the GTD Methodology and along the way I made a note of five top tips that I would like to share with you on the Processing section of the GTD Methodology.

I am presuming you have read my post on Processing, Getting In to Empty, where I explain that processing is where you take the stuff you have collected and implement the GTD Methodology based upon the GTD Workflow flowchart. If you haven’t read it, go ahead and read that post now.

Right, so you should be up to speed with where I am with this. I have now five little snippets that I consider useful enough to share in this blog.

  1. REALLY clear your diary!
  2. Ensure You Have LOTS of Space
  3. Don’t Collect Items You Need
  4. Print Out the GTD Flowchart
  5. Grow Your Fingernails!

OK, the first item on my list is to REALLY clear your diary. The GTD book states this is important and I cannot re-iterate just how important this is. I cleared two days in my diary for the collection and processing phase and I am happy I did. Once I had started collection, my office and working space looked like a bomb site. This seemed to add quite a bit of pressure to my process and stressed me out somewhat. I guess this made the processing section a great deal easier and I felt a great relief when it was all done.

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Processing – Getting In to Empty – Chapter 6

GTD methodologyWell, I thought it was about time to write the next installment in my journey to stress free productivity utilizing the GTD system.

Hopefully, you will already have read my previous posts on Getting Started, and also my “stuff” Collection Day. Well, as stated in the collection day post, I collected rather a lot of stuff. I had two storage crates full of stuff that needed to be processed.

As I had allocated the time in my busy schedule to perform this task, I had no excuse so I got my waste paper bin ready, got a few black rubbish sacks and made a start.

I must admit that the task at hand was slightly overwhelming. My nice and neat place of work had turned into a bomb site. The emails kept coming in, the work was mounting up, and my usually tidy place of work was turned upside down. I must admit, my office is not the largest and having this amount of chaos within it did a good job of increasing my stress levels! It was time to focus and also this was more of a reason to get the processing done, so my office would be back to normal.

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The “Stuff” Collection Day – Getting Things Done Chapter 5

My Collected InboxWell, today was the collection day. For those of you have have not read or are not familiar with the Getting Things Done methodology from David Allen, the collection day is where you collect all of your “stuff” into your inbox. This is a different task for everybody but I would like to explain how this was for me.

I now work from home in my home office. This is a 10ft x 10ft room with a desk, cupboard and bookcase done out in a very Ikea fashion. About six months of “stuff” has collected in the various drawers and shelves in my study, so today was the day to collect all of this into my inbox.

In preparation, I purchased two 80 liter storage crates that I would use as my oversized inbox. Armed with these I set about clearing and collecting my stuff.

For this collection task, I tried to stick to the guidelines in Chapter 5 of the Getting Things Done Book. I was very tempted to go my own way with this but as I had allocated the time, I thought that I may as well follow the guidelines in the book and do it as it should be done.

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Getting Started – Getting Things Done Chapter 4

GTD ToolsNow that the book is read, there is no time like the present to start. I have allocated a day to collection, and also as long as it takes to processing. This is one of the benefits of working for yourself. You control your own time.

Chapter 4 of the Getting Things Done book is concerned with setting up the time, space, and tools to make a start with the whole GTD methodology. This is something which I have been waiting with excitement to start, but something that has to be planned.

Lets look at each of the three items, starting with time.

The book recommends that you spend two whole days on setting up your GTD system. Ideally these days should be together and not split up. As with any task like this, immersion in it makes it a lot easier as you can focus on the task at hand. OK, time is no problem and this is important so the dates are set in my diary.

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The Planning Models – Natural Planning with GTD

In a previous blog entry, I introduced Chapter 3 of the Getting Things Done book by David Allen. We looked at Horizontal and Vertical focus with respect to our projects and I explained the difference between these two methods of project planning and review.

We are now going to look at the three planning models that are covered in Chapter 3 of the GTD book. These planning models are:

  • The Natural Planning Model
  • The Un-Natural Planning Model
  • The Reactive Planning Model

Lets start by looking at the Natural Planning Model. The Natural Planning Model really is nothing new. It is not some fantastic new model devised by David Allen to help us plan and manage our projects. it is however, the planning model that is recommended by David in his Getting Things Done book. The Natural Planning Model is based upon the planning that we do on a daily basis, using just our brains. For example, think of how many tasks we plan on a day by day basis that we do not even bother to write down as these are normally classed as mundane tasks. For example, getting dressed, or driving to work. All of these can be thought of tasks but we just go ahead and plan them without any thought whatsoever. We utilize the planning aspects of our brain that are conditioned for this natural type of planning.

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Chapter 3 – Getting Projects Creatively Under Way

I am now through with chapter 3 of the Getting Things Done book from David Allen. Chapter 3 is titled Getting Projects Creatively Under Way: The Five Phases of Project Planning. This chapter is the longest so far in the book and looks at the way we should, and probably already do identify and manage projects. This is the last chapter in part one of the book, The Art of Getting Things Done and acts as the supporting act to part two of the book which looks to be where the fun really starts.

Chapter 3 starts by explaining what David refers to as Horizontal and Vertical focus. The theory behind these is quite easy. We all have things to do in our lives. These can all be classed as projects. Some projects are small, such as remembering to buy a card for your wifes birthday or remembering to pay the milk bill, whilst others can be significant. Significant projects can include tasks such as planning a holiday, wedding, or other engagement through to launching a new product at your workplace.
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Chapter 2 – Introducing the GTD Methodology

GTD Diagram

Well, I am now through with Chapter 2, entitled Getting Control of Your Life: The Five Stages Of Mastering Workflow. This chapter covers the five-stage method for managing workflow. These five stages are:


    1. The Four-Criteria Model for Choosing Actions in the Moment
    2. The Threefold Model for Evaluating Daily Work
    3. The Six-Level Model for Reviewing Your Own Work
  1. Lets take a look at each of these five stages. Continue reading