Personal Productivity with paper

2 minute read

I’ve been reading self-help and productivity books for years. I’m always interested in the latest gadget, method or trick that I can use that will help me get more done. When Getting Things Done came out, I thought it was a breath of fresh air from how I was doing things with my Franklin-Covey planner, and it was.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 11 years since I ‘read’ the book by David Allen. I can remember the time vividly. We were driving down I-80 on our way to my in-laws in December for Christmas. I had just singed up for Audible because I had heard about this great productivity book. I listened to David talk about how to process an inbox while driving in the middle of a snow storm.

Since that drive, I’ve been trying to implement some version of GTD with various levels of success. GTD is a great framework, and I have learned a lot from it. My biggest problem is that I never really understood the weekly planning process very well, and there was not a really good system for recording reoccurring tasks.

I’ve mentioned my thoughts on [The Habit Journal][journal] and that, combined with GTD is something that closely approaches my ‘ideal’ system.

So, what is my system?

Well, I collect paper into an inbox which sits on my desk. Underneath it there is a box for processing. When I process my inbox I’ll add a task into Things for the task and then move it from ‘in’ to ‘process.’ Usually those things are bills and odd papers which need to be reviewed. Most of the time they will take a few minutes, but I like to batch up my bills so I’m just doing all of them at one time. Miscellaneous papers can usually be processed at the time I look through the inbox. The only other paper items are usually magazines or letters to read.

For magazines, I’ll scan the table of contents and then tear out any articles I’m interested in and then throw the rest of it away. The article is then stapled and put into a folder labeled ‘Articles’ which I’ll read through when I have the energy and desire to read.

Letters I’ll stack up for some free time and leave in the process box.Not Pure GTD, I know, but it’s what works for me.

Next week I’ll discuss what I do for electronic ‘stuff’ which is much more varied and diverse.

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