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Geek Tools: GTD by the week with OneNote

A while back I found this article on Lifehacker explaining how to set up MS OneNote – my tool of choice – for David Allen’s Getting Things Done productivity system (GTD). It should work in a similar manner for other note-taking platforms.

The cornerstone of the approach was that one created a GTD tab structure in OneNote, and made a new page for each day in the “Current” tab. Thought process captures, notes and todo lists for each day go into the daily page.

It seemed like a good approach, so off I went. According to my “Archived Months” tab, I kept it up from September to mid-December 2013 before the daily process got away from me. There was just too much house-keeping. I found myself “filling in” days I hadn’t got around to creating beforehand at archiving time. I took that as a definite sign that the process was not working.

Inspiration struck on Sunday, January 5, 2014. I modified the system to start using “weekly” pages. Instead of making new pages for each day, I made it a weekly process. Rather than reviewing and archiving at the end of the day, I made it a weekly exercise. Each day, along with any must-dos or notes for that day – I created as a separate heading on the left hand side of the weekly page. My notes, scrub lists, pasted links and other short term idea captures etc went onto the right hand side of the page.

With surprise I realised this week, being Week 1 of 2015, that I had kept up my weekly page system for 51 consecutive weeks.

Of course, sticking to the process doesn’t mean it’s effective – but in this case I’m pretty happy with the way it works. I don’t forget important things. My notes are available on all my devices (desktop, laptop, tablet, phone) at all times. It’s simple. I have freedom in the way I write and mark up my notes so I don’t get annoyed by system constraints (a problem I had run into with other systems).

If you’re looking for a GTD implementation that’s not so heavy on the day-by-day processes, this might work for you too.

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