Setting Up Your Planner [Depreciate Febuary 11th 2006]

Setting Up Your Organiser

This system was created to be highly tweakable and organisationally agnostic, so feel free to build and fill your planner however you want. However, to get you started with a very basic GTD implementation, I'd suggest the following as a base:

  1. Front of planner:
    • A cover, preferably of high-quality card stock (slick, if you have it), with a Profile form on the opposite side -- don't forget to fill it out;
    • A dual-sided sheet of the GTD basic and advanced diagrams, printed on card stock for durability; and
    • The dual-sided Important Numbers form.
  2. Contacts: use your purchased forms and tabs. "Move in" by writing down the most important personal and business contacts. Use pencil, if possible: contact information changes a lot. (Note: the previous version of the DIY Planner made mention of keeping contacts later. However, I've found that since I change the contacts far less often than the actions and projects, it's better to keep the latter two nearer the centre of the planner -- it's easier to add and remove pages when they are closer to where the  rings open.)
  3. Calendar tab: your calendar (a.k.a. your "hard landscape"). Mark your current date with the "Today" clip-in. Transfer all birthdays, anniversaries and personal dates into the calendar. (You should keep a separate list of these, so you can populate each new year's calendar with it.)

    As for which type of calendar to use, you have a lot of choices within this kit. To start, think about how much you need to accomplish, how many appointments you will have, and where you would like to store your Next Actions. For example, I keep a monthly calendar in my Calendar tab, and Next Actions/etc. in my Actions tab. Some possibilities:

    • Day Keeper on each page
    • Day Keeper opposite GTD All-In-One
    • Weekly Planning on each page
    • Weekly Planning opposite GTD All-In-One
    • Weekly Planning opposite Covey Weekly
    • Monthly Planning spread
  4. Actions tab: populate with:
    • Next Actions for each context (Office, Home, Errands, Online, etc.)
    • Waiting For for each context
    • Agendas
    • Optional: A Covey Quadrant or two, if you're so inclined

    If you have a lot of Waiting For and Agendas forms, you can create other tabs for them. Mark all these tabs with red dots, which signify immediate review (think red = hot).

  5. Project tabs: create tabs for each major project or project category. Populate with:
    • Project Details
    • Project Outline
    • Project Notes
    • To Do List (future Next Items, etc.)
    • Optional: Objectives, Contact Log, Brainstorm, Checklist, Goal Planning, To Buy, Notes

    Mark these tabs with green dots, signifying weekly review.

  6. Someday/Maybe (or Incubate) tab: fill with a handful of Someday/Maybe Quicklist and Someday/Maybe Projects sheets. Mark with yellow dot (occasional review).
  7. Read/Review tab: a few Checklist forms with appropriate headers ("Websites to Review", "Articles to Read", "Reports/Proposals", etc.). Yellow dot: review when you have time to spare.
  8. Reference tab: for now, put a few Notes sheets in here. Mark tab with blue dot (for reference materials). Any major reference categories should probably get their own tabs. For example, I have a Ref:Tech tab that contains things like Emacs cheat-sheets, software registration serials, Internet account info (sans passwords), Python notes, etc.
  9. Misc Lists:
    off-the-cuff lists that you wouldn't consider serious enough to call "reference." Use the Notes, To Buy, Checklist or other generic forms. A few selections from mine:

    • Shopping: Groceries
    • Shopping: Dollar Store : I'm notorious for going to dollar stores, picking up a hundred things I don't need, and leaving without the items I actually went in for
    • To Buy: Books : ones I'd like to purchase, but which I can't remember when I'm actually in a bookstore
    • To Buy: Music : albums I'm trying to hunt down
    • Checklist: Software to Try
    • Notes: Books/Articles to Read
    • Checklist: Gifts : list of potential Christmas and birthday gifts for people
  10. Templates tab. Keep a few spares of each form here that you're likely to need. Replenish each week, or whenever you're using a lot of sheets.
  11. Any other tabs you'd use frequently, such as Timesheets, Finances, etc.
  12. Inbox tab: keep regular cheap note paper here. This is your scratch pad. Move finished thoughts and materials out of here as soon as possible to the correct section of your planner. If the phone rings or someone wants to talk with you about something, open this section up immediately.
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