Solving the problem of organizing next action lists on paper

25 Nov 2019

For as long as I’ve used my paper-based system for GTD I’ve struggled with how to physically organize my next action lists in my binder. I missed the ease with which I would create contexts as needed in my digital applications, and toss them when I was done with them.

I used to have six tabs for the different sections needed (I believe the official stance is that you should have ten sections for GTD, but Filofax only sold numbered dividers up to six), where I put all action lists in one section. I simply wrote “@home”, “@work” etc. at the top of each page. Sooner or later, this approach always led to me writing stuff on the wrong list and generally meant I had to flip through quite a few pages to get me to the one I needed.

I also tried having a different colored set of numbered tabs just for the next actions lists (a sub-system of tabs if you will), so I could give each context its own tab. This worked as long as I didn’t have more than six contexts and in all created a lot of rigidity.

I now think I have a partial solution to my problems. I’ve added a second A-Z index just for these next actions lists and I simply put pages tagged “@home” under H, “@waiting for” under W and so on. This makes it considerably easier to create ad hoc contexts and adds a much needed feeling of flexibility to the system.

#paper #planner #gtd #productivity