I’ve been a Filofax user for quite some time now and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s not the system, though; it’s the user. I’ve searched Pinterest and YouTube high and low to find ideas that may work for me with little to no success. But, all that has changed recently and I’m more productive and organized than ever! Thanks to David Allen’s book Getting Things Done, I’m finally GTD!
I don’t use the system verbatim but I do use the main components. My setup is:
- Next Actions
- To Buy
- Waiting For
How I Use It
First thing’s first: the inbox. It’s where everything gets written down. When I say everything, I mean everything! It doesn’t matter if it’s work, home, personal, family, etc. It all goes in the inbox. From there, it gets sorted and designated to its proper list. If it requires an action, it goes on my Next Actions list. If it’s a home task, it goes on my home list. If I’m waiting on something from someone else, it goes on the waiting for list. If it’s a multi-step item that requires a good bit of time, it goes on my projects list. You get the idea. I have a column in my inbox that tells me where each item was transferred so that I don’t waste time looking for it in my other lists.
Once everything has been sorted and designated, I go through and work on my tasks. Now, David Allen says that if a task takes less than 2 minutes, you should do it. Well, no offense to David Allen, but I’m not to that point in my productivity yet. I can’t fathom doing a 2 minute home task during the work day when there are work tasks that need to be completed.
I update this list constantly throughout the day. I’m always adding and transferring things.
If I’ve moved something to my next actions list, it means I have to do something else with it. The items on this list should always start with a verb (action word) so that you know exactly what action needs to be taken. This is where all of my actionable tasks go despite the category they fall under. For example, on my action list, I have a task to “Email guidance counselor”. This is an actionable item so it’s on my next actions list and my home list. Most of my work tasks are listed here, too. They’re also listed on my work list, projects list, and waiting for list. I have a lot of work.
This is where all of the tasks that have multiple steps go. I list it in my inbox and transfer it to projects. I have tasks listed on the project and, sometimes, in waiting for.
My work tasks are listed here if it’s something I need to be aware of. For example, a colleague is working on a project that I need to know about but I don’t have to do anything with it. Having this item in my inbox and on my work list serves as a reminder that it’s still ongoing.
This is where I list everything I want to do with my blog. It originates in my inbox and I move it to my blog list from there. If it’s urgent, I’ll add it to my next actions list, but nothing is at the moment.
All tasks related to my family and home go here. Again, it starts in the inbox and goes from there.
This is a running list of all phone calls I have to make. It doesn’t matter if it’s work, family, or personal. If I have to make a phone call for any reason, it goes on this list.
I’ll be honest – I don’t get out of the house often, but, when I do, I usually have a handful of things to do while I’m out. I’m trying to be efficient in my running around so I save time and money on gas. There are only a few errands on my list right now and that’s go to the bank and pick up prescriptions. Neither of these are urgent so they can wait until I go out again. But, they have to be done so they’re listed in my inbox and were transferred to my errands list.
Let me be clear, this is not your normal, every day shopping/grocery list. Well, for me, it’s not. I use it for things that aren’t common. For example, our washing machine went up a few weeks ago (thank goodness we have a spare) and it needs a part. Well, fix washer is listed in my inbox and was transferred to the home list. Once my husband located the part, I added it to my to buy list. Although I miss my washing machine, I’m not in a big hurry to drop $75 on a part for the door (it’s a front loader).
This list is where all of the things that can be done later go. David Allen calls this the “Someday/Maybe” list. I found that title to be a little too far in the future so I call mine later. Here’s an example:
In my inbox, I have the task to replace the roof on our back porch (it leaks). I’ve moved this task to my home list and the later list because it’s for the home and it’s something that will be done later (it’s rained for a month here and you can’t replace a roof in the rain). However, if I put this on a “someday/maybe” list, I highly doubt I’d look at it.
This list is where I write down everything I’m waiting for that pertains to a specific task. I was tasked with coordinating a presentation for a client. This task went in my inbox, was transferred to next actions and work, then it went to projects (because there are multiple steps), and it’s also on the waiting for list because I’m waiting for someone else to complete a task before I can continue.
This may seem like A LOT of work but it really isn’t. The bulk of the work, for me, was setting it up because I had almost 500 emails to go through, add to my inbox, and sort. Thank goodness my BFF was here and helped me go through it all!
The first thing I do each day is check out my inbox to see what’s on tap for the day. Then, I get started completing them. Now, this is where David Allen’s 2 minute rule comes into play for me. I break my day down into sections; work, personal, and home. I have a morning routine that I follow from 8 am to 9 am before I head to my office and an evening routine I follow when I’m done at the office. During this time, I’ll complete those 2 minute tasks that are related to home and personal that are sitting in my inbox. When I’m at work, I run through my inbox again and tackle those 2 minute work tasks before moving on to the complex ones. When I’m finished with a task and it’s completely done, I highlight it green in my inbox. From there, I check it off on the other list it’s on (next actions, work, blog, etc.) and I keep moving.
What I’ve Gained
I feel like I’ve actually gained time! Having everything written down and organized has been absolutely amazing for me. I don’t feel overwhelmed or as stressed out as I did before. I just started this system about a week ago and it’s been so easy and helpful. Things aren’t falling through the cracks anymore and I don’t worry about forgetting something that needs to be done.
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