Archives for the month of: June, 2009

There are 5 parts to the GTD process – Collect, Process, Organize, Review, Do. I’ve written about “Review” before and want to write about “Collect” in this post.

Definiton: According to the GTD System, Collect is off-loading what needs to get done from one’s head, capturing everything that is necessary to track, remember, or take action on.

Works: The way this works best is to capture one thought per page. You can then take that page (or scrap or voicemail or email or 3×5 card) and put it into an inbox to be processed. If you are collecting, make sure you are willing to trash, delete or recycle the item once it has been processed.

Doesnt work: This doesn’t work when you have a bound journal and use it to collect your thoughts. The pages turn into large lists and can become overwhelming. The journals themselves are collected and kept because you don’t trust that you have the information from them you need. It is also difficult with digital capture at times due to the delay it takes to get the thought into the system.

What’s it look like: In a post title “My GTD” in January I listed out the systems I use for collection. At the time it included:

  • Cheap 3×5 cards
  • Pocket notetaker
  • Levenger Circa Notebook
  • Pilot G2 Pen
  • Blackberry
  • Lotus Notes
  • Gmail
  • Google Reader

I have made some changes in the last 6 months. This is the cool aspect of GTD. You are not locked into a single tool for your system. You can move around depending on your style, needs and desires.

I’ve switched from a pocket notetaker with 3×5 cards to a small Moleskin notebook for my portable capture device that is always with me. I’m still very much pen and paper. It is the quickest way (for me) to get a thought captured quickly and inexpensively.


“Going Off Grid (GOG)”  – “Going off grid” means creating your own sustainable energy and unplugging from the public power source.  I’m going to use it a bit differently for GTD – When I speak of GOGing I’m talking about creating an “uninterrupted, sustainable work environment.”

Tell me if this scene isn’t familiar – You are working on the status report for your big project.  You see a “new email” alert popup and you go and check it out.  In the email is a link to an article your friend thought was interesting – so you click it. Once you get to the article you see an ad for the new movie you heard about and off you go.  30 minutes later you remember the status report and start back on it.   This cycle repeats itself 3-4 times a day.

Many times when I speak to associates about productivity they tell me how they have great plans to accomplish their work, but they are constantly being interupted – email alerts, IM messages, people dropping by your desk, reminders, shiny objects in the distance.

My suggestion – GOG. Go off the grid. For whatever period of time you need  – close email, set IM to “do not disturb”, kill RSS alerts, exit webmail, close all unnecessary applications. Find a quiet space and WORK.  Depending on your role, this could be for 15m, 30m, 2h or the whole day.  15m of uninterrupted, focused work is equivalent to 30m of work with 2-3 small interruptions.

Why? Because everytime you are interrupted you need to take valuable minutes  to find your place on the work you were originally doing.  If this proves difficult for you to do (and it will for some) I suggest you get a timer and set it for 15m. Start the timer when you are GOGing and stay off the grid for the whole time.  It might be tough, but it will feel so good!