06 November 2014

My set up (based on Getting Things Done) - by Anita

I am a fan of Getting Things Done and had already read the book before I purchased my first Filofax. A portable leather binder seemed the perfect solution to keeping everything all in one place, and I have been using a GTD based set up since day one. I very rarely change anything in my system as I know it works so well, and any problems tend to come from me not keeping it up to date.

My current sections are as follows:
  • Notes/In - this is regularly processed to zero, with some blank paper at the back
  • Next actions - my to-do lists with everything broken down into an action that is ready to be done, rather than something like 'file my tax return' (which would go into Projects)
  • Projects - a list of current projects at the front with details about each project 
  • Reference/Miscellaneous. 
I haven't used a Filofax as a diary for some years now and use Google calendar on my iPod Touch instead.
I am on a bit of a simplifying mission in general right now, so it isn't surprising that my Filofaxes have come under some recent scrutiny! I love these dividers that I have been using, but they just feel a bit too cute for me right now. These Franklin Covey multi-colour Pagefinders are just what I wanted to add a bit of colour without any patterns or adding too much bulk. 

This is what the front of my Kensington looks like, but since taking the photo I have processed the notes into the appropriate place or done the action.   

I used to have a divider for Notes/In at the front, but it occurred to me that I just didn't need it as it's always the first thing that I come to. The plastic pencil case is very handy for holding receipts etc. and for sticking post-its on. 

My to-dos (called next actions in GTD) are sorted by context to break them down into where I need to be, or what to use to do them. I can easily feel overwhelmed, so just focusing on one list really helps me. I currently have:
  • @ Mac (renamed as I finally moved from PC to one)
  • @ home
  • @ errands
  • @ phone
  • @ waiting for
  • @ someday/maybe - regularly reviewed so that it doesn't become a dumping ground, and future projects go here. 

I used to use alphabet stamps to write the context on the top, but I gave them away as just writing in a different colour helps it stand out. I've also used Filofax to-do inserts and the Philofaxy ones, but unlined paper seems to be suiting me the best right now. I only use lined or plain inserts, and don't print any forms. Once again, I'm just trying to keep it simple.   

At the start of my project section, I keep a copy of some GTD guidelines on how to plan a project. 

I'm considering adding an A-Z index to my final reference/miscellaneous section as it could do with a bit of tidying up.

At the back of my binder, I keep a laminated copy of the GTD workflow diagram, which I find invaluable in helping me figure what to do with all my stuff.

GTD workflow diagram
As you can see from my photographs, I'm not really one for decorating my filo. Whilst I enjoy looking at other people's washi tape and stickers etc., I know that I would personally find it too busy to look at. As well as the coloured Pagefinders, I do have some other bits and pieces that help brighten it up.

Sushi notepaper for ad-hoc notes

An envelope from my wedding used as an extra bookmark
I also have my red A5 Ascot which currently houses some study notes, more project support info and reading materials.

If you are interested in reading more about GTD and Filofaxes, you can find other posts on the subject here.


  1. Hi Anita! Where does your diary live in your set-up? :)

  2. Hi Kate,
    I was just coming to update my post with that :)

    I use Google calendar on my iPod touch.
    I used a mini Finsbury as a wallet & diary some years ago, but found the pages were too small & it was a struggle to get coins out of the pocket. I do sometimes miss a paper diary, but being able to share calendars with my hubby is very convenient.

  3. Hi Anita, and thank you for a really interesting post. It's interesting to see that although we both use GTD principles, our set-ups are different in the detail (and I keep my diary in my organiser).

    I'm always impressed at how much can be compressed into so little space using GTD principles, and still retain a sense of order. Thank you for linking to my posts, I really appreciate it!

    1. Hi David, I do think it shows how flexible GTD is & I will be re-visiting your posts to have a read. I may borrow one or two things from you!

      I agree & I love how portable it is in a personal binder. It's a shame that you aren't coming to the meet up this weekend as I would've loved to have had a chat :)

    2. hi Anita, regrettably weekends are premium time for me and difficult. Where in the UK are you? Drop me a line off-list at davidcpopely (at) gmail (dot) com and maybe we can arrange to meet some other time. I'd very much like to compare GTD notes......

    3. That would be wonderful, David! I will send you an email.

  4. Hi Anita, TFS. I love to see "working" planners. For me, decorating ahead of time is to constricting. Never know how the day will go. Plans can change from one minute to the next..and I don't even have kids to deal with. So, I go by the KISS principle and just add a sticker or two at the end of the day. Love your planner.