Project and Actions and Reference … oh my

By Benjamin Aggrey 6 years ago7 Comments
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The GTD Workflow diagram is a great format to help you process and organise all the items from your !nbox. Once an item has been processed and organised, it appears in one of the following buckets:

  • Trash
  • Reference
  • Next Actions
  • Ticklers
  • Waiting For
  • Project List and Project Support Materials
  • Someday/Maybe
  • Horizons of Focus

It can seem to be a daunting endeavour to process, and then later find, all captured content, but with a well-categorised repository it can be easily managed.

In the 11+ years I have been learning/using GTD, I have never come across a single item that did not fit into one of these buckets. Not one. And so my advise to you is that if you can create a system that has a well-defined location for each of those buckets, you’ll be on the absolute right track. In this blog post, I walk you through how I set up these buckets in Evernote. 

The majority of my reference is stored into one notebook I call ~File Cabinet. Each piece of reference is tagged with a description. For example, funny or inspiring facebook graphics get tagged with picture, humor, and/or inspiration. Articles about technology in Africa get tagged with Technology in Africa, and so forth.
In addition to this folder though, I do keep completed projects, next actions and file notes in a separate archive folder in my reference section. You will see below I have both a 2012 project archive and a current 2013 project reference folder.

All these reference folders are housed under a notebook stack with a title that begins with Z. so it sorts to the bottom of my notebook stacks.
I also have a separate section for checklists and templates which I place under a notebook section that starts with Y. I store this just above my main reference section because I access this reference content far more often than I do the other reference content.
Action Lists 
I keep actions that do not belong to a specific project separate from those that are part of a project.
For actions not related to a project, I keep a series of folders within a Notebook stack I title A. Single Items.
All other next actions, I keep in a series of project files organised into notebook stacks which are organized by priority, status or ownership. Let me explain further.
Now Projects = Projects I am focusing on this week.
Next Projects = I need to get to these projects in the next week or two
Soon Projects = I will need to get to these projects in the next month or two
Later Projects = I will get to these projects when I have availability
Their Projects = Projects I have delegated
Tickled Projects = Projects that are on hold pending a tickler or completion of another action.
I keep my Someday/Maybe lists in a separate notebook stack called X. Someday/Maybe. I keep my higher level horizons of focus in a Mindjet MindManager mindmap, but if I did not, they would likely be in this section.
This is organised by simple lists of items (example: places to visit someday), or lists of lists (example: Movies to watch in my & S/M Lists notebook). My general rule of thumb is that if an item can become a separate project (e.g. visit Barcelona), it will become a note in the appropriate notebook, rather than a simple checklist item in a note (example: Watch Ice Age 2 on my Movies to watch note).
Let’s talk
What interesting notebooks have you created in your evernote system?
GTD® and Getting Things Done® are registered trademarks of the David Allen Company. is not affiliated with or endorsed by the David Allen Company.
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  • Ray Frew says:

    Thanks for sharing your thought – I’m finding your way of ordering the “chaos” very useful. One thing I’m struggling with is how to organise tasks within a project that are dependent on each other. Would you use a numbering system in the title of the note? For example 1-0 Foundations, 1-1 Dig trench, 1-2 Confirm depth, 1-3 Pour Concrete, 2-0 Build wall, 2-1 Collect bricks, 2-2 Mix mortar, 2-3 Lay courses of brick etc etc Would you have an over-arching note about the project where you could record progress?
    Any thought welcomed.
    Best regards Ray

    • enyonam says:

      Glad to hear it’s been useful Ray! That’s the reason I started to blog.

      To answer your question, I do not create notes for all the tasks in a project … I only create a note for each next actions. So if 1-1 Dig trench is the very next action… that’s the only note I create. I may keep in the project note a brainstorm of possible next actions. I also keep notes about some history in that project note as well.

      I’ve written a whole post about how I manage projects: Please take a look – it should answer most of your questions. If not do post back.

  • Wohh just what I was looking for, thanks for posting.

    • enyonam says:

      Great to hear it was just what you needed. Infact that’s why I started writing … could find great content but did not seem to quite hit the mark. Thanks for commenting

  • Yeah bookmaking this wasn’t a speculative conclusion great post! isabel marant online

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