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My Current GTD System

Getting Things Done

Current GTD System - Full

Yes, I am one of those guys who jumped on the "Getting Things Done" bandwagon a few years ago. While it was probably the single most effective boost to my productivity ever, I did find that there were lots of places that needed to be tweaked for it to fit my business.

For those of you who are new to the whole "Getting Things Done" idea, I highly suggest you give David Allen's Book a read. The idea of the book is relatively simple. Break down large tasks into smaller manageable tasks, then group those tasks so that they can be done quickly and consecutively.

I suppose I should give you a little insight into what I do to let you see how my GTD setup was derived. I split my time between two hats. My main hat is as software developer. The other part of my time is dedicated to photography. There are not many similarities in the two pursuits, other than they both generate a massive amount of information that needs to be stored and interpreted.

The system

I have finally settled on a system that I have used daily for a year or so, and haven't tweaked much. A run that long means that there has been some success with the system, so I'll outline the parts of the system. Over the next few days, I will go over each piece, and expound on how they fit into the big picture. But if you'd like the ten cent tour, here you go:


I was hesitant to include this as the very first line item, but it is the heart of my system. Org-Mode is by no means a casual users' system. This is a high powered, incredibly flexible organizational system powered by gnu emacs. This means that there is a VERY steep learning curve. As I have been writing code using emacs for decades, I was not worried about learning emacs, so orgmode was a natural progression.

If you are at all interested in learning orgmode, let me know, and I can help you get started. My guess is that whoever ends up taking over the world will be using orgmode as their GTD tool to make it happen.


A full outline of my Levenger Circa System can be found here.

I can't even begin to express my love for Levenger. While most of their items are expensive, and luxury items (i.e. you can live a perfectly adequate life without them), the Circa Notebook System is the best notebook system I have used. Yes, I have used them all. The trick with the Levenger system is that you can infinitely move the pieces around your notebook. This means that you can move projects around, file your notes along with other paperwork for the project (see the Circa Desk Punch.

For many years, I searched for a software solution that mimicked as closely as possible the idea of a notebook. It turns out that there is really not good substitution for the real thing yet. A good notebook really is a thing of beauty.


Yes, I use the Hipster PDA. While I understand that GTD says that everything should go into one place and into a trusted system, that's not always the quickest way for me to get things done. I am constantly barraged with phone calls and people stopping me and asking for things. To top that off, I have lots of errands to run and shopping to do (I am the designated cook in my house.)

These are all things that really don't need to be assimilated into my trusted system. They are one off tasks (shopping lists, and errand lists). I use my Hipster PDA as an extended inbox, even though most things never make it to my trusted system.

Fountain Pens

Read my full article about fountain pens here

Another thing I have found is that I tend to take things much more seriously when I write them down in ink. Maybe it's the office supply dork in my surfacing, but I really have spent a good deal of time researching the best pen for my uses.

One of problems I found was that my hand became very tired using ball point pens. After learning to use and care for a fountain pen, I found that there was really no turning back. Decades later, it's still a joy to jot notes, or even pen a letter.

In Closing

Whew! That was a whirlwind tour indeed. Over the next few days, I will go over each point in much more detail. I woud love to hear what works for you, too!

Posted by Sergio T. Ruiz at 27 December 2010, 1:15 pm with tags productivity, gtd, workflow, orgmode, levenger link


I see you stuck with the Circa Notebook! Glad you like it :)

And I second the fountain pen, although my secret joy is my Coletto! http://penhunter.blogspot.com/2008/08/review-hi-tec-c-coleto.html

Posted by Kyotocutie at 28 December 2010, 9:50 pm link

yes! i totally love my fountain pens.. but then again, i am a total dork about that kinda thing.

the circa notebook is probably one of the greatest things i have ever found..

Posted by sergio_101 at 29 December 2010, 8:27 am link


Interesting to see you mentioning org-mode. I've also tried to use it several times in the past and somehow never got into it.

I think part of the problem is that it is so customizable and there's so much you can do with it. I've read a couple of articles on how to set it up for GTD and I found out that I'm spending more time tinkering with the configuration of org than with my actual tasks.

So yeah, please write an article on your own usage and setup of org-mode. One of my resolutions for this year is to switch to it 100% (from OmniFocus).



Posted by Nicky at 4 January 2011, 9:58 am link

hi, nicky!

i will be writing up my org-mode article tomorrow. unfortunately, it won't be a full expose. as you said, it is totally customizable. at this point, i have mine fully tricked out. what ai think i am going to do is give an overhead view, and provide links to other places to go for starters.

if i find that readers are adopting org-mode, i will definitely write more about it.

let me know if there is anything i can do to make sure you get your new year's resolution accomplished! i'd love to help and love to see you succeed..

Posted by sergio_101 at 5 January 2011, 10:57 am link
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