Managing Your Life With GTD, Online Tools and a File Cabinet

With the GTD methodology, you need a calendar, lists, inbox and a good old fashioned file cabinet. Here is an implementation of the GTD using Google Apps,,,, an inbox and a file cabinet.

Calendar: Google Calendar

The “hard landscape” is managed here. I use the RTM Google service to get a quick glance of my todo’s for the day on Google calendar.


I have a pro account with RTM so that I can synchronize with my PocketPC using MilkSync. I find their mobile interface, through Pocket IE, very easy to use. I just wish they would remove the numbers between your list items and allow for viewing all tasks without having to click the “more” link.

I use RTM lists to organize my GTD contexts: @Agendas, @Anywhere, @Call, @Daily (these are daily routine tasks, such as exercise), @Errands, @Home, @Online, @PDA, @Projects, @Read/Review, @Reference, @Shopping, @Waiting For, @Someday / Maybe and @Weekly (these are weekly routine tasks, such as my weekly GTD review)

I use the following GTD non-standard lists: Checklists (for example, here I keep a travel preparation routine), Templates (for example, I use a project template that defines the purpose, results and resources needed) and Weekly Goals (the associated link on this task goes to a Google Doc that contains my overall goals).

I use the following RTM smart lists (the search criteria is listed after the dash):

  • @Focus – priority:1 AND NOT list:@Daily AND NOT list:@Weekly AND (dueBefore:Today OR due:Today)
  • Must Do Today – priority:1 and status:incomplete and dueWithin:”1 day of today”
  • No Due Date – due:never
  • Overdue – dueBefore:today
  • This Month – dueWithin:”1 month of 1st”
  • This Week – dueWithin:”1 week of today” OR dueBefore:today

I use RTM tags for projects in the following format: p-[project name]. When I want to do some vertical planning, I click on the project tag.

When I start a project, I typically will mind map it using MindMeister and then link that mind map to the project list item in RTM.

Contact List:

I found HighRise to be a great tool to manage and follow your contacts when you are at the desktop (there mobile interface is not there yet).

Whenever I meet a new contact I enter them into the system, add some relevant tags and a meaningful description, and then assign a follow up task. I make sure each contact has a follow up task so that I can maintain relationships over time.

I also BCC HighRise on all email communications and make a note on all phone or in person conversations so that when I talk to someone later all the notes and emails are in one place. Its useful to get photos of your contacts as well and put them on their HighRise profile.


I use to send tasks and ideas from my phone to RTM.

Inbox: Google Email

I used to use GTD Inbox; however, now I just forward task related emails to my RTM account. The goal is to have a reduced number of inbox’s to check.

Inbox: Physical Inbox

Unfortunately, there is still the need corral snail mail.

Reference: File Cabinet + Bookshelf

The GTD filing method works very will with my workflow. The key, as David mentions, is to make it very easy to use and access. My file cabinet is within arms reach and my labeler is also. I have to get up to peruse my library, but hey, we do need to get up out the chair every once and a while.

Getting Things Done

My execution flow goes like this:

  1. Check Email (all my emails are forward to one Gmail account and I use filters liberally) and do things that can be done in under 2 minutes or else forward into the system.
  2. Check Calendar to make sure I execute any critical items due today.
  3. Check @Focus to keep me focuses on today’s most critical tasks.
  4. Follow the GTD method of execution – Context, Time Available, Energy Available, Priority

Here is a bonus tip: Use to help grow your @waiting_for list. I just posted a request for help with my logo and it currently has 12 bids after one day.


Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
Time Power: A Proven System for Getting More Done in Less Time Than You Ever Thought Possible
How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life (Signet)

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