10,000-foot view of My System

September 29, 2016

I was sitting at a meeting yesterday and one of my colleagues (a few years older than me, but not many) was aghast at my paper planner.  She had everything on her iPhone 7, she said, and just couldn’t imagine why anyone would use paper in this day and age.

And to each their own!  I am happy she is happy with the phone.  But I absolutely believe that paper can still be a fantastic mechanism of keeping everything straight, in one place.  My planner offers fewer distractions, never runs out of batteries, and (for me) is incredibly enjoyable to use.

I have been promising GTD/planning post for a while, and I know the delivery has been slow.  But I do want to take the time to share the nuances of my system which has been working for me so well this year.  I don’t know if anyone ever finds PPP (Permanent Planner Peace, obvs 🙂 ) but I’m definitely in a good place.

PLEASE do not confuse the fact that I have a working system with the idea that I am getting everything that I would like to do done every day.  That is just unrealistic.  The slow delivery of these posts alone should illustrate that fact!  Because the truth is, you can’t do (or have) it all.  But I do feel like for the most part I make the most of the time I have, especially the productive time (you all know I still have negative feelings about the way I tend to use chunks of free time, but I’m working on it!).

This morning I created a page that basically sums up my system:

My Planning / Bullet Journal-esque / Getting Things Done-inspired System
(in a nutshell):

That’s pretty much it!  From monthly planning to weekly to daily to in the moment.  Using this framework, I feel like

a) I know what is going on at all times (what I am doing, what is coming up, and what I’m not doing)
b) I can therefore focus on what it is I have planned to do that day
c) I can easily capture new things that come along without feeling overwhelmed by them

In upcoming posts, I can drill down on each level of planning.  (Of note, I would also like to eventually add a Quarterly & Yearly level for really long-range scheming and dreaming — hoping to work that into my schedule this year).  But I also want to know what you’d like me to expand.  I tend do get positive feedback on organizing/planning type posts, and I love these topics and sharing my experiences.  I’m curious — what other questions do you have for me about planning / GTD?


  • Reply Ana March 10, 2019 at 7:10 pm

    Love it! Thanks for sharing. I like keeping my calendar digital (so you can sync up with others and can see it from anywhere) but I like actually planning my days/weeks/months on paper. I need a more free-form space than a digital checklist or calendar allows, and there is something to the act of writing things down in general. Plus, I like getting offline and just sitting down and thinking through the week ahead—I’m on the computer as it is all day, its nice to have a break!
    I’m revisiting the idea of doing a bullet journal (unfortunate acronym, but BuJo also sounds weird) to jot down ideas, little things that don’t really fit into a "plan"

  • Reply Danielle March 10, 2019 at 7:10 pm

    i need paper as well! I only use my phone for appointments. I can never get my head organized with an electronic because what you can view or access at once is so narrow. Plus….well I’m a control freak and paper gives me control over my which types of organization work best for me (which changes depending on the situation!) I love the concept of GTD (I’ve read the book) but it’s overkill for my life right now.

  • Reply Jeanna March 10, 2019 at 7:10 pm

    I recently switched to a Google calendar for appointments, scheduling workouts, and meal planning. I need the built in reminders! I’m curious if you have a reminder system in place for meetings, appointments, etc. I also love the color coding and search options in Google calendar.

    I still like using paper for lists and weekly to-do planning, although I’m starting to use Wunderlist and Evernote apps as well. I’m an engineer, and I definitely feel pressure to embrace the tech!

  • Reply Brandee May 26, 2024 at 10:38 pm

    Late to the party. This is such valuable content. I appreciate the time and attention to the blog and podcast. I am a GTDer. I use a pdf planner ( that allows me to write with a stylus, a paper “side quest log” in a Sweet Freckled Designed weeks, Apple reminders for quick capture, and Google calendar to share with my family.

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