My 'Getting Things Done' Setup Over the Years

I’ve been a half invested Getting Things Done (GTD) practitioner for the better part of ten years, probably even longer. Over time my workflow has changed from a basic Filofax and paper notes to numerous applications, Todoist and Evernote were the longest serving applications by far, but even they headed towards the chopping block once the subscription fees started ramping up.

For the longest time I ran a modified version of NextAction which did most of the heavy process lifting in Todoist, but when it came down to it the script was just a kludge to make a non-GTD system work with GTD ideals. NirvanaHQ was designed from the ground up with GTD in mind, and with that a lot of the processes and ideas in GTD worked seamlessly out of the box without any modifications. Moving my workload was easy and after taking a day or two to trial the system I jumped in with a lifetime subscription.

My filing system started out as a basic Evernote account, initially spurred by the good reviews from Merlin Mann and other names in the early GTD community. Evernote seemed to cover the essentials, somewhere to store your documents and with a well thought out organisation and search system. It worked, I gathered around 2,000 documents within a short time period and most of my paper documentation was quickly scanned, stored, and shredded.

Within a few years, Evernote started ramping up their subscription fees. While I can’t argue the service was worth paying for the issue I had was that I was paying for Office365 at the same time, which included OneNote and a sizeable amount of storage. During that time I was trying to reduce my overall subscription costs and decided that Evernote was a easy tool to be rid of, and I migrated to OneNote as my filing system.

NirvanaHQ and OneNote have been the cornerstone of my system for a good three years, and yet again i’ve recently been shown a new system: Notion.

Notion came along and really changed my view of what a filing system could be, with Notion you have the concept of Pages and Databases, which is a new type of flexibility that OneNote or Evernote could never offer. While they both have the concept of tables they were never truly databases that could interlink data.

About the same time I came across the PARA Method which works well with a GTD system to provide some structure and management around your filing system. Within the first book of GTD the filing system is referenced as a store that needs reviewing every so often for cleaning it out, with PARA it splits the mass into “Areas” and “Projects' much like GTD, and assigns the useful information storage to “Resources”.

Notion has allowed me to build my PARA method storage system in a very structured way, allowing me to define a database for areas, projects, and resources but allowing those records within to be free form and formatted how they need to be. PARA is by no means restricted to a certain set of tools, its worth noting that Tiago’s blogs do use Evernote as the example data store.

The only item i’m missing from Notion is something Evernote did really well; storage of actual files. I’ve amassed a large collection of PDFs of scanned payslips, copies of instruction manuals, and receipts from that expensive but fragile item. OneNote had the same issues in that it never really like the concept of storing a file, Notion is the same but i’m sure that over time it’ll resolve itself. For the moment the raw files are filed away on Onedrive, in what seems to be the last bastion of chaos in my system.

My system is now comprised of the following:

I’ve also added a new item on the header of the site to track my workflow tools, and i’ll be keeping it up to date with what i’m using.