Common GTD pitfalls (part 1 of 2)


After a few months of happy GTD-ing, I thought it was time to list some of the common pitfalls that you may encounter; I know I certainly have! :)

David Allen’s Getting Things Done action management methodology seems to be easy to implement and maintain. However, in reality it requires constant focus and discipline to really get things done; we are only human after all (well, most of us ;) ) and distractions and procrastination are always out to get you!

From my own experience I will describe -in no particular order- some of the common pitfalls I have encountered and probably will encounter again while practicing Getting Things Done. More importantly, I will try to give you some pointers on how to avoid these common pitfalls on your adventure in GTD-land.

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My former GTD system – and why I abandoned it!


Almost everybody who starts with Getting Things Done, will struggle with at least two things:

  • implementing GTD and keeping it going on a day-to-day basis;
  • finding the right GTD tools and using them consistently.

I am certainly no exception to these two points. In only a couple of months since I started Getting Things Done, I think I must have tried close to 10 digital and/or analog GTD tools. The digital GTD tools I have used will be featured in another blog entry, along with the (dis)advantages of using them. One of the analog GTD systems I settled on fairly quickly after starting my GTD adventure is described in the rest of this blog entry, also stating the reasons why I am not using it anymore.

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Combining your wallet and hPDA in a Moleskine Memo Pockets

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Another blog on GTD/productivity just published an interesting idea, which is basically to use a Moleskine Memo Pockets (6 pocket-sized pockets) as a combined replacement for your wallet and your hPDA. I’m thinking it might also be a great idea to just use the Memo Pockets for a mobile GTD system (similar to the Moleskine Info Book with GTD hack). There are lots of pictures of the Memo Pockets in action on Flickr: the combined wallet/hPDA, and other GTD uses.

GTD hack for pocket Moleskine infobook


We all know and love our pocket-sized Moleskines, whether it be ruled, squared or plain. It is -of course- possible to hack pocket (or large) Moleskine notebooks for use with GTD. See, for instance, this article on

The drawback -to me at least- of these existing notebook GTD hacks is that you end up with lots of labels and tags sticking out of your elegant Moleskine, which I find rather awkward.

I’ve found a rather obvious solution which is pretty elegant nonetheless. Using nothing more than a standard pocket Moleskine infobook and a label writer, I have created the perfect GTD tool.

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GTD recap 2007 (by Merlin Mann)

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Merlin Mann has just posted a recap about GTD on his blog over at

Six new Moleskines

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I just bought six brand new pocket-sized Moleskines. In some of the pictures below they are still wrapped in plastic!

Diary 2007, sketchbook, infobook, squared, ruled and plain

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Tools of the trade


Let me show you some of the tools I’m using at the moment to Get Things Done. Click on the photos to view a larger version.

Desk overview

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Implementing GTD with Excel


Update Oct 28, 2007: Check out my Free Stuff page for a free, “as is” version of my GTD System for Excel. Use at your own risk. Read all warning and usage texts in the Excel sheet itself. You have been warned! NO SUPPORT for this version. Updates and more stable, commercial versions may follow. Feedback is appreciated.

Update Aug 03, 2007: I’ve stopped using my Excel sheet for GTD about 3 months ago as I’m using a PDA with ListPro as the core of my GTD system at the moment. I’ve decided to release a free, “as is” version of the Excel sheet. I need to brush it up a little first. If you don’t see it appearing for download on my site in, say, a couple of weeks, then remind me nicely :)

Update Mar 18, 2007: This article describes my current GTD system in words and pictures. At this moment there is no downloadable Excel sheet! If this changes, my blog readers will be the first to know. See the comments section of this post for further discussion.

It is perfectly possible to implement GTD in Excel. In fact, I think Excel is a perfect tool for many purposes. Using a combination of built-in Excel formulas and my own custom made VBA code, I have implemented a basic GTD system for myself. It is in fact an ongoing project, but I am using the system successfully every day.

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Starting this blog

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Well, this is my first real entry into this blog about GTD. I have literally just finished setting up this blog about one hour ago. GTD (or, Getting Things Done for those who are not yet “in the know” ;) ) has kept me rather busy and intrigued the past couple of months and I have decided that it is time to share my experiences concerning GTD with you.

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