GTD Cafe: The Calendar as Hard Landscape

Today's guest post is from Stephen Smith from Hidden Dragon Biz Blog.

Your calendar or organizer is one of the three pillars of Getting Things Done.
Along with your In-box and Tickler File, your calendar is where things
really happen. In older forms of time management the calendar was
considered to be the central tool of tracking your activities,
generally assigning priority codes or creating an artificial schedule
of how you should execute your day. In the GTD methodology the calendar
is limited in its use:

  1. Time-specific Actions

  2. Time-specific Information

  3. Appointments

That is all. It seems pretty simple, doesn't it? Old habits die
hard, they say, and after years of training in making "daily to-do"
lists, it can be difficult to refrain from writing a list of actions
that you would like to do on a certain day.


"You need to trust your calendar as sacred territory,
reflecting the hard edges of your day's commitments, which should be
noticeable at a glance when you're on the run...those that you
absolutely have to get done on that day."


~David Allen, Getting Things Done

Your Time-specific Actions are those things that must get
done on a specific day, or at a particular time. A conference call, for
example, or a package to be shipped.

Time-specific Information is a category of reference material
that you do not need all the time, like directions to a restaurant or
an agenda for a meeting.

Appointments, of course, are those entries that indicate you
are meeting someone else at a time-specific location.

Everything else that we used to write down in our planners
(or punch into our PDAs) goes into a Context-specific list of Next
Actions. Now there is nothing to say that you cannot keep these lists
in the same notebook or computer file, but when you look at today's
field in your calendar you should only see the places that you have
to be and the things that must get done.

Over the years I have used a variety of calendaring systems: Franklin-Covey,
and a Palm
Each system has its own strengths and weaknesses, and you will need to
find the right system for your needs. If you have some time and
motivation, D*I*Y*Planner
has some terrific templates for creating your own custom system.

I would appreciate hearing about your system, or tools. Leave a
comment below, and I leave you with this quote for the road:


"The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to
schedule your priorities."

Resources for the Road

GTD and Google Calendar

How to Make a GTD System for about $20

Stephen Smith on GTD Gear

Daily Challenge

Pick a planner and use it consistently for 3 weeks.  If it's not working for you, make a change.  If you're already happy with your planner, how can you use it better?