The Zen of List Keeping

I've been a list keeper for as long as I can remember.  It began as a basic means of keeping things in placeholders in my old Palm PDA.  The simple memo feature was perfect for keeping track of my blood pressure, bike race statistics or talks that I had given and didn't want to repeat to the same audience.

That was then.  This is now- let's just say my list keeping has recently gone into overdrive.  And I'm loving it.

What's brought on the recent maturation of my list keeping?  Simply put- GTD.  David Allen's Getting Things Done methodology has been very important to my productivity ever since the book came out.  I can remember stopping on my way home from work to sit and read a chapter and it was hard to put down.

Well it's been nearly eight years since then and I feel like I'm learning GTD all over again.  Thanks to the GTD Live audio set, I've spent the past few weeks retooling and recalibrating my systems.  Ultimately, I've tried to keep the following in mind:


This won't make sense until you try, consistently, to get thoughts out of your head and into a trusted system.  Whether you put it on paper or use a digital device, just do it.  I use a hybridized system that looks like this:

  • iPhone for capturing photographs (currently using Evernote) and context-specific ideas (currently using Toodledo)

  • Pocket notebook (currently using one from Staples, very inexpensive) for on-the-fly to-do's and various other ground level ideas. It's lightweight and super fast.


This is a must for me as I didn't want to lose any of the items in my lists.  If I'm trusting a system, a backup plan is crucial.  That's why I dumped Things for the iPhone and have made nice with Toodledo.  This is a solid app that allows for quick syncing with the click of a button.


I've seen a marked improvement in my ability to draft new articles and blog posts.  I've seen my downtime become more enjoyable and as for my prayer life, I'm recapturing lost ground.  I find that I can focus more in my a.m. quiet time due to the fact that fewer distractions pop in.  Why?  Because I've got so much stuff in my lists.

Later in the week, I'll provide a glimpse inside my lists, including the contexts that keep me organized.


*Photo by thatcanadiangirl