My GTD system - the planner

GTD is a "work-life management system" created by David Allen and described in his book "Getting Things Done".
I never read the actual book (it's on my wish list), but I read a lot on his and others websites about the method.
Last year I decided to implement the GTD system in my life. I have modified it a little to fit my needs and I don't follow everything religiously.

I was once asked by a reader on my other blog how to get started with GTD. So I'll share my experience with you.

The first thing I did was my planner.

I chose a paper planner instead of a computer-based one, because I like paper and I like to carry my planner everywhere. In addition, I have enough technology and state-of-the-art scientific equipments at work as it is, so I'd rather stick to simple things whenever I can.

So my planner is a simple A5 binder with different sections, filled with simple ruled white paper (except the Calendar part):

This is where I write all the information that I don't have time or can not process at the moment; random musings and ideas also go there, as well as reminders, emails to send, phone calls to make, etc.
The idea is to process all that information later. Processing can be several things, such as writing in the calendar, or in one of the action lists or file for future reference.
I have other inboxes, such as the inbox tray at work and another one at home, where all the papers, letters, bills, end up, waiting to be processed. At work, I try to empty my inbox everyday. At home, I usually do it on the weekend, unless it's something urgent.

Weekly calendar
I only write day-specific appointments (e.g., meetings), day-specific actions (e.g., make some important phone call) and important information for that day (e.g., somebody's birthday) in the calendar. We should not write our to-do lists here, because they often don't match the reality of our day and we eventually end up writing the same things in more than one place, adding nothing but entropy to the planner. I'd rather write my to-dos for the week on a post-it and stick it to the calendar.

Expense tracker
I have several bank accounts and here's where I write all the movements. This way, I always know how much I have on each account. I also make my monthly budgets here.

Action lists
List of actions that should be finished in a near future. The lists should be divided by context. My action lists are: office, lab, errands, home/family, crafts, self. Each item is immediately crossed off when completed.

Projects that require more than one action to be finished. For instance, writing a scientific article is a (big) project that can be further divided into several smaller actions, such as reading other articles, data analyses, writing the article. I'm not a multitasker, so I try to have only 2-3 work projects at the same time.

Waiting for
Projects and actions that others are supposed to be doing, that are important for me and don't depend on me to be completed.

Lists of projects or actions I would like to do in the future, but that are not urgent or important for now.

Where I store important personal information, important dates, wish lists, contacts (only the most important ones, such as doctors and family) and stuff like that.

Up next, one of the fulcral points of GTD - the weekly review!


My Etsy shop

I add some items to my Etsy shop and I'm offering free shipping, so take a look if you'd like to!

Making me sick

There are two things that really make me sick:

- the excuse "I don't have time" - this is the worst thing a co-worker can say to me, especially when they're single with no children. I have two kids, a home to take care of, a demanding job, and I have time. It's all a matter of time management and planning. I'd rather hear them saying "I didn't do this or that because I didn't feel like it". Plain and simple.

- people complaining about their jobs - this is such a Portuguese thing. At least, I don't think I've ever read foreign blogs where people complain about having to go to work. Things like "oh, bummer, tomorrow is monday, I have to go to work" really pisses me off. I think we should be all proud and thankful for having jobs, instead of complaining about them. But then again, this Portuguese mentality is in part responsible for the economical problems that Portugal is facing right now. There are several reasons why northern european countries are rich and productive, and people's strong mentality and will to move forward is one of them.

That being said, I love Portugal (we have wonderful things like the weather, the food and the history, and people are usually warm and friendly), but if I was offered a god job in places such as Norway, Sweden, Denmark, or even Germany, I would fly out tomorrow.


Balcony season is open!

The weather here in the Algarve is so nice and warm, so now we have all our meals outside.
And instead of watching tv, we listen to music (today was a Gershwin cd, but most times is jazz). 
And it feels so good...

My GTD office desk

Here's my desk at the University this afternoon. My inbox and to file trays are empty, and the only papers I have on the desk are the ones related to my current project. I love GTD!

Playing with photos

"A Softer World" is a 3-pannel long webcomic launched in 2003 by Canadians Joey Comeau and Emily Horne.
There's a group on Flickr dedicated to 3-pannel strips like ASW, made by Flickr members. Some of my favourites include this and this by Nieske. I just love them!

Last year, inspired by all the fantastic strips on Flickr, I even made some of my own:

Surprise party

Yesterday I threw a surprise dinner party to celebrate the hubby's 40th birthday. 
I invited family and friends, and it was fun! Maybe I'll take him for a surprise weekend abroad (maybe Paris, where he was born) when he turns 50...


Some random musings

I love to procrastinate. Well, I don't love it, but I do it quite often... like just right now...

I have several urgent and important actions in my action list (I follow the GTD method), I have an article to write and a lot of lab work to do, including several dozens of phytoplankton samples to count at the microscope, but I just don't feel like it right now...

Earlier today I manage to empty my inbox and to file trays on my desk, so that was a nice jump start of my day!

And I finally ordered Holly Becker's book, Decorate, from Amazon. I was indecisive about whether or not to buy the book, but this article in Red magazine made up my mind!

Oh, and if you'd like to see the cutest and loveliest way of announcing pregnancy to the world, check out Astrid's post. Congratulations Astrid and Sølve!


Jazz Radio

I've recently found JazzRadio, an online radio offering many different jazz styles, including piano jazz, cool jazz, classical jazz, paris café, contemporary vocals, Sinatra style, and many others. If you're into jazz, you'll like it for sure!


Editing my wardrobe and keeping it simple

Inspired by Leo's post, yesterday evening I took a deep breath and started to edit my wardrobe - drawer by drawer. I got rid of 12 pairs of shoes, many tops and blouses, and even earrings and bracelets.

So, I put out all my clothes, drawer by drawer, shelf by shelf. I took a good look at each item and asked myself, do I wear this? Does this fit? Is this out of style? Does this match with other items? If the answer was no, then it went away... Actually, I put many of these items (especially shoes) in a box in the basement, and I'll see within a few months if I still want to toss them... The other items will be donated.

Now I have to keep my closet uncluttered and simple. Leo suggests sticking to the same colour scheme, so that all the items match. Lately, I've been wearing (and buying) mostly white, cream, beige, brown, grey and black. Indeed, yesterday I tossed pretty red, pink and yellow tops just because of the colour... I was feeling anxious and a bit scared to do that, but I did it! And it feels so good, it really does, to see my wardrobe lighter, more uniform and simple!

Box - to keep for a while and re-evaluate within a few months. Bags - to donate.

I think I did a great job, don't you?
I even found an old t-shirt that I love, and wore it today!


Again, New York I love you

One of the most beautiful and exciting movie scenes ever.

I spent the last hours mercilessly editing my closet. I tossed out 12 pairs of shoes, can you believe it? Now I have only 43...

Art at grandma's: the story of flight

Another Ladybird Achievements book - The Story of Flight, by Richard Bowood with illustrations by Robert Ayton, published in 1960.

 An early "bird-man"



 A Zeppelin raid over London

A modern airliner (1960's modern...)


Clear out e-mail inboxes

Right now I have 6 (yes, six!!) e-mail accounts.

One at work - for work stuff only.
3 gmail accounts - one personal, one for my (nearly dead and buried) craft business, and the third for this blog
1 hotmail account - very, very old, I never use it now
1 yahoo account - had to get it for flickr

I followed Leo Babauta's advice and cleared out my e-mail inboxes (except the work one, that's tomorrow at work) - I deleted more than 500 e-mails and ended up with only 4 e-mails in one of the inboxes!
Now I'm gonna reward myself with chocolate!


One of Leo Babauta's goals for 2007 was "Simplify: Reduce my needs. Reduce clutter. Reduce complications in life. Simplify workday. Simplify the house. Create times of peace (meditation, running, reading, quiet times with wife, kids)."

How inspired I feel by his wise words - to simplify everything around me has been one of my goals for ages, but I still have a long way to go. 
It's 10:30 pm here in Faro, the weather is nice and warm, and I'm seated outside in the balcony with my laptop and an anti-mosquito candle, listening to Maria Callas on you tube and reading Leo Babauta's blog Zen Habits from the very beginning. 
I have the inspiration I need to improve my life. And I'll start tomorrow - by getting up at 6:30 to go to the gym!


Art at grandma's: the story of houses and homes

"The Story of Houses and Homes" is a Ladybird Achievements Book published in 1963, written by Richard Bowood and illustrated by Robert Ayton. It belongs to my grandmother, an English teacher. I've been fascinated by the illustrations ever since I was little.

It's a children's book that tells the story of houses and homes in England, from the rock shelter of primitive man through the modern apartment buildings. The illustrations are truly amazing! Here are some of my favourites.

 Inside a Roman villa

 A medieval manor house

 An Elizabethan mansion

 17th century mansion

Georgian houses 

A Regency house

Victorian gothic house

1930's home

1960's home

New York I love you and others

I watched the movie the other day - and loved it... Especially the Allen Hughes segment, with Drea de Matteo and Bradley Cooper. And the music... what a beautiful piece of music by Atticus Ross, so dark ambient and yet, romantic (at least that's how it sounds for me)...

Recently, I've also found two other amazing songs from the Twilight Saga: Roslyn and Hearing Damage.
I'm totally into jazz and classical music, but I get so thrilled when I find other songs and styles - I usually download them to my mp3 player and listen to them over and over, walking to work.


Wild flowers

Some pictures taken this week, somewhere in the Algarve...


Adding colour to my white & beige room

My bedroom has always been my biggest decorating challenge since I moved to my home in 2004. 
You can't imagine how many different curtains and dovet covers and colour schemes I've had in my bedroom in the last years...


Finally, a few months ago, I realized that white and beige was my thing! I love white and it just seems the right colour for a peaceful bedroom. 


But I just needed to add a little bit of colour here and there, so I made new pillows from some old curtains.


The oil paintings are reproductions made by my sister-in-law for her art classes. The originals, Bustier Blanc and Pomelos Roses, are by Pierre Farel.
The red bedspread is for my cats - they love to lay down there in the morning, basking under the sun...


I like: cool jazz and Miles Davis

I love jazz, particularly cool jazz
A few months ago, I found the soundtrack of a 1958 french film noir "L'Ascenseur pour l'Echafaud" at the library, and fell in love with it. 
The music is by Miles Davis. Do I need to say more? It was described by a jazz critic as "the loneliest trumpet sound you will ever hear, and the model for sad-core music ever since. Hear it and weep."

Art at grandma's: handpainted plates

My grandmother's home is filled with beautiful things. Paintings, ceramics, books, old vinyl records.
These handpainted ceramic plates are reproductions from the XVI through XVIII centuries, from Coimbra.

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