gtd – managing projects

I learned about GTD 5 or 8 years ago, and pretty immediately was trying to use it. Ever since then I keep all of my information in one gtd folder, with Projects and Reference folders, a nextactions file, etc. I’ve blogged before about my tickler file, which frankly rocks and never lets me down.

However, a few months ago I decided I wasn’t happy with my nextactions file. Sitting down for a bit to think about it, it was clear that the following happens: some new project comes in. I only have time to jot a quick note, so I do so in nextactions. Later, another piece of information comes in, so I add it there. Over time, my nextactions files grows and is no longer a nextactions file.

I briefly tried simply not using the Projects/ directory, and keeping a indented/formatted structure in the nextactions file. But that does not work out – I spend most of my time either gazing at too much information, or/and ignoring parts which I hadn’t been working on recently. (I also briefly tried ETM and bug which both are *very* neat, but they similarly didn’t work for me for GTD.)

I have a Projects directory, so why am I not using it? Doing so takes several steps (think of a name, make the directory, open a file in it, make the notes, exit) and after that I don’t have a good system for managing the project files. Looking at a project again involves several steps – cd into gtd/Projects, look around, cd , look again. Clearly, project files needed better tools.

So I wrote up a simple ‘project’ script, with a corresponding bash_completion file. If info comes in for a trip I have to take in a few months, I can simply

	project start trip-sandiego-201303


	p s trip-sandiego-201303

This creates the project directory and opens vim with three buffers, for each of the three files – a summary, actions, and log. (‘project new’ will create without pulling up vim with those files.) Later, I can

	project list

or (for short)

	p l

to list all open projects,

	p e tr<tab>

to edit the project – which again opens the same files, or

	p cat tr<tab>

to cat the files to stdout. I’ve added a ‘Postponed’ directory for projects which are on hold, so I can

	project postpone trip-sandiego-201303

or just

	p po tr<tab>

to temporarily move the project folder into Postponed, or

	p complete tr<tab>

to move the project folder into the Completed/ directory.

I’ve been using this for a few months now, and am very happy with the result. The scipt and completion file are in lp:~serge-hallyn/+junk/gtdproject. It’s really not much, but so useful!

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2 Responses to gtd – managing projects

  1. Dan says:

    For implementing GTD you can use this application:

    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, and a calendar.
    Syncs with Evernote and Google Calendar, and also comes with mobile version, and Android and iPhone apps.

    • s3hh says:


      I love trying new programs in general, so I’ve tried many systems to see
      if their workflow could help me:

      The first two in particular were really cool. However, over the years
      (almost a decade) I’ve learned:

      1. I don’t want something I can use on my phone, for several reasons.
      2. I don’t want email involved.
      3. It cannot slow me down, at all. (This is similar to why I still use only mutt, with local mboxes – synced with offlineimap/fetchnotes/etc – for thousands of daily emails.) So if I have to start up an application, or type whole pathnames, or look through emails, or pull up a GUI, that is not acceptable. That’s why my project script is perfect for me. ‘p e use’ is about as good as it’s going to get.

      3 in particular is something that sounds like I’m being ornery, but when 3 things pop into my head at once, I’ve got to get them down, period.

      But thanks for the link, it still looks neat. I also want to try nitro (, which (for those who want that) should run on both ubuntu phones and laptops.

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