Ask the Readers: How Do You Setup Your GTD Trusted System?

Marco sent me an email recently:

The last weeks I have worked on my “trusted system” and I looked for the best software and hardware to use.

Currently I’m using:
Palm Vx
Scanner Cannon 4400F
– FileServer running Linux Ubuntu 8.0.4
– Additional backups on external hard disk
(I’m still looking for a good document management system…)

Everything is stored on a Linux Ubuntu server and in addition I’m using an external disk for backups.

Now I was wondering how others have setup their “trusted system” and how they organize their information, documents,… Maybe this might be an idea for a blog entry?

Good idea, Marco! That’s an interesting topic. By the way, for those of you who aren’t familiar with GTD (from the book Getting Things Done), the term trusted system might be confusing. Productivity Cafe has a good explanation about it:

A trusted system is a key GTD concept because you can rely on the trusted system to house what your next actions and projects are. You know that you almost exclusively use your system to track progress, record things, hold ideas, take notes, keep your lists and hold all the elements of your GTD implementation. Thus, when you need to refer to something or take action, you go to your trusted system knowing what you’re looking for is there.

I must say that I’m not an expert in productivity tools since I don’t take the time to experiment with new tools. Instead, I just find the tools that work for me and stick with them.

So I would love to learn from you: what tools do you use?

To be fair, I will share my trusted system setup first. Here it is:

All right, it’s now your turn. How do you setup your GTD trusted system?

This article is part of June 2008 theme: Productivity


  1. My own system is an overly simplistic one.

    Real world:

    – Moleskine (Collect)
    – Inbox Tray
    – A-Z- filing system
    – “Hold” Tray for active projects and pending items.

    Digital World:

    – Things from Cultured Code (Task management)
    – A-Z folders & Spotlight on a Mac (Reference)
    – iCal

    My preferred Mail app is from Apple. 🙂

  2. Good topic…

    My system is not quite trusted, but certainly getting there. The main sites I use are:

    – gmail (with gtd tags)
    – google calendar
    – (again using gtd tags)
    – for lists
    – (for project management)
    – pen and paper (capture)

    I really love using all of these tools/ sites, and cant imagine which I would give up… but at the same time, they don’t quite fit together into a trusted system yet…

  3. A notepad and my weekly planner (which you can view here) are my only tools for managing projects and capturing ideas. Works like a charm for me nowadays in spite of (or because of) its simplicity.

  4. I use Outlook, bubbl, and Excel. Bubbl helps organize my thoughts. Excel allows me to sort by prioritization, subject, etc. Also, I can have a worksheet for tasks, motivations, concerns, tips, etc.

  5. Arjun, Alexis, James, and MyPOV,
    Thanks for sharing your trusted system setup! I’m impressed by the diversity of the setups you have. To be honest, there are a lot of the tools you mentioned that I’ve never heard before. Looks like my world is too narrow 🙂

    Very interesting templates. More and more people go back to paper-based productivity system these days and your templates make it much easier to do.

  6. Paper and pen. I’m with James, here. I have a big 8×11 weekly planner (I just upgraded from the novel-sized one) and a padfolio which holds my graph pad (I don’t like regular ruled paper…) and a few folders which current projects/notes/etc., in them. Plus a little moleskin for notes, ideas, lists that don’t find a place in my planner. I’ve tried incorporating different online stuff, and I still use some Google Apps, but I always come back to paper and pen. I just think better when I’m moving that pen across the page.

  7. On document management. Since you already have an Ubuntu server set up you could use SVN, or CVS but a full fledged versioning system might be overkill. I have an Ubuntu server setup running eGroupware, and mydms.

    I use eGroupware as a household next action/calendar system and I use mydms to manage my personal documents. There are tons of others available from things like bugzilla to gforge which can be bent to GTD.

  8. Annie and Leslie,
    Very interesting setups. I’m now better equipped in case I want to move to paper-based or Linux-based system.

  9. I use

    Although it’s based on David Allen’s GTD, it also implements ideas from Stephen Covey that are important, like Goals setting and Prioritizing.

  10. Hai Donald, I am Sigit, I use OneNote 2007..

    because I want to take my system mobile with my Pocket PC, so I also install OneNote Mobile on my pocket pc..

    When synchronizing happens between my notebook and pocket pc..automatically one notebook created..then I just add some pages :
    1. Inbox
    2. Next Actions
    3. Some pages for projects
    4. Perspective

    The workflow, you just edit your pages like usual in GTD flowchart, and dont forget to synchronize it.

    One Condition that we must remember that we cant change the pages that update in notebook and pocket pc. it will make ActiveSync into the Unresolved Item.

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