Make A “Getting Things Done” Planner

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For the past five years I’ve been making my own planners. I started making my own pages because I wasn’t always able to find the type of layouts I wanted in the store bought planners. Oh, and because I’m kind of a cheapskate too, but most of you know that by now.

It’s also been my tradition to share these free printable planner pages on my blog every year, and this is the time of year when I start giving that project my attention again.

But this year as I sat down to start thinking about what might be helpful for me in terms of a paper planner, I once again found myself referring back to one of my favorite books on productivity – “Getting Things Done” by David Allen.

DIY planner page using Getting Things Done principles

This book has been around for awhile now and although some of it might seem more pertinent to busy, high-powered executives, it still contains lots of great thoughts on productivity for us regular folks too. I’ve found lots of the info in this book to be spot-on, but it hasn’t been quite as easy for me to always make it happen in real life. But the new planner page I’m making for myself this year, hopefully, will better help me put some of his advice into action.

Here are a few nuggets of wisdom that I’ve gleaned from reading through his book a few times now:

Get things out of your head and onto paper.
Mr. Allen is big on lists. Like really big on lists. The more you can get out of your head and written down on paper, the better. He calls this “capturing”. This isn’t necessarily a to-do list either. It can be lists of any thoughts that are rattling around in your head, like “Books I Want to Read”, or “Things to be Deep Cleaned in my House”. Capturing all those nagging thoughts and ideas on paper frees your mind to help you focus. This methodology is sometimes called a Brain Dump too, as you dump all the things on your mind out into written form on paper.

Calendars are for appointments.
So lists are great and everything, but they aren’t intended to be on calendars. Calendars with date and time slots are simply that, a place to keep track of dates and times when you need to show up or be available for a particular event. If you use your calendar for to-do lists, you might just have to keep rewriting things over and over if they cannot be accomplished on the date and time where you first wrote them.

Think in terms of the next actionable step. 
At some point you’ll still want to write a to-do list, but Mr. Allen has advice on how to do that too. He asserts, correctly I might add, that most things we do are really “projects” and more than one step is needed to bring that item to completion. So if one of the things in your brain dump list is “Paint the Kitchen”, the next actionable step on your to-do list might be “Go to store and get paint swatches”. Strive for a to-do list that gives you very concrete and clear steps for what action comes next so you can keep moving forward and stay productive.

Have a weekly review. 
Finally, if you have indeed taken the time to create lists and get things out of your head and onto paper, you should keep reviewing those lists to help you stay aware of all those areas where you have various hopes, goals, needs, and responsibilities. Mr. Allen suggests that a weekly habit in this area is ideal and can help you decide on the best course of action for any upcoming week. A weekly review of all your lists can also help you keep moving forward on longer-term goals and things on a wish-list, rather than always just tackling the urgent or obvious.

My DIY “Getting Things Done” Weekly Planner

So with those thoughts in mind, I’m sharing a free printable planner page here to help put those Getting Things Done principles into action.

Free printable planner page in a disc bound notebook

On one side of the planner I just have big boxes for “capturing” so I can get things out of my head and written down. These are usually things I’m hoping to accomplish in my week for different categories of my life (home, work, health, errands). This helps me write things down as they come to me without worry about assigning it to a certain day’s to-do list.

On the other side of the planner I now have smaller boxes for my calendar appointments. Most weeks I only have one or two entries that are specific to a certain date and time. I decided I didn’t really need to give as much space to that area as I did previously.

make your own Getting Things Done Planner

Then, I’ve added a new place for a daily to-do list that I’ve decided is just going to be a post-it note! Each day, I’m hoping to make a new list on a fresh post-it note so I can jot down what’s on my mind to do for that day, which can include any “next actionable steps” from the thoughts on the other (capturing) side of the page.

If this looks like a format you would like to try to, I’ll be providing links below to print your own pages and give it a try. I have two colors available (green & pink floral, and a basic gray & teal) and I have two sizes. There’s a half size (junior size) that’s set up to be cut in half after printing to create pages that are 5.5 x 8.5 for the 7 disc notebooks. I also have a full size to be printed on 8.5×11 paper and not cut, and that will fit in the 11 disc notebooks or in standard 3 ring binders.

They’re Fillable Too!

And finally, I’ve created these pages to be fillable, so that you can type in your info for the month and year, your own calendar dates for any upcoming week, and type in the days of the week with a starting day that makes the most sense for you. You can also change the name of any section of the planner to something you prefer, and you can add a title to each of the four boxes for different areas of your life where you need to capture your thoughts.

Here are the links for printing:

Half Size GTD Layout – Green & Pink
Half Size GTD Layout – Gray & Teal

Full Size GTD Layout – Green & Pink
Full Size GTD Layout – Gray & Teal

You can also go here for more of my – > free fillable pdf planner printables where I have other weekly, monthly, and daily layouts.

Mr. Allen has never marketed a planner to sell that incorporates his advice and that’s because he believes you should just follow his principles and then set up what works for you. He’s a man after my own heart . . . he just wants you to make your own. ๐Ÿ™‚

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