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February 28, 2007

GTD SOP #1: My Little Red Pad

[This is the first of a series covering the Getting Things Done Standard Operating Procedures I use to manage my goals, priorities and workload. I thought I’d share these because they’ve made and continue to make a huge difference in my productivity, and I hope they will for you too!]


The Little Red Pad.

What: A small, distinctive pad with 3 x 5 card inserts.
Use: Every single task not immediately done (tasks needing less than about 2 minutes) gets written here first.
Source: http://levenger.com

My Little Red Pad is a USB Key for my brain – everything, and I mean everything, I need to do in the future workwise gets written here first. Doing so means I can not worry about whether I remember something to do or not.


As I get closer to my 50th birthday, my memory is simply not as good as it was 20 years ago. More importantly, I have about five times more to do, read, process, code and write than I did then.

Paradoxically, I remember more things since I started using this pad which I attribute to a)the act of writing down each task, not simply trying to remember it. b)being less stressed about remembering tasks.


  • At the end of a day, I reenter and elaborate tasks from my red pad into the Windows application I use (and wrote and sell, by the way), MasterList Professional. So each day starts with a new card in my red pad.
  • During the day, my red pad goes with me – between pc’s, to the club, at my side while eating lunch etc.
  • I no longer carry it 24/7: Not having my pad is one of the major ways I know I’m not at work, and that is a larger concern to me than capturing non-work things I need to do around the house (my partner Tina makes sure that’s covered! )

So do you have a Standard Operating Procedure for capturing 100% of your work tasks? If so, what? If not, how do you survive? 





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I also like using the Mini Bubble Planner. The cards are slightly smaller than 3 x 5 but still big enough to write on. They are bound together with discs so I can keep them together. I like the design, also.

Not really - The cards are my mental USB key for holding items until I can unload them. Multiple items per card means fewer cards to track.

I also carry around 3x5's whereever I go (mine are in my oversized wallet, also available from Levenger). Great lifesaver, and I second the recommendation.

Quick question for you: do you limit yourself to one thought/task/item per card, or do you add as many as space allows?

Just curious,

Ted, that's a good one! Thanks for the idea.

I've taken to using the BlackBerry to send myself e-mails when "to-do's: come up and I'm not at my PC. I continue to carry around a wallet notebook, but that is only as an emergency backup.

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  • Who?
    Bob Walsh, (Author, managing partner of Safari Software, Inc. a micro-ISV)
    Exploring the intersection between Getting Things Done and building a micro-ISV.
    Live from Sonoma, California USA.
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    Because there's a way to get everything done, I just know there is!
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