Wednesday, December 26, 2007

HOWTO: GTD with Google Docs & PocketMod

Take control of your unwieldy to do-list by combining Google Docs and PocketMod. With the system described here you will always be ready to take notes, and never run the risk of losing an idea!

Update (July 30, 2009): Now using a Google Docs template.

I use a subset of GTD ("Getting Things Done") by having a digital copy of my next actions, sorted by context (@Home, @Office, @Shopping, @Computer, etc.). This lets me easily look up what I need to do, depending on where I am.

However, a digital copy is not very useful by itself, since it is not accessible when I am offline. Putting it in my PDA is not ideal either, since the overhead of adding a new note is too big (turning on the device, opening the right application, having it recognize my handwriting). That's why I print out my to-do list on paper once a week and carry it in my pocket. It's the ideal way of accessing and editing tasks. Before I print out a new list I spend a minute or two copying the edits from my old printed list to the digital copy.

So the question is, what format is preferred for the digital copy and how do I best print it? This question has lead to an unending debate among GTDers, and David Allen, the guru himself, doesn't offer any concrete suggestions. For me, it is important to be able to access the digital copy from multiple computers. At the same time, the printout needs to be small enough to fit comfortably in a pocket.

I have previously blogged about the advantages of managing your to do list with the online GTD-application Toodledo. I especially like the way it lets you print your tasks as a folded credit-card sized 8-page booklet, easy to carry with you at all times. Unfortunately, to be able to print a booklet with one page per context, a Toodledo Pro package subscription is required. It's only $14.95/year so it might be a good deal for some, but I was looking for alternatives.

Actually, you can achieve the needed functionality for free by using a combination of Google Docs and the PocketMod converter. Together with a Pilot G-2 XS pen, which always writes and fits great into even the smallest pocket, you are always ready to take notes, and never risk losing an idea! Below, I describe the system I use.


  1. A free Google Docs account.
  2. PDF to PocketMod converter. This Windows-only application will be used to shrink the 8-page PDF into a single page.
  3. A PDF reader (Adobe Reader or Foxit Reader) for printing the final result.


  1. Create a new Google Docs document from the template below by clicking "Use this template".
  2. Customize the document so that it will be useful to you. Enter your contact information and the contexts you need, and make a brain dump of your current tasks.
  3. From the Google Docs file menu, choose "Export as PDF..." and save the document as a PDF file on your computer.
  4. Open "PDF to PocketMod converter". Click the "Open PDF" button and select the file you saved from Google Docs in the step above. Next, click the "Save as PocketMod" button, name the PDF file for the booklet and wait for the process to finish.
  5. Print the file generated in the last step using your PDF reader.
  6. Cut the printed sheet and fold it into an 8-page booklet according to these instructions.

Next week, reopen the document, copy your edits from your booklet, and continue from step #3.


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  1. Takk Jonas. Etter mange omveier bruker jeg nĂ¥ en Filofax Guildford Extra Slim og din metode.


  2. gDocs + pocketmod = my new hipster. Great stuff.

  3. >> Create a new Google Docs document from the template below by clicking "Use this template".

    Where is the link to the Google Docs GTD template - did I miss read?
    Jay Shah

  4. I think I found it. Is it

    Jay Shah