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GTD: The PigPog Method

This is an old article now, and I’ve had to remove most links. Link rot has taken nearly all of them, some in unpleasant ways.

This article describes how I actually implement the GTD system using my iPaq and Microsoft Outlook, though it could be done just as well with almost any computerised lists. It’s my solution to the GTD problem of linking next actions to their project. If you don’t know what GTD is, you’d probably best start with my introduction.

GTD is all based on David Allen’s excellent books. You’ll get far more from reading the books than from any web site.


This article covers how I implement the GTD system, using some simple tricks so it can work with software that doesn’t have sub-tasks. If your chosen software can have a task under another task, you probably don’t need it.

The Problem

There’s a few problems that people have with GTD…

Actually Doing Things

GTD is great at organising what you have to do, and keeping you on top of everything, but if you don’t actually do any of the things, it’s only of limited help. Anyone who knows me could vouch for the fact that I’m probably not the best person to advise on that ;)

Weekly Reviews

A lot of people resist doing the weekly review. It’s pretty much vital for GTD that you don’t skip weekly reviews, but it’s a problem for many people. My system reduces the impact of missing one a little, but only a little. By making the review a bit easier, though, it might make you resist it less. It might not, but it’s worth a shot.

Connecting Projects to Actions

Ah. This is the one for the PigPog Method. This we can help with. Read on.

The PigPog Method


I should point out before I start that the PigPog Method was produced through a long discussion between quite a few people on the GtD_Palm Yahoo! Group. It’s by no means all my idea, and in fact even the post where I started it all off was just me pulling together a few ideas I’d picked up from the group. Too many people to remember had valuable suggestions that, put together, made this method, but special thanks should go to James Cameron, Gretchen, Ricky Spears, Harold (I think?), and Teri Pitman.

The Basic Setup

Personally, I implement this using Outlook Tasks, but you should be able to apply the PigPog Method with almost any setup. It wouldn’t be a convenient system with paper, though, it really needs a computer of some sort. I’ve used the same system in the past with Palm PDAs and an iPaq hx4700. Both worked well.

For the most part, my lists are pretty close to the standard ones David Allen recommends. I keep any non-action stuff in the Memos / Notes, rather than Tasks, so Someday/Maybe goes there. My @Action lists are…

  • @Anywhere
  • @Home
  • @Internet
  • @Other
  • @Waiting For
  • @Work

There’s also ‘Agendas’ at the bottom of the list, for things I need to speak to somebody about.

What? Where’s the Projects List?

David Allen says we need a Projects list to keep track of all of those things we need to do that will take more than one action to be complete. That way, when we have ticked off the first action on that project, we won’t forget about it altogether. However, these things will only get picked up once a week at the weekly review. There is the risk that you’ll end up forgetting about something for up to a week, that really needed doing before. Also, I always found the ‘projects’ part of the weekly review to be annoyingly difficult and time consuming. For every project on the list, and it can be quite a few (David reckons 40-70 is common), you have to search for a matching action on one of the six (in my case – however many you have) @Action lists. If you don’t find one, does that mean you just didn’t look carefully enough, or is there really no action in your lists for this one? How do you know it when you see it? It’s not so bad if you look at the project and can remember what the next action was – then you will probably know where to look for it, and can make sure it’s there pretty quickly. If you can’t remember what the next action was, though, you could have a tricky time trying to find one.

In the PigPog Method, we get rid of the Projects list entirely. In a computerised system, it’s just not needed any more, and keeping track of it is a big waste of time. Using the example we used when forming the method on the GtD_Palm group, if your project was ‘Conquer Albania’, and the first action was ‘Place Army Wanted Ad’, the item on your tasks list would be Place Army Wanted Ad {Conquer Albania}. Your project and its associated next action are there together on the one line. This item goes in whatever @Action context list it belongs in. If you are going to place the ad on eBay, it would go in your @Internet list. Once you’ve placed the ad, you just edit the item to Responses to Ad {Conquer Albania}, and move it to your @Waiting For list.

Planning and Keeping History

If you like to plan your projects a bit further, you can put planned future actions in the notes for the task, and just copy and paste them into the subject line when you’re ready.





Outcome is a statement of the desired outcome – how we’ll know when the project is complete. I’m actually completely hopeless about filling this in. Plans is for any actions planned in the future. History is for actions that have been completed, or notes of things that happened that were connected with this project – I timestamp these using another Pop! (or Shortkeys Lite) shortcut. I keep less history now than I used to – it wasn’t something I used often enough to need it, but you may be different – if so, remember to copy the information to somewhere else if you purge your completed tasks. Notes is for any other information. In the case of things like these blog entries, the notes will contain the actual article as I’m working on it. This is being typed into the Notes section of an Outlook task entitled Write {Blog: GTD: PigPog Method} right now. That way, all my work in progress is always with me in my Palm, ready to be worked on anywhere.


The biggest advantage for me is that I never have to worry about projects not having a next action. I’m forced to think about what I’m going to do next with a project before I can update the system to the fact that I’ve just done something. That helps to keep things moving. I’m slightly encouraged to do more than one thing, as that saves changing the item as many times. The Weekly Review is less daunting, because the hardest part of it is automatically taken care of. There’s one less list to look at. When I find the item that says that I should write a blog entry about something, the notes from when I brainstormed about it are right there in the task item. When I come to review and proofread one I already wrote, the written article is right there ready.


There’s only really one major disadvantage to this method – there can only be one next action. If you often have the sort of projects where you could do several different things next, depending on where you are when you have the time and inclination, this may be a problem. There’s nothing to actually stop you from sometimes making a separate action that isn’t physically attached to the project, but if you have to do that a lot, the PigPog Method may not work well for you. When you’re new to the PigPog Method, there is also the danger that you could tick off a whole Project on ‘auto-pilot’, when you only intended to tick off the action. To work around this, you can keep completed tasks visible, and purge at the end of each week, so everything gets an extra check before it’s actually gone. This also gives you a second chance to copy any history you want to keep to the calendar where it won’t get purged.


I find the advantages greatly outweigh the disadvantages, but then again, if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be writing this at all, would I? It takes away a lot of what I found unpleasant and difficult with GTD, and makes it all feel much more fluid. I’m a born fiddler, and I do keep trying different methods, but the simplicity of the PigPog Method has lured me back every time.

So far.