More Paper Based Productivity

A Flow Chart for Ternouths System
A Flow Chart for Ternouth's System

On Wednesday, I wrote about Merlin Mann’s interview with well known productivity guru David Allen.  For many, Allen’s “Getting Things Done” or GTD system was a wake up call on how to stop procrastination and get moving on work that needs your attention.  During the interview with Allen, Mann references a paper based system of project management by a gentleman named Martin Ternouth.  Ternouth isn’t well known and his system was never published in a book.  In fact, the reference Mann makes to the system is by a forum thread posted on the site of Edward Tufte.

I was intrigued after I first heard Mann mention the system so I began to diligently look for it.  Ternouth is like Cheatham when you try to figure out the spelling of the surname so for a while, I was rebuffed in my search for this name.  Finally, after some searching on Mann’s site, I found a four year old reference to this thread which actually dates back to 2003.  A quick Google search and I had what I was looking for.  You can read the thread and see the description of the system (with illustrations) by clicking here.  It is well worth the read even if you only consider it’s simplicity.

Ternouth’s system is based on a series of slipcovers that he uses to manage various projects and inputs.  Through a thorough review process, the work is thrashed out and relevant paper filed while meaningless bits are “culled” or thrown out.  Fans of GTD will see the similarities and subtle differences in the systems and how Ternouth uses it to efficiently manage large projects and small tasks as well.

I’m surprised that Ternouth didn’t line up a website and set up his system in some ebook like PDF format.  I’m sure many in the blogosphere would pay for a polished presentation of this work.  For now, you’ll need to click the link to the site and page down just a bit before you come to the post describing this system.

Enjoy.  If you use this, drop me a line to let me know.  I would be curious to hear your thoughts.

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More Paper Based Productivity

One thought on “More Paper Based Productivity

  1. Troy says:

    Martin’s is a great system; I studied it last night: different work spaces – paper, electronic, etc. I am not yet familiar with Dave Allen’s GTD system. I think that Martin’s system has tapped into one of the important elements of philosophy – temporality and spatiality.

    The trick is to balance accessibility (spatial) with temporal (time) and work both into an integrated system, so that one can accomplish more in less time, and without the psychological or emotional stress of spending too much time simply managing the system.

    The other thing in Martin’s favour is that his system is time-tested. He notes that he has been using it manage exceedingly complex systems.

    Scott, I agree, I think Martin should start a new “Task” and publish his work. He may as well help others and make a few beans out of his system. Allen is!

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