One of the things I’ve noticed I (and most other people) have trouble with is keeping in touch with friends, acquaintances and colleagues, and of course GTD is a great system to help with that. I often find that unless someone deliberately reaches out, we only keep in touch with people who are convenient, despite how important a person really is. Here’s how I manage that with my GTD system.
First, I should mention there are two different ways I do this. For former colleagues or acquaintances where all I plan to do is a quick action (e.g., call or email), I just keep a simple bucket project () called “Maintain Relationships”. In it, I add a repeating action item for each person called something like: “Email John Smith to check in” and make it repeat however often I’d like to touch base (e.g., 3m, 6m or 1y).
However, there are other relationships, especially friends and family, where I want to do more than just send off a quick email. These, of course, will require projects. However, I don’t often know what project will be appropriate until the time rolls around to touch base again. So, I use the same mechanism of a bucket project with a repeating action for each person, but for these, instead of a real action, I put in a reminder to touch base. When it comes up in my tickler context, I then decide exactly what I’d like to do and create an appropriate project.
I’ve found this system very nicely helps me remember to keep in touch with the people I value, but, for one reason or another, it’s a bit harder to keep track of.