Using GTD As A Woodworker

- 2 min -
Joe Buhlig

Hobbies are great candidates for GTD. With all the commitments we tend to take on, free time to spend on our hobbies can be elusive. That means it’s helpful to have a system in place that keeps track of where we were and what comes next.

I enjoy working with my hands after a day of thinking. It shifts my mind from the executive mode to the mind wandering mode and helps me decompress. The primary way I like to work with my hands is through woodworking and DIY projects. Whether it’s trim in the house or a hutch for my mother-in-law doesn’t matter. I get a chance to create something from a tree - that’s what I love.

Longer Projects

Sometimes the projects I take on develop over a period of months (hopefully not years) and I need to keep these project plans and supporting materials around for some time. That’s where the reference materials and project goals come in handy. I can step away from it for a period and still come back to where I left off.

Thinking Ahead

For most of my furniture builds, I can lay out what the entire project will look like step-by-step. That’s good because the joinery involved often needs to be cut early on in the project even though I won’t need it for another 20 steps. Once I have a design determined, I work backwards to name every step in the build. This affords me the perspective to see where I need to make specific cuts in the process and ensure the entire project comes out according to plan. It requires me to think through it all up front, which is the point. I have a lot fewer “oops” moments when I’ve taken the time to think it through at the beginning.


In most woodworking projects I try a new technique, either because it’s necessary or because I just want to try a new method. In both, I need to spend some time learning from experts in person or online. When I determine how I want to complete that portion of the build, I keep it in my digital filing structure that allows me to reference it when needed; I make sure I have the material as a link in the notes for that step in the build. The research makes each step a simple process and keeps the build moving much more efficiently than if I tried to do the learning mid-stream.

I hope this series has been helpful. I know it’s taught me more about the GTD process by forcing me to think through how it functions in different arenas. GTD is a life framework and a proactive way to approach our information-heavy culture.

This series is about using GTD outside the lines of our day jobs. Yes, it can be used in every aspect of your life.

  1. Using GTD As A Homeowner
  2. Using GTD As A Writer
  3. Using GTD As A Husband
  4. Using GTD As A Dad
  5. Using GTD As A Man
  6. Using GTD As A Woodworker