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performance journal for processing?

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  • performance journal for processing?

    I have a huge backlog of papers to process, as well as new ones coming in everyday. For the purpose of motivating myself and monitoring my progress so that I can document it and improve it, I am seeking ideas for easily creating a performance journal. Beyond a clicker counter and a timer, or maybe a graph of the number of recycling bags I fill with the trash, I would appreciate any ideas for concurrent measurement.

    I hope to find ways to tweak my processing as I go. For example, I have found it faster in regard to the older stuff not to file as I go but to tag any paper that needs filing with the likely file head and collect these papers in my A to Z sorter and then file during a "filing session" ( I can do that when I am tired but I cannot assess and analyze when I am tired).

  • #2
    Before you try to motivate yourself to spend more of your life processing, is it possible to reduce the amount of stuff you "have to" process?
    (For example, saying no to a couple key projects can reduce loads of incoming emails and papers. You don't have to read all that stuff you think you have to read. Learn to recognize and instantly dump the trash. Etc.)

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    • #3
      yes, thank you for reinforcing that!

      I know it is not exactly GTD but with a stack of old stuff, I quickly flip though it and pull out the obvious trash and out it goes. Largely it goes faster with older stuff because more of it is trash and most of the fileheadings already exist, but sometimes it takes longer to determine what it is. Much of the old stuff contains support materials for Active or noted SDMB projects, or projects that I am certain will take place but don't know when, or general reference material (and I keep less and less of that). Necessary material gets filed, or just a small piece of information gets entered (like an address or phone number or a dimension) and the rest tossed out. Also, I may need to note in a specific Project statement that I have located a certain needed item and the heading I filed it under (or that I am still seeking it). Many of the items in the old stuff I have to file, make a note to ascertain something about them from other persons and that will determine if it remains in my domain, gets passed to someone else or is trashed. Sometimes several of th @adgenda next actions end up requiring a project (for example, I may determine after reviewing my n/a list that I need to talk to the Big Boss about 5 things that are really related but I realize that I will have to give him more history or other data than I presently have to make a decision, and I may need to have enough research done to justify whatever position I might take.

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      • #4
        Do it fast and get caught up?

        OK, so you streamline your processing as much as possible. Next, can you do it faster?

        I assume you don't like to process which is why you are trying to motivate yourself to do it more often. Perfectionism and indecision are the enemies of processing because they will make it take forever. And it will be painful. These have been problems for me. So now I try to make a quick decision; when action is required, I just stick some action in my system; if I think of a better one later, I can always change it.

        Another question is, Can you make a big push to catch up? Old stuff can go faster, but it can also be more painful because of deadlines you may have missed. That pain can make you resist processing as long as you stay behind. You could process everything in a couple dedicated days, as DA advocates in the book. Or, you could process as much as you can stand to in one sitting, then resume as soon as you can stand to go at it again. Before these processing sessions tell yourself that if you have missed any deadlines or opportunities, so be it; the past is the past; you are not going to beat yourself up about it; you are simply going to change the future.

        It is more motivating for me to keep up than to catch up. I know that if I process in a timely manner, I can catch stuff with due dates or deadlines before they turn into big fires.

        The only way I know to motivate myself to process mail is to remind myself how much money it might cost me if I don't. It seems that most of the actions that emerge are unpleasant chores related to finances. In fact, of the last 20 actions I entered into my system as a result of processing the mail in my Inbox, 16 of them are fighting overcharges! And 4 of them are solving problems for other people. Ugh, processing is not my favorite thing, either!

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        • #5
          All good points!

          I am motivated to process and to process faster but sometimes it is such hard mental work and the outcome is rather invisible or seems like drop in the bucket so to speak. So I think I would enjoy having some kind of target for amounts accomplished by certain dates but I just don't know what "units" to consider or really how to measure progress or how to process faster. I have alot to get through and I can process papers for about two 60 minute periods with a break in between and then I burn out. It takes me about 2 to 3 minutes to process a document, little actions that I think will take 2 minutes usally take 5, and I throw a lot out. I don't know how people work through everything in the office in a weekend.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Jamie Elis
            I have alot to get through and I can process papers for about two 60 minute periods with a break in between and then I burn out.
            Well, that sounds like a lot to me. . .Are you already doing these 2 hours every day? Because if you are then your situation sounds pretty tough. If not, how about
            1) Give yourself a point for each day you do your max amount of processing (2 hours). Make the points highly visible, like a big red mark on a paper posted prominently near your workspace.
            2) Give yourself 5 extra points if you process all 5 workdays consecutively, M-F.
            3) When you hit 10 points, treat yourself to a big reward.
            4) When you catch up completely, treat yourself to a huge reward.
            5) When you stay caught up for 3 consecutive weeks, treat yourself to a massive reward.

            This could be a simple way to try to add motivation for consistent effort over time, which usually yields powerful results. If you're already working on it every day, then. . .reconsider the streamlining approach?

            Originally posted by Jamie Elis
            I don't know how people work through everything in the office in a weekend.
            Well, I didn't for sure! It took me awhile to do the initial processing -- 2 weeks? I couldn't work on it all day; I burn out on processing too. I also have fallen off the wagon a couple times early on. And it's always horrible processing after vacations and illnesses.

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            • #7
              poor links between project and n/as

              It was suggested in a message that part of the problem is that the linkage between projects and n/as is not adequately functional in vanilla Palm and I agree. I have been thinking that I should try LifeBlance or something else, but I don't know how to tell if I would reap enough benefit to make it worthwhile to invest the time adapting to something new at this point. Since I am not highly familiar with the logic and terminology used in this type of software, I would anticipate a lot of time in the learning phase. The printed "instructions" are over 50 pages! I would like to be able to link back to the Project after completing an action to view the remaining actions that I have identified on the project, to see which ones I have completed and access any specifics I might need that I may have noted. But most useful to me in improving the efficiency of processing would be to have the capability of quickly viewing a brief outline of the n/as associated with project to see if I have included a possible action already in my list (or even done it).

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Jamie Elis
                I would like to be able to link back to the Project after completing an action to view the remaining actions that I have identified on the project, to see which ones I have completed and access any specifics I might need that I may have noted. But most useful to me in improving the efficiency of processing would be to have the capability of quickly viewing a brief outline of the n/as associated with project to see if I have included a possible action already in my list (or even done it).
                Wow, yes, those 2 capabilities would be helpful. At this point I can barely imagine not being able to do those things. So yes, I think you need a tool that will do more of the work for you.

                On your other thread you describe more specifics about your processing. It sounds formidable, though I still don't understand completely. I think you definitely need some of the functionality of Life Balance, but first, is processing a big part of what you do? For example, I envision some people for whom processing is much of their jobs, like customer service, administrative assistants, project managers, event planners, etc. It sounds like you have to spend a lot of time processing a lot of inputs, much more than I do. Life Balance is not known for being the leanest and meanest when it comes to entering data. This is true of outlines in general; it can be harder to enter an item into the appropriate place in an outline than to just add it to a list. However, with separate projects and action lists you have even more reviewing and maintenance overhead later. . .At first I was thinking maybe Life Balance wouldn't be ideal for, say, entering 50 actions every day, but then again, who would have time to do that many actions? I'm still not sure about your particular needs, but it seems like using Life Balance would be much easier than what you have to do now.

                Originally posted by Jamie Elis
                I have been thinking that I should try LifeBlance or something else, but I don't know how to tell if I would reap enough benefit to make it worthwhile to invest the time adapting to something new at this point. Since I am not highly familiar with the logic and terminology used in this type of software, I would anticipate a lot of time in the learning phase. The printed "instructions" are over 50 pages!
                Yes, I know there is always overhead to learn a new tool. I remember having a couple small hurdles during my 30-day trial with Life Balance, mainly because 1) I was still trying to do things manually instead of letting the software do it for me; and 2) I hadn't gotten the hang of contexts, assigning an action to the place I need to see it and be reminded of it, not necessarily the place I do it.

                I would not worry too much about the logic or terminology. Having experience with GTD will make much of the logic seem very natural: projects and actions. (You can ignore "effort" and "balance" if you wish, which are not concepts included in GTD.) The main terminology difference is that LB uses "Places" instead of GTD's "contexts." Of course a LB "Place" can be anything you want it to be, whether physical place, energy level, or time available, or combination thereof.

                If you try LB, I would recommend choosing 30 days to try it out when your workload and stress are not too high. I would start testing LB with a subset of projects while maintaining your current familiar system. Also, just follow the most basic instructions that come with the software. With the current Advice Book, just read pp 1-3 & 11-14 to get started.

                I think I still feel I need to know a bit more specifics about your situation before I could guess whether Life Balance will work well for you. About how many projects do you want to manage? Are any like each other? How much of a project can be pre-planned? Do other people have to use your project outlines or just you?

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                • #9
                  David's answer from GTD Fast

                  David's recommendation on this from the CD's is to skim through it all and pull out anything that will blow up if you don't get it done. Then, put the remainder aside and make it a Project. I would perhaps add, while you skim, also pull out anything you can obviously throw out immediately, and toss it.

                  David's reason for this approach during start up, is that it is more important to get the entire system up and running as a complete unit. Otherwise you go down rabbit trails and get sidetracked, without ever establishing a system.

                  Regards,
                  Gordon

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