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  • When to organize?

    I finally understand the difference between Processing and Organizing and that they should be treated as separate activites, espeically if there is a lot of stuff being processed. But, when one is doing a real "bulk processing" to get the system up and running again, how much processing should one do before organizing the output of that phase?

    I am processing huge piles that accumated over a few months. As actions come to mind, project ideas or things that I need to consider for ACTIVE or SDMB projects, I have been writing them on slips of paper. I seem to generate these at the rate of about 20 in 2 hours. And, I am happy to say, I am also indentfying a lot of trash and also filing items into folders that I created when I was working the system more attentively.

    Should I wait and organize these slips when the first big pile is done or should I be doing this at some other interval?
    Last edited by Jamie Elis; 08-24-2007, 02:01 PM. Reason: spelling

  • #2
    Originally posted by Jamie Elis View Post
    Should I wait and organize these slips when the first big pile is done or should I be doing this at some other interval?
    Jamie,

    I'm having a bit of a problem understanding what the advantages of waiting could be. Perhaps you could expand.

    Tom S.

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    • #3
      I wrote a bit about whether to separate P&O here: Hard Edges: Processing and Organizing:
      Processing and organizing are very closely linked, and I'd argue are not really done separately. I *always* organize when I'm processing. In fact, if you're doing one and not the other, you have some leaks. I think it helps to identify them as separate activities - conceptually they really are different- but they're done together (my 2c.).
      > But, when one is doing a real "bulk processing" to get the system up and running again, how much processing should one do before organizing the output of that phase?

      I would not separate them, even for bulk material. The only thing I might vary is 1) reducing the two minute rule to one (or zero), 2) temporarily hand-label files, if the labeler slows you down, and 3) consider a FAT sorting before jumping in (File, Act, Toss). Depends on your backlog's size.

      > As actions come to mind, project ideas or things that I need to consider for ACTIVE or SDMB projects, I have been writing them on slips of paper.

      Sounds good to me - capture them and continue. For morale, it might be good to temporarily put them on one sheet, i.e., not separate pieces, and do this sheet last, or make processing *it* a project.

      > Should I wait and organize these slips when the first big pile is done or should I be doing this at some other interval?

      Continuing my thought above, you might consider processing them later, perhaps in another sitting. I think it's best if you focus on clearing your current multi-month backlog so as to not get discouraged. Getting it to zero is important for supporting your new habit, I think. You want to become a processing machine!

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Jamie Elis View Post
        But, when one is doing a real "bulk processing" to get the system up and running again, how much processing should one do before organizing the output of that phase?
        I'd say it depends on your frame of mind. It sounds like you were really in a processing groove in the above example, and it's perfectly ok to collect ideas and process them later... as long a later comes eventually

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Jamie Elis View Post
          I finally understand the difference between Processing and Organizing and that they should be treated as separate activites, espeically if there is a lot of stuff being processed.
          Jamie,

          I think we have a fundamental problem of understanding here. There are five core principals of GTD:

          Collect
          Process
          Organize
          Review
          Do

          These are principals. They are not separate activities. For instance, part of the Processing is to Do anything that takes (roughly) less than 2 minutes.

          I believe you are making things unnecessarily complicated by thinking of these as "steps". They're not. They are parts which are supposed to be easy to think of individually to make the system as a whole easier to understand. I would feel confident in saying that very few people read the book and then decide that whole groups of items are meant to be processed, then organized. Its all part of going through your Inbox one item at a time however often you decide that needs to be regularly done (for most of us its daily). You follow those principals as you do that.

          Let's put it another way. There is a famous workflow diagram in chapter 2 of GTD. Its on page 36 of my paperback copy. When you go through your inbox, you follow that flow chart top to bottom for each item one at a time. There are aspects of both processing and organizing in there. But you do them all until you hit the end.

          Good luck,
          Tom S.
          Last edited by Tom Shannon; 08-25-2007, 12:47 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Hi there,

            Last night, I came across a post in this forum about outlook setup, which I use for my GTD implementation.
            GTD in Outlook 2007 - amazing setup without the plugin

            I set out to refine/improve my outlook settings, but it turns out, through the setup, I came to realize the occasional (if not often) benefits of separating process/organize - at least for my way of working. An important part in this setup, which I missed and have now built up a solid framework for, is that it enables one to separate P/O when you want to, easily & without falling through the crack.

            I believe that how often you separate P/O greatly depends on your specific liking and/or working situations. For example, when processing one item, it makes no sense for me to set aside the result of "process", and organize later. If I don't get interruption, I'd rather do it in one-shot. But, as you said, dealing with big piles can change this.

            When I am working on something, I've been feeling uneasy when something comes up (in my mind or my surrounding) suddenly that demands me to go through the whole collect/process/organize. It upsets my work flow even though it's just 1 minutes or so.

            After revising my setup, when an email, (similarly, a "thought" or a "not-sure-project-or-action") comes up, it first goes to the "in"; then, I can pause if I will (simple, it's just 'collect'). Then, I can process the email (or other inputs, not repeat anymore) to see if it's actionable; I flag the actionable to note that I needa decide the NAs, which I can do now or later. Even after I decide the projects or next actions (processed), I can let it stay as it is, until I figure out which context best suits it (someday/maybe or active for projects; @context for NAs).

            I think I did a bad job describing it, but it is much simpler than it seems above. At last, the virtue is the system should allow you to pause and/or chip in at any intermediate stage without falling through the crack. So, your work flow won't be undermined, while you still have confidence where everything is.
            Last edited by Campion; 08-25-2007, 07:15 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Tom Shannon View Post
              Let's put it another way. There is a famous workflow diagram in chapter 2 of GTD. Its on page 36 of my paperback copy. When you go through your inbox, you follow that flow chart top to bottom for each item one at a time. There are aspects of both processing and organizing in there. But you do them all until you hit the end.
              That's not actually true for the initial mind dump, discussed in chapters 5, 6, and 7. In chapter 6, DA suggests just sticking post-it notes on processed items and putting them in a pending file before organizing them in chapter 7. (The point being that you can't organize stuff until you know what you have.) It sounds to me like Jamie's situation is more like a mind dump--with months of unprocessed stuff--than like normal day to day GTD processing.

              In light of that, it sounds to me like the most important thing in Jamie's situation is momentum: don't get bogged down, focus on getting In to Empty. YMMV, but if it were me I would put the new ideas aside until I either finished or needed a break from the backlog.

              Katherine

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