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  • My system is getting bloated...need suggestions on a simpler system

    Hello all,

    I need your collective input.

    I am a solo practice estate planning attorney.
    Most of my work is document preparation with a few client meetings per week. I also calendar one or two networking functions per week, as well as one or two community service events per week.

    I have been using Outlook and a Smartphone for years, with a Notetaker wallet for capture. Outlook is my main tool. The Smartphone is for calendar and contact reference on the road. The Notetaker wallet is for capture on the road, as I prefer to not enter data using the Smartphone.

    Lately, I am finding that I am numb to my Outlook. It just seems to contain too much data. My action lists are long, and my project lists are also in the Tasks module of Outlook, and so it makes my lists seem even longer. Additionally, I think having my overflowing email inbox connected to what is supposed to be my processed information, adds to the sense of of my system being out of control.

    I feel like my processed information (task lists, project lists, contacts, checklists) should be a calm controlled-feeling happy place to be. I think my unprocessed information (physical inbox, email inbox) should not necessarily be relaxing as they are only temporary storage.

    I know the solution is right in front of my face, but I'm hoping your objectivity can help me see the forest through the trees.

    Do any of you have a suggestion on how to create a brighter line between my processed and unprocessed information?

    I am open to suggestions involving moving my email out of Outlook (leaving it solely for processed informatuion), and I am also open to suggestions involving moving my processed information out of Outlook (leaving it only for unprocessed information). Lastly, I am open to scrapping Outlook completely and going for something simpler.

    My criteria: The system must be digital, must be able to be backed up, and must be able to sync calendar and contacts with my smartphone.

    Thank you in advance for your help.

    David

  • #2
    Most of us

    David,

    I think most of us experience your pain somewhere along the line. One thing I've found for me: it's not the system I'm using, but the way I'm using it that has made me numb to my lists. This is the type of thing that sends people off in search of a different system, and they spend hours and hours setting that up...only to find themselves numb again pretty quickly.

    One trick I've learned that really helps me with this is to go through my project and action lists and take out absolutely everything that I know I will not be working on before my next weekly review. Take the "not now" stuff and put it into "someday/maybe" and don't give it another thought until you do another weekly review. Your lists should be much smaller and easier to manage, yet you haven't "lost" anything. Try to be very realistic if you try this....you might WANT to do something this particular week, but will you really do it? If it's even questionable, take it out of your daily line of sight.

    It's 6:15 on Easter morning...my weekly review day....and I'm going to do this for myself right now. I had a lot of cool new projects come my way this week, and I need to sharpen my focus and get everything that can wait out of my head for awhile.

    Many ongoing thanks to "KEWMS" for this idea several years ago! Maybe she'll respond to this thread with even more advice!

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by dhlesq View Post
      ... I think having my overflowing email inbox connected to what is supposed to be my processed information, adds to the sense of of my system being out of control.
      ...
      Do any of you have a suggestion on how to create a brighter line between my processed and unprocessed information?
      Outlook is probably just fine. Try to do a weekly review without fail, as that's a good way to introduce sanity back into your system. I'm not very good at this myself.

      One problem may be that you're not processing properly since your email inbox is "overflowing". I try to get mine to empty by the end of each day. This does mean I do all of the actions implied by the email, but it does mean that all email is "processed" meaning I have decided what each one represents (actionable, delegatable, deferrable, reference or trash) and filed it in an appropriate folder outside of the inbox.

      I like Barb's advice about reducing the size of your project lists by putting things into someday/maybe that you're not going to move forward in the next week or two. In your weekly review you can decide which ones need to be moved into active mode.

      Comment


      • #4
        Thank you both for your replies. Both of them make a lot of sense.
        I've been pretty good about not switching systems in the past.
        Perhaps I can manage my way through it with a really long weekly review, followed by moving some thing to my S/M list.

        All other suggestions are welcome.

        Comment


        • #5
          In your task lists are there areas that you look at more often? I have created 2 views for my task list, Main which has all of my lists (all 10 of them) and a second view called active, which just contains my 3 main lists (@desk, @email & @ call) In the morning I can review my waiting for's, agendas etc, then switch to the "active" view and forget about all of the other things that I find clutter my day.

          Comment


          • #6
            I cheat a bit with task lists. My GTD next actions list is basically a plain text file. At the start of each day, I review my projects and tasks and write out a list of "top tasks" on a piece of paper. Then I just work from the paper sheet and update my text file periodically with the things I've accomplished.

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