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Too much time rewriting

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  • Too much time rewriting

    I want to stick to paper, but I've been spending so much time rewriting items from one list to another that I'm kind of giving up. How have the other people using paper-based systems been able to keep the review efficient? I don't want to have to buy a smartphone just for GTD.

  • #2
    It's kinda the same with electronic

    I'm a little confused because you mentioned "keeping the review efficient". Are you talking about rewriting in the weekly review or in day-to-day list use? I think most paper users cross off next actions when done and add new next actions at the bottom of the appropriate list. Weekly review shouldn't necessarily mean that much rewriting.

    The software I'm currently using (omnifocus) is not too good at syncing several devices, so I get a pretty good look at what I am doing. I have over 80 projects and almost 600 items (a small fraction of which are information, not actions). I make somewhere around 50-100 changes to the database every day. A lot of it is checking one item off, and adding the next. Sometimes I get tired of the mechanical aspects of it, but mostly I'm happy to be moving stuff along.

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    • #3
      from capture to list

      I'm talking about "transferring" items from my inbox (a notebook for capturing) and my lists (another notebook). Many of the things I write in my inbox already are the next actions, so I'd have to copy them almost verbatim to my next actions and contexts list. Also, on some occasions, I huge thought--like a whole paragraph--enters my mind and I write that down in my inbox. If I have to file that as reference or to rewrite that into my "@blog" list, it just takes too much time.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by joyreynaldo View Post
        I'm talking about "transferring" items from my inbox (a notebook for capturing) and my lists (another notebook).
        I am not a paper user so take my idea with a grain of salt...

        But could you change your capture notebook to something like a small circa notebook and keep each captured inbox item on a single piece of circa paper? Then instead of re-writing you just mve the paper to the proper section in your circa lists notebook?

        I'm thinking use something like this for your capture/inbox
        Circa Micro PDA

        and a larger notebook like this for your lists

        Full page Junior notebook

        Or go with a 3 ring binder or other removable paper system that works and is available for you?

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        • #5
          You might want a low-tech reminder system

          You could create a file folder for each context and simply put these scraps of paper into the appropriate folder. This is what David Allen refers to as a "low-tech" reminder system. It's fast, but not very portable. You'd have to schlep around an accordion file folder with all of your context folders inside.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by joyreynaldo View Post
            I'm talking about "transferring" items from my inbox (a notebook for capturing) and my lists (another notebook). Many of the things I write in my inbox already are the next actions, so I'd have to copy them almost verbatim to my next actions and contexts list. Also, on some occasions, I huge thought--like a whole paragraph--enters my mind and I write that down in my inbox. If I have to file that as reference or to rewrite that into my "@blog" list, it just takes too much time.

            If the items really ARE next actions, and you have a notebook for your lists, can you not write the items directly on the next action lists as they come to you? If not - and a lot of the power of "capture" is in NOT processing the item when it first come to you - then you would be reviewing your captured note and typing it into the appropriate list or memo even if you had an electronic system... I use a paper notebook for capture, and f I come up with huge chunks of thought, I usually either xerox that part and put it in a reference file (@blog, as you say), or re-write.

            I think the process is the same between capturing and the processing into your system whether we use electronic or paper, but it just SEEMS more redundant when we're using paper because we're performing the same physical action. It's the one thing that does sometimes make me want to go back to electronic lists, because I type much faster than I write - but the questions of cloud-based/syncing/mobility, etc. just make me glaze over!

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            • #7
              I've tried this somewhat

              Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
              I am not a paper user so take my idea with a grain of salt...

              But could you change your capture notebook to something like a small circa notebook and keep each captured inbox item on a single piece of circa paper? Then instead of re-writing you just mve the paper to the proper section in your circa lists notebook?

              I'm thinking use something like this for your capture/inbox
              Circa Micro PDA

              and a larger notebook like this for your lists

              Full page Junior notebook

              Or go with a 3 ring binder or other removable paper system that works and is available for you?
              I've tried something like this before (not with a Circa though), and it worked for a while, but I ended up with such a chubby stack of papers that found it hard to squeeze into my bag. Hmmm... maybe I should have two stacks then.

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              • #8
                I have an accordion folder

                Originally posted by ellobogrande View Post
                You could create a file folder for each context and simply put these scraps of paper into the appropriate folder. This is what David Allen refers to as a "low-tech" reminder system. It's fast, but not very portable. You'd have to schlep around an accordion file folder with all of your context folders inside.
                As with my reply to Oogiem, I've already tried this (it seems I've tried so many implementations already). I actually have a small--ok, tiny--accordion folder with the appropriate labels. But as with the notebook solution, the stack got too big for my handbag. *Sigh* I might just have to get a new handbag then.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by joyreynaldo View Post
                  the stack got too big for my handbag. *Sigh* I might just have to get a new handbag then.
                  Actually size is why I initially went with an electronic system. I was using a huge daytimer notebook for years (way before I found GTD) and combined it with some of the stuff from a book "The Organized Housewife" so I had shopping checklists, someday maybe things, book inventory & reading lists and more all stuffed into my notebook. I used and referred to them all but it got too big even for a briefcase and really looked silly if I was carrying a purse instead. When the first Palms came out I was on it within minutes of seeing one in person.

                  Another alternative is to put more stuff into someday/maybe so your lists of current projects and actions is much shorter and smaller and just do a review more often than weekly to be sure you have everything taken care of. If you review perhaps 2 times a week and ruthlessly put stuff you won't get to in the next 3 days as someday maybe then maybe you can stay with a smaller notebook.

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                  • #10
                    I use one notebook

                    I'm on paper because I feel like it's helping me learn GTD better instead of getting hung up on software. I have one binder (the GTD letter size) and I have a Notes section and my Action Lists in the same notebook. If I think of something that's an action, it goes directly on the appropriate list, not in the notes section. If I'm taking notes and when processing later, I realize there's an action item in them, I add it to my Action List then. Usually, it's pretty obvious when I'm notetaking that something is an action item so almost everything goes directly on my Action List.

                    The only thing I really end up transposing is if I'm somewhere and think of an action item and don't have my notebook with me. Then I usually write it on a 3 x 5 card and add it to my list the next time I have my notebook. I really don't find I spend much time rewriting at all.

                    HTH,
                    Nicole

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                    • #11
                      paper and rewriting

                      Paper is great in many ways, but when it comes to "cut and paste", paper shows one of its weaknesses.

                      One alternative is to use sticky notes for items on a list, which can be transferred from list to list. This is very efficient, though it doesn't look as good in meetings.

                      Another alternative is to keep some text files with your data, which you print out and then cross off finished items/write in new items, etc. During your weekly review, then, you will then remove the finished items, type in the handwritten ones, and make a new printout.

                      Note that if you start an item during the week and finish it that same week it would never make it into this typed weekly review... only those items that carry over from week to week would get into the typed weekly review.

                      Items that carry from one weekly review to the next do not have to be rewritten or retyped.

                      The printout system is an improvement in flexibility over pure paper and pen, though is not without its own drawbacks.

                      When I was on paper I had to get used to either a) having long lists with most items crossed out (ugly) or b) rewriting so I'd had cleaner, updated lists. I wasn't willing to go the "write lightly in pencil and then erase and then reuse that space" approach.

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                      • #12
                        I think its quite OK that you add directly to your action lists, if you know exactly what's the NA.
                        just be VERY careful. you don't want to add unprocessed stuff into your lists, or you'll be undermining the whole system.

                        i find that its very rare i copy an item from my inbox to my list exactly as it was written. when I add to the inbox its usually very "raw" and unprocessed: most of the times just 2 or 3 keywords written in a hurry, to remind me later of something i need to process

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                        • #13
                          I am a huge believer in writing in one place I use one notebook or legal pad at a time only. I start it with a page for each project which is usually about the first 8 pages. I then use the same notebook or pad for notes and a daily action list if needed, which could also be a next action list. The notes stay on the pad until the actions are added to a list, the notes are thrown away or filed. So I am only looking in one place for what I need to do. At the end of the pad, I do a review and rewrite on the next pad in conjunction with a review. This review is the only time items are rewritten. Simple but it works for me. I actually wrote the system up and call it the Ultra Simple Guide to Time Management. Good luck

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by JohnV474 View Post
                            Another alternative is to keep some text files with your data, which you print out and then cross off finished items/write in new items, etc.
                            I've just finished reading GTD the first time and am only beginning to implement my system, but this is what I was planning.

                            Despite being a techie (professionally and personally), and fascinated with gadgets, I have some sort of raw, primal attraction to pen & paper (I just recently had to purge a large and long-standing collection of various pens & notebooks/tablets/etc. I must have a writer trapped in me). But I've been doing the write & rewrite thing for years and understand how frustrating and tiring it can be.

                            So instead of depending on one of my smartphones (maybe later, when I'm more comfortable) or solely on writing/rewriting, I thought I would compromise with Word documents. This will allow me to arrange, and rearrange (cut & paste), project outlines, project lists, task lists, etc during my weekly reviews. I figure, for the time being, I'll use some 6-part folders to organize the printouts. And I figure I'll only need to actually carry one (next tasks) on-hand, which I can cross items off as I go and write items/notes on as needed. Then during the next review, type those notes onto the appropriate lists and reprint. Not exactly bottom-line low-tech, but no immediate learning curve or extra equipment needed (I'm assuming you at least have access to a printer).

                            But like I said, I'm just getting started, so take that with a grain of salt...

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                            • #15
                              Minimal rewriting

                              Originally posted by joyreynaldo View Post
                              I want to stick to paper, but I've been spending so much time rewriting items from one list to another that I'm kind of giving up. How have the other people using paper-based systems been able to keep the review efficient? I don't want to have to buy a smartphone just for GTD.
                              I have invented for myself a three column system, it is written on rough A4 size paper, and written in pencil. The left column is the list of 'Projects' (eg 'Get compressor overhauled') or a 'Responsibility' ('Monthly report for Board Meeting')...the second column is the list of next actions I need to take, it is written in pencil against each of the Projects or Responsibilities (Eg "Call Associated Engineers for quotation on compressor overhaul" or "Meet Manufacturing Team to finalise numbers for monthly report")...and the third column is 'waiting for'.

                              When I complete a next action, I simply erase the action I have taken with an eraser, and write down what I need to do next in the same place, or if I have delegated it to someone, I enter it under 'waiting for', leaving the 'Next Action' column blank. When he completes the job, and the ball comes back to me, I erase the item from 'waiting for' and shift it to 'Next Action', this can go on and on...till the project is completed or perpertually as long as I hold the responsibility.


                              Advantages: (a) this requires the least amount of re-writing (b) the connect between my next action and the Project or Responsibility is visible - so I dont get lost in activity.


                              Drawbacks (a) Prioratisation is difficult (b) if the list runs into so many pages, searching takes time and high priority items may get skipped even if I am reviewing it regularly (c) If I highlight an action that I must do today, I cannot remove the highlight when the action is completed (d) under 'waiting for' column, I cannot club all items coming under one person in one place...I have to scan several pages when I am trying to remind someone about something I am waiting for (d) the paper tends to get dirty after some time

                              Next Improvement: I am planning to put my three column system in an excel worksheet, and expand it to include two more columns - (a) name of person I am waiting for and (b) some indication of priority I will set for the day, to be changed as necessary. The advantage of an excel sheet, is that I will have the option of sorting my lists anywhich way I want - subjectwise, or as per project serial numbers or by persons I have assigned tasks to.

                              I am working on it, and if anyone can share their experiences in managing GTD on excel worksheets, I would love to hear it.

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