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Implementing GTD for a sales rep who travels

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  • Implementing GTD for a sales rep who travels

    Hi, I have recently transitioned from an inside sales position to an outside sales job with the same company and I quickly realized I needed to improve my time management skills. Out of everything I read, GTD seems to make the most sense to me and also appears to be one of the very few with something different to offer.

    I have a few questions specific to implementing GTD and traveling a lot, if someone would be kind enough to share their experience with me. I have read the GTD book through twice and have set up my Outlook and done one weekly review so far.

    I still have a cubicle in my company's office where I maintain files and reference materials, but I am only there one or two days a week for 4-5 hours total. I do some work at home but most of my time is spent on the road visiting customers and in my car.

    I have a laptop with Outlook 2007 that I have been using for some time and am quite comfortable with. I also use a Blackberry Bold (new, still getting used to)--both are company provided and I have no choice in the matter.

    So far I have reference files at the office, at home, in my car plus personal files in Outlook and files saved in My Documents on the laptop--is this too many? Not sure how I can consolidate them though.

    Have most people found either personal folders in Outlook or storing items in My Documents on their computer to be better? I was always taught in the past that files such as an Excel sheet or Word doc should be stored in My Documents but an email itself (w/o attachments) should be stored in personal folders in Outlook. Now I am questioning if that is just an artificial distinction?

    I have not set up a tickler file yet and it seems like a good idea to do so. Would it make more sense to have just one at home? Having more then one would seem almost to defeat the purpose.

    Thanks in advance if anyone cares to share any ideas about a "mobile" GTD system.

    Steve

  • #2
    I'm not traveling a lot, however I have at least three computers in different locations. I decided to store all data in a cloud so I can access it from any location. My GTD system is web-based and I use Dropbox to sync all Reference files between those computers.

    I try not to keep Reference materials in Outlook and move them to Reference folder (which is synchronized with cloud) so I can access them from different locations. However I have @PSM (Project Support Materials) folder in Outlook where I keep emails I need to do something about. I'm not using those emails as reminders, instead I create corresponding next actions in my GTD system. @PSM folder is just a storage for those emails so I can keep my Inbox empty.

    I use single Tickler File which comes with my web-based GTD system. The good thing about it is that it automatically sends items to my Inbox when time comes.

    If you find this usefull I will be happy to share more about my GTD installation

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    • #3
      Evernote for Reference materials

      Depending on the nature of your reference materials, you might also consider keeping them in Evernote which you can sync across platforms. I have mine synced between my office computer, laptop, and my iPhone. I assume they have a Blackberry version as well. Good luck!

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      • #4
        Sales world

        Did you have the chance to read this post? Sales-Manager-responsibilities-and-sales-plan

        Comment


        • #5
          how about the laptop?

          Depending on the nature of information you need available, you can likely carry everything you need on your Blackberry and laptop. Ask me how I know . Note that this type of mobility is not free, but you can get there.

          Short version: go paperless (or mostly so). Any information that you need quick access to should be available on your Blackberry. This includes passwords, product dimensions, contact information, next actions, appointments, etc. Information you need access to, but not in a hurry, should ideally be available on your computer and backed up to an external hard drive. It will take the same amount of time to have a paper system as a paperless one.

          I went through this process myself and can provide specific recommendations. For equipment, the only essentials are a properly configured Blackberry, a quality laptop, and a specialized scanner. In my case, the results of building such a system have surprised me enough that I wonder if others would believe me.

          If you are open to the idea, we can get into more detail.

          JV

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          • #6
            answers to the other questions

            Originally posted by Steve59 View Post
            So far I have reference files at the office, at home, in my car plus personal files in Outlook and files saved in My Documents on the laptop--is this too many? Not sure how I can consolidate them though.

            Have most people found either personal folders in Outlook or storing items in My Documents on their computer to be better? I was always taught in the past that files such as an Excel sheet or Word doc should be stored in My Documents but an email itself (w/o attachments) should be stored in personal folders in Outlook. Now I am questioning if that is just an artificial distinction?

            I have not set up a tickler file yet and it seems like a good idea to do so. Would it make more sense to have just one at home? Having more then one would seem almost to defeat the purpose.

            Thanks in advance if anyone cares to share any ideas about a "mobile" GTD system.

            Steve
            * Re: reference files
            There is no universal answer as to whether having files in the office, at home, in your car, in Outlook, and in your laptop is too many locations. The answer will depend on what information you want available to you and under what circumstances. Do you often need information that you have stored only in the office or at home? Do you often need contact information available only in Outlook? There are people who successfully use GTD with more locations than you have and it works for them.

            For what it's worth, I store it all on my phone or laptop. I no longer needed Outlook once I set up my Blackberry.

            * Re: Outlook vs My Documents
            If you need information, and you are not sure where you found it, do you feel comfortable searching through Outlook? How about My Documents? There is value in having emails in My Documents, but using Outlook to do this is cumbersome.

            I personally store old emails right in the email box, marked Opened. However, this is only after I have copied all of the information I want from them and stored it where I want it to be. I recommend having one large Reference folder in My Documents, where you store any files that are reference, and another one called Project Support, which contains any files that are necessary to a particular project.

            * Re: tickler system
            The Tickler system is optional, and is a "decide not to decide" system. If it is (truly) too early to decide about something, you can remind yourself later. I would only have one (if any), and i would have it in the location where you perform your Weekly Review.

            My own system has no Tickler in the form of folders. Instead, I ask myself when i would like to revisit that decision, and put a little reminder question in my Calendar. For example "(Decided to attend concert?)" The punctuation lets me know it is just a reminder. It is rare that I have a physical item I want Tickled. I likewise prefer not to have too many items that I haven't made a decision about, as it's too tempting.

            Hope these help
            JV

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            • #7
              A PDA is a very effective tool to implement GTD. My piece of advice would be to keep things simple and stick to the basic, native applications that make the PIM (Personal Information Manager): calendar, contacts, ToDo and memo or notes.

              Comment


              • #8
                Maybe helpful

                A quick one that may help - Id consider using dropbox to sync your files.

                Its works as a folder in your My Documents - anything you put in there is synchronised with an identical folder in any number of locations - home/work/laptop etc. It works without internet access, but synchronises when you get eventually get it. So its perfect for travel.

                Its fire and forget - no settings or buttons to press, just works in the background.

                Of course that only works with digital media, but if you're in those locations you either digitise or carry quite a few papers with you.

                Its the basis for my mobile GTD system - OneNote synced through dropbox, gmail/gcalendar, an Android mobile phone which has access to the lot.

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                • #9
                  My preference is to have all support and reference in My documents, as Word and Excel files. If I really think an email should be saved (eg for company records) I save it to the network drive. I like to keep emails in Outlook in case I want to find them, but I like to think if I changed jobs all the important emails are saved elsewhere and I could delete the lot, I wouldn't have to sort through and save any because I'd already done that on the job.
                  I agree with John, go totally electronic. If you do want a tickler file, make it electronic and try doing one on your laptop. Mine is an app on my iPhone, and it works fine. If you have the tickler at home you might not look at it as often as you need to.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Wow, thanks to each of you for all the input. Those are some great ideas. I am now thinking that electronic is the way to go.


                    Originally posted by JohnV474 View Post
                    Short version: go paperless (or mostly so). Any information that you need quick access to should be available on your Blackberry... I went through this process myself and can provide specific recommendations.

                    If you are open to the idea, we can get into more detail.

                    JV
                    I would be interested in your recommendations, thank you.

                    I don't think I can put any new software on my laptop, as the IT department has it locked down. I can install apps on the Blackberry, however

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Outline of a paperless system

                      Originally posted by Steve59 View Post
                      Wow, thanks to each of you for all the input. Those are some great ideas. I am now thinking that electronic is the way to go.

                      I would be interested in your recommendations, thank you.

                      I don't think I can put any new software on my laptop, as the IT department has it locked down. I can install apps on the Blackberry, however
                      *NOTE: this is a long description*

                      Here is a fast and mobile system:

                      On the phone:
                      Calendar: Blackberry built-in Calendar
                      Contacts: Blackberry built-in Address Book
                      Next Actions, Projects List, Project support: ToDoMatrix by RexWireless
                      Reference material--confidential: Blackberry built-in Password Vault
                      Reference material--not confidential: IdeaMatrix by RexWireless
                      RexWireless' suite costs $9.99 a month. Like GTD itself, RexWireless takes effort to learn the system, but its power for GTD is without parallel... on any phone, for any price.
                      Tickler file: reminder appears in Calendar, e.g. (decided on concert yet?)
                      Someday/Maybe: stored in ToDoMatrix by RexWireless

                      On the computer:
                      Calendar: none.
                      Contacts: none
                      Next Actions, Projects List: none.
                      Project Support: in a folder called "Project Support" on the desktop
                      Inbox: in a folder called "Inbox" on the desktop
                      Reference material: in a folder called "Reference Material" on the desktop
                      Read & Review: in a folder called "Read & Review" on the desktop
                      Copies of software: in a folder called "Equipment" on the desktop (this is optional -- I test a lot of software and store a copy of each of my favorite programs for when I'm offline).
                      Software -- essential: text editor, PDF creator, web browser. For these, I prefer Notepad++, Adobe Acrobat X, and Firefox.
                      Software -- useful: media player, phone backup software, office suite (only when needed). For these, I prefer VLC, Blackberry Desktop Manager, and whatever office suite annoys me the least that week.

                      Scanner: I use a Fujitsu ScanSnap, which connects to the computer via USB. Then I fill the tray with papers and press a button. Every 3 seconds it has scanned another page on both sides, then it recognizes the text on the document, creates a PDF out of it, then automatically names and stores it (into the Inbox for later processing).

                      I store two different kinds of information on my phone vs my computer. Information for my phone is information I want to enter, retrieve, and change while on the go, with short notice, or from anywhere. Information for my computer tends to be longer-term and less often needed on short notice.

                      Here are examples of information I want to retrieve quickly, when I do: location for a meeting; someone's phone number; an email I recently received; reminders about tasks with due dates; daily reminders; checklists; everything to discuss with someone who just called me; quick reference information for a project or client; goals or areas of focus; timeline of recent events on a project (for giving status updates to clients), etc.

                      Here are examples of information I want to be able to store quickly: exercise log; business mileage; billed time; notes from a phone call; new to-do's; new projects; information I want reminded of on a particular day; business expenses; current bills; contact information; vocabulary words; someday-maybe ideas; tickler ideas; good ways of phrasing an idea; new areas to focus on; goals; etc.

                      With that information on my hip, I can be stuck in a traffic jam or have a power outage and still be productive all day with just my phone.

                      In my computer goes everything else via the scanner. All documents end up in either Project Support or Reference, and both are A-Z organized (though they may have subfolders for large topics or projects).

                      By backing up the computer to an external portable hard drive, even if my computer fails I can be productive from any other computer. By using SyncToy, the external drive has all files stored just like on the computer, not in a large single file archive. I carry this drive in my briefcase. By backing up the using RexWireless software, all information is stored on the phone and automatically syncs with their encrypted servers, so if a phone is lost, the data is not. In addition, all of my RexWireless data is available on the web so if the phone is lost I just need a computer to get all of my data available again. I carry a backup battery in case my phone battery doesn't last all day.

                      By storing data in basic files and folders right on the computer, I can access information far faster than driving back to the office to find papers.

                      Hre are a few real world numbers to illustrate:
                      * time from having an idea to having a pen in hand, ready to write, pen tip on paper: 1.5 seconds.
                      * time to unlock my phone when password-protected: 3 seconds
                      * time to retrieve my grocery list while in ToDoMatrix: 3 seconds
                      * time to retrieve my grocery list while in any other program on my phone: 4 seconds
                      * time to enter a new vocabulary word into a running list, sorted by month, starting from anywhere in the phone: 4 seconds, plus the time to type the word or phrase
                      * time to enter a time entry for billed time, associated with project: 10 seconds including typing the current time and date
                      * time to enter business mileage, associated with particular client: 11 seconds, including typing current time and date
                      * time to retrieve my phone from holster, unlock it, and being composing an email to someone: 11 seconds if they are in my Address Book
                      * time to mark a task as done, starting from anywhere in the phone: <20 seconds
                      * time to scan a document, OCR, create PDF, and permanently file it: <45 seconds. Note that a paper file can be made in a similar amount of time with a labeler. If I did not care to have OCR, this would be faster but I prefer to be able to search for any word in any document from any client on any project or any refernce article I have ever had and find it quickly.
                      * time to file a digital document received as attachment to an email: 14 seconds.
                      * Time to retrieve directions to a client's house when I am in an area with no phone service: 9 seconds.
                      * time to retrieve any password or account number for any account I own: 9 seconds, from anywhere.
                      * time to look up the status of a given project, most recent work completed, and reminder of names of the clients, attorneys, contractors, or others associated with the client: < 18 seconds, e.g. if someone calls for an update.

                      ... etc.

                      A well-streamlined system can move very fast--almost as fast as you think. The above speeds are regularly achievable when I need to move fast. I have been unable to go as fast with such a variety of information when using any other system. For this reason I use the phrase "without parallel."

                      Hope this helps. It's a lot to take in, I know.
                      JohnV474

                      p.s.

                      Note: I have promoted Blackberry, the Lenovo Thinkpad, Fujitsu Scansnap, and RexWireless, though my only connection to them is as a paying customer. There are many great companies out there.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thanks, John. I will probably have to re-read this post a few times to digest it all!

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                        • #13
                          Wow, I have been looking at the Rex Wireless apps that you mentioned. It seems like that ties the whole system together and makes the Blackberry much more usable.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Glad it helped

                            I'm glad my post may be of value.

                            The idea is to tailor your system to your needs so it fits perfectly. For me, the top priority is the ability to move fast on short notice.

                            Isn't GTD fascinating?

                            -JohnV474

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