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my first post and attempt of using this system

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  • my first post and attempt of using this system

    Hi everybody

    I've been trying to use this system for a month already, it was looking really good, but I find myself with a problem now, I bet is because I still don't know how to use this properly, well this is my problem:

    I realize that every little task is an eternal task hehe, and now I find my self with mmm, 200 tasks.

    for example:

    I write a new task: send and email asking for a quotation, after send it, I have to create another task: check for the answer of that email 2 days later (in case the receiver forget to answer), when I get it if I get it, I create another task: compare the quotation with the other suppliers, then create another: send a purchase order, then another: wait and check the received products, etc etc etc etc etc,
    I can keep going of course, I just want to know how do you do it?, because for real, I start with few things I had to do a month ago, and 80% of those task are now something else but actually a follow up of the first task, and my task list is huge!!

    well, I will appreciate any advice, I really want to get things done hehe!.


  • #2
    What about your Projects list?

    What about your Projects list? Is it complete and reviewed weekly?

    Don't you use the @WaitingFor context?


    • #3
      Just a couple of ideas...

      1. You don't have to create a task at each step unless you need a bookmark to let you know what is next. For example, you could have a task to wait for the quote, but when you receive it you could review it and make the purchase order, then make a task to wait for the product. I sometimes make tasks like "WF data from Joe, then put into spreadsheet, then set-up meeting to review."
      2. If your projects follow similar steps, you could create a checklist of steps and keep that with your project reference materials. This way, you can have a basic project plan without too much thinking each time.
      3. Your task list is huge. This is not unusual. The question to ask yourself is, "did I have these tasks before GTD but just didn't have them tracked in a visible, trusted system?" Most likely that is the case. If the GTD system is somehow creating additional tasks for you, then maybe your GTD system needs a little tweak. Otherwise, it is quite common to have the reaction you had, "wow, I have so many tasks!" But, actually, you had that many before just never saw them written down all at once.
      4. Although it is a matter of preference, check to see if your task list has only NEXT actions, not all the actions you will need to do.
      5. You can use the someday / maybe list to temporarily hide tasks that you won't work on in the next week or so. At the weekly review, you can promote tasks from s/m to an active list.



      • #4
        I suggest a template or checklist

        I have to agree with kglade you have probably always had that many tasks. It's just that you may not have recognized they were there.

        I do work that appears somewhat similar to yours, procurement. I have a list of 35 tasks that have a likelihood of being required for every project. Since I'm using a software system, I copy all 35 of those tasks into a new project as soon as I get the project. Then as I work and review the project I will delete those which don't apply. I find it easier to delete as it's one stroke versus every letter of the n/a.

        Over time I think you may find that you can combine and shorten your next actions. For example, you might have a n/a of "request quote" with the next action after that being perhaps "review quote." In the interim rather than a n/a of a follow up email to ask for the quote again, stick the "review quote" action into a Waiting context. You can know that if you sent the request on Monday and expect the quote by Tuesday end of day that on Wednesday morning if the review quote n/a is still waiting that you need to send the email.

        Part of that, of course, depends on the nature of the follow up email. If it's a "please respond to the attached" it may not require a n/a. On the other hand if it requires you to do research into who the person's supervisor is so that you can send an escalating email you might need more n/a description.

        You will probably, over time, hone your system to capture what you need capturing and exclude/skip over the things that are automatic.


        • #5
          some tricks to reduce list clutter

          There is an "advanced" practice that not everybody does well with. IF you have a multi-step project that is a) similar to projects you have done many times before and b) does not need to have completed next actions in your list tool (either because there is an external record or no record needs to be kept), THEN you can edit the next action in place, and move it from list to list as needed. Example: monthly drug refills. The sequence:

          Order refills online @computer
          Ready for pick-up? @waiting
          Pick-up at drugstore @errrands

          Using Omnifocus, I could set this up a full-blown project, with sequential (dependent) tasks. But then something changes: your spouse is out running errands, so (s)he does the pick-up. This only works well with projects that have ONE clear next action at all times, but it has David Allen's blessing (somewhere on this web site, as I recall).

          I also use a similar trick for tasks that are ongoing for a while. For example, when my mail gets out of control I have a next action "Process email backlog (87)", where 87 is the number of emails in my inbox. As I process the backlog, I change the number to get a sense of progress. This avoids a due daily repeating task "Process backlog" which distracts me from more important work ("but I have to process my backlog- it's due!") and lets me do processing more than once in a day if I feel like it. I do the same thing with editing manuscripts ("Start revising p. 16") and grading ("Grade problem 3 of midterms").

          Hope this helps!


          • #6
            If you really want to get things done, don't overwork your system!

            You don't have to nor do you want to keep your lists up-to-date every hour of every day; you'd never get anything done. However, you do want to follow all of the best practices such as never filing anything in your head or shoving it into a "hunhh stack", processing your inboxes every 24-48 hours and, most important of all, do your weekly reviews every week.


            • #7
              If many of your projects have the same sequence of events, one possibility could be a project checklist. You could start a new checklist for each project, producing a stack of checklists, and then you could write actions based on the stack of checklists. For example:

              - Make ten followup calls from checklist stack.
              - Do quote comparisons for three projects in checklist stack.
              - Sort through checklist stack to find stalled projects.
              - Make received products list from checklist stack, and check products.

              And so on.



              • #8
                The good thing is now you actually have a realistic inventory of all your committments. So when you get asked to take on something new by your boss, you can have a reasonable discussion of whether you have the capacity to do it or not. Also it's a great source of info when discussing priorities and making sure you focus on what's important


                • #9
                  Originally posted by sirrick View Post
                  Hi everybody
                  I write a new task: send and email asking for a quotation, after send it, I have to create another task: check for the answer of that email 2 days later (in case the receiver forget to answer), when I get it if I get it, I create another task: compare the quotation with the other suppliers, then create another: send a purchase order, then another: wait and check the received products, etc etc etc etc etc,
                  Use more the 2 minutes rule. Use lists as reminders, not as documentation of your actions. In your example:

                  "send and email asking for a quotation" - if at the right context, just do it.
                  "compare the quotation with the other suppliers" as said.
                  "send a purchase order" as said.

                  We all enjoy checking boxes. But that's not the point


                  • #10
                    Predicting the future

                    So you thought you could predict the future of your projects, too? There must be dents in the sheetrock where I've banged my head against the wall on that one!

                    When I know the general steps of a project but not the exact order they'll execute, I use mind maps. I get a blank (unlined) sheet of white card stock, put the project name in the middle and jot down everything I can think of relating to the project. The next action goes on the next action list, the map gets dropped in the project file folder and reviewed after that next action is finished and/or in weekly review.

                    Often I find I've completed several steps without checking the map simply because I had to think through the flow initially.

                    For recurring processes, I duplicate the mind map with the essential steps then add/modify as necessary for each project.

                    Above all, cut yourself some slack... none of us were masters of our systems when we first started. Let some air in and what works for you will happen organically, within the gtd structure.


                    • #11
                      thank you very much for all the advices, and you are right, this needs some time to get use to and some experience too