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  • It doesn't work!

    Hy everybody,
    A long time ago I start working with gtd. Over time I realized, that there are some typical things, that doesn't work well.
    For me it is the empty physical inbox. Its become bigger and bigger and not more empty, as it should.

    What are your fights with the stuff?
    What do you think is complicated?
    What should be rethinking?

    Thanks for your awnsers.
    Heiko

  • #2
    Are you setting aside enough time to process your inbox? If it is accumulating stuff then I suggest you are not.

    Comment


    • #3
      Delete, delete, delete!

      Originally posted by Heiko28 View Post
      What are your fights with the stuff?
      What do you think is complicated?
      What should be rethinking?
      Delete, delete, delete

      And if in doubt - DELETE

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Heiko28 View Post
        For me it is the empty physical inbox. Its become bigger and bigger and not more empty, as it should.Heiko
        A full inbox isn't a failure of GTD, or any other system, it's a reason you need a system. In my experience, there are two reasons why my inbox backs up, 1) I'm not dedicating enough time to processing it, or 2) I'm not making decisions (i.e. choosing next actions) on the contents of the inbox. No matter how deep in the inbox is, if you can dedicate enough time and decide on your next actions, or process 2-minute actions immediately, you will empty your inbox. Keep in mind, you are dealing with 1 item at a time, not all of it at once.

        If you're having trouble emptying your email inbox, I asked a similar question recently and received some great help in this thread:
        http://www.davidco.com/forum/showthr...with-this-mess

        It's been over two weeks and I've gone home with an empty inbox every night since.

        Good luck.
        Last edited by jrdouce; 03-13-2012, 05:42 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Remember that things aren't removed from the inbox when they're done, but when they're processed. You might process something months before you get it done.

          For example, if you tossed a magazine in the inbox because you want to read an article in the magazine, then to process that magazine, you insert a PostIt to bookmark the article, put the magazine in the "to read" stack (which is not the same as your Inbox) and possibly enter an action "Read article about widget innovations" in the appropriate action list. Or you might have some entirely different way of handling "to read" items, but whatever your way is, it should result in getting the item out of your inbox in less than a minute or two. You'll read it later.

          Similarly, if you tossed a handful of paint sample cards in the inbox because you're painting the bathroom, those don't stay there until the bathroom is done. They stay there until your review, at which time you might:

          - Create a folder called "Bathroom remodel support materials."
          - Put the paint samples in the folder.
          - Create a project called "Bathroom remodelled"
          - Write a Next Action of "Show paint samples to Joe and get his opinion".
          - File the folder away in your filing system.

          Again, you'll talk to Joe later.

          If you're completely confused about how to process something, I'd say _still_ get it out of the inbox. Create a "confused" file folder, put the item in it, create a "Process Confused items" project, and give it a repeating Next Action of "Process one Confused item."

          If the Inbox is too full to allow you to get to new items quickly and keep it empty, then you could just dump the _whole thing_ into the "Confused" folder (now the "Confused" box), and maintain a clean Inbox while you're slowly working your way through the older items.

          If you're trying to follow the two-minute rule but you keep starting on things that end up taking more than two minutes, then just make a rule that you won't "do" _any_ tasks while you're processing your inbox. That's my rule.

          Now, you still may end up with too many projects and Next Actions - that's another issue. But it should be possible to regularly empty your Inbox.

          Gardener

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Heiko28 View Post
            For me it is the empty physical inbox. Its become bigger and bigger and not more empty, as it should.
            Hello, Heiko!

            I'm not sure from your post how much of your system is already set up (in other words, do you have a filing system for reference, is your calendar set up, and so on) but I can give you my thoughts, for whatever they're worth, about your inbox:

            See all that stuff in your inbox? Take it out. Take it all out. Stick it in another box. That's your backlog. You can even stick a big label on it that says Backlog. That's the stuff to get through as you can (look in the Audio Library for the Webinar on backlog to learn how to deal with this box.)

            Now... look at your inbox. Empty, yes? Yay! Good.

            So, today, stuff will show up in your inbox. Right? You put things in, maybe others put things in... it will not be empty at the end of the day, will it?

            At a certain point today, maybe towards the end of the day, go through all of it, one piece at a time... process it. That means tomorrow you'll start with an empty inbox again. And stuff will collect in it. Process that stuff tomorrow. And so on.

            You've got to start clean somewhere. Let's get through today's inbox, and the rest you'll process as time permits.

            If you try this, let me know how it works for you... how it feels to start off with an empty inbox.

            Thanks for posting!

            Dena

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Gardener View Post
              If the Inbox is too full to allow you to get to new items quickly and keep it empty, then you could just dump the _whole thing_ into the "Confused" folder (now the "Confused" box), and maintain a clean Inbox while you're slowly working your way through the older items.
              Hi, Gardener!

              I was typing my response while you were posting, and I see we're thinking along the same lines. When I was first starting GTD, there was a LOT that was confusing. So I can imagine my room full of boxes and folders all labeled with various levels of confusion: "Confusing" "Really Confusing" "More Confusing Than Those Other Piles" "Too Confusing, Call A Therapist"

              Good thoughts in your post... thank you for sharing them!

              Dena

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by artsinaction View Post
                So I can imagine my room full of boxes and folders all labeled with various levels of confusion: "Confusing" "Really Confusing" "More Confusing Than Those Other Piles" "Too Confusing, Call A Therapist"
                Dena - Loving the 'Call a Therapist' line! I fear that a number of the boxes in the back of my loft cupboards might need this label!!

                Comment


                • #9
                  side effect of GTD

                  GTD newbie myself, so my words are not gospel but I have not yet experienced an ampty in box.

                  What I have experienced are more ideas, more creativity,'more energy and enthusiasm for my work.
                  Was that a side effect if GtD or a sign I have not mastered the system (I have only been at this 3 months).

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Almost Done View Post
                    What I have experienced are more ideas, more creativity, more energy and enthusiasm for my work.
                    Was that a side effect if GtD or a sign I have not mastered the system (I have only been at this 3 months).
                    Definitely a side-effect of GTD! Just keep working at refining your system and the side-effects just get better
                    GTD really is one of those systems that keeps revealing new facets the more you do it. Kelly Forrister had a really good analogy in one of her webinars:
                    GTD is like a sport. When you first start it can be quite challenging, but the more you practice the easier it gets and your responses start to become automatic.

                    Good luck and keep practicing!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      This worked for me at least once:

                      I decided to just quickly go through the inbox and not really do or process the stuff
                      but just look to see what's there and whether there's anything very urgent in there.
                      In doing that, I ended up actually doing or processing a lot of the stuff, for example
                      filing things away, and the inbox ended up much emptier.

                      At the moment my inboxes are somewhat piled up again, but I'll manage.
                      I can move things to "action" folders and stuff.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by cwoodgold View Post
                        I decided to just quickly go through the inbox and not really do or process the stuff but just look to see what's there and whether there's anything very urgent in there.
                        I know you're not suggesting that as an everyday habit, so, yes, that can be helpful sometimes... especially when there's that little thing in the back of your head that sounds like the ticking of a time bomb! That said, that was how I consistently handled my inbox for years. And only the urgent things ever got done.

                        What I often do now is separate my little hand-written, mind-dump notes from everything else in the inbox. That way I can focus on the "everything else", which I process first, one at a time without sorting. When I get to my own notes, there's a sense of relaxation, even relief. Although there are projects and actions of all sizes in there, the familiarity provides a comfort.

                        Dena

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by artsinaction View Post
                          And only the urgent things ever got done.
                          That's not a very bad outcome. It could even be kindof good, though probably not the best.

                          Originally posted by artsinaction View Post
                          ... When I get to my own notes, there's a sense of relaxation, even relief. Although there are projects and actions of all sizes in there, the familiarity provides a comfort.
                          Ah. Perhaps the principle here is processing scariest-first. (Or dreariest-first.) I'll think about that. I tend to just take from the top of the pile.

                          That's like a method of learning music: you learn the last bit of the piece first, then the second-last, and so on. That way, any time you practice what you know so far you're going from less familiar into more familiar territory, so it feels comforting.

                          Actually, going quickly through the inbox could be an every-day practice: quickly looking at each thing just to see what's there, which might only take a second or two per item, then afterwards processing the things one at a time. This achieves the feeling of familiarity and comfort, a sense of security from knowing how urgent the most urgent thing in there is, and perhaps a very rough estimate of how much time it's all going to take, which can help in portioning the time between items, for example changing the two-minute rule to a one-minute or five-minute rule for that day. I may be moving towards doing that, but can't always resist getting caught up in actually processing or actually doing -- which can be OK too, since that's what I would have been doing anyway if I hadn't set out to quickly look over the stuff.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I think that I must be handling things differently, because I'm having trouble figuring out why it would be hard to regularly get to an empty physical Inbox. I suspect that the difference is that I don't have high standards for "processing" at that level - to me, all I'm doing is processing the task from a physical object to a line in the GTD system. I'm just adding a tiny bit of structure; all the real thinking is yet to come.

                            Examples:

                            - If my Inbox contains a brochure for a conference that I may or may not want to go to, I wouldn't think about that decision when processing. Instead, I'd enter an action in my single-action list of "Think about whether to go to Conference X" or, if I already anticipate that that decision will involve asking some people and doing some research, I'd enter an action of "Create a project for deciding whether to go to Conference X", with a Due Date that's a reasonable amount of time before the conference, and I'd drop the brochure in the "to be filed' stack, and that item would be processed in fifteen seconds or so - longer if I have a paper system, but not that much longer. If I have fourteen brochures for conferences, I'd enter a similar action, "Crate a project for going through conference possibilities," stuff the brochures into a folder, and dump that folder in 'to be filed'. If I'm afraid that I'll file it somewhere unfindable when I get around to filing, I may add to the action "filed under Conferences", and slap a Postit on the brochure or folder, "File: Conferences."

                            - If I find a Postit saying, "Meet with Fred about X", I'll just transcribe that into the single-action list: "Schedule meeting with Fred about X." I won't actually do the scheduling, or think about whether the meeting should have other attendees, or do any other thinking.

                            - If there's a recipe for chocolate fudge cake in the Inbox because I've been looking for a particular recipe that I remember from the past and I think this might be it, I'll (1) write the date on it, (2) slap a "File: Recipes" Postit on it, (3) drop it in "to be filed" and (4) write a single-action line, "Create a project to test fudge cake recipe, dated 3/19/12, filed in Recipes."

                            - If there's a recipe for Snickerdoodles in the Inbox and I simply can't remember why, I'll do the same thing but the action will be, "Figure out why I care about Snickerdoodle recipe, dated 3/19/12, filed in Recipes."

                            - If there's a credit card bill, I'll toss it in the Bill Stack and enter an item "Pay Visa" with an appropriate Due Date.

                            - If there's a seed catalog, I'll file it in "Seed Catalogs" and enter an item, "Look over 2012 Johnny's catalog."

                            So, again, no thought, no work, all I'm doing is transforming the physical object into a line in the system. I realize that this means that most of those items will need work when I get to them, but I find it much easier to work with a bunch of lines that are all in the same system, rather than trying to do actual thinking about a bunch of mismatched papers. And if I slap on a Due Date when appropriate as I enter the item in the system, then there's less nervousness about what I might be missing.

                            One could also argue that I'm wasting a lot of time filing and unfiling items when I could have made a decision immediately. I counter with the idea that a lot of these items are going to expire un-done - for example, I may never get to that Johnny's Selected Seeds catalog. If I don't, then it would have been more efficient to have it tucked away in the Catalogs folder than to shuffle past it over and over if I left it in the Inbox. And it may be eighteen months before I get to that Fudge Cake recipe; if it's filed, then the action will sit harmlessly in Someday/Maybe for that eighteen months, rather than the slip of paper itself annoying me all that time in the Inbox.

                            Gardener

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              GTD Does work but Physical Inbox still full

                              Well GTD does work but I hear you on the physical inbox still full problem. Mine is actually a 2 fold problem, the physical inbox and the physical items of action support.

                              For example here is what is in my inbox right now:

                              Size 5 dog muzzle To properly process this I need to create an action to go make sure it fits Harri, file the instructions and warranty info in a new file Equip.- Dog Muzzle, add an item to the shopping list for the local town feed store to buy some small dog treats for training, and add an item to errands to stop at feed store see shopping list. Even if I get the lists updated I still have the muzzle as action support to take outside and try it on Harri. As a result it's still sitting in my inbox even though the rest of the stuff is done.

                              I also found for me that creating a "to File" pile was just that, another pile and I never did it. For me filing has to happen as part of processing or it never gets done.

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