Forum

  • If you are new to these Forums, please take a moment to register using the fields above.
Announcement Announcement Module
Collapse
No announcement yet.
Confused about what do after emptying the "in" basket Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse
X
Conversation Detail Module
Collapse
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Confused about what do after emptying the "in" basket

    Hi,

    I am going through the GTD book and was able to empty my "in" basket, adding the next actions to all the documents and objects I found that needed to be worked on. I have read the next section "Workflow Diagram - organizing" but I have no idea what I need to do next. He mentions 7 basic categories, but I am not clear how to convert those into projects? or lists?. Very confused.

    Could someone explain to me what to do physically with the pack of things with next actions attached to them that I have in my desk? I bough the folders he suggested and the labels, but I don't know when I need to use them or for what.

    I appreciate the help,

    zff

  • #2
    Hi! Welcome to GTD! I hope you like it. I find it really helps me.

    I'm not an expert on GTD, just another participant in this forum; and I don't understand exactly what you've done or what stage you're at, so I'm not sure exactly how to answer your question, but I have some suggestions and some questions for you. You can decide whether my suggestions are useful for you.

    -- You can re-read the GTD book, or at least the parts that refer to what you're doing now.

    -- You can list all those "next actions" in "context" lists. For example, make a list of next actions to do when you're at home, at work, out shopping, on the computer, making phone calls etc. I suggest making sure each "next action", or at least one "next action" for each object or document, gets onto at least one list. When you do that action, you can then copy the next action for the same object or document onto one of your lists.

    -- Then you can take the context list for the place where you are now, and start actually doing some of those next actions! First select the ones you have the time and energy to do right now, then sort those by priority and start on the highest-priority ones.

    -- You can consider each of the "things" with next actions attached to it to be a "project" in GTD terminology. You can choose a place for project support material, and move each of the things off your desk and into that place after you've copied the next actions onto an appropriate list -- and hopefully end up with a lovely clear desk that you can spread one project at a time out on as you get around to doing them!

    A "list" can be a pile of papers with one "next action" written on each page. I like to do it that way. There's lots of room on the page to write related thoughts or information if I feel like it; it helps me focus on one thing at a time; and I can easily erase my soft-lead-pencilled writing and re-use the page when I'm finished with it.

    Comment


    • #3
      Processing your stuff

      The response by cwoodgold describes well the Systematic Approach we call GTD.

      As you're new to GTD, if you're willing, I'd like to play a game with you -- processing three items into your GTD system, to get the ball rolling.

      Disclaimer: I'm not a GTD coach, just the IT guy. If you're interested, make sure you're not writing confidential info.

      What's required is to review everything on your list so far -- what you've captured/collected -- and choose three (3) unrelated items that you have energy on and list them.

      Reply back with those items -- 1, 2 and 3.

      Paul


      Originally posted by zff View Post
      Hi,

      I am going through the GTD book and was able to empty my "in" basket, adding the next actions to all the documents and objects I found that needed to be worked on. I have read the next section "Workflow Diagram - organizing" but I have no idea what I need to do next. He mentions 7 basic categories, but I am not clear how to convert those into projects? or lists?. Very confused.

      Could someone explain to me what to do physically with the pack of things with next actions attached to them that I have in my desk? I bough the folders he suggested and the labels, but I don't know when I need to use them or for what.

      I appreciate the help,

      zff

      Comment


      • #4
        Follow up about lists

        Hi Paul,

        Thank you for your reply.
        Three things on my list:

        Renew magazine membership
        Write section for research paper
        Call electhromecanic

        Note: Before GTD I used to organize myself by making a list of Big Projects and for each one of those projects have a list of next actions. The problem with that system was that I used to focus on what I thought was the most important tasks, and not do everything else that needed to be done. From what I am understanding, the GTD system spreads all those next actions into categories that have nothing to do with a particular project. I will end up with some of my next actions for writing a section for a research paper mixed with renewing membership because I will be doing both using my personal computer (@Computer cateogory). I have nothing against that, my preoccupation lies on how will I be able to keep track of my progress for each particular project if all the tasks are spread out in different categories.

        Thank you for your interest and insight,

        ZFF

        Comment


        • #5
          Hi cwoodgold,

          Thank you for your explanation. I will process my list that way, is much clearer now. I voiced my concern to Paul about my confusion with how to keep track of my projects if my next actions for each project are spread out everywhere in categories or context. Been that way, I am not clear as to what goes inside a Projects categories if not for the projects themselves with their next actions.

          I will be using Outlook. I am downloading it and bought the manual for integrating the GTD system into Outlook.

          zff
          Last edited by zff; 09-09-2012, 12:58 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            I think ideally it's supposed to work something like this (if done on paper):

            For each project, you can have a page with the name of the project, (where the name makes it clear what exactly counts as having finished the project), and a list of actions. Once a week during weekly review, you look at the page for the project, check off any actions you've already done, notice approximately what percentage of the project is already done, think about when you'd like to finish it by, notice which actions can be done now, and copy those actions onto your "next action" lists for the various contexts.

            Looking over the project gives you a feel for its priority level in relation to other projects.

            The actions listed on the projects page can include actions that can't be done yet because another action has to be done first. After those actions are done, these become "next actions" and can be copied onto the context lists.

            After you do an action during the week, you can also immediately write down on your context lists any actions that follow logically from it -- things you couldn't do yet because that had to be done first. If necessary you can consult the project list to find those. However, in case you forget to do this during the week, you can make sure at the next weekly review that the project has at least one "next action" on at least one context list.

            A project can have more than one "next action". The "next actions" are all the actions that you can do now. There could be several actions such that it doesn't matter what order you do them in.

            Comment


            • #7
              Follow up about lists

              Thank you cwoodlog. It makes sense now!

              Comment


              • #8
                Wording of Next Actions and linking Actions to Projects

                Hi Zamara:

                You'll have no problem associating the Next Actions with your Project List as long as:

                -You have an updated list of Projects that you're committed to completing within 1 year
                -They're worded well and are ideally written as an outcome statement, as if already completed (written in past tense).
                -The Projects list is reviewed weekly during your Weekly Review -- this is important. For each Project, you ensure you have at least one Next Action someplace within your lists.

                Note: This business of linking Next Actions to Projects is an age-old question within GTD. The brain has an uncanny ability to link the Next Action to the Project, as long as you're reviewing all your lists and your Project Lists freqently. Projects are at the 10K foot Horizon of Focus -- soon as you get the Control piece down, then the subtlety begins when the Projects are reviewed from higher horizons.

                Focusing on the wording of your three actions. I have some questions that would help me:

                Renew magazine membership
                -Is this a date specific item? What's the expiration date?
                -What's the name of the magazine -- you can makeup something
                -What's the method you use to renew magazines?

                Write section for research paper
                -What's the research paper called?
                -How and where are you managing Project/Action Support for this paper?
                -How are you writing this? -- paper; computer -- portable or fixed.
                -Which section are you writing?
                -What timeline do you have, if any, for completion (submission)
                -Do you have to be someplace specifically to write this section?

                Call electhromecanic
                -What's the name of the electromechanic? You can makeup something
                -What's the number of the mechanic? Let's say it's 800-555-1212
                -What's the purpose (couple words) for making the call
                -Do you have to be in a specific location when you make the call (because of various items needed accessible during the call) or can you be anywhere
                -Note: Assuming you can make this call anywhere, if you have an @Phone list, then you don't need to preface with "Call"

                Looking forward to your answers.

                Keep up the good work -- I know you're getting multiple input now. I'm just focusing down a specific path of wording.

                Paul



                Originally posted by zff View Post
                Hi Paul,

                Thank you for your reply.
                Three things on my list:

                Renew magazine membership
                Write section for research paper
                Call electhromecanic

                Note: Before GTD I used to organize myself by making a list of Big Projects and for each one of those projects have a list of next actions. The problem with that system was that I used to focus on what I thought was the most important tasks, and not do everything else that needed to be done. From what I am understanding, the GTD system spreads all those next actions into categories that have nothing to do with a particular project. I will end up with some of my next actions for writing a section for a research paper mixed with renewing membership because I will be doing both using my personal computer (@Computer cateogory). I have nothing against that, my preoccupation lies on how will I be able to keep track of my progress for each particular project if all the tasks are spread out in different categories.

                Thank you for your interest and insight,

                ZFF

                Comment


                • #9
                  Hi,

                  Renew magazine membership
                  -Is this a date specific item? What's the expiration date? - December 15th 2012
                  -What's the name of the magazine -you can makeup something - GSA
                  -What's the method you use to renew magazines? - Online

                  Write section for research paper
                  -What's the research paper called? Sedimentary deposits in the Caribbean (made it up)
                  -How and where are you managing Project/Action Support for this paper? I will do it using my personal computer. I will manage using Outlook.
                  -How are you writing this? -paper; computer -portable or fixed. I am writing using a computer.
                  -Which section are you writing? Doesn't have a specific number, is a descriptive section about sediment and microbial dynamics.
                  -What timeline do you have, if any, for completion (submission) - In the next month or so.
                  -Do you have to be someplace specifically to write this section? - I am usually at home when I write.

                  Call electhromechanic
                  -What's the name of the electromechanic? You can makeup something. I don't know, I need to get that information from a relative.
                  -What's the number of the mechanic? Let's say it's 800-555-1212. I need to get that info. from a relative.
                  -What's the purpose (couple words) for making the call. Radio and what you use to charge the cell-phone do not work.
                  -Do you have to be in a specific location when you make the call (because of various items needed accessible during the call) or can you be anywhere. I can be anywhere.
                  -Note: Assuming you can make this call anywhere, if you have an @Phone list, then you don't need to preface with "Call". - OK.


                  If I were to word my Project, would it read like this ?

                  Finished writing the EPS section?

                  Thanks for the input,

                  Zamara

                  Originally posted by pgarth View Post
                  Hi Zamara:

                  You'll have no problem associating the Next Actions with your Project List as long as:

                  -You have an updated list of Projects that you're committed to completing within 1 year
                  -They're worded well and are ideally written as an outcome statement, as if already completed (written in past tense).
                  -The Projects list is reviewed weekly during your Weekly Review -- this is important. For each Project, you ensure you have at least one Next Action someplace within your lists.

                  Note: This business of linking Next Actions to Projects is an age-old question within GTD. The brain has an uncanny ability to link the Next Action to the Project, as long as you're reviewing all your lists and your Project Lists freqently. Projects are at the 10K foot Horizon of Focus -- soon as you get the Control piece down, then the subtlety begins when the Projects are reviewed from higher horizons.

                  Focusing on the wording of your three actions. I have some questions that would help me:

                  Renew magazine membership
                  -Is this a date specific item? What's the expiration date?
                  -What's the name of the magazine -- you can makeup something
                  -What's the method you use to renew magazines?

                  Write section for research paper
                  -What's the research paper called?
                  -How and where are you managing Project/Action Support for this paper?
                  -How are you writing this? -- paper; computer -- portable or fixed.
                  -Which section are you writing?
                  -What timeline do you have, if any, for completion (submission)
                  -Do you have to be someplace specifically to write this section?

                  Call electhromecanic
                  -What's the name of the electromechanic? You can makeup something
                  -What's the number of the mechanic? Let's say it's 800-555-1212
                  -What's the purpose (couple words) for making the call
                  -Do you have to be in a specific location when you make the call (because of various items needed accessible during the call) or can you be anywhere
                  -Note: Assuming you can make this call anywhere, if you have an @Phone list, then you don't need to preface with "Call"

                  Looking forward to your answers.

                  Keep up the good work -- I know you're getting multiple input now. I'm just focusing down a specific path of wording.

                  Paul

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Wording of Next Actions -- getting close

                    Hi Zamara:

                    I'm going to assume that you'd want to renew the subscription several weeks before it expires, but you run the risk of missing an issue and being pestered by the publisher.

                    Because it's date specific, this belongs on a calendar. Note: I'm making up a date for this.

                    1. On Calendar for November 1st, 2012. "Renew (via online) GSA Magazine - expires 12/15/12".

                    The wording of this is specific enough to give you all the info you'd need to be completely reminded -- it's hard-deadline, what it is, how you're going to do it.

                    Question: You can make up an answer, because this is public, but how do you handle tracking passwords -- online renewal stuff is great, but you still need to find the password, which can delay the process, leading to procrastination.

                    2. @Computer - "Write sediment and microbial (Sed Dep Carrib)".

                    I don't want to be the source of all truth for this one, because there is some latitude, and the GTD book will explain it better. I'm leading with an action verb, giving enough for the mind-job (sediment and microbial) and cross referencing to which paper (Sed Dep Carrib), just in case you're working on multiple projects. Sometimes it's not required to put the Project within the Action statement - up to you.

                    I asked where you would be doing the work because if you must be at home because of needing various physical action support (where you always have a computer) then there is a judgment call of entering within context @Home or @Computer. For example, I have a ton of computer work to-do, but (if it's work-related and has to be done in the office) it's all within @Office. If I have something to do on the computer, and it can be done anywhere, then it's within @Computer.

                    The paper's timelines (deadlines, etc) belongs within Action Support. It's your judgment of what you should be putting within your Calendar for deadlines, milestones, etc. I've been using the calendar for hard-edged dates and Project/Action Support for workflow stuff where the date is somewhat fluid.

                    Another somewhat subtle thing is are you working on a single project or multiple sub-projects (aka sections). In general, I would say you're working on one project, but your action support would probably break it down into sections. For example, I'm doing a single project - Domino upgrade - but in truth it's a bunch of smaller sub-projects. I'm using MindManager, so I don't completely lose it...

                    Another interesting this is that you're mentioning writing. I'm sure a part of writing this paper could be some research. This is where GTD shines -- you need a reference, so you: Go online and do a search (@Computer); find a book (@Computer); need to go to the library (@Library); read the book (@Read/Review); realize you need to speak to a professor (@Agenda); etc... etc... Do you see how you could possibly have multiple actions in different contexts popping up while "Writing" a research paper? If you're entering real actual next actions, then GTD does a marvelous job of keeping this all flowing.

                    3. @Phone "<Relative's name> - ask about Electromechanic contact name and number re: radio and cellphone charger"

                    This was an interesting one, because the focus was on contacting an Electromechanic, but the Next Action was to contact someone else.

                    I'm using the @Phone category for this, but there's also the context @Agendas. This is also useful. Let's say that, over time you accrue stuff that you need to ask/confer with said relative. If the conversation can be postponed and grouped together with other items, then you could create an @Agendas list and start with the person's name and then a reminder of the detail. This concept of @Agendas is extremely powerful when you consider its use -- things you need to discuss with your professor, etc. You'll find that your future meetings go much smoother because you'll rattle through your list, capture the various next actions -- whether they are for you or the other person, capture various waiting-fors, etc. Good stuff.

                    The key takeaway with the @Phone list is that, if you enter stuff there, ensure you are specific -- name, phone number, reason. Reason being is that if you are stuck in the bank line for 20 minutes with a cellphone and your @Phone list says, "Call Bob" -- unless you can remember who that is, what's the number and why you're calling, then it's not really useful.

                    You asked about wording of a project. This is really up to you, and it will improve over time. Ideally there is a verb someplace (Meg Edwards and Marian Bateman have a great audio on this topic). Something like:

                    EPS Section written.

                    By saying "written" I'm putting this in the past tense as if it's already done -- what does it look like. By saying "written" I know the action is about writing. I'm saying EPS Section so I know what it is -- hopefully "Section" is adequate. You want to ensure the Project is written so that it's enticing and doesn't "repel" you.

                    Hopefully that helps. You're on your way. Looking forward to more chats. Feel free to reply with questions on things I may still need to expand on or explain.

                    Paul

                    Originally posted by zff View Post
                    Hi,

                    Renew magazine membership
                    -Is this a date specific item? What's the expiration date? - December 15th 2012
                    -What's the name of the magazine -you can makeup something - GSA
                    -What's the method you use to renew magazines? - Online

                    Write section for research paper
                    -What's the research paper called? Sedimentary deposits in the Caribbean (made it up)
                    -How and where are you managing Project/Action Support for this paper? I will do it using my personal computer. I will manage using Outlook.
                    -How are you writing this? -paper; computer -portable or fixed. I am writing using a computer.
                    -Which section are you writing? Doesn't have a specific number, is a descriptive section about sediment and microbial dynamics.
                    -What timeline do you have, if any, for completion (submission) - In the next month or so.
                    -Do you have to be someplace specifically to write this section? - I am usually at home when I write.

                    Call electhromechanic
                    -What's the name of the electromechanic? You can makeup something. I don't know, I need to get that information from a relative.
                    -What's the number of the mechanic? Let's say it's 800-555-1212. I need to get that info. from a relative.
                    -What's the purpose (couple words) for making the call. Radio and what you use to charge the cell-phone do not work.
                    -Do you have to be in a specific location when you make the call (because of various items needed accessible during the call) or can you be anywhere. I can be anywhere.
                    -Note: Assuming you can make this call anywhere, if you have an @Phone list, then you don't need to preface with "Call". - OK.


                    If I were to word my Project, would it read like this ?

                    Finished writing the EPS section?

                    Thanks for the input,

                    Zamara

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Graduate student hopeful she can learn how to incorporate GTD

                      Hi,

                      I am very excited with the possibility that GTD will help me function very efficiently at work and at home. I bought and have read the book and both the Implementation guide and the GTD for Outlook 2010 manual. I have been at this process for almost a week now, non-stop basically. This is where I stand today, but I feel there are some things missing.

                      So far,

                      -finished setting up all my categories in Outlook. I have a total of 14 categories. The maximum tasks I have for a category are @computer = 49 items, followed by @projects = 35, @home = 28, @errands = 18, and so on.

                      -finished setting up my calendar using the Outlook layout provided in the GTD and Outlook 2010 manual.

                      -finished setting up my email as suggested in the GTD and Outlook 2010 manual.

                      What I don't have:

                      -Folders for project support material -
                      Reason: I don't understand where this is done and/or how.
                      Example: I need to write a science research paper. For this I will do brainstorming, find references (lots of these, could be 100 for example), do lab work, make figures, write at least 10 drafts overtime that I will submit to my advisors for revision (send by email and/or hand out in paper format), receive email back with revisions or questions, and so on until the paper is completed and submitted. Where do I store all of these material? I used to store it in folders in my laptop's desktop, for example:
                      1 folder - all the PhD references I have so far about the general and specific topics about my research.
                      1 folder - named as "X paper" - includes figures, pictures, written work, including revisions returned by the professors.
                      Are these two folders okay as Project Support Folders? I could try to make a copy of the references I need from the "All PhD references" folder, the problem is I am trying not to have double copies of research papers.

                      Although I am not completely set up with my system yet, today I had a meeting (not research related) which reviewed aspects that will be discussed in another meeting tomorrow. I took notes in a paper (this meeting does not occur frequently), when I got home I reviewed them and added A for action and WF for waiting for. Then I proceeded to tomorrow's date in the Outlook Calendar and in tomorrow's date I wrote down the appointment with the scheduled time. Within the appointment window there is some blank space below where you can write notes. That is where I wrote down the processed list. Although most of the list has actionable tasks (such as finding a document that I would need to bring with me to the meeting tomorrow) I do not feel moving them to the @home category would help, they would get lost in all the tasks I have @home. Where do these actions go then?

                      I am really trying to get better at this, but is difficult and stressful. I am either very disorganized or I am doing something wrong. Help please! Any academics around that could share their 0.02 cents? Much appreciated

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Wording of next actions getting close

                        Hi Paul,

                        Thank you for your input. I incorporated your suggestions into my Outlook system. I have written another post explaining where I stand (see Graduate Student hopeful she can incorporate GTD). I do have a bunch of projects related to my PhD, ranging from writing papers, to processing samples, processing data, analyzing, lots of field work at different sites, conference presentations, abstract submissions...the usual tasks that a science graduate student usually faces. I will keep at it, I am confident this is the way to go. Very motivated! I would love to read your thoughts about where I stand.

                        ZFF

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The answer is the same.

                          Originally posted by zff View Post
                          Hi,

                          I am very excited with the possibility that GTD will help me function very efficiently at work and at home. I bought and have read the book and both the Implementation guide and the GTD for Outlook 2010 manual. I have been at this process for almost a week now, non-stop basically. This is where I stand today, but I feel there are some things missing...
                          I've already read this post somewhere else. The answer is the same.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            GTD as a Systematic Approach

                            Hi Zamara:

                            Quite a bit within your email, which I'll attempt to expand on, after your next reply.

                            GTD is not something that is mastered overnight. Based on the timeline and what I've seen you do, you're doing extremely well. You're adapting to a new systematic approach, which includes building out a possibility of an extended mind, which frees up all your psychic RAM. On the surface, GTD looks like advanced common sense, but is actually quite profound as you get further into it over time.

                            Question I have goes immediately to your phrase, "I am really trying to get better at this, but is difficult and stressful". What part is difficult and stressful?

                            Paul


                            Originally posted by zff View Post
                            Hi,

                            I am very excited with the possibility that GTD will help me function very efficiently at work and at home. I bought and have read the book and both the Implementation guide and the GTD for Outlook 2010 manual. I have been at this process for almost a week now, non-stop basically. This is where I stand today, but I feel there are some things missing.

                            So far,

                            -finished setting up all my categories in Outlook. I have a total of 14 categories. The maximum tasks I have for a category are @computer = 49 items, followed by @projects = 35, @home = 28, @errands = 18, and so on.

                            -finished setting up my calendar using the Outlook layout provided in the GTD and Outlook 2010 manual.

                            -finished setting up my email as suggested in the GTD and Outlook 2010 manual.

                            What I don't have:

                            -Folders for project support material -
                            Reason: I don't understand where this is done and/or how.
                            Example: I need to write a science research paper. For this I will do brainstorming, find references (lots of these, could be 100 for example), do lab work, make figures, write at least 10 drafts overtime that I will submit to my advisors for revision (send by email and/or hand out in paper format), receive email back with revisions or questions, and so on until the paper is completed and submitted. Where do I store all of these material? I used to store it in folders in my laptop's desktop, for example:
                            1 folder - all the PhD references I have so far about the general and specific topics about my research.
                            1 folder - named as "X paper" - includes figures, pictures, written work, including revisions returned by the professors.
                            Are these two folders okay as Project Support Folders? I could try to make a copy of the references I need from the "All PhD references" folder, the problem is I am trying not to have double copies of research papers.

                            Although I am not completely set up with my system yet, today I had a meeting (not research related) which reviewed aspects that will be discussed in another meeting tomorrow. I took notes in a paper (this meeting does not occur frequently), when I got home I reviewed them and added A for action and WF for waiting for. Then I proceeded to tomorrow's date in the Outlook Calendar and in tomorrow's date I wrote down the appointment with the scheduled time. Within the appointment window there is some blank space below where you can write notes. That is where I wrote down the processed list. Although most of the list has actionable tasks (such as finding a document that I would need to bring with me to the meeting tomorrow) I do not feel moving them to the @home category would help, they would get lost in all the tasks I have @home. Where do these actions go then?

                            I am really trying to get better at this, but is difficult and stressful. I am either very disorganized or I am doing something wrong. Help please! Any academics around that could share their 0.02 cents? Much appreciated

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: GTD as a systematic approach

                              Hi Paul,

                              I was finding the system difficult and stressful because I did not understand the difference between reference system and the project support. I was also confused as to whether using paper or digital. After seeing some webinars I am more clear. Yesterday I completed some tasks that I had pending for a long time and today I will be doing my first weekly review

                              ZFF

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X