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  • Too many to-do's in different places

    Hello, nice to be reaching out for some support and knowing there are other folks as interested in GTD as I am. I'm in a bit of a pickle...the past few weeks I've been setting up the GTD system, listening to webinars on GTD connect and adding to-do's to lots of lists. Lists such as someday/maybe, errands, calls, online, and various inboxes (iphone, evernote). Now I have lots of lists. I named a few projects and put a few next actions on them.

    Apparently, I have skipped a step....now that I have a better sense of the overall picture, it looks like I've been doing a mind sweep in many different places. Instead of having one list of unprocessed to-do's....I have added next actions to many different lists.

    If this is making sense, would anyone have an idea about how to combine all this and move forward in the GTD way, or in another simple fashion? It seems like I have doubled my work and need to start over. I'm guessing that I now need to gather up all of these next steps and put them in one big list then go through them in the GTD way, asking myself what requires a next action, etc. Do I have that right?

    I look forward to your feedback. I put a lot of work into this and would like to stay encouraged about the benefit.

  • #2
    Pieces of a puzzle.

    In your post I see many pieces of a puzzle but they are scattered in random order. I think you should read the Getting Things Done book. Really. It will help you understand the 5 steps of the GTD workflow.

    Comment


    • #3
      TesTeq - thanks for taking the time to reply. I agree that reading the GTD is helpful and so I have been. I'm familiar with the overall system. What I'm asking for is any suggestions to streamline after having put all of my actions on to lists instead of working off of one list to set up projects.

      Comment


      • #4
        I think it's fine. People who have been using GTD for a long time may well also have all those lists. I would suggest:
        • From time to time, go over "someday/maybe" and decide whether to move things from there to more active lists. This is normally done periodically, e.g. at each weekly review.
        • Your "errands", "calls", "online" etc. are presumably next-action lists. When you get a chance, e.g. at your next weekly review, you can go over them and consider whether you want to move anything from there to "someday/maybe", e.g. if you're not planning to do it in the near future. Also, make sure each item is really a single, physical next action that you know how to do and don't need to do anything else before. From time to time, you can recheck these lists to see whether any insufficiently processed "stuff" has crept in -- for example, if something on an action list isn't getting done for a long time, it could be because it isn't defined clearly enough as a single physical action.
        • Inboxes such as email inboxes will tend to be there continuously. You can process each inbox when you have time, and perhaps at weekly review check whether you have any inboxes that aren't getting processed.

        I don't think it's necessary to collect everything in one big list. I think that idea was designed more for people who hired David Allen to help them get all organized over a single weekend. I implemented GTD more gradually.

        The main thing is to make sure that eventually, everything that should get processed gets processed.

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        • #5
          Take a closer look at contexts

          Hi-

          For me what was helpful was to really streamline my lists according to context and separate my "next actions" from the projects that generated them during my weekly review. I might have a whole list of next actions for a particular project but if the next action is in my "home office" context, then that is the only "next action" list I look at when in my home office.

          I have only 1 next action, from a number of different projects, on 1 home office list. I don't go down the list doing one action for each project, but look at the list and determine what project I have the time and energy to work on (or the one that has most of my attention.) When I'm finished working on that project for the day (provided it's not completed) I put the next action down as a "bookmark" that let's me know where I can pick up the project again. The project folder itself can have a whole list of next actions you've thought of. But just pluck the next one off and put it in the appropriate context. if you choose to do that one, then you can open up the project folder it belongs to during the "do" step of your work.

          My contexts are mostly physically based as I work in two different colleges and cannot do many actions unless I am physically in a specific location. But I also have an "anywhere" context for those times I am in a waiting room or coffee shop with my iPad or just a pen and paper. In my weekly review I've added many "anywhere" next actions, again from a few projects, that do not rely on specific equipment or physical space.

          In summary, I think the key is to really think about YOUR contexts and how they make sense to your workflow- they do not have to be the ones suggested in the book. This should hopefully remove the feeling of randomness. You can have a context called "On the bus" if that makes sense.

          Comment


          • #6
            cwoodgold

            Thank you for the tips in addition to the reassurance that I don't need one list. I have spent the day going through most of what I have and linking multiple actions to projects and updating the next action lists. The information you provided about the Weekly Review is very helping. I'm using Evernote to keep track of tips like this as well as the GTD folders.

            Hope all is well with you.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by lauwoman View Post
              Hi-

              For me what was helpful was to really streamline my lists according to context and separate my "next actions" from the projects that generated them during my weekly review. I might have a whole list of next actions for a particular project but if the next action is in my "home office" context, then that is the only "next action" list I look at when in my home office.

              I have only 1 next action, from a number of different projects, on 1 home office list. I don't go down the list doing one action for each project, but look at the list and determine what project I have the time and energy to work on (or the one that has most of my attention.) When I'm finished working on that project for the day (provided it's not completed) I put the next action down as a "bookmark" that let's me know where I can pick up the project again. The project folder itself can have a whole list of next actions you've thought of. But just pluck the next one off and put it in the appropriate context. if you choose to do that one, then you can open up the project folder it belongs to during the "do" step of your work.

              My contexts are mostly physically based as I work in two different colleges and cannot do many actions unless I am physically in a specific location. But I also have an "anywhere" context for those times I am in a waiting room or coffee shop with my iPad or just a pen and paper. In my weekly review I've added many "anywhere" next actions, again from a few projects, that do not rely on specific equipment or physical space.

              In summary, I think the key is to really think about YOUR contexts and how they make sense to your workflow- they do not have to be the ones suggested in the book. This should hopefully remove the feeling of randomness. You can have a context called "On the bus" if that makes sense.
              auwoman - this makes sense to me. I was wondering how I would decide what next action to do! Deciding based on context seems easy for the most part. Appreciate your taking the time to reply.

              Comment


              • #8
                Adding items to GTD lists.

                Originally posted by bettlejuice View Post
                TesTeq - thanks for taking the time to reply. I agree that reading the GTD is helpful and so I have been. I'm familiar with the overall system.
                I'm sorry. I was misled by your statement that you had been adding to-do's to lots of lists. Lists such as someday/maybe, errands, calls, online, and various inboxes (iphone, evernote).

                I am adding "unprocessed stuff" to my inboxes, Next Actions to my @context lists and Projects to my Projects and Someday/Maybe lists.

                Comment

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