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.

Not enough Context - 67@Computer (Chapter's 4 - 7)

Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse
X
Conversation Detail Module
Collapse
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Not enough Context - 67@Computer (Chapter's 4 - 7)

    I just got done reading the book and grabbing the Outlook Add-in. I've run through Chapter's 4 - 7 -- dumped my brain, physical stuff, and 300 unread inbox messages, and processed them.

    What I'm left with is:
    43 Projects
    173 Actions
    67 of these Actions are "@Computer"

    Do these numbers sound right?

    Our company does almost everything through E-mail so I expect to always have a giant "@Computer" list - but with 67 items, to determine what to do next via the remaining 3 criteria (time, energy, priority) I'm pretty scared I'll miss something super-important. Given that 90% of my day is at meetings, I only have a few moments a day @Computer - making it double intimidating to have that large of an @Computer list.

    My whole life I've trusted the constant "open loop" horizontal scan my psyche provides - letting go of it is probably one of the most intimidating things I've done regarding my personal methodologies. However, I'm inspired by the ideas in the book-I've just started a new role at work, and I've got so many "open loops" there's not much time for anything else -- so something has to change.

    So, does it look like I've processed correctly? How do I get where I can trust my system? Right now with 67 items @Computer in no discernable order I'm not sure I'm trusting it that much at all. Should I add more context? @Computer-Low Energy @Computer-High-Energy, etc?

    Anyone else been here and found something that works for them?

    Thanks for any help -- I want this to work.

    --Mike

  • #2
    4 NA per project.

    In my opinion you haven't distinguished between actions and Next Actions! You wrote that:
    What I'm left with is:
    43 Projects
    173 Actions
    67 of these Actions are "@Computer"
    So you've got more than 4 Actions per project. I cannot imagine such high average number of simultaneous Next Actions for anybody's projects. In my opinion the projects with more than one NA are rare.
    Review the Action list and put the Next Actions only in their contexts.
    TesTeq

    Comment


    • #3
      Hmmm. Some of my Next Actions are not part of a project. For example, phone L. re dinner -- that just means I haven't seen L. in a while, and it's time we met for a social chat. Or "ask P. about begonia" simply means he gave me a plant, but I don't know it's name, so I can't look up blooming period, care, etc. It really isn't part of a project.

      Should all Next Actions be part of a project?

      Carolyn

      Comment


      • #4
        OK

        1) OK. Not all NAs must be part of the project. But not all projects must have NAs (Someday/Maybe projects).
        2) I think some of these 67 @Computer Actions are from Someday/Maybe category, some are two-minute Actions and some are not the Next Actions (some other Action must be done before). Or maybe Mike has a real backlog from his pre-GTD life that he managed to discover. So he should use his intuition in judging what's the most important (what should be done first) and what can be delayed.
        TesTeq

        Comment


        • #5
          My philosophy is that categories are for your pleasure and convenience. If there's too many items in a category, I absolutely recommend you split it up into subcategories.

          Don't be surprised if, as you use them, you change your categories one or two more times in the coming months to meet your needs. I advocate using David Allen's categories as a starting place for your own, not as an ending place.

          Comment


          • #6
            I agree that you can probably transfer some of the next actions to a Someday/Maybe list. I have a Someday/Maybe list where I throw all the things like travel to Europe, etc. But I also have a shorter term Someday/Maybe list that I call @Tickler (just to distinguish it from my other Someday/Maybe list). If there are next actions that I am unlikely to get to in the next week or two, I can move them onto the @Tickler list when I need to trim down my next action lists for easier scanning. I can always move them back onto my next action lists during the weekly review. After a while of implementing GTD, you will probably become more accustomed to regularly scanning a relatively long next action list. If I'm particularly concerned about losing an individual next action in the "forest" of my other next actions, I can attach a due date to it as a way of tickling the item to my attention.

            Comment


            • #7
              1. "Our company does almost everything through E-mail so I expect to always have a giant "@Computer" list"

              2. "Given that 90% of my day is at meetings, I only have a few moments a day @Computer"

              This would seem to be the ultimate problem. If this is true, it's hard to see how you've functioned with any degree of effectiveness.

              Specifically, over 30% of your NA's require a context you only have access to about 10% of the time.

              Are your @computer actions really the next, discreet, physical actions?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Esquire
                1. "Our company does almost everything through E-mail so I expect to always have a giant "@Computer" list"

                2. "Given that 90% of my day is at meetings, I only have a few moments a day @Computer"

                This would seem to be the ultimate problem. If this is true, it's hard to see how you've functioned with any degree of effectiveness.

                Specifically, over 30% of your NA's require a context you only have access to about 10% of the time.
                It may also be that your context is incorrect. Should @Computer be @MSOffice + @Internet + @Email? If so, then you can think of ways to handle each different context. IE, for @Email, you could sync to a Palm and process offline, or use a Blackberry, or use a Tablet PC (which can be used pretty discreetly during a meeting) with a wireless connection via your cell phone.

                I think that after you better define what you are trying to do, the contexts will come naturally, and you will see solutions to your problems.

                BTW, I've used all the above solutions at one time or another to handle email while stuck in other situations.

                Good luck.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thanks for all the replies

                  Okay, so thanks for all the great tips and replies. Here's my favorite:

                  " This would seem to be the ultimate problem. If this is true, it's hard to see how you've functioned with any degree of effectiveness.

                  Specifically, over 30% of your NA's require a context you only have access to about 10% of the time. "

                  I think that might be the case, and what brough me to GTD!

                  However, I think there's definately some room for me to either make sure I've got descrete actions, correctly defined my projects, file some things to someday/maybe, and also, maybe add more context like @MSOffice @E-mail, @Internet, etc.

                  I'll dig thru the 67 actions before work tomorrow and let you folks know how it went!

                  --mike

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Thanks for all the replies

                    Originally posted by mreavey
                    Okay, so thanks for all the great tips and replies. Here's my favorite:

                    " This would seem to be the ultimate problem. If this is true, it's hard to see how you've functioned with any degree of effectiveness.

                    Specifically, over 30% of your NA's require a context you only have access to about 10% of the time. "

                    I think that might be the case, and what brough me to GTD!

                    However, I think there's definately some room for me to either make sure I've got descrete actions, correctly defined my projects, file some things to someday/maybe, and also, maybe add more context like @MSOffice @E-mail, @Internet, etc.

                    I'll dig thru the 67 actions before work tomorrow and let you folks know how it went!

                    --mike
                    Hey Mike -

                    I work at a university hospital and medical center. I have my own computer at my own desk in an office I share with one other person. But I have access to internet software (email and browsers) in many different buildings that I may be in at one time. I also have a computer at home.

                    A problem I had was going numb to my "@Computer" list when some of the files I needed to do the work on the list were at my home computer, or office computer. But most often, I just needed a web connection.

                    A huge revelation for me came about 3 weeks ago when I broke my "@Computer" list down. I changed "@Computer" to "@Internet" and shunted other things to my "@Office" or "@Home" lists. (At internet for me is email OR web browsing.) HUGE benefit in productivity. No hesitation due to the "Oh, that information is not on this computer" which just sent my mind reeling and kept me from crunching through my lists, which is one of their purposes.

                    Then, when I am in another lab or in a physician staffing room, waiting, I can start sending off emails or doing searches for information needed for projects. This has made a huge difference in my productivity.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      On GTD Fast, DA says that you should assign context to where you need to be to complete the next action. A Calls list is only for calls you can make from any phone, an @Computer list of for actions that can be implemented from any computer. A call that needs to be made from home should go on the @Home list.

                      ceehjay wrote:
                      Some of my Next Actions are not part of a project. For example, phone L. re dinner -- that just means I haven't seen L. in a while, and it's time we met for a social chat. Or "ask P. about begonia" simply means he gave me a plant, but I don't know it's name, so I can't look up blooming period, care, etc. It really isn't part of a project.


                      If these were my next actions, I would either put these on my @Home list or my Calls list -- assuming that @Office calls are not on the Calls list. You could make these calls from work, but your office situation doesn't look like you have enough slack to make open-ended social calls.

                      mreavy wrote:
                      Right now with 67 items @Computer in no discernable order I'm not sure I'm trusting it that much at all. Should I add more context? @Computer-Low Energy @Computer-High-Energy, etc?


                      I keep all of my office-related computer activities off my @Computer list; they just go on @Office, since the computer is always at hand. Offline computer actions go on @Computer, and activities that require an internet connection go on my @Online list. That hard edge isn't strictly necessary, but it's nice to know that if I have my Powerbook somewhere where there's no free wi-fi, I have an easily distinguished list of actions I can still execute.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: 4 NA per project.

                        Originally posted by TesTeq
                        So you've got more than 4 Actions per project. I cannot imagine such high average number of simultaneous Next Actions for anybody's projects. In my opinion the projects with more than one NA are rare.
                        Review the Action list and put the Next Actions only in their contexts.
                        TesTeq
                        I've found those who work in large project (formally-defined) organizations--the kind DA notes frequently have their own specialized project planning software, etc--have many NAs per project, especially depending on the context. E.g., Next time I'm at the computer I need to do NA #1; at the phone, it's NA #2; when I see my boss, it's NA #3; and oh, yeah, when I'm just at my office, I could also do NA #4, etc...

                        All of these NAs are truly next physical actions for the project. To arbitrarily choose just one "NA" for large projects (again, as formally defined) is to miss opportunities to move the project forward on another front. (Darn, my only NA for project X is in @office, and I can't move on it until I'm at the office again...I'm out of town, and although I know I need to call some folks and send some remote access emails, I didn't think through who or about what...)

                        Now, admittedly, you might be able to subdivide the large project to your heart's content, and perhaps get to a 1:1 ratio of actions to projects. The minimum cost is a monstrous project list. Another view is to agree that the number of projects with > 1 NA is low, but that's only in context of the GTD definition that "brew coffee" is a project (get filter, fill carafe, etc). Lots of small projects can drive the average NA down, but plenty of large projects (negotiate new airframe deal for Boeing) will have many NAs. I guess it's a personal preference?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          GTD not for large formal projects.

                          I do not think GTD is best suited for large formal project management. There are other tools for this task. For me GTD is the way to achieve personal productivity within those large formal projects. So - in my opinion -
                          negotiate new airframe deal for Boeing
                          is not a personal GTD project. You should define personal subprojects and apply GTD methodology to them. These subprojects rarely have many simultaneous Next Actions.
                          TesTeq

                          Comment

                          Working...
                          X