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Separating Do from Organize

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  • Separating Do from Organize

    It's my impression that GTD recommends hard edges between the 5 processes.
    When you're working from your next action list, I would guess that you should not try to be organizing at the same time. E.g., I finish action X. If I do nothing special, when I get to my weekly review, I'll figure out what other actions need to be put into my action list.
    However, what I'm actually doing is finishing an N/A, brainstorming next steps, organizing. Doesn't feel very productive.

  • #2
    Re: Separating Do from Organize

    Originally posted by furashgf
    E.g., I finish action X. If I do nothing special, when I get to my weekly review, I'll figure out what other actions need to be put into my action list. However, what I'm actually doing is finishing an N/A, brainstorming next steps, organizing. Doesn't feel very productive.
    For some projects, I can easily define all the actions to be accomplished over the next week during the Weekly Review. For example, I used to have to-do items languish on my list undone week after week, because they looked like "Mom's birthday." GTD presented the insight that this was really a project, that I had to define actions that would move it forward. During a weekly review, I can outline potentially all the actions needed to complete the whole project. This is what I do (but I also use software that shows only the next action of a series that need to be completed in order -- very nice).

    For other projects, though, just coming up with one next action can be hard. For example, I do research. By definition, research generates new knowledge in a field (theoretically). I'm working in a new area with no established methodology. So, just thinking of what next action I should do is perhaps 50% of my work. If it were obvious, it would not be research. And a lot of times, the next action depends on what I learned from previous ones. So in this case, I think that "finishing a N/A, brainstorming next steps, organizing" is my most productive approach ever. If I waited until the Weekly Review to plan just one next action, I'd Never Get Anything Done. Just so long as I don't let the project languish with NO next action defined.

    -andersons

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    • #3
      That makes sense: so how much organzing you should do after each "do" is a function of:
      1. how uncertain the project is - what new thing you learned from your "do";
      2. how much confidence you have in your weekly review.

      If 1 is high or 2 is low, you need to organize. I notice I seem to spend more time doing the "do, organize, do" when I haven't really done a decent organize for the project in the first place.

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      • #4
        Re: Separating Do from Organize

        Originally posted by furashgf
        It's my impression that GTD recommends hard edges between the 5 processes.
        I just wrote a little bit about this... if you're interested.


        http://jason.davidco.com/

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        • #5
          Re: Separating Do from Organize

          Originally posted by furashgf
          It's my impression that GTD recommends hard edges between the 5 processes.
          When you're working from your next action list, I would guess that you should not try to be organizing at the same time. E.g., I finish action X. If I do nothing special, when I get to my weekly review, I'll figure out what other actions need to be put into my action list.
          However, what I'm actually doing is finishing an N/A, brainstorming next steps, organizing. Doesn't feel very productive.
          It seems clear to me that you should not wait until your weekly review to assign a next action--unless you want to. If I tried to be artificially crisp between weekly reviews, I'd be lost because 1) I'd still be carrying around all those next actions--but the'd be in my head instead of my trusted system, and 2) I'd never get a project done if I could only do one action per week! Fo me, the weekly review is a "clean up and catch up" session, and not the only "collect/process/organize/review" session I'll have every seven days.

          I think the real key, though, is to do whatever it takes to clear your mental slate so that you can concentrate more on doing. Only you know the consequences of your own GTD process.
          C

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          • #6
            software?

            andersons, what software are you using that does this? That's just what I have been looking for!

            Thanks.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by ameasha
              andersons, what software are you using that does this? That's just what I have been looking for!
              Life Balance. http://www.llamagraphics.com

              I was looking for a better ToDo app for my PDA, one that would allow me at least to schedule routine tasks. Life Balance does that and much more; it really seems tailor-made for implementing GTD. I actually found out about GTD from the Life Balance forum. Be aware there is a learning curve, though.

              -andersons

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              • #8
                Life balance seems to have a windows and mac version. Can you think of any reason why I couldn't use it on one palm, with a windows and mac PC? I would assume it would synch with both.

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                • #9
                  Actually they sync in both....

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                  • #10
                    Your kidding me. I just downloaded this thing and installed it - it's sweet. Down on my mac tomorrow.

                    I actually think it will help me solve the root problem. When I check off a task, it's "project context" will be right there - I can see if more organizing is needed or I can just go back to working my items.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by furashgf
                      When I check off a task, it's "project context" will be right there - I can see if more organizing is needed or I can just go back to working my items.
                      Yes, it's a beautiful thing! One brilliant LB user has leveraged its abilities for GTD-style project management to even further sophistication:

                      First I created a new place: "Projects List" -- always open, not included in any other place.

                      Now here's my template for any new GTD-style project:

                      "Successful Outcome" - place = Work, no effort, max importance
                      --"Project Name" - place = Projects List, no effort, max importance
                      --"?Project Needs Action" - place = Work, avg. effort, max importance
                      ----"Next Action" - place = Work, avg. effort, max importance

                      Here it is again in real life:

                      2005/2006 Admission Brochure Complete
                      --Admission Brochure
                      --?Admission Brochure Complete
                      ----Call printer for quote

                      On my "Work" list I see the task "Call printer." Once I've made the call, my Work list updates with "?Admission Brochure Complete." The preceeding question mark sets it apart from normal tasks. It's my way of making Life Balance "ask" me, "What's the next action?" so I'm sure to add it. Once I can answer "Yes" to the implied question: "Is the admission brochure complete?" then I check it off.

                      In the mean time, that sibling task with no children and the simple project title "Admission Brochure" is always available to view through my "Projects List" place. It also happens to sit in priority order among all the other projects I have listed.

                      The "Projects List" place is perfect for scanning during a weekly review. I try to keep the notes in that task up to date with the project progress during the review. Then it becomes a great reference piece.

                      Once there are no more next actions, I check off both the "?" task and the project title task. Finally, the overall full project parent listed as a successfull outcome appears on my work list for me to check off.
                      -andersons

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