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Advice needed re returns of delegated tasks

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  • Advice needed re returns of delegated tasks

    I'm having a problem in my workflow, maybe some of you can spot my problem with it and offer suggestions.

    Say my project is "Process Executed Estate Planning Docs for Smith". That involves making sure all the signatures and notaries are correct, doing a little memo to my secretary on whether we're sending copies to the client, which form cover letter to use, whether to include one of several different memos, whether we're keeping copies for the file, etc.

    I have no problem checking out the signatures. easy. I like that part! Then I do the little memo and send the project away for "doing". I move it to @waitingfor and forget about it. It comes back in about a week, with a letter to the client and their memos and copies, which I have to check and customize, a vault transmittal memo attached to the originals that I have to check and drop in the interoffice mail, and an updated document clip that I just have to stick in the file. All really easy next actions that I could do in my sleep. And not "yucky" NAs either. I don't mind them at all.

    The problem is, after the project has been off my front burner for a week, I've got other stuff in front of me, and I seem to wait at least a week before coming back to that project. This happens on all sorts of stuff that I delegate and then switch to @waiting for. Even when I move the project off of @waitingfor and back onto @work, it just doesn't seem urgent to me anymore and it sits and sits.

    I've tried coming up with gimicky @context categories like "@Work-Almost Done", but it doesn't really help, the stuff still sits. It doesn't really matter that it sits, there is no deadline and the client doesn't get crabby (usually) waiting for the executed docs, but it would be great to get them out of my way sooner.

    Help! Any ideas? Any insight on why I might be avoiding picking stuff back up after I've had if off my desk for awhile? Does anybody else have this problem?

    Thanks!
    Taxgeek

  • #2
    Maybe I'm missing something in your post. Dont' these come up in your weekly review, or are you saying you need to see them more than once a week?

    I have a somewhat similiar situation with keeping projects with tiny steps moving along for weeks or months at a time and I can't always predict when they will pop up again. (Much of my system is paper-based, although I do use a PDA as well) My solution is to designate Tuesdays as my day for "non-date-specific" tickler items. Everything I have moving along but which hasn't been assigned a future specific date will come up on Tuesdays. I can decide at that point whether I need to do something else on it at that time or whether to move it out to next Tuesday (or any other future Tuesday).

    This system also helps me locate something if it comes up unexpectedly in the interim and I need to search for it. At most I will need to look in the next four Tuesdays or in the Monthly folders for anything past this month or next.

    (Another solution might be to create a checklist with the last item being "Invoice Client" which becomes a great motivator for moving the project to completion).

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks, spectecGTD, I appreciate the input.

      Re the weekly review, I see the project, but I just go "huh". The NA is sitting right there in my context lists, but I just don't do it.

      That's an interesting idea to designate one day a week for that kind of little stuff. Or maybe I could designate a specific time of day (say, right after lunch when my energy is low) to do those little things. Ha ha, enforcing that will be a fun one! Or maybe first thing in the morning before everybody else gets to work and starts telling me to work on other stuff instead.

      Taxgeek

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      • #4
        If it is fairly routine stuff, then it may be helpful to designate some time each week to work on these tasks. I try to make a routine of as many tasks as possible (e.g., make telephone calls, process my inbox, read e-mail).

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        • #5
          taxgeek,

          The tasks that you mention having once the project comes off your @waitingfor list sound simple and fast. Have you considered simply always doing them immediately?

          I often have trouble with little tasks on projects that no longer feel exciting or urgent, so I always try to do them immediately. If they don't fall into the 5-minute (or depending on the task, 10-minute) rule then I still throw them on my lists and get to them later, but if they are fast tasks, the best option for me is to finish them right away.

          Tornado

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Tornado

            I often have trouble with little tasks on projects that no longer feel exciting or urgent,

            Tornado
            I think you've hit the nail on the head, Tornado. Those projects are no longer on my radar screen, so the tasks coming back seem like a nuisance and not urgent or important.

            Maybe I will try setting up a collection bucket for these things (they almost always involve stacks of paper), and calendar time blocks with alarms fairly frequently (every couple of hours or so) to check if anything is in there and deal with it.

            Working on the things the second they come in creates an endless stream of interuptions and recalibration of brainwaves, but when I come up for air I could handle those tasks before going back under for a big project. Or maybe they are best to handle first thing in the morning, sort of as a part of my daily review, on a 10 minute rule or something. Hmmm.

            I like the ideal of having a catchall day for this, like Tuesdays, but I've tried that before (for other types of things) and something urgent always comes up on that day to prevent me from doing it.

            Excellent ideas everybody, and thanks! It's great to be able to come here and talk with people who use this system - everybody at work thinks I'm crackers for keeping all these lists!
            Taxgeek

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            • #7
              Originally posted by taxgeek
              . . .the tasks coming back seem like a nuisance and not urgent or important.
              It's completely rational to ignore tasks that are neither urgent nor important.

              What if you look at these NAs that you historically ignore, and tell yourself, Who cares about this task, I don't want to do it, so I'll just delete it. How do you react?

              If you answer yourself something like, I can't delete it, I've got to do that! then you should be able to find the motivational leverage you need, if you remind yourself why you DO want to do it.

              If you react, Sure, why not blow it off? but also know deep down that there will be bad consequences in the distant future for blowing off a responsibility or important commitment, then you are in trouble!

              If you hear the words "important commitment" in the last sentence and think, It's really not that important, then maybe you should find another way to get it done; e.g., maybe get your secretary to do it.

              -andersons

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              • #8
                Originally posted by andersons
                [What if you look at these NAs that you historically ignore, and tell yourself, Who cares about this task, I don't want to do it, so I'll just delete it. How do you react?

                If you answer yourself something like, I can't delete it, I've got to do that! then you should be able to find the motivational leverage you need, if you remind yourself why you DO want to do it.
                Hmm. I will have to print this and use it as a little meditation exercise.


                Originally posted by andersons
                maybe get your secretary to do it.
                Sorry to do this, but HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! I wish. She's great, but stretched too thin as it is. Now if I had my OWN secretary all to myself, the productivity could really begin!

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