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  • GTD in Construction Project Engineering

    Hello all...

    I was wondering if there are any out there applying GTD in a Construction Project type of context. I have a quite a few problems with implementation that I think are unique to my field, and was wondering how others dealt with theirs.

    TY

  • #2
    TY, I am a project manager. However, I work in the medical industry. What specific issues are you having problems trying to track? Could you explain what your typical day is like and what issues keep you up at night?

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    • #3
      Construction Project Engineer

      I am a structural engineer and have been using GTD for a couple years now. I use a Palm Pilot to implement the system. What specifically are you looking for?

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      • #4
        I'm an estimator and project manager for a framing/drywall/plastering contractor and have been using GTD for about 6 months. It's helped me significantly in managing multiple projects. I also would have to ask what specific implementation problems you're having.

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        • #5
          Hi, I'm the guy who started this thread...thanks for the interest.

          I need help with capturing/processing/organizing phases. These phases just take too long to do!

          I work for a petroleum distribution company, managing construction projects. Now, I use a PDA voice recorder and freehand notes program for capturing, but a small notebook for taking down notes at the site, or in meetings. You probably have an idea how complex managing multiple projects can be, and I feel that my setup now is not moving fast enough to keep up.

          The way I see it, everything gets captured, but not everything gets into the system fast enough for me to be able to review the next actions when the best time to do them occurs. Things pile up so quickly that I can't enter the data into the handheld right away. Processing and organizing usually takes me 45 minutes to an hour for a typical workday, and sometimes when things get really rough I sacrifice this ritual for working on what's in my face at the moment. Stopping work for an hour to keep my PDA action lists current is not viewed as appropriate in my office setting, as I'm the only one who knows about GTD, and the only one who uses a PDA, for that matter. Hence, the use of notebooks at meetings and onsite.

          I'm looking for strategies others in my situation have used and have proven successful, because I can't spare the time to tweak any further by trial and error.

          Thank You (that's what I meant by TY)

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          • #6
            If you work moves that quickly, perhaps you should consider switching to a simpler, paper-based system for next actions and projects? Then most of your input could be directly into your lists. You could still use the pda for appointments, addresses, reference information, and voice recordings for when it's inconvenient to write. You may lose the advantages of software (searching, filtering views, etc.), but those advantages are not there anyway if you don't have time to input the information. Otherwise, if you are not in a work environment that supports time to enter stuff into your pda, you may have to utilize some personal time (inputting information during commercial breaks of your favorite TV show?). You might also want to examine whether you are separating the different phases of workflow. My work moves at a very fast pace, but I usually have windows to enter stuff into my pda a couple of minutes here and there throughout the day. But it is important to have adequate time to review your lists, not just to collect the information.

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            • #7
              Some thoughts. I'm new to GTD so everything's up for discussion; I'm still refining my own system.

              For the notebooks, do you use a notebook per project or one notebook for everything? If you're like me, it's one notebook for everything since otherwise I'd be carrying a stack everywhere.

              One trick I use is to photocopy the notebook pages (copy-shrink two pages to a page), take a pair of scissors (or ceramic cutter) to the copies and put the cut-out sections in their own project folders. This is the raw reference material from which I can then manage actions, tasks etc. within Outlook. I'm then free to digitize this reference material at my leisure, which I make focused time for at least once a week.

              Andrew.

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              • #8
                RE:GTD in Construction Project Engineering

                Arcticgoblin-

                I work for a medium size consulting engineering firm and manage multiple projects (generally around 10-15) and serve as the project engineer on several others (generally around another 5-10 projects). I also manage a small staff of engineers. Like you, I use a paper and pen to capture most of the incoming information. Also like you I am the only one in my 30 person office that uses GTD and one of only two people that uses a PDA. In addition to the PDA, I regularly use a desktop pc for emails, word processing, spreadsheets, and the like. Below is the system that I use that includes my Palm and desktop computer. If it suits you great; if not, I have included a link at the end of my post that uses a single data input source rather than the three P's that my system requires (Paper, Palm, PC).

                I use a small pad of tear-off sheets of paper for recording notes, phone calls, task requests, and the like throughout the day. I start each day by tossing the sheet or sheets from the previous day into my inbox and dating a clean, fresh sheet for that day. I then spend a little time processing my unprocessed notes from the previous day. I do this while I go through my inbox. With no interruptions, I can generally do this in about half an hour. Of course, this can sometimes take all day with interruptions (C’est la vie!). I try to use the desktop software that accompanies most PDA software for input, as I find that input is much faster on a keyboard than via graffiti. If you use the out-of-the-box software, then the desktop software probably consists of Outlook or the Palm Desktop.

                I read emails throughout the day when I am between tasks. Those that require follow-up I drag to the task folder on the shortcut window (I use Outlook for emails and Calendar items. I recently discovered this little trick and it has proven to be a time saver) and then I drag the original message to one of a series of archive folders that I have set up.

                I use a PDA shareware application for memos, meeting notes, etc. This application allows me to create a task from the memo simply by tapping a dropdown menu item. This also saves time by not requiring me to duplicate the item in the task application. I also use a shareware time management/task list application. This application uses an outline type of structure, where “child” tasks inherit the category of the “parent”. At the suggestion of others, I have created an In-Box for inputting tasks, with parent items set up for each different category that I use. By creating child tasks under the appropriate parent, the tasks automatically have the correct category, again saving a little time for input and reducing the chance for tasks to slip through the cracks because they are filed incorrectly.

                Generally this all gets done once a day, so my task list is current up to the previous day’s tasks. The way I figure it, if others plan so poorly that I am finding out that they need something on the day it is due, then it gets as low a priority on my list as it obviously got on theirs and it may have to wait until tomorrow or the next day. My exceptions to this are calendar items and of course requests from superiors (of which I am fortunate to only have three, and only one of those is a notoriously last minute guy). These items get input immediately.

                Sometimes, I will process my paper notes at home that evening, creating telephone conversation notes and tasks from the snippits that I have recorded during the day. Otherwise, it waits until the following morning, when the entire cycle gets started again.

                That is generally how I handle the information coming at me. If it isn’t what you are looking for, another idea that I have seen recently that looks like a great (but presumably more expensive) alternative involves the use of a tablet pc for notes and the like. This method completely eliminates the need for two of my three P's (Paper and Palm) and eliminates the additional processing that these introduce into the system. For more on this go to the following link and scroll down the page to the June 13 and June 16th (2004) posts: http://michaelhyatt.blogs.com/workin...tpc/index.html

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                • #9
                  Re: RE:GTD in Construction Project Engineering

                  Originally posted by rrbegin
                  Arcticgoblin-



                  I use a PDA shareware application for memos, meeting notes, etc. This application allows me to create a task from the memo simply by tapping a dropdown menu item. This also saves time by not requiring me to duplicate the item in the task application. I also use a shareware time management/task list application. This application uses an outline type of structure, where “child” tasks inherit the category of the “parent”. At the suggestion of others, I have created an In-Box for inputting tasks, with parent items set up for each different category that I use. By creating child tasks under the appropriate parent, the tasks automatically have the correct category, again saving a little time for input and reducing the chance for tasks to slip through the cracks because they are filed incorrectly.
                  Which PDA shareware application do you use?

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                  • #10
                    I use Natara DayNotez for memos, etc and Llamagraphics LifeBalance for tasks/time management. In case you aren't familiar with either, here are thier URL's:

                    http://www.llamagraphics.com[url]
                    http://www.natara.com[url]

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                    • #11
                      Thanks for the helpful replies.

                      I use a small notebook (3" x 4.5") for my main collection tool now. In the long run, it's faster to do this compared to using freeform notes or voice recording programs on the PDA, because I won't have to switch between programs to enter digitalized information into the PDA.

                      One thing I haven't mentioned is that I can't sync my PDA to my laptop, due to software installation restrictions. I use a wireless keyboard to type everything in, but this is not an ideal solution. So whenever I have a 5-10 minute window, I use my keyboard to enter processed projects and next actions from whatever's on the notebook, then tear the pages off.

                      When I get home and I still find myself with collection buckets to empty, I run Bonsai and Agendus Desktop and tear through everything in a flash. Ideally, I would have these tools available to me at work so I can process inputs while I'm still energetic, but this is the best I can do at the moment. The information I get during office hours normally cannot wait until I input it via my home PC. It is this limitation that tempts me to go plain vanilla again, because that way I won't have to wade through outlines on a 320x480 screen at work when i'm processing.

                      Because my PDA is off-limits in a zone 2 class environment (remember, I work for an oil company), I have a next actions context list called @Site, which I put into a section of my notebook. All other context lists (@Anywhere, @Agendas, etc.) are in my PDA.

                      Do you have any more suggestions to speed up my system? TIA

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