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Processing a Brain Dump

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  • Processing a Brain Dump

    As part of my initial gtd setup, I've ended up with a huge list of amorphous undoable tasks--as any of us would expect.

    My next action is to to turn that amorphous mess into doable tasks.

    To assist me, I created this little flow chart, any comments?

    Look at task item:
    (note: if the item triggers thoughts about goals, or areas of focus you haven’t already identified, capture that)

    Is this absolutely the next physical action to do? Does it clearly describe the physical behavior? If YES, then
    - Can You DO it in less than two minutes right now? If YES, then DO IT
    - If NO, can you DELEGATE this to someone else to do? If YES then,
    o Contact the delegate
    o Move the task to Waiting For
    o If the task is time sensitive, add a reminder
    - If NO, then
    o Must it be done at a specific time such as a meeting? If YES, put on calendar and/or the tickler file (Avoid doing this for things you just want to do that day)
    - If NO, Do you want to move this to some day in the future? If YES, assign to Someday/Maybe and move on.
    - IF NO, Assign a context, put any support material into the Context Folder, move on.
    -
    If NO, Do you plan to focus on this within the next week (should this be longer?) If NO, assign to Someday/Maybe and move on.

    If YES , should this be a project? If YES, add to project list, add a next action to complete a project worksheet for this project, and delete the task and move on.

    If NO, should this be an Area of Focus or Role? If YES, add to Area of Focus list, add a Next Action to complete or enhance Area of Focus worksheet (if needed) and move on.

    If NO, Can you rewrite it as one or no more than three Next Physical Actions? If YES, rewrite at bottom of list, delete this one.

  • #2
    Have you drawn a version that you can email me?

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by trishacupra
      Have you drawn a version that you can email me?
      Don't you think that K2Karen's description is detailed enough for everybody to draw the flowchart by himself? And such exercise can be helpful for rethinking your own GTD implementation.
      TesTeq

      Comment


      • #4
        your "flow chart"

        I admire your clear thinking in your question and decsiojn process. I "flow charted" the process at one point, but I think you got the choice points more clearly defined. In addition to the value of GTD itself, I like this board for the many people who think so well, share their ideas, mix in new and interesting elements (extensions and "hybridizations"), and, I appreciate the "reality checks" that get added in as well.

        Comment


        • #5
          I am sorry to be so dense, but I am having a terrible time figuring out which YES or NO clauses go with which question when I look at your post. I see you used some lists to try to show hierarchy.

          How about a restatement of the list using classical psuedo-code

          IF (condition1 == TRUE)
          {
          what to do if the condition1 is true
          }
          ELSE
          {
          what to do if the condition1 is false
          }

          and for nested conditions

          IF (condition1 == TRUE)
          {
          IF (condition2 == TRUE)
          {
          what to do if condition 2 is true
          }
          ELSE
          {
          what to do if conition2 is false
          }
          }
          ELSE
          {
          what to do if the condition1 is not met
          }

          As many times as I have read the original post I can not for the life of me figure out what is supposed to bind to the first three questions.

          Oh, nuts. I see the forum tools have stripped off my leading spaces and removed the indentation I put in for clarity. That is probably what happened to the original poster's post.

          Comment


          • #6
            Is this better? It is hard to get formatted lists into the forum

            PREP PHASE
            (Create Empty List for Goals)
            (Create Empty List for Projects)
            (Create Empty List for Areas of Focus)
            (Create a Pending Folder)
            (Create a separate list of your current contexts, i.e., @Home, @Work, @Calls—these contexts may change as you process your items)


            CORE BRAIN DUMP PROCESS
            (Examine Brain Dumped Item)
            (If you feel stress, guilt, or dread looking at this item)
            ---Ask yourself WHY this is on your list
            (If this item triggers thoughts about related goals, projects, or roles)
            ---(While the goal/project/area-of-focus is missing from your current lists?)
            ------(Add to Goal List) OR
            ------(Add to Project List) OR
            ------(Add To “Area of Focus” List)
            ---(End of While)
            (If this item clearly describes the very next physical behavior using positive, action words like “Call”, “Write”, “Go to”)
            ---(If you can do it very quickly)
            ------(Just do it)
            ------(Go to Next Item)
            ---(If you can get someone else to do it)
            ------(Contact that person—or add a task item to contact the person)
            ------(Put any reference material in your pending or agenda folder)
            ------(Move the item to Waiting For)
            ------(Go to Next Item)
            ---(If this is something that MUST be done at a certain time)
            ------(If it is something that you need to add to a list AFTER a certain time, such as “Call after 5 pm on Friday to see if widget is done”)
            ---------(Put Note in tickler)
            ---------(Put Reference material in pending folder)
            ---------(Go to Next Item)
            ------(If it is something that can ONLY be done at a specific date time, such as “Meet with Joe at noon on Friday”)
            ---------(Put on Calendar—with note about any reference material required)
            ---------(Put Reference material in pending folder)
            ---------(If something needs to be anytime before the meeting, such as “Get quotes before meeting with Joe”)
            ------------Add a new next action item
            ---------(Go to Next Item)
            ---(If this is something that just needs to be done as Soon as Possible)
            ---------(I
            ------(If you can clearly determine the context for the action)
            ---------(Put it on action list in the correct context)
            ---------(Put any reference material either in a project folder or a generic pending folder)
            ---------(Go To Next Item)
            ------(Put it in the pending folder for organizing after you’ve assembled your contexts and projects more clearly—note that this means you’ll be pr
            ------
            ---------
            (If this item DOES NOT clearly define a physical behavior)
            ---(If you have no intention of doing anything with this poorly defined action item in the next week)
            ------(Move to Someday/Maybe now without elaborating further)
            ---(If you DO plan to do something with this within the week)
            ------(If this is clearly a project)
            ---------(Add to the project list)
            ---------(Make sure your project is well-defined, i.e., has a stated successful outcome)
            ---------(Determine the Next Action on the project)
            ---------(Return to the TOP of this flow chart with this NEW next action)
            ------(If this is an Area of Focus or Role or Responsibility)
            ---------(If it doesn’t already exist in your Area of Focus list)
            ------------(Add the Area of Focus to your Area of Focus list)
            ---------(If the Area of Focus isn’t well-defined)
            ------------(Take a moment and scrawl out your vision of you being successful in this area of focus)
            ---------(If a next action doesn’t already exist for this area of focus)
            (Create a next action or a next project that moves you along in being successful in this Area of Focus)
            ------------(Return to the TOP of this flow chart with this NEW next action)
            (Rewrite the item as one or more physical behaviors using words like “Call”, “Write”, “Go to”, “Buy”)
            ---(Return to the TOP of this flow chart with the newly defined action)

            Comment


            • #7
              Great pseudo-code!

              Great pseudo-code! Thanks K2Karen.

              Comment


              • #8
                Thanks!!!

                Originally posted by K2Karen
                Is this better? It is hard to get formatted lists into the forum
                ---(Return to the TOP of this flow chart with the newly defined action)
                Karen,

                This is excellent, thank you so much. I think I can make it using this.

                Comment


                • #9
                  This is great, Karen!

                  Originally posted by K2Karen
                  Is this better? It is hard to get formatted lists into the forum
                  ....

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hi K2Karen,

                    What a brilliant Post! Thank you, at this point I've got stuff flying at me from all directions, and specifically have difficulty on instantly identifying an Area of Focus. Your Workflow will certainly be a great help.

                    Keep smiling
                    Arif

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Some Front-End Filtering

                      Originally posted by K2Karen View Post
                      Is this better? It is hard to get formatted lists into the forum.
                      What? No UML diagrams? (Just kidding.)

                      Somewhat apropos to the discussion about the book The 4-Hour Work Week, there is a good "filter" for applying to mind dumps and work as it arrives. It is the 4-D approach. The four D's are:
                      1. Decline
                      2. Delegate
                      3. Diminish
                      4. Defer


                      Decline - If it is a non-starter, declare it as such as soon as possible and stop fooling with it.

                      Delegate - If it is not your problem, send it where it needs to go. Also consider delegating the task of sending it to the other person back to whomever brought it to you in the first place.

                      Diminish - Work with the person(s) who want it done to figure out what they really are after, and find the least-effort approach to getting it to them. This may be considerably smaller than the task as originally presented.

                      Defer - Do it later. Determine when it is needed and the latest you can start. Put it into the tickler or Someday/Maybe until then. When it reactivates, make sure it still needs to be done before starting work. Only skip deferral when doing the task is less work than deferring it. (Two minute tasks.)

                      The best place to apply the filter is up-front in your analysis. The first step in your pseudo-code is:

                      (If you feel stress, guilt, or dread looking at this item)
                      ---Ask yourself WHY this is on your list

                      One reason you might feel dread is that some part of you knows that the item shouldn't be done in the first place. Decline it. Another reason for stress, guilt, or dread is that you know that you should not be doing this. Delegate it. Finally, you may resist the task because you suspect it is way more than is really needed. Diminish it.

                      ---(If you can get someone else to do it)
                      ------(Contact that person—or add a task item to contact the person)
                      ------(Put any reference material in your pending or agenda folder)
                      ------(Move the item to Waiting For)
                      ------(Go to Next Item)

                      You might consider moving this farther up in the analysis. Again, challenge the need for you to do the delegation or manage the delegation.

                      You have Defer handled pretty nicely, though.

                      Comment

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