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  • Stuck at collecting (processing?)

    Ok, so I have a huge collection of actual papers and items to process, as well as a list generated from a "mind dump."

    Now what? I understand the Is it an actionable item? part -- the problem is that there's often A LOT that has to be done before the item in hand is going to be involved in anything.

    So, for example, I have a piece of paper that says "Get contacts" (from the mind dump). Obviously this is a Project, not a Next Action. The Next Action for this would be Call eye doctor for an appointment. However, then I realize that before I do that I need to find out what I need to do to get this reimbursed from my medical savings account. That's a Project in itself.

    Do I create another Project piece of paper and put the Next Action on that? What do I write down on the post-it for the Get contacts piece of paper? How do I remember that the Medical Savings Account project needs to get done before the Get Contacts project? How do I remember that once I've finished the Medical Savings Account project I need to then make the Get Contacts project active?

    I have the feeling I'm making this more complicated than it has to be and that it will get easier once my system is in place, but my head is going to explode before then!

    Thanks.

  • #2
    Originally posted by INTPLibrarian
    Now what? I understand the Is it an actionable item? part -- the problem is that there's often A LOT that has to be done before the item in hand is going to be involved in anything.
    Yes, that's true. The whole point of processing is to figure out what all that "stuff" consists of.

    Originally posted by INTPLibrarian
    So, for example, I have a piece of paper that says "Get contacts" (from the mind dump). Obviously this is a Project, not a Next Action. The Next Action for this would be Call eye doctor for an appointment. However, then I realize that before I do that I need to find out what I need to do to get this reimbursed from my medical savings account. That's a Project in itself.

    Do I create another Project piece of paper and put the Next Action on that? What do I write down on the post-it for the Get contacts piece of paper? How do I remember that the Medical Savings Account project needs to get done before the Get Contacts project? How do I remember that once I've finished the Medical Savings Account project I need to then make the Get Contacts project active?
    Well, it sounds like the Next Action for "Get Contacts" is actually something like "Call human resources about medical savings account paperwork." That's probably less than a 2 minute action, so you could go ahead and do it if you're doing the processing during the work day. If not, put it on your @Phone context list. Then, you could put "Get Contacts" on your project list, where it should catch your eye as an open loop during your next weekly review. Or, you could throw the "Get Contacts" post-it note in your tickler file for a week from now, where it will serve a secondary purpose of reminding you to follow up if human resources hasn't gotten back to you..

    Originally posted by INTPLibrarian
    I have the feeling I'm making this more complicated than it has to be and that it will get easier once my system is in place, but my head is going to explode before then!
    The one thing I would suggest is to not get too retentive about your project definitions. Yes, "medical savings account" is technically a separate project from "get contacts," but both are relatively small projects and they depend on each other. If it were my system I would just smush them into one slightly larger project. If your definitions aren't reasonably intuitive to you, then yes, you're probably adding unnecessary overhead.

    And yes, dropping things in once your system is up and running is much easier.

    Katherine

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    • #3
      The multi-action action

      This has been discussed in other threads. One idea for simple, but likely-to-be-interrupted sequences that make up a smallish project is to put all of the steps in the first action, maybe even the subject line. (I'm thinking PDA/Outlook here.) As you do the steps amend the subject line to put the actual next action on the front end of the subject line. The item my switch from @call to @Waiting to @errand back to @waiting over its course. You lose the ability to diarize each action, but this is usually a small or zero price to pay.

      On an index card, you could do the same kind of thing, noting the sequence and checking off the elements as you go. So easy that it makes PDAs and Outlook seem silly.

      Comment


      • #4
        support notes, step-by-step or all at once

        An excellent question. I think you need to make some support notes on this project and decide where to keep them. At some point, perhaps at a weekly review, or perhaps as a next action, you might brain storm this project (mind map, outline, whatever works for you), either file this or summarize it it somehow and put in your pda or planner. If you file it, you can start collecting all the papers you need in that one file. You still could make a note on your project list of key elements. On your project list note what your support notes are filed under (see file "eyes" or see @lists "medical needs"). After brainstorming you might decide if you should try to take care of a number of steps pretty much in the same block of time or break it down. That may have to do with urgency and also if you are weaving the project around a lot of existing commitments (hard landscape) you may be forced to do it step by step, doing what you can where you can. When you brain storm you will become aware that some steps can be done out of sequence. For example, even although you can't go to the appt without a referral from your regular doc, you might want to make the appt asap so you get at a good time for you. If you can't schedule until you have other dates fixed on your calendar you might want to make a n/a for that (enter dates on calendar for April and May) and put in () "then schedule contacts appt". Although consistency helps, it will develop gradually.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by ProfDD
          One idea for simple, but likely-to-be-interrupted sequences that make up a smallish project is to put all of the steps in the first action, maybe even the subject line. (I'm thinking PDA/Outlook here.) As you do the steps amend the subject line to put the actual next action on the front end of the subject line. The item my switch from @call to @Waiting to @errand back to @waiting over its course. You lose the ability to diarize each action, but this is usually a small or zero price to pay.
          I'm using ListPro, just FYI, but this is great advice. Actually, it seems so obvious and simple now that you've said it, but I think that's true of all of GTD. The whole concept of GTD is fairly simple and its usefulness is that it spells out these "DUH!" steps one by one. I can't figure out why I didn't just figure out to list some Next Actions together... but, thanks.

          Comment


          • #6
            starting vs. using

            Prior to having posted my first message above, I _had_ searched the archives to try to find someone else who was having the same difficulties as I was having. I guess I just wasn't using the right keywords. (As you can tell from my username, I'm a librarian... the fact that not everything has a controlled vocabulary drives me nuts sometimes. )

            Anyway, I did eventually find some threads that helped me understand the concepts that were tripping me up. I'm posting the links to them here in case someone in the future is also looking for them.

            http://www.davidco.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2396

            and

            http://www.davidco.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3828

            Thanks again!

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