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  • Need some direction - Applying the Processing step

    I am just curious. When engaged in the Processing step (after going through a big brain dump and collecting everything into "IN"), how do you apply the two minute rule to an item that you pick up which takes 8-20 minutes just to read? I think I know the answer. However, what if your stack in "IN" contains 70 pieces of material and contains 30 pieces of paper that will take 8-20 minutes just to read or review so you can pick out the nuggets as either projects or next actions?

    This is a big snag for me.

    Thanks,

    Chris

  • #2
    What I do is add it to the Next Actions to read/review pile (or project file) when I hit the two-minute mark. Experience will tell you when a document in front of you is a >2min Action, so it can hit the Next Action pile faster.

    The goal is to get to the bottom of your inbox. Once you reach the bottom, THEN you can decide which of the long-read Next Actions to tackle first, comforted by the knowledge that there isn't a more urgent <2min item to deal with, buried under the remainder of your inbox material.

    That's my there-cents-Canadian.

    A.

    Comment


    • #3
      When you pick up an item, you realize that the next action is to read it and extract all the actions from it. Can this be done in two minutes? No, then make a next action "Extract actions from document X," put in on the appropriate list, and move on.

      After processing a huge pile, maybe you'll have 30 Next actions like that. When you get to the "Do" phase, pick one and do it.

      It might sound overwhelming but I haven't found a better way. Assuming you really should go through all the 8-20 minute documents then there is no way to avoid that task. However, the strength in GTD comes from reviewing all 30 documents for a minute or two, making your lists, then choosing which of the them should be worked on first. If you just dove into the first document, how do you know that the next one isn't super-mission critical needing immediate attention?

      Ken

      Comment


      • #4
        the two minute rule

        If you are trying to get though piles, get your brain out of over load, and get your "in" to empty, the two-minute rule lets some people get rid of little nagging things that a portion of these. These are thngs that don't take much mental transition, like shredding an old statement if the shredder is at reach or putting an uncashed check in your wallet. However, you may have not items that take 2 minutes. You might do better with a five minute rule for certain pre-defined items. I have found that if I find an address or phone number I better enter it ASAP, and it takes me 5 minutes, the same with dates. If I pile up stuff for the calender, I may not ever get to it. You seem to have a whole lot of reading to do. Perhaps in two minutes you can skim and highlight a key word or and categorize it. If you have 10 memos ont eh same topic, you can read them faster if you read them as a group rather than one by one. May I suggest that you brainstor your categories and supplement that with "discovering" them. Also, get a timer and a tally-counter and keep a pen handy and a garph paper. Collect a little data for 25 minutes, then reflect for 5 minutes. Do you feel that this rate of progress will support you? Look back at your goals and see if your tactic supports them. Don't be too literal in applying the parameters of the model. Try it, Modify it. Note what you changed and why. We awant to hear about it anyway. When you look over your 25 minutes of processing, do have some itemsthat if grouped would only take less time? Certainly with office memos that refer back to policies and such it goes faster to look at them in sequence.

        Comment


        • #5
          Meta-tasks

          Sometimes the best thing to do with a really big pile of somewhat similar items is to create a next action that is a meta-task, a task to develop a way of handling the big pile. It could be a special system or a way of grouping or a way of sharpening your sense of priorities. For example, when faced with an overwhelming honey-do list, my next action is often to discuss with my wife what our priorities ought to be.

          Are some of the items so old that the first thing to do is call someone and find out whether anything you do now would make a difference to anybody, especially you ? Can you perform triage, or actually quadrage, by dividing the piles by urgency and importance ? Where does the pile of 70 reports and 30 dense one-pagers come from ? Why do you have to dig so hard to find your next action ? If you aren't sure what's important, ask somebody else.

          Perhaps you are really in the report-reading business and having such a pile is like having a big order backlog.

          The really important thing is that you know what are your next actions and that nothing will fall between the cracks. You will get to each document, in some way, eventually because you have a system.

          Comment


          • #6
            This Posting is an amazing Resource !!

            "If you just dove into the first document, how do you know that the next one isn't super-mission critical needing immediate attention?"

            This quote was from Ken's post (I don't know how to extract portions of posts to put in the boxes like I've seen very slickly done in other posts). Ken, in my opinion, this hits the nail on the head. Thank you for that and for all of the other responses. By the way, what is 3 cents - Canadian - worth these days?

            I brought a large stack of items from the office that I need to process today at home. I will keep your suggestions in mind and post the results.

            Chris

            Comment


            • #7
              Including quotes in posts

              Originally posted by 5 IN 5
              This quote was from Ken's post (I don't know how to extract portions of posts to put in the boxes like I've seen very slickly done in other posts).
              There is a "Quote" button at the bottom right corner of every post. Click that button, and the reply box will have the entire message enclosed in Quote tags. Delete extraneous information in the quoted post without deleting the brackets around the Quote tags.

              Some reply above the Quote, some reply below. Depends on your history and your personal preferences. I'm from the old school (pre-Windows) that replies below (Usenet etiquette in the old days) so the reader immediately knows the context of my reply. Since Outlook automatically places the cursor for replies above the original message, many users now use that style of response. You don't know the context of their post until you have finished reading the post.

              Carolyn

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by ceehjay
                There is a "Quote" button at the bottom right corner of every post. Click that button, and the reply box will have the entire message enclosed in Quote tags. Delete extraneous information in the quoted post without deleting the brackets around the Quote tags.

                Some reply above the Quote, some reply below. Depends on your history and your personal preferences. I'm from the old school (pre-Windows) that replies below (Usenet etiquette in the old days) so the reader immediately knows the context of my reply. Since Outlook automatically places the cursor for replies above the original message, many users now use that style of response. You don't know the context of their post until you have finished reading the post.

                Carolyn
                Thanks, Carolyn !! I need to participate in this forum more frequently. Hopefully, I made the quote thing work here and won't be embarrassed!

                Chris

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by 5 IN 5
                  However, what if your stack in "IN" contains 70 pieces of material and contains 30 pieces of paper that will take 8-20 minutes just to read or review so you can pick out the nuggets as either projects or next actions?
                  The purpose of processing a paper is to identify whether or not it's actionable, to identify the successful outcome, and to identify the next action. What's the nature of the paper? Is the action necessarily buried in the middle of the document, or is it fairly obvious just by looking at it? If you feel obliged to read each paper in its entirety, and the reading takes over two minutes, you'll get caught in the doing phase of workflow and never get to the rest of your pile. So if you come across a report, you determine that your next action is the read the report, put that action on whatever context list works best, and move on to process the next paper.

                  Ultimately you want to have a topographical view of your projects and actions so that you can make intelligent choices about your priorities, and to do that you need to complete the lists before acting on the items in the arbitrary order you came across them. The last paper you come across might be the one that really needs to be read first, but you'll never know that if you're reading everything in chronological order.

                  The exceptions are the two-minute items, because it takes longer to list, review and delete them than just read them in the first place.

                  Comment

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