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  • Trying to deal with 'stuff'

    I keep trying but end up going back to my old ways. Especially lately when things have been out of control at work due to deadlines. So I am trying to regroup and figure out where things are falling down. I think, at the moment, one failing is what to do with stuff that can't be done in 2 minutes. If I open my mail at home and get my bank statement, have zero energy to do it now, so I mark it as a NA. Now, where do I put the statement? Or, maybe it's some form that I can get 3/4 of the way through and realize I need to make a call or something to fill in the rest. I end up putting it back into the inbox (I know, classic error!) because at least I'll know where it is.

    Maybe a tickler system would help? I have one set up but I fall down here too because I don't move the tickler folder. My life doesn't consist of many "oh, I'm going to need this blah blah on the 26th so I'll put it here". Pinning a party invite to the household bulletin board is sufficient. I tend to either need things, and thus they are in my laptop bag for work, or I don't.

    Working in Read/Review time into my life is another topic but I digress...

  • #2
    I know what you mean..I have had and still have similar issues (see previous thread) but I have found that the only way round the issue of not getting things done was to force myself to schedule time to do things either there an then or make a promise to myself to go it at a specific time. Otherwise I found the inbox got bigger, I got less done, I got more stressed...

    If it was something I'd been putting off I found getting it done first thing worked best for me less chance of the excuse of getting it done later..so put it on a next action, plus if required the relevant support material and make it the first thing to do. I make myself enter up all bank reciepts/statements first thing on Saturday morning (I know that it will just build up if I don't)

    Comment


    • #3
      skingery

      I don't know how you have implemented your system - this is what I would do.

      Put the statement in the bank file and add a next action to finish checking it. Then when I get back to it I just retrieve it from the file.

      I believe the important things are that you have a next action on your list and that you can find the statement easily. When you are executing the next action then the bank file is a natural place to look for the statement.

      Same applies for the form - file it and note a next action.

      Even if I won't need the file after finishing the form, I file it anyway. When I finish the form the (empty) file goes back in the stationery drawer.

      Regards,
      Tony

      Comment


      • #4
        Me, too!

        I really feel for you--I'm in the same boat.

        Long rant coming...

        I haven't finished my initial cleanup yet. I'm having a hard problem parting with anything and relying on a piece of paper to remind me and filing the support docs--the support docs have always been my safety net.

        I'm considering, since I haven't made any headway with my initial cleanup (been days now), let alone my email inbox, that I'd break it down even further than the 2-minute rule. I was thinking that I'd temporarily block it in 5-, 15-, 30- minute folders so that I can get some of this stuff done without letting in the "new" stuff that seems to sidetrack me. My thoughts were that I can't seem to give this new trusted system it's due, halt everything and just do it, so maybe I should just give it 15 minutes of every hour and see some accomplishments happen. Hopefully, this ploy will motivate me to complete something and then the desire to complete another one, then another one, since I've not really completed a next action to see the second next action of any one project yet!!! My bad.

        I'm sure my problem really stems from not taking the two days that DA tells me that I need to set this up, but I'd really need a week for all my junk. Plus, I think I'm having a hard time making each decision unless it's trash (and I still have problems with that!!!).

        I'm forcing myself to file everything, playing with my labeler whenever I can (I simply love it!), writing the next action on a piece of paper and putting it in my physical inbox, but it's really so hard to put it out of sight like that. I've grown an emotional attachment to "crap." The problem now that I'm having is that I have a physical inbox of nothing but next action pieces of paper! What in the world am I going to do with all of those?

        Virtually, I've put a reminder for everything, even the smallest stuff, in Outlook and I'm starting to see "3 days overdue" in those reminder windows. The most that's popped up has been 25 reminders at one time so far (I suppose it will hold 100 someday soon) and I just keep reading them and snoozing them since I really have time-sensitive (paid) work that I must complete instead (which, BTW, that real work is really getting in the way) while I'm organizing.

        I really don't think I trust my system (my mind is still so full)...I think I may even be a lost cause, but don't let it happen to you. Stick with it, find what works for you...I'm still searching for what works for me and I'm not giving up...yet.

        I've only knitted one lousy row and Friday will be here before you know it.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by skingery
          If I open my mail at home and get my bank statement, have zero energy to do it now, so I mark it as a NA. Now, where do I put the statement? Or, maybe it's some form that I can get 3/4 of the way through and realize I need to make a call or something to fill in the rest. I end up putting it back into the inbox (I know, classic error!) because at least I'll know where it is.

          Maybe a tickler system would help? I have one set up but I fall down here too because I don't move the tickler folder. My life doesn't consist of many "oh, I'm going to need this blah blah on the 26th so I'll put it here".
          I really think implementing GTD is an individual thing - you do what works for you. That being said, here is what works for me in the situations you mentioned.

          I have several folders for NA support material, labeled according to context. These live in my laptop bag, so they are available to me at work and at home. I have a context for @Computer-Home, so the bank statement (completed or not) would go in there. (Of course, the file folder is another option, as tonester mentioned.) The uncompleted form that is waiting on a phone call would go in the @Calls folder (assuming, of course, that making the call immediately is not an option).

          I'm not sure the tickler file would work in these instances, unless you know that when things pop up in the tickler file, you'll be able to do them. However, I do find the tickler file extremely useful, but it took some time to get into the habit and figure out what needs to do into it. Are there regular routine items you can place in there? There are posts, I think, on some of the things people place in a tickler file, and I can give you some ideas as to what is in mine. It might spark some ideas.

          I think really using GTD and setting it up to work for you takes time - it takes time to make the necessary habits, and it takes time to trust the system. Keep plugging away - I've found that it really does get easier over time.

          Comment


          • #6
            I have similar inbox problems. I sometimes leave things there because I don't want to do them now OR figure out where to put them.

            One thing that has helped is that I never put financial stuff into the inbox anymore. I have a separate folder near the inbox for any statements, bills, etc. If there's a due date for an item, I put a sticky on the outside of the folder so there's no anxiety over when I need to process the folder. I find it's easier to deal with any financial stuff every week or two than as each thing pops up, both because it's more efficient, and because I often just don't want to deal with it.

            This has kept an entire category of stuff out of my inbox.
            Are there any other general categories of things that you can somehow set on a course instead of back into the inbox?

            Comment


            • #7
              In my system, all pending financial stuff goes into a separate file that I work through once a week or so. That part of the system actually predates GTD, but it was working fine so I kept it.

              Non-urgent stuff to read goes into a Read/Review file, which I cull whenever it gets full, throwing out anything that has become moot. Time-sensitive stuff to read gets treated like any other action item.

              Project-related pending items go into the project support file, with an appropriate item on my NA list.

              Short-term pending items go into a "Pending" box file, with an appropriate item on my NA list.

              Long-term pending items go into the appropriate spot in my tickler file.

              The physical items involved could be anything from museum tickets or the tile samples I want my contractor to use, to magazines and notes on slips of paper. If possible, though, like with phone messages, I'll put all the information in my NA or Someday/Maybe list and throw the physical reminder away.

              Items can move among these locations. The tile samples, for instance, have been floating around in my tickler file for several months, reminding me to pester the tile guy about his schedule.

              Hope this helps,

              Katherine

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              • #8
                To the original poster: Why do you distrust your filing system?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Katherine--that's a very helpful summary.
                  Thanks!

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                  • #10
                    file system

                    Originally posted by Brent
                    To the original poster: Why do you distrust your filing system?
                    Because I don't have a good one set up and need help with that. That is to say, I have a system set up for reference but not current items. So, in my example above, my bank statement would go into my reference system once I'm dong balancing my check book, should I need it in the future. I wouldn't put it in there now because I still need to balance my check book. It's that 'ugh, I'm going to need this in a few days when I have time/energy to deal with it...what am I going to do with it now' question that my post was seeking an answer for.

                    Scott

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      GTD Buddies

                      A big thank you to everyone for sharing their stories and ideas!

                      I've been thinking over the past few days that everyone doing GTD needs a buddy that you can email and say 'Help! I've fallen off the wagon!' and, likewise, your buddy checks in on you from time to time. These people wouldn't be experts, just people willing to share what seems to be working for them. A way to keep each other motivated and share tips and tricks.

                      Obviously, I'm no expert but if anyone wants a GTD buddy can email me at techlifeblogged[at]gmail.com

                      Scott

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by skingery
                        I have a system set up for reference but not current items. So, in my example above, my bank statement would go into my reference system once I'm dong balancing my check book, should I need it in the future.
                        I wouldn't put it in there now because I still need to balance my check book.
                        But you don't need to balance it now.

                        One of the most important principles I've learned from GTD is the principle of human sequentiality. Namely: You can only do one thing at a time. Don't keep things because you're going to be doing them soon. File them so that you can get to them whenever you do get to them, because you're not doing them now.

                        It's that 'ugh, I'm going to need this in a few days when I have time/energy to deal with it...what am I going to do with it now' question that my post was seeking an answer for.
                        Why not file it in your reference system?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Scott

                          I completely agree with Brent.

                          Perhaps the reason you don't feel you have a good filing system for current items is that a good filing system needs a file cabinet with folders ordered alphabetically (or whatever system you use) - i.e. you are trying to create a separate parallel system to your reference filing system. Buy why bother? Not only do you have two places to look for things, but you need two file cabinets.

                          I'm pretty sure David made a big point in the book - support materials are not prompts, the Next Action list has the prompts. If you aren't trying to use your "current item files" as prompts then why worry if they're in the reference filing system?

                          File the statement, file the form, and put prompts on your NA lists!

                          Regards,
                          Tony

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by skingery
                            If I open my mail at home and get my bank statement, have zero energy to do it now, so I mark it as a NA. Now, where do I put the statement? Or, maybe it's some form that I can get 3/4 of the way through and realize I need to make a call or something to fill in the rest. I end up putting it back into the inbox (I know, classic error!) because at least I'll know where it is. Maybe a tickler system would help? I have one set up but I fall down here too because I don't move the tickler folder. My life doesn't consist of many "oh, I'm going to need this blah blah on the 26th so I'll put it here". Pinning a party invite to the household bulletin board is sufficient.
                            For me, when bank statements and bills come in, I throw them in the tickler folder for Saturday, and on Saturday morning, all of that stuff shows up together. We write all the checks and then file all the paperwork. The Visa statement shows in the "Visa" file, the phone bill in the "BellSouth" file, the bank statement in the "Regions Bank" file, etc. I don't have to write anything on a list and it's fast. As for the form that you got 3/4 of the way through and then needed more info to complete--I would put an action on the list that would somehow cause me to get that information (somebody to call and ask, perhaps). Then I would ask myself the question, "When do I think I will have the info I need to complete the form?" and then throw the form into the tickler file for the day *after* I think I would have the info. That way, the next time I see that form, I can complete it. I guess it's just that I am very attached to my tickler files and have made them work for me. Pinning the invitation to the bulletin board is like finger nails on a blackboard for me. For me, anything on a bulletin board is part of the decor, not a reminder for action. Note the invitation in your planner. Note anything you need to do about the invitation in your planner (buy a gift, call to ask for directions, etc.) and then either throw the invitation away or throw it in the tickler file for the day of the party. Of course, if it's a really good-looking invitation, you could leave it on the bulletin board as decoration or even have it framed.

                            Frank

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Frank Buck
                              I guess it's just that I am very attached to my tickler files and have made them work for me.
                              Frank
                              Do you remember how you made yourself get so attached? I completely forget I even have one except to process stuff. Maybe I should just put an NA to look in there.

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