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  • Single Sheet of Paper

    When I right down my next actions, I write down each one on a separate sheet of paper as recommended in the book (p. 113). One problem I have with this is that many next actions are just a single line, "Send email to Jane about meeting."

    This works fine for me, but I always feel a little guilty about throwing out this practically unused piece of paper when I'm done. Anyone have any suggestions?

  • #2
    Use small paper. I use 3x5 scratchpads, on recycled paper for added guilt-reduction.

    Katherine

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    • #3
      Try this

      The Hipster PDA

      I haven't tried it myself (I prefer lists) but some swear by it.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by gnugrep
        This works fine for me, but I always feel a little guilty about throwing out this practically unused piece of paper when I'm done. Anyone have any suggestions?
        All my used printer paper that can't be run through the printer again, for whatever reason, gets quartered and stapled into little notepads which form my usual collection tool.

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        • #5
          I make lists. Then I process them into my projects/next actions all at once. I have notepads scattered all over the house just for that. But I am a SAHM who is self-employed so I have very little in my Inbox. If I do something, it's because I thought of it and decided to do it so my head is the main source of the items in my "inbox."

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          • #6
            I highly recommend the cards at www.nextactioncards.com. Very small, and with a useful template to help organize them.

            Steve

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            • #7
              Yup,...

              I know the feeling...that "I'm killing a tree" feeling. I use 3X5 pads I bought at Staples for $2 for 5. I write my note, then rip it in half. Then I only feel half guilty.

              Bob

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              • #8
                Killing Trees Is Good

                Originally posted by Bob Burtt
                I know the feeling...that "I'm killing a tree" feeling. I use 3X5 pads I bought at Staples for $2 for 5. I write my note, then rip it in half. Then I only feel half guilty.
                Bob
                Actually, one serious option for mitigating the greenhouse effect is to grow lots of trees and throw them into very deep water. Trees bind carbon dioxide, the principal greehouse gas. Anthropogenic (fancy word for 'caused by man') CO2 is due to the burning of fossil fuels, which releases carbon bound mostly by plant life millions of years ago. As long as the paper is buried and not burned, there is at least one karmic plus.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by gnugrep
                  When I right down my next actions, I write down each one on a separate sheet of paper as recommended in the book (p. 113). One problem I have with this is that many next actions are just a single line, "Send email to Jane about meeting."

                  This works fine for me, but I always feel a little guilty about throwing out this practically unused piece of paper when I'm done. Anyone have any suggestions?
                  I seem to remember that the single-sheet-per-item rule was for doing mind sweeps, with the idea to train the person setting up his or her system to methodically process each input before moving on to the next -- i.e. to learn proper in-basket processing. It discourages people from skipping around and avoiding next action decisions on some items. The lists (projects, next actions, waiting for, someday/maybe) and calendar hold the results of a processed mind sweep. So as far methodology, nothing in GTD compels you to go through that much paper.

                  The main advantage of lists over stacks of sheets or cards is the ability to view your options panoramically, to "see it all in a snapshot," weighing actions against each other to make the best choice of what to do. It's hard to scan a complete stack without the temptation to settle on one of the first compelling choices. Card #4 might be a good choice, but card #27 might have been a better choice if you had come to it.

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                  • #10
                    I tried working with the really small post-it notes during the mind sweep and even that was disorganized for me. I did complete it, though, with those papers just so I could organize my list better instead of just writing down everything as it came to me. I still find the lists so much easier to use. It gives me everything in a glance, where with the papers I was constantly sorting through them.

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                    • #11
                      Lists are single sheets of paper

                      Responding to Gameboy70, my "lists" are actually just single sheets of paper, one item per page, stuck together in a folder. My next action folder usually has just 10-15 pages, which I can pretty quickly shuffle through to find what I want to work on next. I believe I got this idea from the Allen book, but Iím not sure. How many people work this way as opposed to having one piece of paper with lists of NAs?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by gnugrep
                        Responding to Gameboy70, my "lists" are actually just single sheets of paper, one item per page, stuck together in a folder. My next action folder usually has just 10-15 pages, which I can pretty quickly shuffle through to find what I want to work on next. I believe I got this idea from the Allen book, but Iím not sure. How many people work this way as opposed to having one piece of paper with lists of NAs?
                        Like Gameboy70, I don't see the advantage. No matter how quickly you may shuffle through 15 pieces of paper, one could scan through 15 items on one page much faster. The visual separation of all those items on separate sheets also creates much more of a load on working memory, which can hold about 5 items for a matter of seconds. Plus, I doubt this method would scale. Once your collection of actions grows to, say, 30 or more -- which is not inconceivable -- it will be hard to choose among them from the runway level, in my opinion.

                        The single-sheet method was recommended in the book for doing mind sweeps. But I personally think the additional overhead and slowness of using single sheets even just for mind sweeps would benefit only someone with a severe difficulty focusing. In some of my mind sweeps I have generated 150 items; there's no way I'm going to use 150 separate sheets of paper. I've written about 50 items per 2-column page and had no problem whatsoever processing one item at a time by starting with the first and crossing it out when finished processing it, saving a lot of time and paper in the process. And yet, using my computer is far more efficient still, typing each item in Palm Desktop.

                        The overhead of collecting, processing, organizing, and reviewing is just that -- overhead. If you can accomplish those 4 steps in less time, it gives you more time to Do.

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                        • #13
                          Most items are in project files

                          Well, the way I work is a little different. I put most of my items on my project lists. The projects can have dozens of next action items, but I just take the next one that needs to get done and stick it in my next action folder, when I'm done with it, I look at the project file and pick another next action. So my next action list is always manageably small, but I keep track of all of my ideas in the project files.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by gnugrep
                            Well, the way I work is a little different. I put most of my items on my project lists. The projects can have dozens of next action items, but I just take the next one that needs to get done and stick it in my next action folder, when I'm done with it, I look at the project file and pick another next action. So my next action list is always manageably small, but I keep track of all of my ideas in the project files.
                            gnugrep, stick to your way of working if you like. But think about the disadvantages again because I think you missed the point. This way is slow, creates additional overhead, strains working memory, potentially misses actions, potentially forces you into action choices that are inefficient, and wastes paper. The projects folders with most of the papers suffer even more from these disadvantages.



                            I suggest you think about the "why," not the "way." There are many ways to achieve one goal, but some are better than others. If you don't want to hear it from me, consider what David Allen said in the book GTD (pp. 62-63):
                            "It never hurts to ask the 'why' question. Almost anything you're currently doing can be enhanced and even galvanized by more scrutiny at this top level of focus. Why are you going to your next meeting? What's the purpose of your task? . . .



                            I admit it: this is nothing but advanced common sense. To know and to be clear about the purpose of any activity are prime directives for clarity, creative development, and cooperation. But it's common sense that's not commonly practiced, simply because it's so easy for us to create things, get caught up in the form of what we've created, and let our connection with our real and primary intentions slip."


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                            • #15
                              Project files are all computerized

                              One thing I forgot to mention is that the project files are all computerized, so I don't have 100s of pieces of papers in a physical folder, I just have a long list of items in a word document organized like an outline. Then only thing that is on paper are the next actions. Copying the NA from the project to a sheet of paper is the one inefficiency.

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