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Moving items between lists

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  • Moving items between lists

    I have just finished reading GTD and am excited about the idea. My overriding question, as I begin implementation, is this: how, and with what frequency, do you move items between lists? (I am thinking of a paper-based system.) For instance, say I call someone who was on my @Phone list but I have to leave a voicemail. Should I instantly cross them off the @Phone list and put them on the Waiting For list? Or should I wait until the end of the day to update the lists, supposing that I might get a call back before then? On the one hand, it seems like moving things between lists right away would result in a lot of unnecessary rewriting, but if I wait until the end of the day, I may have forgotten all the people I am waiting to hear from.

    I am wondering how others handle this... Thanks!

  • #2
    Do it right away

    Hello, Renn, and welcome to the board.

    For the situation you described, I would update the lists right away. The information you need to do so is already "loaded" in your short-term memory. There would be too much mental overhead in trying to reload that information in order to update all the lists at the end of the day, a tedious and error-prone task. As you have already realized, you are likely to forget things if you wait to update them.

    Good luck with GTD!

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Renn
      I have just finished reading GTD and am excited about the idea. My overriding question, as I begin implementation, is this: how, and with what frequency, do you move items between lists? (I am thinking of a paper-based system.) For instance, say I call someone who was on my @Phone list but I have to leave a voicemail. Should I instantly cross them off the @Phone list and put them on the Waiting For list? Or should I wait until the end of the day to update the lists, supposing that I might get a call back before then? On the one hand, it seems like moving things between lists right away would result in a lot of unnecessary rewriting, but if I wait until the end of the day, I may have forgotten all the people I am waiting to hear from.

      I am wondering how others handle this... Thanks!
      You should immediately re-update your list. Your brain should not need to remember or care - "I have left a voicemail and now waiting for someone".

      Comment


      • #4
        Using index cards might help

        I am still a newbie and am just implementing GTD, but I think that something that I am doing might be helpful for you.

        Disclaimer: The process below only describes what I am doing right now, I can't say if it will be my "final" system. Rather, I am doing it for now as I don't want to commit to anything one system just yet. I think that this hesitancy comes in part from my having struggled on and off for 10 years to get the hang of my Franklin Planner--which I am so happy to be rid of! But, I digress...

        I like the immediacy of pen and paper, particularly because I don't have to turn pen/paper "on" and switch to the appropriate program before I can capture my thoughts. So, I did an initial "brain dump" on a flip-chart easel with post-it backed pages as this gives me a LOT of room, and allows me to feel totally unconstrained and like I have a "lot of room to think" without running out of space.

        Then, after the brain dump, I put each new idea on a separate 3" x 5" index card. This made it really easy for me to file things according to Context. It also has the side benefit of being a nice detour around the need that I sometimes have to re-write a list with too many cross-outs on it.

        I then made separate File Folders for each Context, and sorted each of the index cards appropriately. In some cases, a piece of paper from my "real" inbox triggers a Next Action, and it has sufficient info on it in order for me to DO the NA, I put the paper itself into the appropriate folder. In this way, it can serve as it's own reminder and I don't always need an index card.

        What's better, if the support material isn't "precious" and I can write notes directly on it (i.e. if I left a message for the person I can note the date and time of my call). But, if the paper is "precious" I just do all the writing on an index card and then paper clip or staple the two items together.That way, the paper moves from the appropriate context folders in an easy way, and when I am in that Context again and "looking for some action" to do, I have everything I need to "just do it."

        This can work really well when you are waiting for someone to call you back after leaving them a voice mail--just grab your "Waiting for" folder and everything you need is at your fingertips.

        As an aside, I have found that the best place for my Errands folder is WITH me. Which means, generally, that the best place for it is in my car. I typed up a list of staple groceries and put a photocopy of it in the Errands folder.

        Today, though, I was with a friend, and she was driving, and on the way back she wanted to stop by the drugstore... Of course, my Errands list was in MY car, not hers. So, I have realized that Iwould probably do well to shrink down that entire folder to just the size of the index cards--that way it can be a Hipster PDA that I can carry in my purse.

        Anyway, BACK to the phone thing--you can also use phone message pads for phone calls to note the time you call someone if you don't like the idea of index cards. They are also helpful when you get a voicemail and need to return their call--just record the info as usual on the slip, and put it into your Calls folder...

        Sorry for the long message, but I hope that this helps some!

        ~Cindy
        Last edited by sablouwho; 07-31-2005, 04:15 PM. Reason: type

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        • #5
          Alternatives to rewriting items into new @context lists

          There are other choices beyond the alternatives you mention, which you MIGHT want to reconsider.

          1. Get a PDA. A Palm-style PDA makes it easy to recategorize something.

          2. Put each NA on a separate card and shuffle it into the appropriate new category. The business-card size NA cards from www.nextactioncards.com may work better than 3x5 index cards.

          I Sympathize with your preference for paper. I myself like paper for capture , especially if captured material is brief, and for use away from my PC, especially if item can be completed. My PDA is very handy for the "recontexting" of NAs however.

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