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  • reference number

    I have been using this GTD stuff now for a short time, and have added 1 extra thing to it that helps me, I add a reference number to each item that starts with the date in number format, ddmmyy followed by a serial number. That way, that particular to do item has a unique number that I can refer to and esp. find the date of, and also it allows me to have lots of to do lists, but really only 1 master all inclusive list going into the future with a way to determine where and when the idea came from. It's easy to do. Well at least for myself, it's an improvement.

    And since you'll never exceed a million things, the number won't get any bigger than 6 digits, other than the date, but for a given day, you could have a short form for the date.

  • #2
    This is similar to what I do as well. My system is spreadsheet based. I use a three digit serial number for every NA that I enter into the system and this, combined with the date of entry gives me a unique identifying number for that entry. Additionally, I have a unique number for each Project in my spreadsheet.

    The usefulness of the serial number for non project NAs is as follows: Each week I print the data (spreadsheet rows) containing (non project) uncompleted NAs i.e. those rows where the Date Completed column is blank. This list of uncompleted NAs, having a unique serial number, forms the index for the corresponding hard copy files where I keep supporting documentation for each NA. My spreadsheet also has a Date (Calendar) column which I use to do things that are time-fixed. As regards Projects I created a separate list which I use as an index for the projects supporting documentation.

    I find the above system more convenient than the one with the 43 folders.

    Every week I purge my done NAs i.e. those that are shown in the spreadsheet with a completion date, by sorting it appropriately and archiving the completed NAs. This keeps the electronic file small and flexible. If I ever need to go back to my archive, I can trace any item by using Excel's Find feature, or the date of entry, or the date of completion, or the project number (if relevant), or the context etc. etc.

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    • #3
      paper

      I also write down my reference number in pencil to every piece of paper on my desk, so that I only need look at that number, and it gives me a sort of record as to what I've done about it, or correspondingly, I might write down where that paper is filed, or what was done with it, so that I can find it again quickly.

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      • #4
        An alternate date format

        When using dates, I find it helps to use the format yyyymmdd. You could then append a sequence (or serial) number to the end (to accomodate more than one item per day). That way, your can easily sort all your items in date order. A format like mmddyy will break down when spanning calendar years.

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        • #5
          yyyymmdd - the only logical date format.

          Originally posted by golpira
          When using dates, I find it helps to use the format yyyymmdd. You could then append a sequence (or serial) number to the end (to accomodate more than one item per day). That way, your can easily sort all your items in date order. A format like mmddyy will break down when spanning calendar years.
          I think that yyyymmdd is the only logical date format for the illogical calendar in which year consists of 12 chunks (months) of different length not synchronized with the smaller chunks of 7 days (weeks).

          I really do not understand why people use ddmmyyyy format, but the mmddyyyy is one of the most awkward notations I could imagine.

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          • #6
            Wow! Amazing!

            Would someone who uses one of these schemes kindly describe how this all works day to day, what makes the extra work worthwhile,and the volume of material they handle? I just can't imagine doing something like you all are describing.

            Thanks,
            Mike

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            • #7
              060114 instead of 1/14/06

              I use the yymmdd format for client correspondence, accounting software backups, etc. I don't have huge volume, but every time I need to figure out which file is the earliest or latest, it helps. I don't always need it, but it helps a lot when I do. I put it at the beginning of the file name--like "060114 IRS Re penalty" and the client name. I wouldn't use four digits for the year because I don't really expect to be around when it would make a difference

              If you use the standard American date format of 11406 or even 011406 then your files or other items won't sort right.

              But I don't use reference numbers for every piece of paper, or even date every piece of paper on my desk--I'm just not that organized.

              There's always a tradeoff to everything, and I'm not going to do any more than I have to, until I start having problems because I need to do more.

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              • #8
                For the record, I use the yymmdd format as well whenever I can, for the same reasons stated by previous posters in this thread.

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                • #9
                  date stamping

                  Originally posted by mcogilvie
                  Would someone who uses one of these schemes kindly describe how this all works day to day, what makes the extra work worthwhile,and the volume of material they handle? I just can't imagine doing something like you all are describing.

                  Thanks,
                  Mike
                  I learned this trick a couple of years ago from this forum.

                  I use Outlook to hold my NAs. I precede each NA title with the yymmdd so that when I see all my NAs they are ordered by date. I find it extraordinary helpful to have a reminder telling me when I entered the NA. And, as others have pointed out, by putting the year first, my sort order is maintained as we go from December to January.

                  It's automatic to enter the date and it takes less than a second.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by moises
                    I use Outlook to hold my NAs. I precede each NA title with the yymmdd so that when I see all my NAs they are ordered by date.
                    Ummmm.... Why?

                    Outlook has a date field. Actually two of them, a start date and a completion date. And built-in functions for sorting by whatever field you want. Why reinvent the wheel?

                    Katherine

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by kewms
                      Ummmm.... Why?

                      Outlook has a date field. Actually two of them, a start date and a completion date. And built-in functions for sorting by whatever field you want. Why reinvent the wheel?

                      Katherine
                      1. What you say is correct.
                      2. I prefer to start my NA titles with yymmdd for two reasons:
                      a. I like to see the start date in my NA titles when I do my review. This obviates the need to open each NA when reviewing them. It is true that I could sort my NAs in Outlook by start date. But I still would not know when I started each one, until I opened it. I would merely know that I started it before or after its neighbor.

                      b. It actually takes me less time to precede my NA title with yymmdd than to start mouse-clicking on the Outlook calendar. Long before I started GTD I got in the habit of preceding my computer file names and purchase order numbers with yymmdd. It's one of my better habits and I try to use it whenever I can. It takes me virtually no time. Maybe there are keyboard shortcuts in Outlook for entering today as the start date. But I find my ingrained habit useful in applications other than Outlook.
                      I am a pragmatist, when it comes to GTD at least. David likes to use the best practices lingo. But at the end of the day, what works for you is what is best insofar as you are implementing GTD. Those "start date" and "due date" fields in Outlook can also be used.

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                      • #12
                        Indeed, there is no BEST implementation, except what works for you.

                        Originally posted by moises
                        a. I like to see the start date in my NA titles when I do my review. This obviates the need to open each NA when reviewing them. It is true that I could sort my NAs in Outlook by start date. But I still would not know when I started each one, until I opened it. I would merely know that I started it before or after its neighbor.
                        However, this is incorrect. You can tell Outlook to show the start date (or any other field) in its master list. Right-click on the list of headings at the top of the task list, and pick the Field Chooser menu item.

                        Katherine

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by mcogilvie
                          Would someone who uses one of these schemes kindly describe how this all works day to day, what makes the extra work worthwhile,and the volume of material they handle? I just can't imagine doing something like you all are describing.

                          Thanks,
                          Mike
                          I'm w/you, Mike. To me, by doing what's suggested above you're taking a system that is designed to un-complicate things and introducing a system that basically unwinds what GTD is trying to do. I don't get it...

                          But, as they say... do what works for you.

                          Jim

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