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  • Organizing documents needed to complete NA's

    Hi,

    My position has changed slightly so that I am about to be somewhat more centrally located (I had been traveling between 5 sites - usually 3/day and often not to the main office at all during a day). Because I needed to take "my work" with me from site to site, I had a file box with folders for each context. Anything (plain NA or project NA) to be done (that wasn't someday/maybe) went into the corresponding @context folder (in my portable file box) and on my Outlook (with GTD add-in) list (which also has someday/maybe's). Project folders were sometimes with me and sometimes left at the main office.

    I've noticed two problems:

    1) When I get overloaded, I tend to dump things into the @context folder without putting it on my NA list (in Outlook). I then find things in my @folders that hadn't shown up as a "choice" on my Outlook lists.

    Solutions: take time to get all NA's into Outlook and consistently do Weekly Reviews.

    2) When I have an NA that requires a document (ex. catalog, report with handwritten revisions, meeting notes that I need to work through for NA's and reference, paper forms to be completed)... my current strategy is to add it to Outlook and put the paper document in the @context folder. I carry around my @context folders in my portable file box and, therefore have "my work" with me. But, then project papers tend to get scattered quickly across folders. It takes too long to find what I need if something comes up on the project - ex. supervisor asks 'what are the current numbers for new enrollment?'.... I know that the applicant list is somewhere in my system, but it takes too long to remember (or check in Outlook if I don't have it up) whether I had it in @calls to get more information from Sue or in @computer to finish the data entry portion.

    Solution(s): any suggestions?
    Now that I'll be more central, should I keep the applicant list in the project support file for "New Enrollment" and add the next actions to my Outlook list? I then would be pulling the paper documents out of project support files whenever I'm ready to do a project NA. Do I keep my @context folders for non-project NA's only? My Outlook list would show both plain NA's and project NA's by context so that all of my work shows up there.

    I guess my question is do all of the physical things (even actionable things) you need for a project stay in the project support file or do you move them to an @context folder as you work through the NA's?

    I'm leaning towards keeping ALL project materials in the project support folders... I'm just hesitant to keep all of my work at the office (in my project support files and @context folders) because, while I'll probably be at the main office at least once daily now, I'll still need to work at other sites and at home regularly. It's too much to carry both sets of folders (project support and @context) with me - I did try to do it for awhile - I took a "wheeled-crate" with me everywhere!

    Sorry this is so long. I'd appreciate any suggestions.

    Thanks!
    Julia

  • #2
    Home is home, work is work. Do not mix it!

    Originally posted by Julia
    I'm just hesitant to keep all of my work at the office (in my project support files and @context folders) because, while I'll probably be at the main office at least once daily now, I'll still need to work at other sites and at home regularly.
    Home is home, work is work. Do not mix it! In my opinion it is very unhealthy to work at home regularly.

    Comment


    • #3
      Home work is usually "homework"

      I really appreciate your thoughts TesTeq, but I'm in a grad program right now (and working full time). Until I finish my coursework, there will have to be work at home. There are course projects that actually overlap (using the same materials) or are extensions of my normal workload, which makes it necessary to be at least semi-mobile with my projects. And, I'm expected to keep working (general NA's, projects, checking in, etc) when I'm away from the main office at one of our other sites. Any ideas on how to keep the paper documents that go with my project NA's organized and have the right things available while I'm between sites?

      Comment


      • #4
        David's Traveling File folders

        I wouldn't recommend putting documents into context folders. I think this would be very confusing.

        In the Tips and Tricks section, there used to be a discussion about David's Travelling File folders. I couldn't find it there today, but from my notes he carries five folders with him. This may be what you need.

        They were IN (a collection point)
        Return to Office (You may need multiple "Return to ____" folders)
        Read/Review
        Action Support (This was where he put all the documents he would need or could work on while travelling. These are the papers you're shifting between context folders.)
        Data Entry (phone numbers, expense info, etc.) (oops, nope - see my next post, this was "Return to Home". Data entry items would have gone into "IN".)

        Then if you're asked for something, it will be in the project folder, "Action Support" or "Return to Office" and should be easier to find.

        HTH
        Last edited by WebR0ver; 06-27-2006, 09:28 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Folders Link

          Ok - I found the information. He's now selling sturdy folders for travelling. http://www.davidco.com/store/product...1&cat=0&page=1

          I don't know what happened to the original description but here's some of the info describing the folders for sale...

          "five of these folders are imprinted with the essential categories for travel: In, To Home, To Office, Read/Review, and Action Support.

          We’ve added 4 blank folders to this set, for you to label as you choose : for Travel, Expense/Receipt, Data Entry, or any other categories that keep your briefcase organized."

          Comment


          • #6
            Work/home separation is essential for our sanity in the long run.

            Originally posted by Julia
            I really appreciate your thoughts TesTeq, but I'm in a grad program right now (and working full time). Until I finish my coursework, there will have to be work at home.
            OK. I understand but I think work/home separation is essential for our sanity in the long run. Once upon a time I forgot about this and then I promised myself not to do it again.

            I see a tradeoff in your situation - (1) you have to carry everything with you or (2) you have to carefully plan your day to be sure what you can leave at home or office.

            David's plastic travelling folders are rather meant for the second option.

            Comment


            • #7
              How about just taking along all your files? E.g., not by context, but bringing along all your reference materials as though you were bringing along your file folders.

              Comment


              • #8
                Good Ideas!

                Thank you for your ideas!

                Brent, TesTeq, & WebR0ver - it is strong tendency of mine to want to have everything with me. What if I have a little extra time to work on something else? What if I get a phone call and need to refer to something for a project? Some of my projects require a great deal of paper/books/etc. (ex. 200 applications for one project, 3 books to refer to for another project, huge RFP packets for an upcoming grant, etc.)

                I think wanting everything with me is how my whole out-of-control @context folders developed (and I don't even have everything with me - I'm regularly unloading and reloading my crate or bags or briefcase - too much time sorting & searching!!).

                Your posts make good sense to me - decide to have ALL of my projects with me as I travel (which I now realize is not practical, at least for me) or get reasonable about what I can actually get done while I'm away from the office. I'm pretty good at having the right things with me for appointments or hot projects I'll be working on... my problem is more that I think I'll ALSO be able to squeeze in 18 other projects. If I only keep what I HAVE to have with me, the amount I travel with will be manageable, and I'll still be able to make good use of "found" time, because I always have access to my phone and my laptop.

                I like the idea of the travel folders. In my old system, the part that worked the best was having a folder for each of my sites. In each, I added items that needed to be delivered to the site or work that could only be done at that particular site.

                I think my strategy will be 1) to get my project support files all in one place at my office and to get them current, 2) to process daily and use mini-reviews to regroup when I am back at office, and 3) to learn how to better determine a realistic daily workload and take just that amount with me in travel folders.

                Thank you for your ideas!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Daily Review.

                  As some other GTDers I perform a quick Daily Review at home each morning just before leaving for work. It is not a full planning session but quick look at my calendar, NA lists and my traveling folders contents.

                  And one more important thing - for me:

                  GTD is the art of deciding what I am not going to do today.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    One thing that jumped out at me was that you tend to dump items into your @context folder without adding to your NA list--without processing, in other words. I suspect you need a better in-box. You want a razor-sharp line drawn between things that have been collected but not processed and things that are safely in your system. That in box is a nice safe place to keep things until you're ready to process them.

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