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  • Telephone messages

    I am very new to GTD and have not started using it yet but I am trying to get everything ready to get started. I get a lot of voice mails daily that require follow up that day or the next day. I think I recall seeing something that said you should treat these the same as any other item in your inbox but not sure about putting that into practice. How do others deal with phone messages? Thanks, Larry

  • #2
    Inbox Works . . .

    The inbox can work. Basically, if you're working to always keep an empty inbox, then you can always process them along with everything else. Even if you wanted to do a mini processing, such as listen to the voicemails, make the notes, then process them and decide upon the next actions, then at that point you are good to go.

    I find for my voicemails I can usually either make a quick response as soon as I'm done listening (the 2-minute rule) or I add it to the next action list for the relevant context/project, etc.

    Basically, I usually process my paper inbox 2-3 times a day (only takes a few minutes at a time), my email about every 30 min-1hr, and voicemail twice a day as well.

    Hope this helps.

    Comment


    • #3
      Voice mail is basically a collection point. Once you listen to the message you have to decide if the message is actionable.

      If the answer is no -- then delete the message, end of story.

      If yes, then can you answer it within 2 minutes ?, if yes then do it (i.e. return the call) .

      If no, place it within your trusted system (i.e. @phone list) to reply at a time and place of your choice.

      The above may read/sound and feel complicated but in practice it's fairly straight forward. You just have to drive the process rather than letting the process (i.e. call) drive you!

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks for the suggestions. I guess the next question is where do I write down the messages. Do I keep a separate list, notebook, section of a notebook, or do I keep it all together. Even if I can do it within 2 minutes I still need to write down the name, number and subject somewhere. Thanks, this forum is very helpful. Larry

        Comment


        • #5
          I find I usually keep some blank paper around or in a drawer of my desk for various uses, including general calculations, scrap work, rough outlining, notetaking, and also, for capturing the voicemails. From there, once I've got the notes from the calls out of the VM system, then I can decide what to do. As mentioned above, if its quick (2-minute rule) you can potentially take care of it right away and then the note can be tossed, or put into a contact file, or something along those lines. If its non actionable and you don't need it for reference, again, it can be tossed. And if its going to be longer, than based on the information you've copied out, you could potentially either copy it into your trusted system, whether that be paper or electronic based, as an action, as an agenda for the next meeting with that person, or however that works for you.

          If your a hipster PDA user, and you make the notes right on index cards, then perhaps you just then file said card in the relevant location.

          Hope this helps . . .

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by LarryG
            Thanks for the suggestions. I guess the next question is where do I write down the messages. Do I keep a separate list, notebook, section of a notebook, or do I keep it all together. Even if I can do it within 2 minutes I still need to write down the name, number and subject somewhere. Thanks, this forum is very helpful. Larry
            Do not keep a separate list. I simple write the meassages in the inbox section of my planner or a piece of paper that then gets thrown into the physical inbox. Treat them just like other sources of input.

            Comment


            • #7
              I appreciate the help so far, let me elaborate on my problem. I get about 35-50 voice mails per day. I am in my office most of the day but am out of the office several times per week and often have to check voice mail from a different site or from my car. I also wind up returning calls from my car frequently. So I need a mobile system for this. Right now, pre-GTD still, I just keep a list of calls on a legal pad, but there is no order to this. I cannot do one call per page because that would overwhelm my inbox. I really want this to be as simple as possible and do not want to overthink it but I want a good system. Sometimes I need to refer back to these phone numbers, I guess I would put that information in a project list after I review my inbox. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks again

              Comment


              • #8
                No one system for me

                Whenever I pick a voicemail (usually from my mobile, as work don't believe in having calls answered by a machine), I do one of three things - either call back straight away (if urgent, or if I know it's going to be a short call), make a note on a scrap of paper (I say scrap, more a neatly torn collection of paper from a stack of A4 sheets ) and put it in my inbox, or I record a note in my digital voice recorder.

                I don't think the system itself really matter - use whatever comes to hand. As long as you're confident that you will review the location you put the note on a regular basis, so it's picked up again when you review.

                As for what goes on the note, normally name, company, phone number, date received call, and brief topic description (if the caller has been kind enough to let me know why they're calling - doesn't always happen).

                Once I actually make the call, I transfer all these details to OneNote 2007, and make further notes from the call underneath. Because I can search on text, I can then search for it at a later date. The ability to create tasks in OneNote that then transfer to Outlook is also a big bonus

                Hope this helps

                Nick

                Comment


                • #9
                  If your current system is working, why change it?

                  It sounds to me like GTD begins where your current system leaves off. That is, your current system creates material for your GTD Inbox.

                  Once a message is processed (in the GTD sense), it becomes either project/action support material (if further followup is needed) or reference material (if not), and can be filed accordingly.

                  Katherine

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Inbox Processing

                    Originally posted by LarryG
                    Thanks for the suggestions. I guess the next question is where do I write down the messages. Do I keep a separate list, notebook, section of a notebook, or do I keep it all together. Even if I can do it within 2 minutes I still need to write down the name, number and subject somewhere. Thanks, this forum is very helpful. Larry
                    I get most of my voicemail messages at the office. I typically check them first. Like others, I keep scrap paper around. As I record each message, I make a note on scrap paper and put it in my inbox. Then, when I get to a point of processing the inbox, they're ready to go.

                    Of course, if you have some messages that you MUST answer in the next day or so, the best bet is to put them into your calendar right then and there.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      LarryG

                      Three thoughts for your out of office message retrieval:

                      1 Continue to use your existing system. While it may feel strange to only have 1 message per legal pad page you may find it liberating. Think of it this way ... 1 entery per page, so only one choice re who to call. Plus you have the rest of the page for outlying your response plus taking notes while on the call. To me this appears to be a nice closed system! If you don't want to call that particular person flip the page until you find some one you do wish to call!

                      2 Post-it-notes. Nice and small ... fits right in a pocket and can hold a lot of information.

                      3 Dive slate ... scuba drivers use these for under water communications. Its basically a plastic sheet with a pencil attached. Write down the message and once it's dealt with rub it off. Depending on the size it's a cheap solution that can live in your bag or car. As a FYI, Filofax in the early 1980's had insert like this that was a breeze to use .

                      Let use know your decision.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        A better Moleskine than the Moleskine

                        I started using spiral-bound notebooks about a year ago and they're working well for me. They've really become a universal capture device. I write the day and date at the top of the right page, and then number each entry consecutively. Phone messages, notes of phone conversations, meeting notes, notes to myself. They usually get recorded there. The current notebook is almost always next to the telephone in my office, but will often go with me when I leave. They're just the right size; not too small, not too large. I found a nifty leather cover that the notebooks fit in, with pockets for business cards, receipts, a pen loop, etc. and a handy ribbon bookmark. The pages are perforated and can be torn out and placed in the physical in-box. Any information that I need to keep I will usually type into the appropriate place in my computer. (Notes from customer conversations will go into the CRM application, for example.) I usually return calls during the day right from the notebooks. But if that isn't possible by the end of the day, I will enter a next action into my system, which gets synced to my Palm. Occasionally, I've needed to go back to the original hand-written notes, and have been thankful that they were in one place rather than on a floating piece of paper.
                        Last edited by smithdoug; 09-26-2006, 09:46 PM. Reason: correct typo

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by LarryG
                          So I need a mobile system for this. Right now, pre-GTD still, I just keep a list of calls on a legal pad, but there is no order to this. I cannot do one call per page because that would overwhelm my inbox.
                          Hi Larry,

                          I fully appreciate where you are coming from. While my volume may not be high, each of my calls may be billable to a file I am working on. Therefore, when I'm on the road, I need a record that I can later process.

                          I carry a notebook - some people like Moleskines, I use a Blueline A9, but use whatever floats your boat. I just write the v/m messages down and tick the ones that I've called, and note which ones need to be billed for. It's quick, simple, and I process all v/m messages at once - 11-12 in my notebook each day. While that vilates some of Davids "rules", it's what works for me.

                          That is the key to GTD - find what works for you. I don't necessarily need to keep those calls in my action list as I write them down on paper while on the road. Further, because I need to process them for billing purposes, the notebook goes in my inbox, at which time I process my notes from meetings for actionable items, etc.

                          It works for me. Your mileage may vary.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I'm fortunate enough to be provided a Tablet PC at work. I usually check voice mail from my car when I am seeing clients. I'll make notes of who called in Windows Journal and return calls that will be quick. Those calls that I don't return immediately become NA's in the @Call context and are recorded using Outlook.

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