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  • GTD Newbie...Questions and Request for Advice

    Hello all,

    I have just completed reading "Getting Things Done", and I am really excited to get started. I know that not everyone has things set up the same, but I would like to ask a couple of questions and then briefly describe my implementation plan. This will help me make sure I am on the right track.

    First of all, I am an electrical engineer working in a Systems Engineering environment. When I leave work, and thankfully for the most part I can leave it at work, I am a husband, a father of two boys, and a man obsessed with woodworking, home improvment and gardening.

    I plan on starting off with a paper based implementation of the GTD system and then moving to Palm based for my context lists, contacts, and calendar sometime no earlier than this summer.

    Enough boredom. Here are my questions:
    1. How do you deal with daily tasks that you need a
    reminder for? (Daily To Do Tasks)
    2. I see many paper implementations with a tab for
    Calendar/Tickler. Can you elaborate on how you have
    implemented this tab?
    3. Tell me how you handle projects.

    Now, here are the current plans for my system:

    1. Since I can easily separate my work and personal life
    (nature of the work), I plan on having a separate
    tickler file for work and home.
    2. Set up a notebook as described in the book and the
    PDF file tweaking the context lists to my needs. (I
    have given this a LOT of thought).
    3. I will have a small notebook with me all the time for
    idea gathering and jotting down notes. The big
    notebook will never be further away than my car.
    4. When a project idea comes through my inbox
    (escpecially at home) I plan on creating a folder for it
    and adding it to the someday/maybe project list and
    then filing the folder in my general filing system. For
    curent projects I want to keep them close by (either
    in a basket on my desk or in my portable folder).
    This way my current projects are readily accessible
    for grabbing next action items and I have a folder to
    stuff ideas (magazine articles, pictures, etc.) in for
    my future someday/maybe projects.
    5. Everything else will pretty much go by the book.

    Now, does anyone see any glaring problems with my proposed implementation scheme. I would love to learn from anyone here with more experience than I have at this time.

    Thanks in advance,
    Rob Hix

  • #2
    Rob
    Before letting the hordes (apologies to one and all) form the forum pick over your system you should just implement it. You appear to have given thought to what works for you so go ahead and try it. The great thing about GTD is that you can amend the system if part(s) of it is not working for you.

    On your daily tasks ... a simply check list is an option. Just keep it up front and center that way your unlikely to overlook those tasks.

    As to the paper/tickler with tab, I'm not sure what you are referring to. I use a tickler file as outlined in the book.

    Finally, on projects, refer to my comment above ... you appear to have a system so work with it and see what sticks.

    Comment


    • #3
      Since you asked...

      Not all projects require a folder. A project is something with more than action that needs to be tracked. You won't need to create a file folder for all of these. To track active projects, keep a project list in your binder. You could put an asterisk next to those projects that actually have a folder associated with them.

      Comment


      • #4
        I too am a newbie (and an electrical engineer). But I cannot STAND home improvement. I can work on cars though.

        Originally posted by robhix View Post
        Enough boredom. Here are my questions:
        1. How do you deal with daily tasks that you need a
        reminder for? (Daily To Do Tasks)
        It all depends. If it's a repetative activity (e.g. send inventory list) I use Outlook's calendar and I enter it as an all-day event allowing me to do it any time during the day.

        Two, I carry a Moleskine pocket-sized notebook where I keep my "Next Actions" list. I continually check it.

        Lastly, I have set up 43 folders in Outlook as described in the book (31 days plus 12 months). Before I leave for the night I look in the next day's folder and if there's anything for me. If there is I move it into an Outlook folder called "@@IN BASKET". I use the double @ to force it to the top. I have to send out a weekly report. What I do is after sending it, move it from my sent folder to the tickle folder 7 days out. That way when the day comes to send it, it's there and I just edit the email and resend. Once I no longer need the tickle folder, I bump the date. So 2007-01-25 becomes 2007-02-25. Yes, I do end up with 2007-02-30, but I just deal with it. Some people advocate Outlook plug-ins. They're not for me. I don't have the time or desire to learn it. Folders work well for me.

        I have a paper tickle file and I do check it, but it's very rare it actually gets used.

        Originally posted by robhix View Post
        2. I see many paper implementations with a tab for
        Calendar/Tickler. Can you elaborate on how you have
        implemented this tab?
        I'm 100% digital with my calendar. I get too many meeting notices via Outlook to make paper viable. Also meetings get changed more often than I change my clothes. A paper calendar would look ugly and be illegible.

        I have my "43 folders" set up at home and work, but I may only have one tickle item a week. But that's why it's there.

        Originally posted by robhix View Post
        3. Tell me how you handle projects.
        I'm still getting a handle on that. The first time I read the book I totally missed the fact you can't work projects, only actions on that project. I have a tab in my Moleskine labeled "Projects". I have a table of contents with my projects and dedicate two facing pages for each project after that. I sometimes draw a mindmap right there in the projects. To me it's the logical place to have it. I also have my action list for those projects. I review these a couple of times per day to make sure I'm moving forward.

        Originally posted by robhix View Post
        Now, here are the current plans for my system:

        1. Since I can easily separate my work and personal life
        (nature of the work), I plan on having a separate
        tickler file for work and home.
        That's what I do, but I sometimes carry files between home and work if it makes sense.

        Originally posted by robhix View Post
        2. Set up a notebook as described in the book and the
        PDF file tweaking the context lists to my needs. (I
        have given this a LOT of thought).
        Please share them sometime.

        Originally posted by robhix View Post
        3. I will have a small notebook with me all the time for
        idea gathering and jotting down notes. The big
        notebook will never be further away than my car.
        That's the way to go. I like the Moleskine for three reasons. It looks cool. I can stuff index cards in the back pouch. I like the elastic band. Not only does the band hold stuff in, I use old daily calendar pages for ad hoc notes. I keep them on the outside of the notebook held on with the elastic. I can quickly jot down notes even when I'm standing. At a glance I can see if I have note on the outside. This is unprocessed information and I don't allow myself to go home until I have processed that information.

        Originally posted by robhix View Post
        4. When a project idea comes through my inbox
        (escpecially at home) I plan on creating a folder for it
        and adding it to the someday/maybe project list and
        then filing the folder in my general filing system. For
        curent projects I want to keep them close by (either
        in a basket on my desk or in my portable folder).
        This way my current projects are readily accessible
        for grabbing next action items and I have a folder to
        stuff ideas (magazine articles, pictures, etc.) in for
        my future someday/maybe projects.
        5. Everything else will pretty much go by the book.

        Now, does anyone see any glaring problems with my proposed implementation scheme. I would love to learn from anyone here with more experience than I have at this time.

        Thanks in advance,
        Rob Hix
        No, it sounds like you're doing more or less what I'm doing and I think I'm following the book. But I would add don't become a slave to the book. If you have to deviate because it works better for you, then do it. Keep the philosophy of GTD in mind more than the practice.

        Comment


        • #5
          Looks pretty good to me

          Hi Rob,

          Your system looks well thought out and functional, and certainly a solid way to start. You should be able to run with that for a while, and then once you get the hang of GTDing, you can tweak to your heart's content. Paper is the best way to start, I think, given that there's no learning curve involved.

          As for your questions: daily tasks work best with a checklist. You can stick it up on your whiteboard, slip it into your tickler file, or whatever, just so long as you see it each day.

          I'm not sure what you mean about a tab for the calendar/tickler. My calendar is a small diary/organiser, and my tickler file is set up using the 43 folders from the book.

          Also, not sure what you mean when you say "How you handle projects". I use a sheet of paper for each project and keep the sheets in a tray: that way I can write down bits of ideas on the paper. That works for fairly small projects or projects with no reference material: things like work around the home. For business projects, I make a file for each one and keep that in my filing cabinet. Does that help?

          Comment


          • #6
            Good points from everyone.

            I'd just like to add something that was left out.

            Originally posted by robhix View Post
            For curent projects I want to keep them close by (either in a basket on my desk or in my portable folder). This way my current projects are readily accessible for grabbing next action items...
            I don't think it's a good idea to grab next actions from your project folder. During the week, you don't keep on looking at your current projects and then extracting next actions. You review your project during the weekly review, write down the first immediate next action (plus other independent next actions) needed to push the project forward, either on your context lists (next actions list) or calendar. So during the week, you only look at your context lists and calendar for next actions.

            Comment


            • #7
              Samilator,

              I know that this is the essence of the system. The projects that I am keeping in the folders will mainly be woodworking and home remodeling projects. I tend to break these projects down into detailed steps to complete them. This may require me to review my projects more often, but at the same time I do not want to only get one thing done a week on each project.

              I may need to work on making my next actions a little larger in scope. Right now this is what I am used to, and breaking things down smaller helps me get a hand on how much work has to be done. Plus, with the two small children, smaller actions in the shop tend to have a better chance of getting done due to the smaller amount of time needed to complete the action.

              Thanks for the input so far. I am going to go tomorrow night and get the stuff that I need to start implementation.

              I welcome any more input that anyone may have. I have learned it is better to learn from others mistakes than to make my own.

              Thanks,
              Rob Hix

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by robhix View Post
                4. When a project idea comes through my inbox
                (escpecially at home) I plan on creating a folder for it
                and adding it to the someday/maybe project list and
                then filing the folder in my general filing system. For
                curent projects I want to keep them close by (either
                in a basket on my desk or in my portable folder).
                This way my current projects are readily accessible
                for grabbing next action items and I have a folder to
                stuff ideas (magazine articles, pictures, etc.) in for
                my future someday/maybe projects.
                I think it's a great idea to already have a folder for a someday maybe project.

                From what you've said, you want your current project folders handy so that when you've completed the action on your action list for that project, if you don't know what the next action is, the folder is easily available to identify what the next next action is so you can either do it or enter it into your next action list.

                Looks like you're off to a good start.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by samilator View Post
                  Good points from everyone.

                  I'd just like to add something that was left out.



                  I don't think it's a good idea to grab next actions from your project folder. During the week, you don't keep on looking at your current projects and then extracting next actions. You review your project during the weekly review, write down the first immediate next action (plus other independent next actions) needed to push the project forward, either on your context lists (next actions list) or calendar. So during the week, you only look at your context lists and calendar for next actions.
                  I think it depends on the type of project. Some project folders need to move faster than that and will require a daily and/or ad hoc review. I have several projects that I do review at the Weekly Review and pull as many Next Actions as I can at that time. But I do have to go back to them throughout the week, pull more next actions, etc. to keep the project going.

                  Comment

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