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Need help hardening GTD process edges

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  • Need help hardening GTD process edges

    I would appreciate some assistance or clarification on how hard the edges of collect, process and organize should be.

    At the moment I am attempting to keep a pure process of:
    1. Collect everything into my in tray
    2. Process each item ( < 2 minutes do it, otherwise write down the NA and associated project if present)
    3. Organize all NAs and projects from previous step into Outlook

    Due to interruptions and the size of the backlog I'm working with, I'm finding that either step 2 or step 3 gets interrupted. That leaves me with some NAs and projects entered and others only defined but not entered into Outlook.

    The result is I keep getting pulled to organise everything but nothing actually gets done. When I find the time to get things done I'm aware there are projects/NAs that I'm missing.

    Thoughts on how to harden/soften the edges or otherwise much appreciated.

    David

  • #2
    The hard edge between processing and organizing is important during the initial mind sweep, where you don't necessarily have established homes for things. You might not even know what contexts you need until after you've seen what your actions are.

    But in an established GTD system, it should be just as easy to write the NA and/or project directly into its permanent home (context list and/or project list). Why write it down twice if you already know where to put it? If you need to separate processing and organizing in an established system, IMO, there's probably too much overhead in the organizing step.

    Katherine

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    • #3
      Set an Appointment with Yourself

      Come in to work early one day (soon!) and give yourself an hour or so to process the backlog. Until that backlog is cleared you will forever be playing 'catch-up', and that is no place to be. Invest in a weekend day to do a thorough weekly review and create a plan for the coming week. Then schedule your next weekly review and keep that appointment.

      Comment


      • #4
        Hi David. I'd want to look at why you have such a backlog. For example, is it from your initial "collect" push when you started your GTD practice? Otherwise (if your backlog is just plain big, and collects quickly), I'd want to look at a) why you're getting so much (maybe you can cut some out, delegate, etc.), b) how much time you're allocating for processing it (blocking out time is a great idea), and c) how efficient you are at the processing itself.

        Hope that helps.

        Comment


        • #5
          Also note: You will miss projects and N/As until your inbox is at zero. All the more reason to get that inbox to zero.

          You write that steps 2 or 3 "gets interrupted." What sort of interruptions are these? If it's a phone call, let it ring. If someone stops by, tell them that you're right in the middle of something and can they please come back in, say, ten minutes?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by quantumgardener View Post
            At the moment I am attempting to keep a pure process of:
            1. Collect everything into my in tray
            2. Process each item ( < 2 minutes do it, otherwise write down the NA and associated project if present)
            3. Organize all NAs and projects from previous step into Outlook

            Due to interruptions and the size of the backlog I'm working with, I'm finding that either step 2 or step 3 gets interrupted. That leaves me with some NAs and projects entered and others only defined but not entered into Outlook.
            As I read it, the organising step is a once-off: it's when you do the processing that the NAs and projects get added to the system that you set up in that organising step.

            In other words, set up your system, then process one item at a time, where processing means going through the GTD flow chart, making all the decisions, and putting the resulting projects/NAs on the appropriate lists.

            That way, even if you get interrupted during processing, there's only one item that's left hanging. All the rest have been swept into your system. And you just keep whittling away at the backlog when you get the chance.

            If it takes you a long time to define the project and add the NA into Outlook, perhaps you should consider paper? I know I backed off from electronic to paper largely because it's simpler and faster (and has a much shorter & shallower learning curve).

            Hope that helps.

            Comment


            • #7
              Thank you to everyone who has replied so far. All great questions and suggestions.

              My backlog is big due to several factors. Initial pass through, a 3-day meeting with the board which took a lot of time and then everything banked up behind that and settling on the right recording system.

              Right now it's just a volume problem. Interruptions occur because of the time it's taking me to clear the backlog. Even with time scheduled, it's taking longer than expected.

              I'm comfortable enough now with bringing process and organize together where that works and as was stated above, that just leaves on thing hanging.

              There was an important question about delegating. Until I process my in-box I don't know what there is to delegate. But it is a good question and will have me thinking if there are more things on my existing list that I can delegate or even outright say no to.

              David

              Comment


              • #8
                Delegate more than you have to.

                Originally posted by quantumgardener View Post
                There was an important question about delegating. Until I process my in-box I don't know what there is to delegate. But it is a good question and will have me thinking if there are more things on my existing list that I can delegate or even outright say no to.
                So delegate more than you have to. This will allow you to eliminate your backlog faster.

                Comment


                • #9
                  For the record it took another 2 hours to clear my in tray and get everything organised. The support of those who answered my initial question was of great assistance in keeping me focussed and not running down rabbit trails trying to find a solution that may not have worked as well.

                  Thanks,

                  David

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