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GTD Insight

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  • GTD Insight

    OK, I've been very whiny in my posts so far and I'm going to do my best to stop that. No one likes to read whiny posts.

    So, here are my thoughts ---

    It seems to me that you SHOULD NOT implement GTD unless you truly have a home for every single piece of information that comes your way.

    For example, I have the following places where info 'could' be":

    Email (Outlook)
    - most of my "in" comes through email.
    - I used to have folders for ALL differnt kinds of FYI stuff but, since using Google Desktop, I now move all "reference email material" into ONE FYI folder. I'm pretty happy with this set-up.
    - I probabaly +100 folders in a .pst file (which must be huge by now) which contain all my projects for work. My hierarchy is by Highway (I work for highways), Intersecting Road, and then Specific Project folder. I am pretty diligent at moving all inbox and sent items to this folder - UNLESS there is an action associated with the email then I keep it in my inbox until I deal with it. Obvously not GTD and I'm trying to quit. But I dont' trust my ststem yet.

    Electronic Files (work)
    - I have 2 drives which could hold my files. My personal drive for working documents that I can access off-line and a Shared Drive which can only be accessed on-line. Some project and reference info can be found on both drives. Yikes
    - The hierarchy of my personal drive folders is similar to my email. But not exact because sometimes I have a project that only requires me to keep a folder in my email.

    Hardcopy Files (work)
    - This contains emails I print, reports and engineering drawings to review or keep, notes from meetings.

    So basically, I have a massive resistence to "filing" because I don't trust that I'll ever be able find the information I need again.

    No one in my company seems to know the policies for filing information and there really are no standards to follow.

    Any thoughts or specific information you can direct me to? Has DA addressed this "electrical information overload" problem?

    Thanks,

    Ryan

  • #2
    Hi Ryan.

    Originally posted by roakleyca View Post
    OK, I've been very whiny in my posts so far and I'm going to do my best to stop that. No one likes to read whiny posts.
    No worries about that, Ryan, we're all very warm and fuzzy here. And the idea of the forum is that we help each other. It's about the most forgiving place I've come across in all my years on the intertubes.

    Originally posted by roakleyca View Post
    It seems to me that you SHOULD NOT implement GTD unless you truly have a home for every single piece of information that comes your way.
    Hmmm. Not sure I agree. I think that anyone could, and should (if they want to) start GTD regardless of their information storage. We can then clean up progressively as we go along.

    Originally posted by roakleyca View Post
    Email (Outlook)
    clip
    Okay, sounds reasonable, and it sounds like you're mostly happy with it. My only suggestion would be to make it as easy as possible. I know how to do that on my Mac: I use MailTags and MailActOn to allow me to use keystrokes to file mail, and I have an Active folder for things I've got to deal with. I'm sure there's something analogous to these funky utilities for Outlook, and if you find them, let me know.

    You might also try a flat, rather than hierarchical, system, since flat structures are easier to throw stuff into (won't be an issue if you get a tagging system like MailTags and MailActOn).

    Originally posted by roakleyca View Post
    Electronic Files (work)
    - I have 2 drives which could hold my files. My personal drive for working documents that I can access off-line and a Shared Drive which can only be accessed on-line. Some project and reference info can be found on both drives. Yikes
    Yikes indeed. I'd suggest you straighten that up if you can, at least if you need to access both drives together.

    Originally posted by roakleyca View Post
    - The hierarchy of my personal drive folders is similar to my email. But not exact because sometimes I have a project that only requires me to keep a folder in my email.
    Fair enough. If it works, no need to fix it.

    Originally posted by roakleyca View Post
    Hardcopy Files (work)
    clip
    Okay, here's my take. My files are divided into three main groupings: Active (stuff I'm working on now, or will be working on soon), Reference (stuff like tax file number, insurance constract, etc: things I need only occasionally), and Archive (stuff that's done and history). Archive stuff can be archived off into boxes and stored for as long as I need/want them.

    Within those three groupings, I use a flat alphabetic system. I'll have for example a Clients section which contains within it all the information about my clients (current only: past gets archived). My finances are held in one of those dinky plastic briefcase things with 12 sections: each month contains all the incomings and outgoings for that month. Saves having one for credit cards, another for bank statements, another for receipts, another for invoices, etc.

    If you've got one of those office desks with one drawer in, my suggestion would be to have your currently active projects in there, with a new manila folder for each different type of info (eg plans in one, meeting minutes in another, correspondence in another, etc). Stick a divider in it, and when a project is finished, move the lot to the side of the drawer furthest from you. Then in the odd moments when you have nothing to do, you can take the lot and archive them.

    Originally posted by roakleyca View Post
    Any thoughts or specific information you can direct me to? Has DA addressed this "electrical information overload" problem?
    I'm not sure what DA has to say, but you'll find a wealth of information over at Merlin Mann's excellent site 43 Folders. His email articles are particularly good: look for the Inbox Zero series. You might also check out Lifehacker, although there's a very software focus there. But rummage in the archives of both, and there's plenty of good material there.

    The important part with filing is that you think about where you'd look for something when you needed it. If you think "Oh, I need the notes from the April meeting", you could file it under April or meetings (or AprilMeeting). If you think "I remember the boss saying something about that once", then file it under BossWordsOfWisdom. Use your own retrieval system for filing, because the aim is not to file, but to retrieve.

    Alison

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    • #3
      Originally posted by roakleyca View Post
      Electronic Files (work)
      - I have 2 drives which could hold my files. My personal drive for working documents that I can access off-line and a Shared Drive which can only be accessed on-line. Some project and reference info can be found on both drives. Yikes
      - The hierarchy of my personal drive folders is similar to my email. But not exact because sometimes I have a project that only requires me to keep a folder in my email.
      Just a quick note on this as I'm scanning through before moving to my next NA , but on this one topic, is it possible to just have an online folder that synchronizes with a local one? I know my My Documents folder actually links to my network drive, but I have everything set up to sync it to my local machine either on command or upon machine shutdown.

      I actually do the same thing with my Outlook, keeping a local synchronyzed copy of all the info from the Corporate exchange server so that I'll always have access to my email when I'm not hooked up to a network.

      Hope that helps,

      Adam

      Comment


      • #4
        Don't wait on GTD

        Originally posted by roakleyca View Post
        It seems to me that you SHOULD NOT implement GTD unless you truly have a home for every single piece of information that comes your way.
        Choosing homes for different types of information is part of the process of implementing GTD.

        I recently listened to a Duct Tape Marketing podcast with David Allen where the point was made that GTD is an approach or method to develop a system, not a system itself. This is why so many of us have such different systems, but they're all GTD.

        Aside from that, Alison and Adam make good suggestions. Don't overthink your organization, and check out other online resources for implementation possibilities.

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