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An idea for GTD help

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  • An idea for GTD help

    Even with the millions of GTD blogs around the internet, I still can't find a good sight which just walks you through GTD moments. DA probably does the best through his book, but even then I think there is more to be learned because I dont' think we all do it the same.

    So I'm going to start a series of posts which will list a piece of information and/or a scenario and I'd like people to post a reply that walks through thier GTD process.

    Situation 1.

    As you process your email inbox, you see an email with an attachment to a long pdf report. You know that you will need to (at the very least) read the report and send comments. But you may also need to do other things - like have a discussion with your boss or collect other data - before you compile your response.

    Set up
    - your lists and calendar are in outlook.
    - you need to do this ASAP but in relation with all your other ASAP's
    - you have a read/review portable folder (which has a stack of other reports which you need to read)
    - you need to save the email and the pdf somewhere...
    - you have project folders in email, computer, and in a filing cabinet.
    - all other GTD systems are in place (ex. tickler...)

    Walk me through your GTD as best as you can. I'm looking forward to your responses...


  • #2
    I think these "test cases" are a great idea. I don't use outlook but here would be my approach.

    If I had the time at the moment I opened this e-mail, I would make a hard copy and label a folder for it and put it in my active project file box. At this time, I would also try to determine what the real deadline is for the whole project and maybe some first part of the project. I would also think about people's schedules with whom I might need to confer. So, maybe determining their availability would be my next action.

    I would check my calendar and see if any of the above work. If not, negotiating the due date might be my next action.

    If time frame is okay, I would make a note in my project list, giving this project a tentative title, noting the due date, and indicating that I need to do more project definition, who I need to confer with and by when, if that is what I needed to do. If this is something routine, I would probably be able to write the project definition pretty quickly, so that would not be my next action. My next action might be to read and highlight the material that came with the e-mail, even if contacting somone regarding their schedule was also going to happen independantly.

    Then I would put that action on the appropriate context list for my work style.

    If I did not have the time at that moment when I read the e-mail, I would write the briefest project definition and then probably my next action would be @computer "read material related to ____, from ____, and determine time frame and project definition".

    If I had even less time, I might put the hard copy in my real in box with a note to define the project and schedule it. Or, if I were a more computer based person, I would put the e-mail in some kind of a virtual "in box" with a link to the e-mail and the PDF. I imagine Outlook lets you do something like that.


    • #3
      Originally posted by roakleyca View Post
      You know that you will need to (at the very least) read the report and send comments. But you may also need to do other things - like have a discussion with your boss or collect other data - before you compile your response.
      The first thing to do is ask "What's the successful outcome?" and define the project on the front end. Knowing that you'll have to read the report gives you at least one solid next action, but until the project is clearly defined, intermediate action steps like "discuss with boss" or "send comments" will be vague and tenuous. Let's assume the project is "Submit analysis of report to boss." As Jamie said, hit Print and file the hard copy of the email and PDF.

      If there's an explicit deadline for the project, put it on your calendar. You can put "Read report" down as an NA, but if extended reading is required and the analysis is a priority, it may be better to firewall the needed time on your calendar. If you have a general idea of what other data you might need to collect is, or whom else you need to send comments to -- but don't have the specifics on those yet until you've read the report -- jot those ideas down as notes to add to your project folder as support material, or create a checklist in the Notes section of your project in Outlook. Avoid putting contingencies down as next actions. Save the action lists for the tasks that can be done now, "ASAP," with no dependencies.
      Last edited by Gameboy70; 05-16-2007, 08:05 AM.


      • #4
        Thanks guys --- that was a good help. I think one aspect of my work which needs the most work (and will see the most improvement over time) is my ability to know and understand my successful outcome. I think this aspect of GTD appeals to me the most. Identify projects up front as they come in and then determine what the successful outcome of that project (big and small) BEFORE you start working on it. This will do a few things - 1) Allow me to ask the right questions to the person(s) who has given me the work, 2) Start to see the steps, time, and resources required to do the work which will allow me the ability to say NO if it just doesn't 'fit' in my schedule, goals, values, ect. 3) Start work on it right away without waiting (or hoping) for it to just go away --- cause many things just don't go away.




        • #5
          I think one of the other things to keep in mind is that the successful outcome can change or can spawn other projects, depending on how you want to look at it. For instance, the initial SO would be to have read and commented on the report. After reading it, some of those other actions may now start to appear, such as meeting with your boss. Now, you can either expand the project and change the outcome to match this new information, or you can mark one project as completed (read and comment), and start a new project for the new SO.