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  • Using the Book - some newbie questions

    Hi everyone -

    Ok first: I'm 54 pages in to the first read of the book.

    Background: I work as a marketing director for a company; I also am an independent designer, and do this work at night. My daily job includes handling a LOT of very varied details.

    I literally have 102 open projects at the moment - just at work.

    I also have a life

    At work, I have been using a few things to keep track of projects, but not nearly as efficiently as I'd like.

    I've been using a customized database in Filemaker, but because of its nature, each entry is really a "solo event" - I can keep project notes, but cannot "nest" lists inside other lists, outline-style. It works well, though, and I can create drop-down lists in any column and create very sortable data.

    I've also been using an outliner, but it's cumbersome and doesn't allow sorting.

    I've also been using stickies (I'm on a mac and a PC but prefer to use my Mac when I can) but stickies are really NOT a good way to manage so many details.

    Anyway, I'm wondering, as a first-time-through reader of GTD, and being 54 pages in, whether I should read through the book and then go back, or if I can begin "organizing" based on what I've seen so far.

    I realize this is a pretty esoteric thing; one of the reasons I'd like to start is so I can at least -feel- like I'm making progress but really it's because I don't know if everything I'm seeing in the beginning (e.g. flowchart logic) will be reinstated later, or if I'll have to go back anyway.

    Also, the difference in my projects can be vast - from a simple phone call lasting less than a minute, to heavy hand-editing of documents which will last for weeks... but has a very high priority. I'd like to think that GTD or some basic variation will work out pretty well.

    I'm also a very visual person, and keep returning to the flowchart. I like it, but assume I'll have to modify it a little bit, or, perhaps, things will clear up after I read more!

    Any suggestions/tips greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Andrew

  • #2
    Hi Andrew. Welcome!

    > Ok first: I'm 54 pages in to the first read of the book.

    I suggest reading the entire book before diving in. It will address some of the startup issues you mention.

    > At work, I have been using a few things to keep track of projects, but not nearly as efficiently as I'd like...

    I think it's important to choose a single technology (e.g., paper planner, Outlook, etc.) for your actions and projects. Too many tools will get in the way of adopting the work. I'd suggest starting simpler, and adding complexity as needed. Remember, there are only four basic action categories: Your calendar, and three lists (actions, projects waiting for).

    > the difference in my projects can be vast - from a simple phone call lasting less than a minute, to heavy hand-editing of documents which will last for weeks.

    Having a variety of projects is natural. Just make sure each one has an "active" action in your actions list. Also ensure all actions are small and concrete.

    > ... flowchart. I like it, but assume I'll have to modify it a little bit

    I've studied dozens of other systems, and this one is very good. I won't customize too much at the start.

    Good luck.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Turner View Post
      Anyway, I'm wondering, as a first-time-through reader of GTD, and being 54 pages in, whether I should read through the book and then go back, or if I can begin "organizing" based on what I've seen so far.
      Finish the book, most of the people here has read the book more than 3 times. I have read it at least 2 times per year since 2003 (maybe I am a slow learner, but everytime I get something new)
      Originally posted by Turner View Post
      Also, the difference in my projects can be vast - from a simple phone call lasting less than a minute, to heavy hand-editing of documents which will last for weeks... but has a very high priority. I'd like to think that GTD or some basic variation will work out pretty well.
      Great news!!!!! you understand the definition of Proects soon, that will give you a hughe advantage... a project it is anything that has more than 2 acitons...

      Continue the hard work, it is fantastic to have mind like water....

      Comment


      • #4
        Stickies on Mac or PC?

        Originally posted by Turner View Post
        I've also been using stickies (I'm on a mac and a PC but prefer to use my Mac when I can) but stickies are really NOT a good way to manage so many details.
        Do stickies stick better to Mac than to PC?

        Sorry, I just coudn't resist...

        Comment


        • #5
          Hi Turner!

          Wolcome to the world of GTD

          GTD-Primer is a nice introduction/summary of the book. I think it is a good approach to read the chapter in the book and to deepen the understanding read the related article of the GTD-Primer.

          After all it helped me a lot to read the whole book befor starting my implementation of the GTD workflow. I read the book a second time and implemented the workflow while reading.

          Originally posted by Turner
          Also, the difference in my projects can be vast - from a simple phone call lasting less than a minute, to heavy hand-editing of documents which will last for weeks... but has a very high priority. I'd like to think that GTD or some basic variation will work out pretty well.
          I would consider the simple phone call as a "Next Action" which can be part of a bigger project - but this is simple nitpicking

          For ideas of a basic variation of the system take a look here ZTD

          -wbc
          Last edited by wbc; 07-16-2007, 05:51 AM. Reason: formating problems

          Comment


          • #6
            Thanks all - and yes, stickies stick better to macs

            I'm following all advice.

            One sticking point is the idea of contexts - it just doesn't seem like it's going to work exactly the way it should, though I'll admit I am not yet familiar with the esoterics.

            It seems like a very high percentage (85%?) of my context is at my computer, so for my general work-based projects/tasks it seems almost like it will just become an overburdened context.

            Context seems much more helpful (as I think of it) in relation to everything I'm doing here and at home. I realize that's probably the idea....

            Cheers
            Andrew

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Turner View Post
              It seems like a very high percentage (85%?) of my context is at my computer, so for my general work-based projects/tasks it seems almost like it will just become an overburdened context.
              That it is really common, same happes to me, maybe more.

              The question is how you work on the Computer, and what you do.

              You can split your Computer list so you can use it more effectvely, for example I have an Computer_online and a Computer_offline list, since I travel a lot and that keep my lists shorter, I know someone that has his list per program, i.e. Computer_Word, Computer_Excel, Computer_AutoCad, Computer_General...

              That way the lists get more manegeable and you can move things faster.

              Maybe that gives you an idea.

              Best,

              Comment


              • #8
                Don't let the idea of contexts get you wrapped up at this point. It is not necessary to have numerous contexts. It is perfectly fine to have only one context for everything you do in your job. It may well be that when you are sitting at your desk, every possible work action is open to you, whether it be computer, phone, face-to-face or anything else. However, when you are sitting at your desk at work, it may not be convenient for you to clean your garage or mow your lawn. Those will probably be on a different context list. As an alternative to physical contexts, some people use intangibles like a context for high energy tasks or tasks that require a certain amount of time. It is fine to start out with minimal contexts and discover them naturally as you work with the system and figure out what is actually useful for you. You probably need a new context list if you frequently find yourself looking at an action list and realizing that you couldn't possibly do a large number of the items on the list because you would have to be in some other physical location or have some particular resource available to you to even consider doing them.

                You should read through the book before trying to implement, at least until you get through the chapters that step you through the implementation.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thanks again, guys -

                  Actually, for context at the computer, besides liking the idea of using something like @highenergy, @lowenergy, @concentraction, etc., I think using some contexts based on how much time a task will receive (or how much time I have before a meeting) might work for me, e.g. @10 minutes, @15 minutes, @4 hours, and so forth.

                  I'll keep reading... it's hard not to want to jump in.

                  Andrew

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I recently set up a temporary context I call "quiet" for items that I want to do when it is quiet (no interruptions, no-one standing over my shoulder, etc.). It has about 6 actions in it and when I finish these, I will probably delete the context.

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                    • #11
                      It's not been explicitly stated here, and I think it's worth pointing out - I think it's advisable to immediately begin collecting, as soon as Dave's introduced it. Don't worry about the other workflow steps at the beginning, but /do/ start offloading stuff into an inbox. That way you can be reaping immediate benefits (even though it's not yet in a trusted system, notes in an inbox > open-loops in my mind). I certainly got immediate returns that way.

                      Paraselene.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thanks...

                        Honestly, I have no choice - I certainly can't let organization slip while I'm reading.

                        As I've been going through the book, I have begun some of the more obvious things - throwing useless stuff away, creating a "maybe/someday"-type collection, and identifying "Next Actions" for projects.

                        I'm primarily using FileMaker... new thread in a few minutes!

                        Andrew

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