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Going slowly inside the system... (newbie question)

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  • Going slowly inside the system... (newbie question)

    hallo everybody,

    I'm a newbie trying to setup seriously a GTD.
    The problem I'm fighting with, is that I can't approach the system in a single setup session.
    Seems to me that I need a little time to bring slowly the projects one-by-one inside the system.
    I've tried the classic system: a two days session to bring all the things inside the box, just to start ....tried unsuccessfully.
    Does a anybody else had this problem ? do you think I'm wasting time ? I can't understand what is not working... - maybe I just need to feel more comfortable with the new system.... any suggestion / idea ???

    Regards
    A.

  • #2
    IMHO the most important part of GTD is the filing system.
    Once setup you are able to rapidly file every item where it belongs.

    So I recommend to start with the filing system and an empty inbox. All your other stuff will be named backlog and put to the side. Then you process daily the inbox and reserve a specific amount of time to bring the backlog into the system.

    Yours
    Alexander

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    • #3
      The idea of bringing projects into the system one by one worries me. Wouldn't that leave you with two systems for some indeterminate period of time? Making it more difficult to trust either of them?

      So I would suggest translating your current To Do list (assuming you have one) into GTD terms as quickly as possible: clearly defined outcomes, immediately doable next actions, and context lists. Stuff that isn't current can wait, or can be tackled a little bit at a time.

      Katherine

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      • #4
        Going to be a little contrarian again.

        I think it's perfectly okay to integrate and build your GTD system slowly. Just be aware that the transition period--in which you have two systems--will be more confusing and time-consuming than having one. But you may need to do that.

        That said, perhaps we can diagnose your problem in more detail. Iin what way was your initial attempt at a two-day setup session unsuccessful? What happened? Did you simply not have time to do it? When you started collecting, what happened? Where did the weekend break down for you?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by kewms View Post
          The idea of bringing projects into the system one by one worries me. Wouldn't that leave you with two systems for some indeterminate period of time? Making it more difficult to trust either of them?
          Certainly it would be better to switch with one big step. Brent tries currently to follow this approach.

          I don't know if my intension became clear. I suggest to bring every action and project you touch immediately into the GTD-system. So all active projects are in the system within quite a short time. The others are in a form of sometimes/maybe state. I assume if you work this way the transition will be done in some weeks and maybe to resistance is smaller.

          Yours
          Alexander

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          • #6
            Originally posted by hth View Post
            I don't know if my intension became clear. I suggest to bring every action and project you touch immediately into the GTD-system. So all active projects are in the system within quite a short time. The others are in a form of sometimes/maybe state. I assume if you work this way the transition will be done in some weeks and maybe to resistance is smaller.
            Ah, I see! Yes, that approach makes sense to me.

            Katherine

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            • #7
              The combined process suggested by Brent and Alexander above gets my backing. I'd add that you should listen to what's got your attention and add that to your system first. Anything which is not on your mind doesn't need to be put into your GTD system right now. It will find its way in over time and once you begin to build and trust your system.

              David

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              • #8
                Originally posted by quantumgardener View Post
                The combined process suggested by Brent and Alexander above gets my backing. I'd add that you should listen to what's got your attention and add that to your system first.
                I second that and want to point out the effect, that if you "empty" your brain by entering everything which pops up in your mind in the system you get an enormous positive effect on yourself.

                Yours
                Alexander

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                • #9
                  This is the same situation I am in right now as I try to implement the new system. I simply have too much paper, too many projects, too many essential items buried under too much junk to go through it all in a weekend. This is my second try, as the first time failed, drowned in papers and action items. I started it off on a Sunday, but had to contnue to work through the week, on and off as time permitted.

                  Here are the steps I am using.

                  1) I started by creating a list of immediate action items without regard to what project it was in. This is work I simply have to keep moving along no matter what else. I put these items in a new project called "priority action."

                  2) Next, I treated all the piles on my desk as one big inbox and proceeded to go through it, placing everything into project folders in file boxes right on my desktop. I used my old familiar method of creating projects. Both project and reference folders went into the same file system If I knew I had a project but no paper for it, I created an empty folder, knowing I'd eventually fill it. If I came across a priority action item, I added it the priority action list, and filed it in a project folder. Cryptic notes and yellow stickies with phone numbers etc went into a project file marked "notes" for either later processing or emergency retreival.

                  3) I went through my regular file drawers and pulled out any current projects and placed the files in the desktop files. At the same time, I moved all reference files to the file drawers, leaving me with just active files on my desk.

                  4) Go through all active projects and pickup all the action items and put them on the correct project lists. Actually, I was doing this all along where it make sense, but now it is the focus to make sure I've captured everything. At the same time, I continue to prune out reference material and obsolete garbage.

                  5) Look for bloated projects - ones that have many next actions. These need to be subdivided into more manageable subprojects. I have quite a few of these in fat folders that need to be chopped down into multiple subprojects with their own folders.

                  6) I don't have a step six yet. I'm struggling with the idea of contexts. GTD's usual contexts don't work for me, because I am almost always @phone and @computer, and rarely anywhere else. In my first try, this snagged me. So step 6 may be to figure this out. I may organize it by type of activity rather than location as in @email, @memo, @reading etc.
                  Last edited by THE; 10-17-2007, 07:05 AM.

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                  • #10
                    Sounds like a perfectly reasonable, actionable process, THE. Best of luck.

                    Regarding contexts: Seems to be best to start with as few contexts as possible, and add more as you recognize them.

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                    • #11
                      Thanks for all the suggestions and comments.
                      For Brent - about the initial setup. I've found so many things not managed or not considered previously that it's amazing to feel ... i mean I'm feeling like a volcano and every day there are so many new projects to put in .... this is (i think) the reason why I'm entering slowly in the system ... just because the projects are slowly popping up in my mind day after day. So I'm doing every day what I was supposed to do in a single stage... and every day is getting better because i feel a better control of the things and I feel more comfortable with the system.
                      I mean, is not just taking a Todo list an processing it with GTD ...I'm basically starting from scratch ...
                      That's all
                      Thanks to everybody
                      A.

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                      • #12
                        Thus the power of Someday/Maybe, wherein you can consciously place projects into the future. Our brains are incredibly poor at doing that, but putting it on a list leads to sweet mental freedom.

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                        • #13
                          This is a common question, and something I thought about when I first started pushing on Allen's work. The big push works for some people, and there are very good reasons for doing it, as others have mentioned.

                          I'll suggest this:

                          0) Get your supplies, and ensure you have good filing available (swivel distance, etc.)

                          1) Do a brain dump and build up the four key action categories: Projects, Actions, Waiting for, and Calendar. Most people already have a calendar, but they don't quite use it consistent with GTD, so go through it as well. 1-2 hours. Optional: Start your Someday/Maybe file.

                          2) Create clean project folders as you encounter them while working your new system.

                          3) Put all the stuff on your desk into a box, labeled "To Process." This is your top-priority stuff to go through. If you know some of it is "hot," pull those aside in support of 2). Put them in a folder labeled "Temp Action Support." This will be the first place you look for paper you need. It can also put your mind at ease that you're not losing anything important into the box.

                          4) Make a project to go through your paper backlog. The next action should probably be arbitrary chunking, e.g., "process next 20 items in To Process," or "spend 30 minutes processing..."


                          You should also start on your email. Use one of the two options Allen recommends re: folder setup (@Action Support + your list-making system in 1, or @Action + @Waiting for). Do this first, in parallel, or after 0-4 above.


                          I continue to work on a Kaizen approach to adopting GTD, but this is a quick sketch... Hope that helps!

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