Forum

  • If you are new to these Forums, please take a moment to register using the fields above.

Announcement

Announcement Module
Collapse
No announcement yet.

Is it really possible to separate GTD phases?

Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse
X
Conversation Detail Module
Collapse
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Is it really possible to separate GTD phases?

    David says we need to separate the phases of GTD: collect, process, organyze and review. But is it really possible? For example, you got a note from your boss. How can you just put into inbox for later processing without looking into it? Maybe that's an urgent task you need to do today or now? Or you got a call from your friend who told you to meet with him in the evening. You have to process that input on the fly and you can't just make a note and put into your inbox for later processing that could happen only i.e. next morning.

    Of course, it's great to separate phases but is it really possible?

  • #2
    Emergency scanning vs processing

    Originally posted by Borisoff View Post
    David says we need to separate the phases of GTD: collect, process, organyze and review. But is it really possible? For example, you got a note from your boss. How can you just put into inbox for later processing without looking into it? Maybe that's an urgent task you need to do today or now? Or you got a call from your friend who told you to meet with him in the evening. You have to process that input on the fly and you can't just make a note and put into your inbox for later processing that could happen only i.e. next morning.

    Of course, it's great to separate phases but is it really possible?
    David distinguishes between emergency scanning and processing in the book. Depending upon the priority of the item that has your attention, you may decide to put everything away and jump on it, and go through all five phases without even bothering to draw a line between phases. But that's emergency. If the item is not *that* important, it can rest in your inbox waiting for the next processing turn without distracting you from what you are doing right now. And for most of us, only a minority of items are such priority items; YMMV.

    In your second example, you may decide to go through three phases at once: collect (you received the call), process (decided that it is actionable and you need to meet your friend), and organize (this evening, so it is time-specific and goes on the calendar). Review (perhaps optional in this case) and 'Do' are separate in this case. (In fact for me the process and organize phases are usually merged together.)

    So I think the key is to separate the phases as far as possible; but it is best to trust your intuition as to when to use emergency scanning as against processing. You may want to listen to a podcast available on this site in which David Allen talks with Merlin Mann regarding Interruptions.

    Further, being able to give in to real emergencies without loosing track of regular work is one of the boons of GTD. One can do so because all the 'bookmarks' are outside one's head. And they will be outside the head if the processing is regular. So regular processing allows one to go for real emergency scanning whenever needed, and avoids emergencies which are caused by unprocessed stuff.

    Comment


    • #3
      Remember that DA also suggests that inboxes should be processed several times per day. Your main inbox should be empty most of the time, and as a result the lag between collecting and processing should be fairly short.

      Short, but not zero. One of the reasons for the collection stage is to minimize interruptions. You can't concentrate if you have to respond to every input as soon as it appears. An inbox lets you put inputs somewhere safe so that you can keep focused on other things.

      The amount of acceptable inbox lag depends on the nature of your work. It might be 30 minutes, it might be several hours. It might be several days. But it's rarely zero, and preserving some time between inbox visits is essential for actually Getting Things Done.

      (If your response time truly is zero for some tasks, say if you're an EMT, then the inbox serves another function, too. It gives you a safe place in which to drop everything when necessary.)

      Katherine

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by kewms View Post
        Short, but not zero. One of the reasons for the collection stage is to minimize interruptions. You can't concentrate if you have to respond to every input as soon as it appears. An inbox lets you put inputs somewhere safe so that you can keep focused on other things. Katherine
        But how can you put possibly very important and urgent task into inbox to process in 30 minutes if that's urgent and important i.e. related to the health issues. Thus you have decide (process) each item when you got it to understand if it can or can not wait. It looks like anyone goes through processing stage right after looking at the stuff for the first time to decide if it can be put into inbox and the second time during planned processing time.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Borisoff View Post
          But how can you put possibly very important and urgent task into inbox to process in 30 minutes if that's urgent and important i.e. related to the health issues. Thus you have decide (process) each item when you got it to understand if it can or can not wait. It looks like anyone goes through processing stage right after looking at the stuff for the first time to decide if it can be put into inbox and the second time during planned processing time.
          You are right. Any input is not absolutely totally meaningless before we consciously process it. We start thinking about it immediately. With GTD, we only need to think till the point where we decide whether we have the luxury of putting this item into inbox. And the effort in this decision is way smaller (and usually does not need conscious efforts) than the full processing that GTD talks about. Reducing the tension between the attention that the new input requires and the risk of discontinuing and breaking link with what we are doing currently is one of the things GTD attempts. We have a choice of postponing processing and finding out the full potential meaning of an input after we take the priority decision.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Borisoff View Post
            But how can you put possibly very important and urgent task into inbox to process in 30 minutes if that's urgent and important i.e. related to the health issues. Thus you have decide (process) each item when you got it to understand if it can or can not wait. It looks like anyone goes through processing stage right after looking at the stuff for the first time to decide if it can be put into inbox and the second time during planned processing time.
            In most situations, extremely urgent items will be both rare and obvious. So you glance at the item, decide whether it needs instant attention, and either throw it in the inbox or handle it immediately. Though you could call this "processing," remember that GTD processing involves deciding whether the item is actionable, identifying the project (if any), determining the next action, etc. Screening out urgent items is more like triage, with a binary act now/ignore decision.

            Katherine

            Comment


            • #7
              I imagine the following:

              Employee runs into my office, tells me there is a fire in the basement.
              I write this on a scrap of paper and throw it into my inbox.

              Later that same day . . .

              I am ready to process my inbox, but . . . it's a twisted pile of melted plastic.

              Comment


              • #8
                I think we're splitting hairs here.

                It's certainly true that SOME things will need to be immediately acted upon. So, go ahead.

                GTD is not a set of perfect rules. It's not a crystalline structure that, if applied exactly and in all cases, will always result in the best possible outcome. (I realize I'm constructing a strawman.)

                It is important to separate the phases, to recognize that an incoming item does not have to be immediately acted upon and can go into an inbox. Separating the phases is an important general habit to be in.

                Exercise is also important. Do you infer that you must exercise all the time?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Use fireproof inbox.

                  Originally posted by moises View Post
                  I imagine the following:

                  Employee runs into my office, tells me there is a fire in the basement.
                  I write this on a scrap of paper and throw it into my inbox.

                  Later that same day . . .

                  I am ready to process my inbox, but . . . it's a twisted pile of melted plastic.
                  Use fireproof inbox.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Kelly Forrister Blog Post

                    A recent post by Kelly addresses this very issue: http://www.davidco.com/blogs/kelly/a...ing_proac.html

                    John

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      You may find helpful this thread:

                      Hard Edges: Processing and Organizing
                      http://www.davidco.com/forum/showpos...85&postcount=9

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I think the separation of the Five Stages of Workflow doesn't necessarily mean that you have to batch everything. I absolutely agree with the post about having a separate Collection phase to help stop the constant interruptions, and I also agree with the concern about missing truly urgent things.

                        I think the intent is to approach each phase with the correct frame of mind, no matter if you do them immediately back-to-back. When you are collecting, you are just supposed to be creatively free-ranging, gathering any and all input or thoughts without judgment. You can then switch to Executive Processing mode, and really think about what you have to do about what you just collected. If you have to do something, and you can't do it in 2 minutes right now, then you can immediately think about the right place to keep that reminder (Organize).

                        It is unrealistic to expect the world to divide up into neat phases, but I think that with an understanding of the purpose and approach for the phases, you can do them in the moment, still keep them separate, and stay on top of your game.

                        Comment

                        Working...
                        X