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  • Should I use a computer program or pen & paper

    I prefer to use a paper notebook during the day when I am on the road, to list my things to do, because I find it quicker and handier then entering data in a computer program. However when I am at home I prefer using a computer program such as Ecco to enter my To Do lists. However this is not very efficient having the 2 different data gathering systems. I am thinking about going back to using a paper notebook solely. Any suggestions or helpful hints would be highly appreciated on a system to gather data more efficiently.

  • #2
    Try this thread for some tips:
    http://www.gettingthingsdone.com/for...30f972ce70f65e

    HTH,
    Gordon

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Should I use a computer program or pen & paper

      Originally posted by Bill W
      Any suggestions or helpful hints would be highly appreciated on a system to gather data more efficiently.

      There's nothing, in my experience as a coach and a client of this stuff, faster than pen and paper to COLLECT.

      However, from your post, I understand you're trying to get a tool to do the first three phases of workflow at once. In our experience, that's going to slow clients down.

      Best practices? Here they are:

      COLLECT
      Write things down out of your head, in dedicated locations


      PROCESS
      Decide on actions and outcomes when things SHOW up

      ORGANIZE
      Write down your decisions by context; keep sharp edges to 6-8 lists

      REVIEW
      Care and feed the system, review in discretionary time

      DO
      Use all of the above to make great choices moment-to-moment.


      I know that might sound trite; but, we've found that the speed and volume of life is such that it's not possible to "mix phases." Whether your using paper or digital, make it easy. One of my coaches asked me on Friday, "Jason, does your system make you want to get up and go to work in the morning?"

      The underlying issue I face is getting out of system, and into work. I don't want to spend time, energy or focus organizing. So, I have to have something that keeps up with as fast as life moves.

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      • #4
        Thanks Kudzu62 for referring me to the past articles. Very interesting and informative. Thanks also to Jason for his suggestions. Very helpful.

        Bill W

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        • #5
          outcomes

          Jason,

          In the 5 stage flow you described above, what would be the 'outcome'? Taking the example from one of your essays, if one wants to take cooking classes how would the outcome be defined? Will the 'outcome' be a project objective? Or are you referring to just the result of the NA? I know the workflow for deciding NAs and sorting them, and I realize that there will be context based lists for NAs. Will there be a separate place of outcomes or are they implied in the NA description? Thanks.

          Siva

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          • #6
            Jason,
            Thanks very much for your help.
            Could you explain what you mean by:

            ORGANIZE
            Write down your decisions by context; keep sharp edges to 6-8 lists

            Thanks very much.


            Bill W

            Comment


            • #7
              Organize by context...

              Originally posted by Bill W
              ORGANIZE
              Write down your decisions by context; keep sharp edges to 6-8 lists


              Hi Bill,

              Everyone on our staff uses Palm Handhelds and we sync to our computers (8 to the Palm Desktop, with one Outlook user) to manage our actions and projects.

              Through years of coaching thousands of individuals, we have found that the best practice is to organize the actions by the context necessary to take action, not by the project it's about. (So, a phone call action reminder goes on @Calls.)

              If you tried to organize your next actions by the project, every time you were at a phone with discretionary time, you'd have to search through all your Project notes (or piles/folders) to find all the phone calls you could possibly make, and you won't do that.

              And you don't want to spend the time writing them in both places. The Weekly Review is what "connects the dots" together, which is still the manual discipline required to make it all work.

              Yes, you do (at least once a week) need to review your index of open loops and ensure that you have next actions for each one in the appropriate list or folder - Calls, At Computer, Errands, etc.

              I don't keep ANY actions under the Projects (in my Palm as a TO-DO category), I just keep "flat" lists, reviewing the Projects list as often as required (at LEAST once a week) to make sure I have the next actions for each in the appropriate places. That's the only reason to look at the Projects list anyway, since you can't do a project, only the actions about them. Usually, I'm just working off the action lists.

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              • #8
                you should use a computer - in fact, two - Palm/PPC and a real computer

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                • #9
                  Get going

                  My advice is to stop worrying about what may be the best single system and start applying the principles with whatever tools your used to. I've bounced around between different systems, but the basic steps remain the same.

                  For example, I think of the collection step as consisting of multple channels. While it would be great to have one, I've got several. I have a desk calendar, a computer daily calendar, email (messages and documents), the web, paper, journals, my Palm, a legal pad and a carryaround notebook. Each channel has to exist either for my convenience or for others.

                  For example, I can capture to dos on my palm, but I can't take meeting notes on it. When I'm in deep planning mode, I use my pocket notebook to collect thoughts at odd times that I have quiet time to think and plan.

                  As David lays it out in his book, the biggest first step is to get your inbox completely processed. Running through the workflow over the course of a few months will probably show you what works for you and what doesn't work.

                  This board is great place to pick up new ideas.

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                  • #10
                    multiple systems

                    However this is not very efficient having the 2 different data gathering systems. I am thinking about going back to using a paper notebook solely. Any suggestions or helpful hints would be highly appreciated on a system to gather data more efficiently.
                    Bill,

                    I used to think that multiple systems is less efficient. But I learned that the approach you outlined (paper in the day, computer/ecco at home) will probably work better for you and many others. You will use your notebook to gather data effortlessly and while inputting them into your computer in the evening you are consciously reviewing them. You will be in a position to evaluate the true priorities of tasks and filter them because you are entering them twice (once in the notebook, and once in the computer). You are having a mini-review while you do that. Infact, I would suggest that you use a palm or equivalent to sync with outlook/ecco so that you may have your information at your fingertips when needed during the day.

                    Sometimes, slowing down is good. In landscape photography, photographers need to use a tripod to get a good picture. This is a technical neccessity most of the time. But the use of the tripod slows down the photographer. He will need to set his tripod in a stable position, adjust the heights, level the camera etc. However, because he is not in a aim-and-shoot-at-will mode, he will actually think about his shot and arrive at a good picture. His chances of getting a good picture is better because he slowed down a bit.

                    This is very relevant to our discussion because we want to execute all our next actions very efficiently and in the process may not slow down enough to think adequately about the outcomes. The Weekly Review goes a long way in doing that. Your 'PROCESS' (after COLLECT) can also be used in this manner. Just ask - what is a successful outcome? and what is the next action? Sometimes answering these two questions will slow us down for the better.

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                    • #11
                      Computer or paper?

                      For me, it is essential to keep to-do lists simple. I use business card-size note cards. They are a handy size, easy to sort, and easy to throw away.

                      I have tried the Palm Pilot, computer outlines, etc. None of them have helped me.

                      The most difficult part about work is getting organized. Doing the work is easy. We've had plenty of practice at doing our various tasks. We're masters at what we do. Deciding what to do next is the difficult part about work.

                      Arnold Howard

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