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Paper, rewriting NA's, and organizing S/M

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  • Paper, rewriting NA's, and organizing S/M

    I think this is my first post here. I read the book over a year ago and put some of its ideas into practice but never achieved a smooth or complete system.

    I'm on paper with my NA lists. I don't need to take them anywhere, so my "Contexts" are: Client Work, Non-client Business, Waiting, Personal, and S/M. Errands go on a PocketMod in my...pocket.

    Here's my snag #1: I resist rewriting left-over NA's to a new sheet of 5.5x8.5 paper when the page is filled up and most of them are done. I suspect I should put some of them on a S/M list since I'm not doing them (must not be that important). I started to look at software methods and stopped myself since I think they'd be a hassle, a time-suck, and I like being able to just jot something down quick. I kind of like paper for this part of my "system".

    Snag #2: I never have done a weekly review. How's that for an easy target for comments? I think it's mainly because I don't look forward to rewriting a bunch of stuff, and also because I don't have a good way of organizing the myriad items on my S/M list.

    Any ideas or experiences or advice?

  • #2
    If your system keeps you from doing the Weekly Review, that's a danger sign....

    From what you've posted, your most serious leak seems to be the Someday/Maybe list. Do you avoid putting stuff on it because you don't want to admit that these are future items, or because the list is poorly organized and you're afraid they'll be lost?

    For the first group, maybe they aren't future items. Maybe you *can* move these things forward, but you need to break the NAs down into smaller chunks? Or maybe you are resisting things that you feel like you should do, and need to look more closely for the source of that resistance?

    If the problem is a poorly organized S/M list, maybe grouping it into categories would help? Things to do, places to visit, books to read, etc. are common categories. Or maybe you need to sort by time horizon, separating near future projects from long term "wish list" items?

    In my experience, rewriting half-completed lists is pretty trivial, a matter of just a few minutes. Keeping the lists short to begin with helps, too. Still, you might find that nice paper and/or a good pen help you look forward to working with your lists. If you've never done a Weekly Review, the problem might also be that the lists are too hideous to confront in one chunk. If you tackle the problem a little bit at a time you might find that it's less painful than you expected.

    Hope this helps,

    Katherine

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    • #3
      Rewriting Lists

      Have you considering creating your lists in some digital form to avoid having to rewrite all of your actions? You could print a copy and still have the all benefits of paper. Updating the list would be fairly simple, and may take less effort than rewriting.

      I don't do this personally, as I prefer to write out my lists. However, I've used a similar digital-paper system in the past, and found that it was easy to maintain.

      As far as my weekly review is concerned, I do tend to keep one large Someday/Maybe list rather than a bunch of sub-categories. As long as I review the entire list during my weekly review, I don't need to spend the additional time and effort categorizing my someday/maybe items. I really think the only way I can get away with this is because my weekly reviews are consistent.
      Last edited by Stew; 03-07-2008, 01:43 PM.

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      • #4
        Give Yourself a Win

        One challenge of implementing GTD is not giving yourself credit for what you've done right!

        Go to the Free Articles section and download The Weekly Review which lists each step of that process.

        Now the easy part, set aside just 30 minutes for a complete Weekly Review. Budget 10 minutes for each of the three sections.

        Get Clear
        Get Current
        Get Creative

        Spend 10 minutes on each section. If you can’t complete all the steps in the allotted time then stop at 10 minutes and put unfinished items as next actions into your system and move to the next section.

        For example if you know processing e-mail to zero will take 20 minutes then don’t bother doing it during your Review. Add, “Process e-mail in to zero” to your @ Computer list and move on.

        In 30 minutes you’ve done a real Weekly Review including the new items on your next actions lists. Then allocate more time as you gain comfort and confidence in the process.

        I used this idea (thanks to Meg Edwards) to get on the Weekly Review bandwagon of actually doing them. It works!

        Good luck!

        Mark

        Comment


        • #5
          I also use paper next action lists in my day planner and loath to re-write them every time. My solution was to use a highlighter to cross off completed actions, leaving uncompleted ones blank. This way the uncompleted ones really jump out at you and you don't loose them amongst a sea of check marks and crossed off lists. Here is a screen shot:



          Then during my weekly review I get to sniff my highlighter while I scratch stuff off. When a page is completely highlighted on both sides I can remove it. Having one or two lone actions left uncompleted serves as a reminder that they are overdue and need to either be re-thought or completed.

          Comment


          • #6
            Thanks for the great tips

            I have a rough division for time horizon in my S/M lists (thank you, Katherine) which I should revisit and refine. That would help me to move low priority items lingering on my NA lists too long.

            I want my long S/M lists to be organized and editable, so today I fired up OmniOutliner for only the second time, the last one being last fall. It looks fun and simple and ought to work for this.

            I have been using a highlighter to "cross off" done NA's (thank you, pchavez) and I like the way it looks.

            I just finished reading the book "One Small Step Can Change Your Life", so the 30-minute weekly review sounds really good to me as a way to get myself started on doing them regularly (thank you, Mark).

            Once again, thanks for the great ideas.

            Doug

            Comment


            • #7
              Simple word document

              Architennis,

              #1: For my projects list and NAs I use a mixed electronic/paper system. Even though I mention electronic, it is very rudimentary (a Word document). This word document has at the top my projects in a bulleted list, in the order they come in, I do not sort them, except for “sub-projects” (indented bullet). The next section is another bulleted list of my NAs that are also added to the bottom and not sorted (this avoids pushing down those gottas but don’t wantas). I print this list to work of paper. In my weekly review, I simply modify the word document, deleted done action and adding new ones. Very simple and avoids having to re-write remaining NAs.

              #2: The simple system mentioned above should at least remove your inhibition to do a weekly review. I also use Word to make my other lists (S/M, Focus, Reading, etc…).

              Hope this helps,
              Scott STEPHEN
              O&A Coaching
              Efficacité et productivité sans stress
              http://www.oeta.fr

              Comment


              • #8
                Most of the good stuff has already been said, and said better than I can say it (at least at the moment: it's mind-numbingly hot here, and I turn into a zombie in the heat). But I can throw in a comment or two that might help.

                Originally posted by architennis View Post
                Here's my snag #1: I resist rewriting left-over NA's to a new sheet of 5.5x8.5 paper when the page is filled up and most of them are done. I suspect I should put some of them on a S/M list since I'm not doing them (must not be that important). I started to look at software methods and stopped myself since I think they'd be a hassle, a time-suck, and I like being able to just jot something down quick. I kind of like paper for this part of my "system".
                Yes, I like the paper part too: very simple and easy to implement. I don't much like rewriting either, so I've started using index cards, one for each project. I write the project name at the top, and then write the NAs underneath. I date everything, so I know when something's been hanging around too long, and I can easily spread the cards out and shuffle them to collect context groups together, although I spend most of the day in front of a computer and with phone to hand, so I don't need to break up the contexts too much. I also use the Zen Habits trick of picking 3 Big Rocks to focus on each day, so I just pull those cards out of my stack. Then I pick another 3 when I've worked on those as far as I can go, and so on.

                I'd also suggest that you might need to do some hard thinking about your NAs: most of the people I've seen having that problem, including me, have it because the NAs aren't completely defined, so there's a subconscious resistance. Particularly anything to do with writing documents: an NA like "Do first draft of report" is not concrete enough that you can see yourself doing (and completing) it, so you put it off. Instead, use something like "Brain dump in new document for 10 minutes" or "Read through document to correct spelling/grammatical errors". Anything to give you a starting point, because once you've started, you have a much better chance of continuing.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by pchavez View Post
                  I also use paper next action lists in my day planner and loath to re-write them every time. My solution was to use a highlighter to cross off completed actions, leaving uncompleted ones blank. This way the uncompleted ones really jump out at you and you don't loose them amongst a sea of check marks and crossed off lists. Here is a screen shot:



                  Then during my weekly review I get to sniff my highlighter while I scratch stuff off. When a page is completely highlighted on both sides I can remove it. Having one or two lone actions left uncompleted serves as a reminder that they are overdue and need to either be re-thought or completed.
                  You're doing exactly the same thing as me! I'm glad to see it works for someone else.

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