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  • Newbie list question

    Okey dokey. I am new to GTD, and I have a challenge. I have been a list maker forever, and lists generally work quite well for me. However as my business has grown and family life has become more complicated, I find that the 'stuff' is falling off the radar - ergo the reason for GTD.

    Now the problem - I am paperbased, purposefully. So I have lists - TO do, to call, Computer, errands. I have a tab in my book for "Brain dump" - ideas, thoughts, notes, whatever comes to me that later needs to be sorted to the correct place. I have a projects list as well as a list for any 'major' project that is ongoing.

    I cannot keep the various lists straight. I do my weekly review and realize that I have missed things on the lists, missed moving NAs to the appropriate location so that they get done, missed all sorts of things. I feel MORE overwhelmed trying to keep the various items straight than I did before.

    What am I missing here? Thanks.
    Lise

  • #2
    Hi Lise,

    I also prefer paper.

    However, you are talking about moving things and finding things. These really lend themselves to a computer: to cut and paste, to search.

    Perhaps you could do your planning, moving, and finding things for a short while every day on the computer, then print out your lists and work from paper for the remaining 23+ hours?

    Regards,
    Rob

    Comment


    • #3
      First, it's normal to feel overwhelmed when first implementing GTD. Many things probably fell through the cracks of your earlier systems, which weren't airtight enough to let you notice them. So you didn't know what you were missing.

      For how long have you been doing GTD? This may just be a matter of your brain needing time to adjust to the new system. This is a new skill; your mind won't get it completely straight in two weeks.

      That said, some folks do find it helpful to perform a mini-review at the beginning of each day. This may be a useful interim solution for you, until your mind is used to updating each list.

      Does that help?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Lise46 View Post
        I cannot keep the various lists straight. I do my weekly review and realize that I have missed things on the lists, missed moving NAs to the appropriate location so that they get done, missed all sorts of things. I feel MORE overwhelmed trying to keep the various items straight than I did before.
        It took me a while to connect the lists to the projects. Some things that I recommend follow:
        1. Put a reference to the project in the next actions. ex: call tire place re tire rotation
        2. Update your context lists regularly. When I finish an NA or several tasks in a project I will list the next action in the appropriate context list showing me where I need to continue.
        3. Use your calendar and tickler to remind of deadlines, when you should be opening a particular project, doing a particular action, or of something upcoming. Make certain you check your upcoming calendar during the weekly review.
        4. Create a checklist to remind you to do certain things daily. You can even include "check calendar" (I will admit I have put very simple, obvious tasks on my checklist until they become habit.)

        Alternately you can get a software that will link projects with next actions. The one I use (ThinkingRock) tells me when a project does not have a next action.
        Last edited by sdann; 10-16-2008, 02:09 PM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Lise46 View Post
          I cannot keep the various lists straight. I do my weekly review and realize that I have missed things on the lists, missed moving NAs to the appropriate location so that they get done, missed all sorts of things. I feel MORE overwhelmed trying to keep the various items straight than I did before.
          Lise,

          As Brent has noted, this is common at the beginning (or even for experienced practitioners when they have a busy week).

          My advise is stick with it and keep doing the weekly review. It will all begin to settle down soon.

          - Don

          Comment


          • #6
            It's creating a new habit -- to look at the context list while you're in the context & act upon them. Remember your lists should be doable next actions. Sometimes that's why they don't get done, too.

            Comment


            • #7
              Brain Dump is an inbox...

              I see one potential issue that might help--you didn't mention how often you're dealing with the things you write in "brain dump." That, to me, sounds like an inbox, and inboxes should be dealt with daily if not more often. if you're waiting until your weekly review to deal with that list, then it's not surprising at all that things are getting lost.

              Also, it's not 100% necessary to have every project tied to its actions. I've been using GTD for almost 4 years ago and I've never in any way connected projects to their actions. I have one list of projects in the back of my planner (well, two-one for home and one for grad school). Usually if one NA is part of a project and immediately leads to another NA, that fact is totally apparent and if not and I'm wondering if there was a larger project, well, I just flip to the other list and check (this has happened maybe once). So if you're keeping NAs with their projects instead of on context lists, or if you're trying to track them in one place, you could try just having your list of projects with no associated actions and just make sure that all your actions are on their respective lists.

              But perhaps most important is what everyone else has already said--give it time. It takes over 3 years to get a real black belt, so it's no wonder that GTD takes *years* to implement fluidly. Keep at it and what works for you will start to become apparent.

              Comment


              • #8
                I have a paper-based system too.

                A pocket Moleskine that I turned into an agenda in the front & reference lists in the back. (The idea is to get rid of my hundreds of scrap papers & post-its & keep it all in one place.)

                A cahier for my inbox. All daily, random, jumbled things go here.

                Yellow index cards for my contexts, one for each. These live under the elastic in the back of my agenda.

                I like the idea of "collect & distribute" every morning (or night preferably). Get everything out of the inbox & onto a context card (or onto a reference list.)

                I make a yellow sticky for the front of my Moleskine agenda for the Most Important Things that I need to do that day.

                Every week, I'll rewrite my contexts onto new cards, deleting the crossed-off items & re-thinking why I still haven't done certain tasks. Sometimes I'll have to add it to my MIT's just to get it gone (git 'er done, lol). Sometimes I'll cross it off because it's become obvious it's not important enough to do.

                Bottom line, there's not too much writing & moving of items, except on that weekly review day.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Well, some improvements

                  Thanks for all the feedback. It helps to know this isnt a "Lise-specific" problem.

                  I've made some small changes with big results -
                  1. I rebuilt my notebook tabs with Projects, Brain dump, orders, actions and Projects Itemized. In the first tab I list all the projects going on, in the last one, each project gets a page where I can brainstorm and record all the things that are going to need to be done for that project - not always NAs for ME, but things that need to be tracked. So that is helping. I am also emptying Brain Dump every morning.

                  2. Under Actions I added small disposable tabs for each context - Desk, Calls, Errands, Home. This is reminding me to check (I'm VERY visual). I have also been making sure to write down phone numbers in the Calls section so that I can make those calls anytime I have a phone.

                  Thanks for the reassurances and support.....getting there.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Best of luck! Looks like you have a good handle on it.

                    Comment

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