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GTD If/Then Questions/Examples

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  • GTD If/Then Questions/Examples

    I am refining my GTD methods and would like input on a number of scenarios. Rather than list a bunch of them, I thought I'd start with one and move on from there if necessary. David Allen defines work as:

    Collect
    Process
    Do

    So here is a common scenario.

    1. I take a telephone call from a Client. We discuss an entire host of issues and I have a full page of notes on the computer by the time I am done. Some of the notes will end up being entered in our CRM program as a record. Some of them will be converted into tasks. I hang up the phone and I have exactly 60 seconds to do something with these notes before I must quickly move on to another scheduled task. So at this moment what is/do I do with this page of notes?

    A. Did I already "collect" by taking the phone call and notes? Or am I now "collecting" by dragging the notes it into a folder named "inbox" (or something similar) so that it is something "collected and waiting for processing"? And then I process it later when I have time?
    B. It does not seem like I have time to "process it". So it seems to me it is either in the "collect" or "do" stage?
    C. Processing seems to me to often be a task in and of itself. So do I create a task named "process client meeting notes?" in which case the notes are now actually at the "do" state?

    Thanks and I much appreciate everyone's input.

  • #2
    1. Your notes go into an in box recognized as such by you, which you process regularly (at least daily in most circumstances). Then you are entitled to say that you have (A) collected it. Because you have collected but not processed, guess where you are with your notes: processing (B). The answer to (C) is: probably not. Your in boxes will accumulate stuff, and you will take the time (on the order of an hour a day for many people) to process. If an item is urgent or very large, then you may choose to process that item by itself, e.g., President Obama has offered you a government post, and you have 24 hours to accept or not. Once your notes are processed, they might be filed or thrown away. You don't do notes, you do next actions. Hope this helps.

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    • #3
      Do you not have access to the CRM program? I would enter the notes directly into the CRM while you are on the phone, and then self-assign a task to "Identify Next Actions" with a due date of tomorrow.

      This is if you truly only have 60 seconds. The ideal scenario would give you 2-3 minutes post-call to review the notes and identify all of the next steps, and then add those tasks to your regular system.

      If you are a salesperson with an auto-call system or similar workflow so you really can't spend more than 60 seconds after the call before the next one, I encourage you to discuss this with your manager. It's much faster to process the notes into tasks while the conversation is fresh on your mind, and that leads to better productivity overall. I've consulted with a number of call center/sales environments and there is measurable improvement when each person can take up to three minutes after a call to clean up the notes and identify tasks.

      Marina

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      • #4
        Originally posted by mcogilvie View Post
        1. Your notes go into an in box recognized as such by you, which you process regularly (at least daily in most circumstances). Then you are entitled to say that you have (A) collected it. Because you have collected but not processed, guess where you are with your notes: processing (B). The answer to (C) is: probably not. Your in boxes will accumulate stuff, and you will take the time (on the order of an hour a day for many people) to process. If an item is urgent or very large, then you may choose to process that item by itself, e.g., President Obama has offered you a government post, and you have 24 hours to accept or not. Once your notes are processed, they might be filed or thrown away. You don't do notes, you do next actions. Hope this helps.
        Thanks. Let me play devils advocate, which if I do a lot in this thread is not because I am discounting peoples opinions, but to help me better understand how different people handle these issues.

        If someone sends me an email, let's say an email that consists of a large body of meeting notes that need to be reviewed and acted on, isn't the GTD rule that if it is going to take more than 2 minutes to deal with that Email, that I am supposed to delegate/defer that email into a task? In fact, on the advanced GTD diagram is shows that processing an item should take between 10-40 seconds.

        So in this instance, once I've created those discussion notes and I've thrown them into my inbox, it seems to me they are no different than that email. And the moment I process them and realize it's going to take a lot more than 10-40 seconds to do so, isn't the next step to simply make out a task that says "process client notes"? Because reading through and processing the types of notes I am talking about is not going to take 10-40 seconds, it's more likely going to take 10-40 minutes.
        Last edited by David_H; 01-18-2009, 09:37 PM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by David_H View Post
          I hang up the phone and I have exactly 60 seconds to do something with these notes before I must quickly move on to another scheduled task. So at this moment what is/do I do with this page of notes?
          Throw them in your inbox. Now you have 59 more seconds to do something else

          Later, when you PROCESS your inbox, you can parse the tasks, CRM items etc. into your system.

          You don't need a task called "process notes from XYZ phone call" (having the inbox takes are of that), but you might want to have a recurring daily task call "process inbox to zero".

          - Don

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          • #6
            On the other hand... FIRE ALARM!

            Originally posted by David_H View Post
            If someone sends me an email, let's say an email that consists of a large body of meeting notes that need to be reviewed and acted on, isn't the GTD rule that if it is going to take more than 2 minutes to deal with that Email, that I am supposed to delegate/defer that email into a task? In fact, on the advanced GTD diagram is shows that processing an item should take between 10-40 seconds.
            On the other hand if the e-mail contains the following message:

            "FIRE ALARM!"

            will you calculate the time needed for evacuation and then decide what to do - according to the result of this calculation (if it takes more than 2 minutes you will defer the action? )?

            My point is - your action depends on the e-mail contents - GTD rules should be used as hints only.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by David_H View Post
              If someone sends me an email, let's say an email that consists of a large body of meeting notes that need to be reviewed and acted on, isn't the GTD rule that if it is going to take more than 2 minutes to deal with that Email, that I am supposed to delegate/defer that email into a task? In fact, on the advanced GTD diagram is shows that processing an item should take between 10-40 seconds.

              So in this instance, once I've created those discussion notes and I've thrown them into my inbox, it seems to me they are no different than that email. And the moment I process them and realize it's going to take a lot more than 10-40 seconds to do so, isn't the next step to simply make out a task that says "process client notes"? Because reading through and processing the types of notes I am talking about is not going to take 10-40 seconds, it's more likely going to take 10-40 minutes.
              Let me begin by saying that if you have meeting notes that take 40 minutes to process, then either a) you are recording the minutes, b) you have really long meetings, or c) your meetings are a lot more productive than the ones I'm in. Let's suppose you have a meeting about a project, and you have a lot of action items from it. If you have the time to do so, it's perfectly ok to put your notes in a project folder, and put a next action to process them on a list. But you must do both! If you start putting potential action items into reference files without the habit of writing down a next action to review those items, you will sooner rather than later let some things slip by. You could also schedule time to review those notes on your calendar, perhaps with others. However, when things are busy, the inbox is the safest way to go.

              p.s. I think the Advanced Workflow Diagram was originally contributed by someone outside Davidco. As with all of GTD, it's not sacred, and Your Mileage May Vary.

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              • #8
                Thanks guys (and gals ). To clarify, my mention of the 10-40- second rule was merely meant to be illustrative, trust me, I'll modify anything and everything to meet my needs.

                mcogilvie, I think you summed up my issues well. I often work on very large projects. I don't have lots of meetings for meetings sake, but when I do have project meetings or calls, it's not unusual that at the end of the call I have a large list items that need to be addressed/processed. And it seems to me that when the processing is going to take a fair amount of time, let's say 15-30 minutes, that that is when I might want to create a next action for it.

                However in the end, as I am looking at this, I honestly don't think it matters that much where I put it ("in" or "do") as long as it's part of the trusted workflow and going to be addressed.

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                • #9
                  David, if I may be forward, it seems to me like you're confusing the GTD "process" step with having fully dispatched with the notes from your call or meeting. Once you've decided that you need to deal with those notes, put the appropriate reminder to do so in your system and put the notes themselves in a place where you can get them easily, then you're done with "process" in the GTD sense. That's the 10-40 second part.

                  Per your 10-40 minute problem of actually wading through the notes, might I also suggest that it would be beneficial to your time in dealing fully with these if you make some distinctions on the front end of your notetaking? If most of your calls generate "things to enter into CRM" and "next actions," can you take notes in such a way that these two things are (mostly) separated from the outset? I'm an academic, so I am entirely unfamiliar with how call centers work, but if your notetaking method is not prescribed by your employer, it might make sense to figure out a way distinguish the different types of data in your notes as it comes so that when you go to review them, it's easier to separate NAs from CRM input from other stuff.

                  However in the end, as I am looking at this, I honestly don't think it matters that much where I put it ("in" or "do") as long as it's part of the trusted workflow and going to be addressed.
                  And of course, that's the point of everything right there.
                  Last edited by jesig; 01-19-2009, 10:01 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    jesig,

                    Thanks for your response. I will respond later but I just want to clarify since you are the second person that has said it that I do not work for a call center and my employer is me, I own a business that manages fairly large projects (large of course is in the eye of the beholder, using time as an example they typically span 1-3 years). I mentioned being on the phone earlier and then having 60 seconds to jump to another meeting and I guess someone concluded from that I work in a call center. If i worked in a call center I would shoot myself and beside I could be wrong, but I think most people who work in a call center have everything sooo structured for them that they do not have to worry about GTD.

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                    • #11
                      Read and Review Actions

                      My rule of thumb for processing long e-mails or pages of notes:

                      If more than two minutes pass while I'm answering the questions in the processing workflow on a particular item, I stop processing it. By default my next action is to read and review the item when I have discretionary time.

                      I find that when I'm processing my inboxes to zero, if I spend more 2-3 minutes on a particular item I lose momentum, get side tracked, or run out of time and have to leave my inbox partially unprocessed (for now).

                      I sometimes print out long e-mails or documents and add them to my "Read & Review" folder in my briefcase. It's easier to make notes on a paper article, and I can take it anywhere (the dentist's office, the lunch room, the mens room, etc).
                      Last edited by ellobogrande; 01-20-2009, 02:17 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ellobogrande View Post
                        I find that when I'm processing my inboxes to zero, I find that if I spend more 2-3 minutes on a particular item I lose momentum, get side tracked, or run out of time and have to leave my inbox partially unprocessed (for now).
                        BINGO! That is me and why I started this thread. I found myself leaving things in my inbox that required too much time to process.

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                        • #13
                          There's nothing wrong with filing an unprocessed email and creating a Next Action to process it.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Brent View Post
                            There's nothing wrong with filing an unprocessed email and creating a Next Action to process it.
                            Are you sure it's not a sin or anything ? I won't go to GTD hell ?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by David_H View Post
                              Are you sure it's not a sin or anything ? I won't go to GTD hell ?
                              Uh. No. That's GTD.

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