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Disconnects between book and real life

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  • Disconnects between book and real life

    Hi,

    I've read the book twice now, having fallen off the wagon back in 07. However, there are at least two big things that I can't quite get from the book when it comes to actually applying this stuff to real life.
    1. Where's the connection between projects and next actions outside of the weekly review?

      In other words, I've processed my inbox, found a project, planned out the steps, and committed those to my project list and support materials respectively. If my project is simple and sequential, then only the next physical step goes on my next actions list, right? So it's monday morning, I'm ambitious, and I've completed that action. What now? I go back to the project plan and add a new action to the list? Doesn't that kind of step all over the whole mentally-separate review process idea? I'm essentially reviewing, at least partially, at 10AM on Monday. Is this the idea, or will this generate some mental friction or laxness with the weekly review?
    2. It's 3pm on Wednesday. Some new "thing" that needs to be dealt with eventually comes in. This situation is often implied in the book, but I don't recall ever seeing a suggestion on what to actually do here. Toss it in the inbox for later processing? For that matter, when does inbox processing take place? Again, it seems to be reserved in the book for weekly review. But what if the thing that comes in is time-sensitive for Thursday, but I don't know that because I've tossed it into "in" for review on Friday?

    Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    Originally posted by fadecomic View Post
    1. Where's the connection between projects and next actions [i]outside of the weekly review
    ?

    In other words, I've processed my inbox, found a project, planned out the steps, and committed those to my project list and support materials respectively. If my project is simple and sequential, then only the next physical step goes on my next actions list, right? So it's monday morning, I'm ambitious, and I've completed that action. What now? I go back to the project plan and add a new action to the list? Doesn't that kind of step all over the whole mentally-separate review process idea? I'm essentially reviewing, at least partially, at 10AM on Monday. Is this the idea, or will this generate some mental friction or laxness with the weekly review?
    Think of your next actions as bookmarks--the very next thing you'd have to do to kickstart progress on a particular project. Upon completion of an action, you can decide the next action and either do it immediately, or defer it if you want to move to something else. In the latter case, put it on an action list (if the action is self-evident), or toss a note into your inbox if the next action is not immediately evident to you.

    Often times when you're in the warzone you might be rapidly switching contexts and forget or not get a chance to define a next action. The weekly review acts as a safety net by providing the chance to make that decision and define the next action. That's why the review is so important. If you don't do it, you run the risk of next actions not getting defined and your projects stagnate.

    Originally posted by fadecomic View Post
    [*]It's 3pm on Wednesday. Some new "thing" that needs to be dealt with eventually comes in. This situation is often implied in the book, but I don't recall ever seeing a suggestion on what to actually do here. Toss it in the inbox for later processing? For that matter, when does inbox processing take place? Again, it seems to be reserved in the book for weekly review. But what if the thing that comes in is time-sensitive for Thursday, but I don't know that because I've tossed it into "in" for review on Friday?[/LIST]
    You have more options for choosing work than what you have defined on your lists. Remember that you have three options for choosing how to spend your time:
    1. Doing defined work
    2. Doing work as it shows up
    3. Defining your work

    What you've described is work that needs to be done as it shows up. Put your lists away and do the critical thing that just showed up. When it's done, return to your lists and follow your intuitive hunches about what to do next.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by fadecomic View Post
      1. Where's the connection between projects and next actions outside of the weekly review?

        In other words, I've processed my inbox, found a project, planned out the steps, and committed those to my project list and support materials respectively. If my project is simple and sequential, then only the next physical step goes on my next actions list, right? So it's monday morning, I'm ambitious, and I've completed that action. What now? I go back to the project plan and add a new action to the list? Doesn't that kind of step all over the whole mentally-separate review process idea? I'm essentially reviewing, at least partially, at 10AM on Monday. Is this the idea, or will this generate some mental friction or laxness with the weekly review?
      You have 2 choices here:
      1. continue delving further into your project. Like Ello says, the NA mainly serves as a bookmark for a project. Once finished with working on the project, however far you wanted or needed to, write down the physical next action.

      2. just run down your NA list, doing one task at a time. Once I'm done with the task, I prefer recording right then and there the NA for that particular project.

      You get a feel for what NA belongs to what project and vice versa, especially once you regularly do your weekly review. Many softwares associate them for you as well.

      Originally posted by fadecomic View Post
      2.It's 3pm on Wednesday. Some new "thing" that needs to be dealt with eventually comes in. This situation is often implied in the book, but I don't recall ever seeing a suggestion on what to actually do here. Toss it in the inbox for later processing? For that matter, when does inbox processing take place? Again, it seems to be reserved in the book for weekly review. But what if the thing that comes in is time-sensitive for Thursday, but I don't know that because I've tossed it into "in" for review on Friday?
      If you toss it into your in-box, you don't have to wait until the weekly review to process it. In fact, it is probably best if you process and empty your inbox several times a week, more often if your stuff is frequently time-sensitive. I aim for empty every 1 to 2 days. If something is due within a few days, it is probably best to create a project and/or NA right away.

      Comment


      • #4
        I think question 1 has been sufficiently answered so only about question 2:
        GTD prescribes that you should clear your inbox every 24 to 48 hours. 24 is what you aim for, but 48 is acceptable because 24 is not always possible. You should really avoid going over 48 hours before you clear your inbox.

        If you get the item and you think it may entail something that needs to be done within the next few days (or even by tommorow) it's best to look at it right away and determine by when something needs to be done. Don't bother with unnecessary details, just find out what the deadline is and if it's really closeby (less than 72 hours) If deadline is close-by then you process the information right there and determine next action. Then add the action to your NA list / schedule on your calendar or just do it right there and then (that's your choice)

        The inbox is not a place where you throw everything you get. It's the place where you throw everything that you don't want or can handle right now. You can still process stuff right away if it's unrgent. The inbox is for when you think in your office on wednesday "oh yeah, I should do something about that broken chair in my house". that's something you don't want to forget, but neither something you want to be thinking about, right there and then. so you toss it inyour inbox

        Comment


        • #5
          Great answers so far so the the only thing that I'll add is the book's several references to renegotiating with yourself and others. One of the great strengths of the system - and especially the weekly review - is that you know or will know all of the things that you CAN'T do when something that you MUST do show up.

          Prior to GTD I had a lot of trouble trying to figure out what was going to slip when the newest fire or hot priority came up.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by fadecomic View Post
            In other words, I've processed my inbox, found a project, planned out the steps, and committed those to my project list and support materials respectively. If my project is simple and sequential, then only the next physical step goes on my next actions list, right? So it's monday morning, I'm ambitious, and I've completed that action. What now? I go back to the project plan and add a new action to the list? Doesn't that kind of step all over the whole mentally-separate review process idea? I'm essentially reviewing, at least partially, at 10AM on Monday. Is this the idea, or will this generate some mental friction or laxness with the weekly review?
            If the project is simple and sequential, and you have a project plan for it, I would put 'Start working on [project name]' as the next action on the list, assuming I would actually do things listed in the project plan, in the order listed. That same NA would remain on the list until the project is completed, thus in effect I would be formally doing only 1 action even though there are a sequence of them predefined -- hence no step over the mentally-separate ideas. The only subtle issue remaining here is which context list would I put that NA into -- I tried putting it in the context of the first (actual next) action defined, as well as in @Misc context, and both approaches seemed to work fine.

            As a disclaimer, I am still new to GTD in the sense that I have yet to tune my system up to the point I can truly be satisfied with.

            Dusan

            Comment


            • #7
              Previous comments have covered a lot, but I wanted to make two points:

              1) lots of people like to use software that ties projects and next actions together, e.g., the Netcentrics add-in for Outlook, Omnifocus on the Mac, or use some tagging scheme, such as "next action 1 [project a]". Depending very much on your particular situation, you may find this necessary, desirable, workable, or more trouble than it's worth. Right now I don't associate projects with next actions, because even with the very best software currently available, it slows me down.

              2) In the processing podcast you can find on gtdtimes.com, and elsewhere, you will hear DA staff say that most people need at least one hour of processing time most days. Remember the three kinds of work: pre-defined work, work that shows up, and the work of defining your work. Processing your in basket is part of defining your work. Some people need to process several times a day; some don't. Some do it in the morning, some in the evening, some when it gets high enough. And this is just one of multiple inputs we have to juggle on a daily basis: email, conversations, phone calls, snail mail, et cetera.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by mcogilvie View Post
                2) In the processing podcast you can find on gtdtimes.com, and elsewhere, you will hear DA staff say that most people need at least one hour of processing time most days. Remember the three kinds of work: pre-defined work, work that shows up, and the work of defining your work. Processing your in basket is part of defining your work. Some people need to process several times a day; some don't. Some do it in the morning, some in the evening, some when it gets high enough. And this is just one of multiple inputs we have to juggle on a daily basis: email, conversations, phone calls, snail mail, et cetera.
                Over the last couple of weeks (in conjunction with this podcast) I've really improved my separation of collecting and processing.

                At the moment I'm averaging op to two one-hour sessions of processing a day, up a quite a lot 'cos I've just moved house and put in a new collection inbox at home.

                But at work in particular (relating to your 3pm example) I was going through my email inbox or coming out of a meeting, and at that point thinking "oh this is a project, I need to define the outcome, and the next action, and it'll need a plan, and OH I've got to get to that next meeting now so I can't set it all up what do I do now?

                So I had either been doing a bit of processing right there and then (rushing it and mixing processing with collect) or been putting a next action task in a context "@planning / brainstorming"

                What I realised from that podcast was that "@planning / brainstorming" for me meant "needs processing" - I was putting items from emails and meeting notes into what was effectively a "Task Inbox". Because it didn't look like an Inbox, I very rarely got to it and things were slipping.

                Now I've just got a category "! Unprocessed" and I spam it full of ideas and emails and meeting actions very willy-nilly and very quickly through the day - mirroring what I actually do with paper at home. I need to be able to write "Dennis Goals by Monday" or "support review" on an "electronic scrap of paper" and chuck it somewhere to be later processed.

                When I'm processing, that is one of my first inboxes to drive to zero, along with work mail and gmail.

                This is now working great for me, but the main lesson to take away from it is that separating collect - focus on speed with no thought, and processing - focus on thought with less speed is definitely the right way to go!

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