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  • Do You Write Your Thoughts Out? Re: Work & Personal?

    David Allen mentions in his new book that he writes thoughts out. The "Cognitive Distribution" from the array of thoughts passing by in the mind to writing them out helps us as humans to actually GTD.

    It was interesting that I heard of this tip before reading DA's new book Making It All Work and when I heard him mention it I was like, "Ahh!!!"

    Well he mentioned something I heard also in passing. That for his personal life and things he needs/wants to do in regards to say Family, Friends, Etc...he writes using a pen and paper. He mentions he's gone as far as to carry around a personal leather bound journal...but as for the work related stuff he says typing it out in a word processor in the beginning of the day is enough for him.

    So here I am wondering if you do this at all to any degree?

    Personally I've found writing thoughts out and what I plan to accomplish for the day helps out big time...but don't do it everyday. Though i'd like to.

    I'm running on a Mac, using MacJournal in attempts to write out thoughts, both work and personal but truth be told I hardly touch the application. I do however notice if I'm bored in class or have time to kill at a Starbucks i'll grab the nearest pen and paper and just write away. Admittedly I enjoy typing more so than writing by hand as its quicker but pen and paper seem to have a more permanent effect when it comes down to having a productive day.

    Finally I'm wondering if you keep your writings. See, if one day you're in front of your desk and decide to write out thoughts and just things on your mind...and hopefully it gets done and goes as planned....what need do you have for that piece of paper even just a week later? For personal writings i'd understand, though personally mainly only if it was in a journal or notebook and not just a torn random sheet of paper...

    ...but rather than me ranting, i'm seriously curious about others thoughts on all this.

  • #2
    I'm a writer. Even if I'm not actively writing stuff down, I feel lost if I don't have pen and paper handy. And it needs to be pen and paper -- electronic notes just aren't the same, I think because any program imposes its own structure.

    Do I keep it? Depends on what it is. Reminder lists and the like get tossed after (GTD-standard) processing. Daily planning goes in a paper planner, and I purge the pages about once a year. Brainstorming and similar pages get filed with the relevant project and tossed during file purges. Journal-style notes are kept essentially forever, even though I rarely look at them.

    Katherine

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    • #3
      Originally posted by HappyDude View Post
      i'm seriously curious about others thoughts on all this.
      I keep detailed records of what I did in my calendar, initially paper, then various computer programs and now in iCal. I print those out each month. I now am keeping those records as archives, and in fact plan to save them as PDF's as well as paper backups. I have them from 1989 on in full form and abbreviated form from earlier years.

      I write in a personal journal, irregularly, and have done so for nearly 50 years. Those I keep forever. They are mostly thoughts and feelings and sometimes the mundane. My frequency is related to season, I write more in winter and less in summer. Probably because I am so busy in summer.

      I also write in scrapbooks, (called journaling in the SB parlance) and have them detailing life, what happened, how I felt, what we are doing on the farm, major construction projects, the stories behind the pictures etc since 2000. I am going back and doing past years as well.

      And I have a backlog of file boxes full of various writings of my mothers who also kept all sorts of scraps of paper and notes. Many are related to farm projects that I inherited as well as the farm and some are slowly being finished. If she had done GTD they would have been part of her reference filing system and things might be moving much faster now. As it is I tend to collate them into reference filing and project folders now.

      I tend to keep most anything that looks even remotely useful, interesting, odd or fun. Some stuff that I thought was irrelevant 10 or 15 years ago has proved itself useful now so I'd rather keep than toss.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by kewms View Post
        I'm a writer. Even if I'm not actively writing stuff down, I feel lost if I don't have pen and paper handy. And it needs to be pen and paper -- electronic notes just aren't the same, I think because any program imposes its own structure.

        Do I keep it? Depends on what it is. Reminder lists and the like get tossed after (GTD-standard) processing. Daily planning goes in a paper planner, and I purge the pages about once a year. Brainstorming and similar pages get filed with the relevant project and tossed during file purges. Journal-style notes are kept essentially forever, even though I rarely look at them.

        Katherine
        I'm taking what you described here to heart.

        Why keep lying to myself? I hardly ever write in MacJournal and I feel like I actually took a grasp at my thoughts and motivations by writing things out with pen & paper. I always write out thoughts in class and many times whenever i'm sitting at a desk. I always have a Pilot g2 #7 pen on me, no matter what size or color... I think i'll continue this trend.

        I also found what you mentioned about keeping notes interesting and the once a year purging. As much as I'd love & want to tell you right now that I would want to continue what I currently do and throw away w/e I wrote any particular morning at night...I have to admit that keep even these little tactical writings weeks later finds a purpose. At night when I go home, I'll find writings I did earlier that day. Some just thoughts, concerns and others actual steps for what I wanted to accomplish that day...well, at night i'll throw them away but there have been a few times when weeks later i'll open up a random notebook and i'll see things I wrote 15-20 days prior and I'm always amazed at the things that got done, how they got done and the things that even weeks later can still be on my plate.

        I'll go ahead and do my best to keep everything I write, though of course i'll need to organize these notes and not just pile them up...but that shouldn't be too tough.

        Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
        I keep detailed records of what I did in my calendar, initially paper, then various computer programs and now in iCal. I print those out each month. I now am keeping those records as archives, and in fact plan to save them as PDF's as well as paper backups. I have them from 1989 on in full form and abbreviated form from earlier years.

        I write in a personal journal, irregularly, and have done so for nearly 50 years. Those I keep forever. They are mostly thoughts and feelings and sometimes the mundane. My frequency is related to season, I write more in winter and less in summer. Probably because I am so busy in summer.

        I also write in scrapbooks, (called journaling in the SB parlance) and have them detailing life, what happened, how I felt, what we are doing on the farm, major construction projects, the stories behind the pictures etc since 2000. I am going back and doing past years as well.

        And I have a backlog of file boxes full of various writings of my mothers who also kept all sorts of scraps of paper and notes. Many are related to farm projects that I inherited as well as the farm and some are slowly being finished. If she had done GTD they would have been part of her reference filing system and things might be moving much faster now. As it is I tend to collate them into reference filing and project folders now.

        I tend to keep most anything that looks even remotely useful, interesting, odd or fun. Some stuff that I thought was irrelevant 10 or 15 years ago has proved itself useful now so I'd rather keep than toss.
        I never really thought about the importance of keeping things for thoughts 10 years down the line, though many may find it excessive, I think its an incredible habit. Especially with the farm you can leave the information specific for other people to view, or future generations. And of course its great to always know you can look back at something in your past; whether it be just for emotional recollection or data specific processing.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by HappyDude View Post
          I never really thought about the importance of keeping things for thoughts 10 years down the line, though many may find it excessive, I think its an incredible habit. Especially with the farm you can leave the information specific for other people to view, or future generations. And of course its great to always know you can look back at something in your past; whether it be just for emotional recollection or data specific processing.
          Part of the value is because projects on a farm may span seasons, years, decades or lifetimes. If you have confidence that the heirs will continue the process you darn well better leave detailed info on what you did. Not so much what worked, that is obvious (the lush pasture, the healthy sheep) but what didn't work (the failed turnips field, the phantom cattle no longer on the farm) and most important the Why. US agriculture is in its infancy with respect to what works over time and the most important task I can do over the course of my lifetime is a clear concise list of what I tried, why it failed and what I'd do differently. That is more important than what worked.

          I'm now 11 years into sorting my mothers' notes and every time I tackle yet another box of her stuff I wish she had known about and practiced GTD. It would make my job so much easier.

          Comment


          • #6
            Sometimes I do write things, depending upon the level of detail and intensity I want to capture.

            Other times, I've found mindmapping is very efficient. It doesn't take up much space, and it can quickly get you to recall the thoughts you had.

            As far as holding onto notes, I used to keep them indefinitely. I don't any more once reading about purging in GTD. If they do serve a purpose I keep them. If not, I'm glad GTD has a Trash category.

            It's particularly interesting when old notes are of a different value system that's been revised due to countless forces, from revising dreams to coming to grips with business and personal realities. I've always loved how people insist we have to be the same person at 42 that we were at 22 (e.g., reference checkers), yet also say we must be into continuous lifelong learning. If you do want to make space for new things, you must let go of old things, including written and mental beliefs.

            Then again, I've seen and heard one of the biggest growing industries is self-storage. You can always warehouse your physical papers there. (Electronic scanning is optional; I've sometimes done that too, thinking technology was always a catalyst -- I've changed, having grown up on computers!)

            Comment


            • #7
              Great thread!!

              I was wondering about this too!

              I have journals from when I was a teenager, and sometimes find myself laughing over what I wrote! The concerns I had then seem so petty and trivial and unimportant now.. Yet I still feel 'the same' person...

              I'm still keeping them all, though not quite sure what to do with them - I guess they're on my someday/maybe list, to someday catalogue, maybe put labels on them and write down what's in them (some contain bits of poetry or short stories or useful stuff.. Maybe some notes from books etc.)
              Partly I wish I had known about GTD earlier and filed according to topic or something, it's still good to get a glimpse into 'my life then' too..

              I have heaps of notes and journals on paper too (for when I didn't have the notebooks, or preferred to just grab paper and go), and have been wondering a bit what to do with them. Some of these got tossed, some kept..
              I thought to put them on my 'someday/later' list and go through at least the more recent and more relevant ones, when I have the time..

              Basically, your journal is an 'inbox' (one of) and I'd like to include it in my weekly review.. (And then slowly work through the backlog too..)

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Layla View Post
                I have heaps of notes and journals on paper too (for when I didn't have the notebooks, or preferred to just grab paper and go), and have been wondering a bit what to do with them. Some of these got tossed, some kept..
                I thought to put them on my 'someday/later' list and go through at least the more recent and more relevant ones, when I have the time..

                Basically, your journal is an 'inbox' (one of) and I'd like to include it in my weekly review.. (And then slowly work through the backlog too..)
                It hit home when you said Your journal is your inbox.

                I've was stuck at home yesterday, unable to tackle some things i've been meaning to because I have incredibly sore arms from working out at the gym. So stuck at home I saw some available actions I could do and first thing was organize everything in my bathroom; took about an hour but now everything I use is actually within arms reach and not hidden under the sink, which makes all the difference when rushing out to University at 7am. I then saw my next action of cleaning out, updating and reorganizing my file system. It was amazing some of the things that were now obsolete in there after 10 months.

                (Follow me on this, i'm circumventing back to the inbox comment.)

                As I was re-organizing I noticed that for many aspects in my life things were randomly titled and then put in alphabetecally into the file system. So taking school for example I would create folders titled:

                1. Photo 100
                2. Anth 202
                3. Forensic Anth 210
                4. Religion Anth 102
                5. Archaeology 120
                6. Poli Sci 201
                etc..

                The problem with this is that though there were appropiately placed in my file system, they were still scattered all over the place.

                Yesterday when organizing I made everything as simple as possible and kept in mind how I have my folders structured and filed on my computer...so now my folders all first begin with "Mount SAC - ..."

                Ex:

                1. Mount Sac - Anth 100
                2. Mount Sac - Anth 102
                3. Mount Sac - Anth 120
                4. Mount Sac - Anth 202
                5. Mount Sac - Anth 210
                6. Mount Sac - Photo 100
                7. Mount Sac - Poli Sci 201
                etc.

                This was done for other topics such as previous jobs i've had structured as "Job - Starbucks" Etc.

                I feel 10lbs. lighter!

                But bringing this back around are the whole notes and random scraps of paper we write on throughout the day to help the day/week move along forward. During my cleaning process last night I noticed many of those random scraps of notes (whatever they may be) I couldn't throw away. Not that they'll have any particular relevance in the future but reference material enough as David Allen says to give me a warm fuzzy feeling inside. A few of those pieces of paper were notes passed back in forth between girls in class; so I filed them as "Flirting - "Girls Name"".

                Ex.
                1. Flirting - Annie
                2. Flirting - Francis
                3. Flirting - Jackie
                4. Flirting - Shanley

                & I'm stuck, cause i'm not completely sure if this would be the best way to file them... I'm currently having the same woes keeping notes I write (again, this problem being that its on random pieces of paper) when I write down my gym routines and thoughts about pre & post workouts. Should I just create a folder for each week and place them in there (just marinating thoughts out loud now..) such as "Gym - 10/12/09" and create a new folder every week???

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by HappyDude View Post
                  & I'm stuck, cause i'm not completely sure if this would be the best way to file them... I'm currently having the same woes keeping notes I write (again, this problem being that its on random pieces of paper) when I write down my gym routines and thoughts about pre & post workouts. Should I just create a folder for each week and place them in there (just marinating thoughts out loud now..) such as "Gym - 10/12/09" and create a new folder every week???
                  If I were a serious gym and exercise tracker, I would probably just start with a folder called gym. Once I found that I needed to break down this folder into weeks/months/quarters/years or disciplines due to serious tracking efforts, I would do so, but not until I found it necessary. It is probably easier to compare daily efforts if you had a series of them in one folder.

                  Side note: I would do the same with Flirting. Start with a general Flirting folder, then move to a more individualized flirting folder once you meet someone who really floats your boat. You'll probably do a lot of flirting in your life and you may hold back if you knew you had a lot of filing to do.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    LOL!!

                    Well, I'd probably put it all in a folder too - Gym one folder, Flirting one folder.. (physical and/or virtual). Depends on how much material you have too.. If it overflows, put it in another folder..

                    You could file it alphabetically within the folder, with dividers or tabs, if there's more stuff and/or you wish it to be more immediately accessible for individual girls..? Or is this purely archive, only to be accessed rarely? (If they are all 'active projects', well you must have an interesting life...? )

                    Basically do what makes more sense to you.. And how often you might need this..

                    An ADD expert said to have 5-7 computer files and then other stuff in sub-folders.. (This makes it easier for me to keep track too)

                    I have an odd dejavu feeling about this.. lol.. Have we discussed filing love-notes elsewhere before?

                    PS Glad I could help! 'Aha'-moments are so cool!!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by sdann View Post
                      If I were a serious gym and exercise tracker, I would probably just start with a folder called gym. Once I found that I needed to break down this folder into weeks/months/quarters/years or disciplines due to serious tracking efforts, I would do so, but not until I found it necessary. It is probably easier to compare daily efforts if you had a series of them in one folder.

                      Side note: I would do the same with Flirting. Start with a general Flirting folder, then move to a more individualized flirting folder once you meet someone who really floats your boat. You'll probably do a lot of flirting in your life and you may hold back if you knew you had a lot of filing to do.
                      I can understand the concern regarding making these topics in one folder rather than many but the truth is I really like to see my progress evolve over time. The thought of making many folders perhaps for easier retrieval makes sense but in my case I thought of making many folders, progressing by date to see my evolution towards say working out at the gym.


                      Originally posted by Layla View Post
                      LOL!!

                      Well, I'd probably put it all in a folder too - Gym one folder, Flirting one folder.. (physical and/or virtual). Depends on how much material you have too.. If it overflows, put it in another folder..

                      You could file it alphabetically within the folder, with dividers or tabs, if there's more stuff and/or you wish it to be more immediately accessible for individual girls..? Or is this purely archive, only to be accessed rarely? (If they are all 'active projects', well you must have an interesting life...? )

                      Basically do what makes more sense to you.. And how often you might need this..

                      An ADD expert said to have 5-7 computer files and then other stuff in sub-folders.. (This makes it easier for me to keep track too)

                      I have an odd dejavu feeling about this.. lol.. Have we discussed filing love-notes elsewhere before?

                      PS Glad I could help! 'Aha'-moments are so cool!!
                      The same case with flirting. These individual folders I currently have aren't just love notes passed in class but also random torn off scraps of paper where I've written notes for myself during the time about the girl...For example, in the "Shanley" folder I have like 2 pages I wrote one day where I just wrote out my thoughts to feel better, since I was incredibly unaware of how to impress this girl. Looking back months later and reading these notes that I wrote so long ago I can see it wasn't really that bad, plus I think about how I overcame the scenario of say, asking her out and where I am now.

                      Truthfully this is all for me as well to see my flirting and interaction with girls and how it's gotten better and/or worse. Ever since doing this, starting implementing this idea at the same time I began getting fully GTD-esque organized less than a year ago I noticed that I began meeting very interesting people/women throughout my days. I'm sure all guys have gone through a phase where the guy'll be single, randomly meet a girl, get with her, be with her and then for w/e reason the relationship will end. Well, since cataloging my endeavors I've noticed that I've come across many women that are just plain boring or bitches. But i've also made a conscious decision to meet both attractive and interesting women. The old me would've put up with a boring girl if she was mildly attractive...but I've really seen an evolution towards my handling of new people I meet.

                      I handled situations differently and bringing this back around to the filing system (lol), the filing method I want is not for me to have super quick access to it, but access to it whenever I feel like reading it a bit and seeing how far i've come along. Truthfully I'm now thinking about revamping the Flirting category again to mention dates rather than names: such as "Flirting - 10/12/09" because it's all really matter of seeing how far i've come along. Not only in say Flirting, but exercising at the Gym, and so forth.

                      Yesterday I found in the file system about 5 pages I first wrote out after having finished reading DA's GTD book and my attempt towards the Horizons of Focus and Weekly Review. Fast forward almost a year later and I now have 4 months under my belt of using OmniFocus on a daily basis on both my Mac and iPod Touch, utilizing my @contexts everywhere I am. I'd just like to be able to look back and see how that process evolved, as I truly believe looking back will essentially help me when I'm stuck trying to move forward.
                      Last edited by HappyDude; 10-11-2009, 04:24 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by QuestorTheElf View Post
                        I've always loved how people insist we have to be the same person at 42 that we were at 22 (e.g., reference checkers), yet also say we must be into continuous lifelong learning. If you do want to make space for new things, you must let go of old things, including written and mental beliefs.
                        As an alternative POV, I would argue that it is possible to just add rather than let go. I am a more well rounded person because I do not "let go" of old things but instead adapt and incorporate those things into the new me. I do not think that decluttering or letting go is necessarily a good thing. It may be but you can also lose a lot of what made you who you are if you deny or delete past experiences. I think the human mind is much more capable of incorporating and holding much more stuff and that is is part of what makes us human, to keep the details of our past experiences. I would much rather keep what I learned than get rid of the old stuff that may actually prove more useful in future than I think it is now.

                        That said, part of the reason I believe that is my own personal experience, where many things become much more valuable with time compared to their relative importance given to them initially.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Write it Down, Make It Happen

                          Just started reading: Write it Down, Make It Happen by Henriette Anne Klauser. Author of Put Your Heart on Paper and Writing on Both Sides of the Brain. Heard about this book on one of the @Context podcasts. BTW: GTD was like coming out of the cave for me and this forum along with the @Context blog are like going to a foreign country and finding people that speak my language.

                          Page 56 or 22% into the book at this point. Don't think I relate to the esoteric angle as much as I do with the scientific method in what I've read so far.

                          I've always been one to write notes from way back. Daytimers, Stephen Covey Planners, Index cards, Moleskine. If I don't write things down I feel like a fruit fly bouncing from one thing to another. Tried GTD w/ paper but it felt too cumbersome, so I moved it all to Outlook & my Palm TX. Now trying to migrate it to Blackberry so I don't have to carry two handhelds.

                          I know a guy that has boxes of "Little Fat Books" of all his exercise workouts from about 20 years back. I have a problem with finishing one Moleskine before I start up a new one. I wrote an App for Palm on exercising that kept all my records in order for me. http://pdamedisoft.com/PalmOS/IronLogic-Trainer which I no longer support.

                          I'll finish the book and report my findings.

                          Pablo

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                          • #14
                            For narrative journaling, I prefer to use a blog, which I keep private (Blogger.com or Wordpress.com are free and offer that possibility). Advantages are shelf space saving (journals can become pretty bulky if you keep them over severeal years, which is may case), and your entries are easily retrievable by date or topic (label in Blogger, category in Wordpress).

                            For physical training I don't see any real difference between keeping chronologically ordered forms detailing your routines in one folder, or distributed in several folders. The last option will just take more space.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Hm, I've had blogs for years, I don't think it's wise to have everything there though, systems can break down etc. Even a private forum can become 'non private' if their 'new updated technology' collapses or something, servers can crash etc..
                              So it's still good to maintain some degree of 'editing' and privacy online.. And keep some important stuff elsewhere..
                              Also not sure if employees of the sites can see all that or not, probably good to read the TOS every now and then... (They may change in time, new companies may take over and change policies, etc. Also, some blogging sites 'purge' old non-active blogs at times..)

                              Pablo, do tell more about 'Write it down, make it happen' (here or elsewhere) - sounds like an interesting book.. I would be interested in any scientific stuff too..

                              Yup, there is a fine line between decluttering and being organized, and keep stuff you like and wish to have and may need..
                              It probably depends on how mobile you are or need to be too..
                              I'm totally happy I kept some of my stuff too, I see some things in my life that seem cyclical, and can sometimes recognize patterns better..

                              Happy Dude, I wonder if you are a PUA or something?!
                              Tracking progress with girls may be a good thing, please try to keep in mind that people are individuals and that saying girls are 'boring or bitches' sounds well, disrespectful?
                              Every girl can be 'boring' (probably meaning you two don't have much in common! Or she might be shy or something, or preoccupied with other things, or just disinterested?) or 'bitch' - probably meaning she is currently upset about things or has not learnt effective better modes of life, de-stressing and/or communication!

                              As you learn better effective modes of communication, you may well find people in general are less 'boring' and more 'interesting' as you know how to keep conversation interesting and relevant etc!

                              I do like your approach of tracking progress with things that are important to you.. And just having a Flirting folder sounds, well, FUN!

                              I have a few Gym folders, with exercises and such, I may start a Gym - Progress folder too! Thanks for the idea!

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