Forum

  • If you are new to these Forums, please take a moment to register using the fields above.

Announcement

Announcement Module
Collapse
No announcement yet.

GTD handling E-mail that contain tasks

Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse
X
Conversation Detail Module
Collapse
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • GTD handling E-mail that contain tasks

    This may be a very basic question, but I can't seem to figure out how to handle this headache!

    I'm a REVA (Real Estate Virtual Assistant) working from home (in my PJ's some days!).

    Some of my work includes contact management for my client. He will forward me an e-mail (which has lots of content) from another realtor and my job is to input that realtor's contact information (which is usually in the signature of the e-mail) into Top Producer (a software program).

    I get about 20 of these FWD e-mails a day! They clutter my inbox (which I'm trying to keep at zero) and stress me out because I have to weed out the content that I need to do my job. I'd love to find an easy way to copy out the information I need and put that into a list of sorts that I can use when I need it.

    I try to only do this type of data entry 2 times a week so the information can be stashed away during the week.

    So would "enter new contacts" be a weekly project, a next action or on a list?? any ideas

  • #2
    It's quite common to have a folder that gathers like actions, such as "Date Entry" and collect them there. Where you want to be careful is if there are other embedded actions in those, or it grows unwieldy as commonly a "To File" pile becomes. If you keep up with it regularly, it's just a recurring task. Not part of your Weekly Review.

    I'd probably just capture an un-timed next action on my Calendar to remind me to do these.

    Weekly Review is really power reviewing and planning time, not doing time.

    Hope that helps!

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: GTD handling E-mail that contains tasks

      Several other ideas for removing the item from your inbox while still being able to easily retrieve it.

      I agree with Kelly that this should be a recurring, calendared task.

      Create a separate e-mail folder for these items so that you can move them from your inbox.

      Or, if you use GMail, create a label for "Pending Contact Info to Enter," and stash them there until you do the data entry.

      Hope this helps.

      Andy
      "Not a natural at GTD"

      Comment


      • #4
        re: handling embedded tasks in emails

        This is a huge pet-peeve of mine: that users can't manipulate email data in a way that gives them the most control. It is still considered a static message you have to read with very little flexibility other than where to file the entire email. This *does not* leave clean edges with respect to email and thus it creates drag on the mind -- even more so when these emails are automated and forwarded and cc'd or bcc'd from others.

        This is one of the major reasons I decided to develop my own file-based approach to getting things done on the Mac. One of the things Mac OS X allows users to do is make a clipping of text by simply selecting the text and dragging it to the desktop (or some folder). Since my system is all based in the file-system of the Mac OS, I just cull my emails for actionable items, select each piece of actionable text, and drag it to my desktop folders to process and review. I can still keep the original email in an archive if I wish (though I usually delete it because I like seeing my inbox emptied and I know I've got this information the way I want it now).

        I think any strategy that gets these important pieces of information out of your email program and into a system you trust to review later is better than a strategy that tries to use the email program as a filing system.

        Not sure what your setup is, but this is what works for me.
        Last edited by Todd V; 07-02-2011, 12:10 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Clipping Hot Key?

          I occasionally get e-mail where there are several separate actions. What I do it clip each individual action using a hot key sequence directly to my GTD list system. I'm using a Mac and Omnifocus and I can clip pieces or entire messages to the OF inbox. There I can process them to their on-going projects.

          An example I have an area of focus for sheep association and within that is a project to process requests. A recent e-mail I got had several actions 1 was a death report. I clipped the sheep death data as one inbox item. Another was an update to a phone number I clipped that update out separately and the final one was a request for information. That too became a separate clipping. Then in Omnifocus I can quickly run through the inbox and assign both project and context to the actions. The sheep death was assigned to update registry SW context @computer windows. The phone number was assigned to update web site context @computer internet and the request for info was assigned to process requests context @inside by myself.

          Not sure of your system but can you set up a hot key sequence to either append the clipping to a text file or clip to a task management system that allows you to set the context and data of a group of things at once?

          I haven't explored clipping and appending the data to a file but I know on the Mac I can use Apple Script to do that if I choose to.

          The goal would be to make it a simple keyboard command to capture the bits of data you really need into one location and then process those updates all at once.

          Comment


          • #6
            email

            If I read right there isnt a task per se in the email, theres just information in there you want to keep, the transferring of the information itself is the task. Personally I would just consider this as processing and do it several times a day. To mark a task to do this is just creating work for the sake of keeping things tidy.

            Ppl get hung up on zero inboxes - the point isnt that it stays at zero, the point is that each time you process it you get to zero. My inbox, physical and virtual, are rarely empty, I have so much work coming my way. But i process it at least twice a day, each time i hit the bottom.

            If i were you I would just leave them there while I got on with my work, then when I was processing the emails I would transfer the information as part of clearing the inbox, then probably archive them afterwards.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by bishblaize View Post
              Ppl get hung up on zero inboxes - the point isnt that it stays at zero, the point is that each time you process it you get to zero. My inbox, physical and virtual, are rarely empty, I have so much work coming my way. But i process it at least twice a day, each time i hit the bottom.
              I love that point, thanks!

              Originally posted by bishblze View Post
              If i were you I would just leave them there while I got on with my work, then when I was processing the emails I would transfer the information as part of clearing the inbox, then probably archive them afterwards.
              Can you describe how you'd process the information? What if it takes longer than two minutes to set up one contact?

              Comment


              • #8
                Can you describe how you'd process the information? What if it takes longer than two minutes to set up one contact?[/QUOTE]

                I'd also love to know how you process.

                What I started doing was I created a "mailbox" called "New Contacts for TP" and I move all those e-mails over automatically using "rules" in Mail. (I'm using a Mac) It seems to be working well for now and it helps to unclutter my inbox.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by donnamarie View Post
                  What I started doing was I created a "mailbox" called "New Contacts for TP" and I move all those e-mails over automatically using "rules" in Mail. (I'm using a Mac) It seems to be working well for now and it helps to unclutter my inbox.
                  Sounds great! I guess basically that "New Contacts" folder is just another thing to "do" ... I assume you consider that part "doing" rather than "processing." Do you have a particular way to remind yourself to "do" that work? I'm really interested, I can imagine a couple ways to handle that (calendar, new next action as soon as you put the first email in after emptying it, etc.).

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    GTD is very useful website to solve any problem.Create a separate e-mail folder for these items so that you can move them from your inbox.This is one of the major reasons I decided to develop my own file-based approach to getting things done on the Mac. One of the things Mac OS X allows users to do is make a clipping of text by simply selecting the text and dragging it to the desktop (or some folder). Since my system is all based in the file system of the Mac OS, I just cull my emails for actionable items, select each piece of actionable text, and drag it to my desktop folders to process.I agree with Kelly that this should be a recurring, calendared task.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ihunter View Post
                      Can you describe how you'd process the information? What if it takes longer than two minutes to set up one contact?
                      Sorry for the delay.

                      As far as the two minute rule goes, bear in mind that two minute rule is an efficiency factor - the idea is that two minutes is how long it takes to put something into your system and take it out again later on. however for me personally there are some things where its a false economy to stack tasks to do later on.

                      As an aside its also worth noting that processing may take much longer than two minutes, its the tasks themselves that should take less than two minutes. If Iv been to a seminar or all day event then processing the stuff I bring back might take 30 minutes.

                      But anyway, RE the tasks, I dont have an exact analogy with your situation, but something similar is the finance tasks that I have. I get bank statements that take about 10 - 15 minutes to input into our account software, I get petty cash requests to process, I get cheques to raise which also needs inputting into the software, etc etc. All of these take more than 2 minutes, and I get one or two a day - however what I found is if i stack them I find a couple of problems.

                      Firstly, if I have to sit and input an hour or two's worth of data into our accounting software im MUCH more likely to make a mistake. And you cant spot the mistake until you reconcile the accounts at the end of each month when it then takes hours to track each error down. bear in mind we can be talking about a missed decimal, a mis-typed key, etc (I have so much respect for ppl that do finance all day).

                      Secondly inputting for an hour or two takes such concentration that if im anything less than 100% I cant be bothered, frankly. Recognising that reality is one of the more advanced things Iv learned thru GTD. That means the task has to take up some of my prized "peak efficiency time" as it were, i.e. the times when Im flying. In reality I found it stacked up and up until it became a whole afternoon's work - huh stacks disguised as Next Actions.

                      So for me personally its almost always preferable to just do the damn thing.

                      now this may not apply to you - if inputting the data is simple or enjoyable, it may be better to add them as tasks. Bear in mind too I spend lots of time at my desk, this may not be for you if youre in and out a lot and have way less time to process. Occasionally I wont have time, so I stick it as an action in my calendar for the next time im in the office, but thats fairly rare.

                      The other thing to consider is whether you can bring down the time it takes to do your task. Iv used client databases before, normally it wouldnt take more than 2 mins if youre copying digital data. You can easily copy and paste 20 fields in 2 minutes, and if its the same lot of fields each time, you could double that the more you do. Of course sometimes searching for existing clients takes forever, or your work computer could be cruddy, or there could be some other reason why not.
                      Last edited by bishblaize; 05-10-2010, 05:32 AM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I use Google Apps for my Email and Manymoon to process actionable tasks

                        I love the GTD philosophy and recently found a solution that has dramatically reduced my inbox headaches.

                        Lets say I get an email that requires action. It might be a task request "Russell can you please do xyz, from a client who I am working with on a project.
                        From within the email window I can click on "Assign Task" and a contextual set of Manymoon task specific fields is displayed within the email (not a popup or new page). I populate the fields with the relevant information and can assign it to an existing project and thats it.

                        All links in the email, Google Docs, recipients everything will be included in the task and updated in my Manymoon account. Any body who is subscribed to that project sees the updates immediately.

                        I have written a blog about this at blog.teamspark.co.nz - I hope its of use to anybody looking for some GTD in email.

                        btw I am not affiliated with Manymoon in any way, I just use it.

                        Comment

                        Working...
                        X