What if I keep some support that I don't actually end up using when I complete the action?
I try to pull and review every piece of paper in my paper action support when I do my review to weed out that stuff. Or as is more likely, weed out the support for actions for projects I have put on hold or dropped.
Thanks for the ideas. I think I will try marking my next actions. I just hope I keep up on it. I suppose my weekly review should catch expired support materials too I guess only time will tell. I just implemented the action support folder...
I love the idea of an action support folder and just made one to use here at home. However, when I go back to work, that isn't going to work. I would need a whole filing cabinet for action support, especially if I include the waiting fors. Does anyone actually have a completely separate system and wouldn't this get confusing?
Example: It's Friday afternoon and I'm clearing my inbox to zero. I find four binders that I have to read or review or even scan enough to delegate. These are all >2 minute actions. One binder may be for a new project, so I can add that my projects list and note the NA as Delegate. It will take me more than two minutes to review to determine to whom it should be delegated or if I will take it on myself. Another may be a draft from a staff member and I will need to review it and provide my comments back. This was likely a "Waiting For" so I can cross that off and add "Read/review Report" as the NA (I try to keep my Read/Review file to optional things like magazines so the important stuff doesn't get lost in there.)
I don't want these binders on my desk and I know they can't stay in the inbox. So I put them in my general reference filing system as project support. When I want to do the NA and need them I know where they are. Wouldn't it just confuse matters to create another filing system for this stuff?
That is a reminder to the previous reply's author that these forms are not reference.
Ive been reflecting on this a lot recently. You see I always file all my papers in a single place, and put the reminder in my digital NA system.
Apologies in advance for this rather long explanation.
What I conclude for myself is this - Iv been working since Uni for about 9 years now. When I started about 50% of my input was paper, the rest digital. But for the last 5 or so years, its more like 90%. I get a small number of letters, usually routine things low priority things, and I do mindmaps by hand. But most other things, messages, forms, requests, complaints, projects, project support, etc - they all come digitally.
Historically, say pre-90s, in my job 90% or more work would be paper. That is input, the projects, the project support and the output, would all be on paper.
My conclusion is thus - if I had learnt my trade in an office in the past, I would have had to learn how to organise and break down my paper. One large system wouldnt do, it wouldnt give enough fine grained control. One large system containing projects, project support, actions, reference etc. would be a mess. Hence I would probably have learnt those skills, and would have been happy to keep using them. Tickler files, pending files, pulling out your project supports at the beginning of the week and having them to hand, all that stuff.
Fast forward to today, and even if I was now working with much more digital stuff, I would still have those skills, and would be comfortable with having more than one place for my project support, having differentiated areas for pending, support, reference, etc.
I never learnt that though. At school I always did my reports on computers, same at Uni, and same at work. For me, paper just gets in the way, its something I'm not comfortable with. More than that its something I cant learn to use properly, because I just don't get enough of it.
The reverse is true for digital though. I can have very complex arrangements of digital data that I find completely effortless to review, its something Iv always been immersed in and find very natural.
if you think about it, for something to take time there are two parts - the thinking and the doing. Having a separate location for pending files and project support and reference may be quicker in terms of doing - but if its longer in the thinking then it isnt quicker. For knowledge workers, the thinking is the hardest part.
Far quicker for me is to have one place that I keep everything in, then all my reminders go in one place. The reminder for the health papers goes on my next action list, the papers themselves get tucked away in one place until theyre ready to be completed.
Besides if I want to keep a copy, which oftentimes I do, i have to make the file at some point anyway.
I also don't want to paint this as an old vs new thing. My fiance for example is an illustrator, and is far more comfortable with paper than digital. Due to her training and her interests she's gotten used to using paper and hence has the skill to manage it without having to think. So all her gtd stuff is paper driven. there could be a million reasons why you prefer paper to digital and how you learnt the skill of managing it - your preference is as valid as anyones.
Granted, I could spend the time focussing on creating and using a more complex paper system than I have, but frankly the benefit would be minimal for me personally since so little of my work is paper, and if the need isnt driven by work but a kind of academic interest in having a complex paper system, then it wont stick anyway. The rainy-saturday-afternoon geek thing.
Be clear this isnt about not being able to process paper. It gets collected, processed, organised, reviewed and done like anything else. Its just the organisation step is kept as minimal as possible.
I can see the appeal of having all filed papers in one location. For example: you review other file labels more often, so you may purge old files more regularly, and even if you don't know where something is you will still know where it is.
For a while, I tried to organize my photos with a piece of software. It promised to search by faces and let me assign names and then assign tags to each event, which could then be cross-referenced, and all sorts of things. It turned out to be so complex that the upkeep would never have paid itself back. While some people would need that type of setup, I didn't... the rare times that I would spend 15 minutes looking for one photo were offset by the dozens of hours not updating tags, etc. Now I have them stored very simply, which takes almost no time at all.
It's interesting to me that you talked about this now, as I have been restructuring my digital files, and am tempted to lump Project and Reference together into one large folder. Among the reasons is that information that is Project Support one week may become Reference the next week, and moving things around gets complicated to maintain.
One of the primary elements of GTD is to keep something as simple as possible, but no simpler.
Originally, I was reminding the previous poster that these were not just Reference forms, but actionable. Orthodox GTD suggests not mixing actionable and non-actionable. However, if it's under control and you know where to find what you need, that is the test.