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GTD lite: Which habits to cut?

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  • GTD lite: Which habits to cut?

    Hello, I've found full implementation of GTD far too time-consuming during my busiest times, despite my awareness that its a water-tight system. When processing In to empty isn't possible, David allows for "emergency scanning" of one's In-box. I've also found categorising/tagging notes on my PC a way to avoid or delay unnecessary processing of all but my most urgent stuff during busy times. Writing down everything and then slogging through processing of the piles of notes thus generated isn't always the best use of one's time. Of course it's preferable to implement the system fully, but for times when this isn't practical, or even possible, what would be least damaging shortcuts? Any speed-processing tips?
    Last edited by Deluna; 11-27-2011, 05:36 AM. Reason: Grammar

  • #2
    Originally posted by Deluna View Post
    Writing down everything and then slogging through processing of the piles of notes thus generated isn't always the best use of one's time. .... Any speed-processing tips?
    When I am so overwhelmed that I can't get inboxes fully processed I STILL write absolutely everything down and I try to shorten my processing by putting a lot of the notes into my tickler for when I think I will have more time. Since I do all my capture on paper in a tiny notebook I can easily do this.

    One thing to not skimp on is the weekly review. It's very hard to explain but the busier you are the more it becomes imperative that you take time for a full review on a regular basis. You can aid in the review by sorting your Someday/Maybe into things to do thsis season or this year vs things to do this lifetime and in times of stress don't review hte lifetime ones but don't stop reviewing and don't stop reviewing the someday//maybe items just in case one becomes critical.


    • #3
      Thanks, Oogiem. That idea of putting lots of notes for processing into your Tickler for when you have more time is a useful one, similar to an idea I found on this forum of keeping non-urgent processing somewhere separate for later. I suppose it could be seen as an extension of David Allen's "emergency scanning" idea: the stuff scanned for urgent items, no longer containing anything urgent (but possibly important), can wait until a better time.

      I also have the good habit of writing everything down, I suppose I was just looking for something to cut. It seems a waste of time to process non-urgent trivial thoughts when extremely busy, but I'll take your comment as permission to myself to continue that (with delayed non-urgent processing). Thanks also for the warning re Weekly Reviews; I'll try to keep them up at all times, although hopefully I'll find an abreviated version.


      • #4
        I often during a workday need to collect ideas that need to be processed and executed on that same workday. Since it can be problematic to mix these things with other things coming into my inbox that are not as urgent, I have been playing around with using two inboxes instead of just one. The normal one is run down to zero every 24-48 hours as per standard GTD, the "urgent inbox" is processed at the first possible moment. This, at least so far, gives me the possibility to capture potentially important stuff in an inbox without the need to interrupt what I'm working on at the moment for full processing, while at the same time knowing that I'm still fast-tracking into my system whatever new stuff needs to be fast-tracked.

        For email of course, since I don't have control over how stuff land in my inbox, a regular emergency scan a couple of times per day is still necessary, but with paper I could do this urgent-or-not processing up front so that urgent input doesn't even mix with regular input.

        Physically, my normal inbox is a regular in tray sitting on my desk, with all stuff in it in a nice pile. The "urgent inbox" means sticking stuff to the wall slightly up and to the left side of my field of view when working at my desk, so that I'm not distracted by seeing it while working on other stuff, but also so that I can't ever miss it as soon as I put one thing down to start on the next. If there is more than one thing, they are put next to eachother, so that I do not need to sift through a pile to get at what I need to.

        Still, this is something that I am still only starting to try out... If anyone actually has had a system like this running for a while, I'd be very interested in hearing about how it works out in the long run.

        As for improving effiency in the slightly longer term, if inbox zero every 24 hours is an issue, at least for me I know that being able to shorten the average time that I need to process an item is what would make the the most difference. If there are 50 items in the inbox, spending on average 30 seconds on an item takes 25 minutes; being able to get down to 10 seconds per item on average will shave that down to just over 8 minutes - which should make quite a difference. I expect this to come partly with experience of working with GTD, and partly by being conscious to the process (I do have a small timer at my desk and use it now and then to get more accurate feedback on how I actually make use of my time, since I am aware that I have problems estimating time realistically.)


        • #5
          A few methods I use:

          I attach a yellow sticky with a star on it to the bottom of a page so it sticks out and is visible in a stack of papers, to indicate that it's urgent.

          I have three empty inboxes stored away, and when an emergency arises I whip them out,
          put them on my desk and use them in a predefined way to handle the emergency stuff,
          ignoring my regular inbox meanwhile.

          When sick or planning to travel etc., I sometimes put most of my
          actions into a pile that can wait until after the illness or trip.
          I can go through a list of actions (each of which is on a separate
          sheet of paper) to check whether there's anything urgent in there,
          spending about a second or two on each.


          • #6
            I implemented recently the basic suggestions of Michael Linenberger I found on his blog.

            So now, at a glance I have all I like on the same page. And it's great!