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Help!! Processing

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  • Help!! Processing

    Maybe I am thinking about this all wrong or maybe i am missing something obvious. I have re-read GTD chapter 6 - Processing: Gettin "in" to Empty several times and am still confused.

    Some background - I have moved into a new house and spent the weekend redoing all my files as outlined by GTD. I feel comfortable with my reference system.

    I am now (and have been) going through my in basket and have had a lot of success dealing with the reference material and read/review material.

    I am geting confused with my pending. I have a lot of single sheets of paper from my mind dump which are going directly from my "IN" to my "Pending". Then what.

    I have read the organizing chapter and am still confused as to what to do with my pending. I think I am not comfortable with my next actiion vs. project lists and how to maintain them.

    I am using outlook and i have been adding items to the task list. A lot of them of Next Action Items...some of them are projects.....


  • #2
    The single sheets of paper you created during the mind dump serve the function of getting everything out of your head without your having to decide how and where to put them in your "system."

    Once all of the stuff that was in your head is now on the various pieces of paper in your in-box, you will now "process each one of them." That process will look something like this:
    1. If what is on the piece of paper represents something you can do right now and will take 2 minutes or less, go ahead of and do it now and throw the piece of paper away.
    2. If what is on the paper represents something you can't do now or takes longer than 2 minutes, enter the item in Outlook. (Of course, 2 minutes is relative. If you are able to work on your in-box uninterrupted throughout the day, you may use a 5-minute rule or even 10 minute rule.) If it's a single action, assign it to the correct context category and work it in such a way that as you work from your list you will know exactly what it is you are supposed to do. If the piece of paper represents a project, decide what the successful outcome is and make that an entry in your projects list. Decide on a next action and put that next action in the correct category. Then throw the piece of paper away.

    Either way, when you are done processing, ALL of those pieces of paper will be in the trash can. Everything is now either done in 2-minutes or less or it's on the list. The list has been compared to a "dashboard" where you can see all of your stuff at once and makes decisions throughout the day.

    So what winds up in pending? For me, it's paperwork that I am going to need later in the day. Let's say I have some documents gathered for a meeting I am going to have later with someone. Those go in pending. Or, I have a lengthy piece of paperwok I am working through. I will have a task in Outlook telling me to work on the report, and the physical paper is housed in pending until I get ready to work on it. (If it's paperwork and I'm NOT going to work on it today, it goes in the tickler file for the appropriate day.

    Hope this helps,


    • #3
      Action Support

      One of my stack baskets is used for “Action Support” items. This area categorizes action pieces to simplify access and to control paperwork in progress. This represents a "holding" station for the information on NEXT ACTIONS that comes in paper form.

      During the day, I approach tasks in an orderly one-by-one fashion; then, the reality may include lots of surprise input, interruptions, additional paperwork, mail, etc., showing up to disrupt these “pre-defined” actions. If all the paperwork has no good place to go once it’s been processed/evaluated, I am prone to stack it somewhere. The “Action Support” basket provides an effective way to manage my information and next actions; and, this gives me the ability to shift focus and regroup rapidly with control. I need to minimize loose pieces of paper which I haven't psychologically put "in their place"; and having the next action in my system (with a note to trigger the action support) makes it easy to maximize focus and energy.

      Again, I stress the importance of having all pieces functional and "alive" in a closed system. If there is a "leak" anywhere, every part of the system loses some effectiveness and becomes more trouble in relation to the value that piece creates.

      The key to effective management of the ACTION SUPPORT area is regular review of everything in it. One useful approach is to review all of the pending papers at the beginning of a day, and to pull out those items which could be handled that day. In addition, I review this each week, during my Weekly Review.