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Creating a follow up for a small personal item?

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  • Creating a follow up for a small personal item?

    Hello All:

    Happy New Year !!

    I absolutely love GTD conceptually. Executing it is a different story. I am struggling a little.

    There always seems to be an item that I am processing that takes me more than 2 minutes to decide on how I want to enter it into my GTD system. This creates a bit of heartache for me. I want GTD to work. However, when the system I have created is so complex that I can't decide how to get an item into it I get really really frustrated. I guess that is what this Posting Board is all about.

    I was in the office processing a ton of paper when I came across a letter from a friend. I want to respond to the letter in a reasonable amount of time and during some free "personal" time. I don't want to throw it into my paper follow up system at the office. I really have not duplicated my GTD system at home.

    So, do I create a duplicate GTD system at home? Do I throw this letter into my reference file system at the office and enter a task to write a response letter to my friend in my Palm/Outlook under N/A @home(seems cumbersome). Or, do I carry the letter in my briefcase so I run across it when I am at home processing my briefcase stuff (entails doing it when I come across it since I don't have a duplicate GTD system at home)?

    What do you think?

    Thanks in advance,


  • #2
    Hello Chris,

    if I were you I'd take the letter home in the briefcase and answer the letter asap.

    Before you consider creating a duplicate GTD system at home maybe you should organize your briefcase.

    DA recommends five folders for the briefcase:

    IN - The portable in-basket for misc. receipts, scraps of paper, notes, mail, etc.

    RETURN TO OFFICE - This holds any already-processed items that just need to be filed or routed in the out-basket when you are back at your work station.

    READ/REVIEW - For the misc. reading material.

    ACTION SUPPORT - This holds the misc. kinds of support papers, e.g. letters to respond to.

    DATA ENTRY - This file is used to hold items for which the only action is to input its info onto the computer.



    • #3

      Don't put in the letter in your reference files. Right now, it's an action item. If you like to save letters as documentation or for sentimental reasons, then after you have responded to the letter, you can file it as reference material.

      Here is what I would do--Set up a tickler file system both at home and work. That way, when stuff shows up at home and needs to be acted on later at home, it doesn't have to ride to the office to be put in a tickler file there only to ride back home when it shows up on that later date.

      Next, I would do one of two things:
      1. Pick a date that you want to respond to the letter. (Maybe Saturday, because your schedule is pretty free, etc.) Throw the letter in the tickler file so that it will appear on Saturday. Write nothing on your list. The letter will serve as a physical reminder of the task. Don't take the "two-minute rule" too literally. David even says that it could be a five-minute rule or a thirty-minute rule depending on how much time you have. The main idea is that you want to "get through" all of the paper stuff and not be surprised by something at the bottom of the stack.
      2. If you would rather put the item on the list, pick a day of the month at least a couple of weeks from now and drop the letter in it. Let's say you dropped it in the file for the 24th. On my list, I would write:
      "Write letter to Joe (24)". The "(24)" tells me that there is supporting material in that folder. (That's not really a GtD idea. The book "To, Do, Doing, Done" recommends a set of 26 folders labled A-Z instead of the 1-31 tickler files. Using their system, you would have something on the list like "Write letter to Joe (File J)" to tell you to look in the "J" file for the supporting material. I think what I do gives the advantages of both.

      Hope this helps.


      • #4
        Thanks for the ideas Frank and Rainer !!!

        It looks like both of you (Frank in idea #1) would avoid the process of entering the item to your computer list for follow up. Rather, it seems much more efficient to use the item as the reminder!! That's one of the big things I was looking for.

        I like a combination of both of your ideas. I think what I will go with is a dated tickler file at home combined with the briefcase files!!! Works for me. It is a seemingly simple solution. I should have thought of it !!

        Thanks for taking the time to respond.



        • #5
          Chris -

          I agree with all of the above ! I've been using the "5-Travelling Folders" for a while now....

          My only additional "two cents" that I have added is a 6th folder labelled "Return to Home"

          You also may want to vary the names of the folders a bit - simply so they push better emotional buttons in you. For instance "Action Items" or "Action Support" can sound kind of clinical. Maybe a pun, or twist on that would be "Act-On Items?"

          Stay in touch, and let us know how this all shakes out for you!