Juggling systems and 'jobs', how to review?

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss the GTD Methodology' started by @Newbie, Apr 21, 2017.

  1. @Newbie

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    Hi all,

    I have been getting into GTD over the last year and a half now. I finally managed to clear up the immense in-bucket i had sitting in my study. I though it was what kept me from doing a weekly review, turns out, it wasn't.
    In GTD terms my life is roughly divided into three jobs, job 1 i perform in an office three days a week, job 2 i perform at home or in meetings on location for 1 day a week and job 3 i call home, which is basically keeping my home life from falling apart.
    I have a seperate GTD system at job 1 (As my employer demands that) job 2 and 3 are in the same system but kinda seperate (i have a next action list job 2, and next actions job 3) I also have 1 inbox that is shared over both systems so i can jot down thoughts about job 3 while at job 1 and vice versa. Now my problem is that this set up appears to need at least 2 or preferably 3 weekly reviews. Especially in job 2, which i am employed for for only 6 hours every week it appears to take up a lot of my time to do this, however, i find that things do appear to be moving to fast to do it every other week. Does anyone have suggestions on how to manage this or make it feel more natural into the workflow?
     
  2. TesTeq

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    Let me understand: 6 hour/week job requires a long Weekly Review?

    If a standard Weekly Review for a 7*16 hour/week job (life) takes 2 hours, a Weekly Review for a 6 hour/week job should take up to 10 minutes. Am I missing something?
     
  3. @Newbie

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    I would say it takes 1-2 hours to empty my inbox (by answering anything that can be done within 5 minutes, adding the rest to project and next action lists) and review what needs to be done this week (Which equals today).Trouble is, i get so much e-mail during the week that in the remaining hours i hardly get done anything else but complete the next actions that stem from that weekly input and do some stuff that will really catch on fire if i don't do it right at that moment. The structural work that i have planned to do seems to be suffering from it as by the time i get around to it i have usually been at work for over six hours.
     
  4. Gardener

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    I wouldn't say that answering email is Weekly Review--I'd say that it's work. It sounds like you're using a "five minute rule" that is causing your review to actually encompass a quite large percentage of your work. GTD recommends a two minute rule rather than a five minute rule, and while of course you can change whatever you like, I'd actually suggest that you not use any "x minute rule", but that you instead do your weekly review without combining it with all this email work.

    However, that doesn't change the fact that your email is taking most of your work time. Can you give any more detail about the nature of the email and how you deal with it?
     
  5. @Newbie

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    I use google inbox for my e-mail, during the week i let all the email flow into the "job 2 folder' which i open on fridays when i actually have time to do the work. when going through email i tend to work basically first in, first out, opening them one by one and then assessing whether it is just information i don't need to do anything with, something i need to work on, but not now (next action or waiting for), or something that can be dealt with by writing a quick response (max 5 minutes). After i have done this, and registered all next actions or new projects that have emerged from it i review my next action lists and assess what i can do with the remainder of the time.

    The nature of the emails varies greatly, it includes newsletters, quick questions from my co-workers spread out over europe and the rest of the world, documents to review, suggestions for a next meeting, questions from the public about my work, requests for speaking engagements etc. etc.
    Perhaps it is usefull to know what my work entails. I am the coordinator (and also the only payed employee in my country) of a peace organisation that works worldwide. My main responsibilities are informing the public of our existence and getting people to join delegations to our projects in conflict area's (this includes giving presentations, redoing our website, social media and more intensive contact with those who are going on delegation.) another responsibility i have is coordinating the fundraising efforts in europe to finance a new project, which is a lot of conferring with fellow european coordinators or volunteers (every country has a different set up in this) and approaching funds in my own country.
     
  6. TesTeq

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    It seems to be a lot of work! IMHO 60 hours/week, not 6 hours/week!
     
  7. @Newbie

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    I don't disagree, unfortunately investments in working for war by far exceed those in working for peace ;)
    All kidding aside, i have knowingly taken up a job that i knew i would spend more hours at than i would be payed for, well because it is my passion. However spending close to all of that time answering emails and not getting round to what i really should be doing in terms of deep work is getting frustrating. I might need to switch to doing deep work the one week, and answer e-mail the other, though it seems unreasonable to have ppl wait up to two weeks, isn't it?
     
  8. TesTeq

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    GTD cannot stretch time available or reduce the number of stuff to do. It can help to eliminate the less important part of our commitments by delegating them, delaying, or deleting.
     
  9. Gardener

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    This seems problematic, because it keeps you from doing any prioritization. A mail that takes five minutes to answer would likely take fifteen seconds, or less, to dump into prioritized folders. then you could work the highest priority folder, and maybe never get around to the lower priority ones.

    Your process, simply by the way it's structured, prioritizes ALL five-minute emails as more important than any project. Are those emails, every single one of them, more important than the presentations, website, social media, fundraising, or other efforts?
     
  10. @Newbie

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    Good point, thank you. And to answer your question, no they are not. follow up question i have is that if i do not answer them immediately, i feel like i should at least open them and jot down the next action (if any)? The reason i stretched the two minute rule a bit is that it seemed to make sense to answer it immediately instead of putting it into my system. Also, i have to admit, i do like working with the clarity of a zero inbox. How do i achieve that feeling without have to answer every single email? Would it make sense to have a project 'inbox zero' and add a next action for each email that needs to be answered?
     
  11. TesTeq

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    Can you ask people who send questions to provide a proposed answer/solution? People have good ideas so in most cases you could answer "yes" like Steve Jobs. In rare cases "no" with longer explanation.
     
  12. Gardener

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    If the next action is "answer mail from..." I'd say no--that is, open them and glance to see what their priority is, unless it's obvious even without opening, but don't jot down an action per email.

    I understand the desire to have this work reflected in your system, but I think that dragging mails into low, medium, and high-priority folders, and then having a repeating Next Action of "answer low priority email" or "spend 1 hour answering emails" or whatever works, would mean that the task is securely inside your system. When you work that task and you discover that one email will require ninety minutes of research, THEN you move that mail somewhere else and give it its own actions.

    As an example, and going with the "gardener" theme, I wouldn't jot down, "Pull dandelion by north fence" and "Pull giant weed by south fence" and several dozen other actions, one per weed. I'd have, "Weed garden" or "Weed rows 1-4." Treating work as a group is, IMO, fine. If I'm working "Weed rows 1-4" and I discover that the bamboo from next door has invaded Rows 1 and 2 AGAIN, then I write a separate project for bamboo control.

    I feel that glancing at a mail, deeming it to have a specific priority, and putting it in the right folder to be answered later, "counts" as getting it out of your inbox.
     
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  13. Gardener

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    Returning to add: I suspect that by answering your emails during your weekly review, you are slowing down the review AND the emails. If I were you, I would:

    - BEFORE the weekly review, move emails to "high priority answer", "low priority answer" and "larger action"--or something like that. Get to Inbox Zero before the review.
    - DO the weekly review, only referring to the "larger action" emails to guide the projects and actions that you're entering, because the other have already been put into work buckets.
    - AFTER the weekly review, answer emails. And focus solely on answering emails. Grab a caffeinated beverage, put on music that makes you feel fast-moving and ruthless, and go through them Really Really Fast. Maybe set a goal of hitting Send every three minutes.
    - AFTER going through the email, take five minutes to take notes on what would have made going through them faster. Is there a particular set of reference materials that would be handy to have all open and ready before you start? Some boilerplate that you could write so that more emails could get a cut-and-paste "canned" answer? Some refinement that you could make to filter more to Spam?
     
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  14. @Newbie

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    Thank you so much for that, this is very helpfull stuff. I would have never come up with this myself as being a perfectionist if i came up with it i wouldn't do it because it would feel like cheating. But now that i got your 'approval' (and suggestion in the first place) it seems like a great way to deal with it, and not have myself answering all my email before i get around to doing any 'real' work, or work i planned on doing. And hey, if folks would like their e-mail answered faster they might consider giving me less work to do. (Though that seems a bit unfair at times as they are not usually the same people.)
     

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