Question about the Clarifying Step

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss the GTD Methodology' started by hiitinayuri, Aug 31, 2017.

  1. hiitinayuri

    hiitinayuri Registered

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    I just finished reading GTD the other day and I'm currently putting it into action. Unfortunately I don't have the luxury of dedicating 16 consecutive hours to capture and 16 consecutive hours to process as the book suggests. I am however able to do it a little bit every day to get there.

    My question is in the clarifying step. From my understanding if I come across something in my inbox, I need to write a next action. Perhaps during another session, or weekly review, I ought to look at the action list for items that are a project and define them as such.

    My question is, how far do I go in clarifying during the clarifying stage. Do I go all out and map out the full project in all the details that I know then and there? (Am I suppose to be doing the brainstorming during the clarify stage?)

    For example, the next item in my Inbox is "Improve handwriting" This would be a project but the priority given all the other things going on in my life, I would simply put in Someday/Maybe. However, even so, I can very easily come up with next actions steps for this project. Sea fairing pirates for the most part had excellent handwriting, my next action would be to spend time collecting images of old captain logs. There after look at them and analyze them. However, I know right now that this is a someday/maybe item. Do I go through the steps of defining such items?

    Another example, the next Inbox item is "Car Maintenance" what this actually means is "Set up a ritual/checklist of things to do to consistently maintain a car." This would not go into the someday maybe, it would be a project. Is it okay to get a sheet of paper, write "Set up a ritual/checklist of things to do to consistently maintain a car." and define the next actions as (1) write up the objective of this project (2) further define next actions.

    I ask because in this case, it seems that I am one, going around the system by making the next action, defining next action. However I also know that this is not a priority and is something I'd like to work on when I have a little bit of time here and there, but don't necessarily want to spend the time now, as I'm clarifying, defining those steps.

    I'm unsure how to proceed. (I'ld like a pretty vanilla guide meaning, sticking to the book as close as possible, no personal alterations, as I want to do the system as is, until I do any adjustments.

    Thanks in advance for all the help.
     
  2. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    The ultimate goal of GTD is "mind like water". So you need as much clarifying and planning to remove each inbox item from your mind. Sometimes it is totally unclarified Someday/Maybe item ("visit Warsaw/Poland") but you know that your GTD systems remembers about this dream so you don't have to remember. Sometimes it is Next Action with several next Next Actions and precisely described Successful Outcome.
     
  3. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    Go as far as you need to to clarify but no I would not suggest you do the brainstorming part right then and there. If you do processing your inbox and weekly review will take forever.

    Take your example about improve handwriting. For me I'd quickly move it to my someday/maybe lists of Thing_to_Learn. If I had time I might make a quick note Research Captains Logs for examples and move on. The car maintenance one is a project, Create detailed car maintenance list, and the first action is define the goals for this project. If you use paper then yes, putting that on paper is appropriate with the action in the appropriate context, perhaps at desk. The paper might go into either the generic action support folder, in which case in my system I'd add a note to the action , see paper in action support or you might make a whole new folder called Car Maintenance and put it in there and then file that folder wherever you keep current active project support materials.
     
  4. hiitinayuri

    hiitinayuri Registered

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    Thanks for the clarification. Let me reiterate to see if I understand.
    1. Clarify as much as you need to get it out of your head.
    2. If it's a project, there's no need to do the full brainstorming session right then and there but,
    3. The first action can be used as the Objective/Clarify
    4. You can keep a note on things to look at during your brainstorming phase if it's in your head.
    What's the next action I put on my list for future brainstorming on said project?
    Is it "Brainstorm and flesh out Project X"
     
  5. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

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    I would say definitely not. Even if you feel that you'll need a fairly complete road map early in the project, I think that now, in the capture and processing stage for everything, is not the time to do that. At the most, I'd suggest making a Next Action of, "Create preliminary roadmap"--or something like that.

    I say "at most" because I've found that when I create even three or four actions for a project, I almost always end up throwing those actions away and going down another path. If creating the actions served as a useful aid to my thinking process, that would be fine. It turns out that, no, it clutters my thinking process. So I specifically and deliberately avoid creating more than one or two actions for a project. If the project seems to be begging for more than one, that may mean that it's really more than one project.

    So my advice here is very much influenced by what works for me, personally.

    For a Someday/Maybe I normally wouldn't create even one next action. If I have what feels like a clever thought, and I'm afraid that I might lose that thought, I might store some notes.

    But let's make this more complicated. Maybe you're not going to do the handwriting thing any time soon, but you're going on a trip where you might have an opportunity to see those captain logs. In that case, I would make "Gather images of captain logs while on vacation" a project of its own, because that part of the handwriting project is not someday/maybe. I might create a project with a first acton of "Research captain logs on display in museums in and around City" and also put a tickler in my tickler system for, say, two months before the trip.

    But otherwise, I'd just leave "Improve Handwriting" in Someday/Maybe. If I ound that I had a lot of similar Someday/Maybes, then I might create a special "Someday/Maybe Self Improvement" list, to corral them in one place. I might even create a monthly tickler, "Got time to take on a self-improvement project?" to remind me to check the list.

    In my case, I would create a project in OmniFocus (probably; I'm still in the process of deciding whether to stick with OmniFocus or switch to something else), and I'd only have the single action of "write up the objective". I feel that "define the next action" is always implied--you do the next action, you have no more actions, you define some. But when I have no actions left and I don't know what to do next, I have absolutely had a next action of "Figure out the next action".
     
  6. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    All that's necessary for clarification is to capture whatever outcome and/or next action(s) come immediately to mind when going through what you've captured. Mapping out a full project is covered separately in the book under "project planning" and with good reason. Project planning can be time-consuming.

    If you realize that the next action for a given project is a project-planning activity (like brainstorming), I would suggest adding that to your next actions list and moving on to the next item in your inbox. If you make clarification too burdensome you're likely to avoid it and go back to keeping things in your head.

    That depends. Do you want or need to? My guess is that adding "improve handwriting" to a someday/maybe list will be good enough. You can always flesh it out later if you decide to make it an active project. If you come up with an idea about improving your handwriting that you're afraid you'll forget, you can jot it down on a piece of paper and store it in a folder if you're using a paper system, or in the notes field of the someday/maybe item if you're using software that has that feature.

    Let me ask you a question: do you really need to "write up the objective of this project" to get it off your mind? My guess is you already know intuitively the purpose, vision and principles for this project. You want to keep your car in good shape. It's that simple.

    As DA points out, the majority of your projects won't need any planning whatsoever. Others may need a bit of "back of the envelope" planning. The ones that need to have the full project planning model applied to them will likely be in the minority.

    Don't make more work for yourself with GTD than you have to. If you do, you'll create enough resistance that you'll likely abandon the system entirely. I am speaking from experience.
     
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