Meg on Getting Clear: processing stints?


I couldn't be more relieved at Meg's advice to spend at most ten minutes trying to get clear, scheduling time for more processing if the in-box isn't empty yet, and starting a catch-up project if that's going to take more than a couple of hours.

I'm doing better at GTD than ever before, and I'm still in trouble with Get Clear. I have 572 unread threads in Google Mail, 1282 in Outlook, and well into that number of unread articles in my RSS reader. I've also got half a dozen ripped out notes from my David wallet and a few other stray items in my portable in-box.

Scheduling three days to wade through it all is right out. There's no way I could sustain the effort without someone in the room poking me with a stick, and the GTD team doesn't come down to Australia that much (hint, hint). So, I've had to come up with a way to chip away at the problem.

What I've been doing could be summarised "get clear to the horizon, and a little over if time persists". The horizon is when I did my last review. Everything recent, I process. Everything over the horizon, I process as I can free up the time, usually in dedicated processing stints.

Mechanically, that means processing the top layers of any in-box that naturally orders by date: email accounts, RSS, and my desk tray. I rip back everything I've added since the last review, then put on my archaeologist's hat and continue the dig through the stack as long as I can stay awake.

The portable in-box, I do first. I always have to process that in full.

So, looking back at those counts: most of what's in the email accounts is old, the tray contents are positively antique, and (luckily) what's in the RSS reader isn't that important. The stuff over the horizon just keeps getting older. I'm not well, if you catch my drift, but I'm better.

I'd much appreciate any and all tips, hints, horror stories, and "hey, I made it!"s.