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Discussion Forum > David Allen just scolded me

I'm not sure how it happened, but I'm on David Allen's GTD mailing list. For the Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S., he sent this scolding message:

<<
David's Food for Thought
Get a Grip on Your Process, or Give It Up
If you're not willing to commit to keeping your head completely empty, it's not worth trying to make any "personal management system" work. Give it up. Don't kid yourself. Throw your productivity tools away.

OK, I’m becoming more direct and succinct. (At 72 I think that serves us both, and I choose not to beat around the bush.) But I’m also getting a bit bored with people half-heartedly attempting half-implemented solutions as they attempt to do “just a part of” GTD and complaining about it “not sticking” with them. Now, a partial engagement with this methodology won’t really hurt (and can create some minor wins), but it produces such a minuscule fraction of the value possible if you go all the way. People who say they are “doing GTD” are still showing me half-filled-out lists of still-undecided stuff in their system. They may have a few folders set up, a couple of next-action lists; but a majority of their stuff is still scattered from tables to briefcases to kitchen drawers to their heads—all un-retrievable in any consistent fashion.

Stop complaining about your stress and your overwhelm! Look outside—the universe is not stressed-out or confused. It’s fine. It’s only the way we are engaged with it that creates our negative reactions. GTD is the process we’ve uncovered that creates appropriate engagement. What you’re dealing with at hand may not be easy or fun, but being in the driver’s seat about it moves that experience to a much more mature and effective level. But If you’re not willing to make this process really work, 100%, don’t tire yourself with the pretenses of half-baked solutions. They just add insult to injury, and quite frankly, may not be worth the energy to continue.

It’s like trying to keep air in only three tires on your car. Hello. IT WON’T DRIVE WITHOUT THEM ALL! If you’re going to flop along anyway, don’t waste your energy trying to keep just a couple in good shape.

Either your head is the place to keep track of stuff, or it’s not. You’d have a hard time intellectually justifying something in-between. If you use a calendar at all, you’ve already admitted you need external support to manage your life.

But, hey, why not? Just keep it all in your head, throw away your calendar, and trust that you’ll have what you need for information and perspective whenever you need it. If you had the guts to really do that, 100%, it might work. I might actually try that some day. Until then I will be responsible to the creative process that I’m born with, frequently makng agreements with myself and others that I need to define, clarify, track, and renegotiate regularly, to get off my own back and to make meaningful things happen.

But, if there’s only part of all this in your system and only a part in your head, you won’t trust either place to give you appropriate guidance. You’ll be driven in your choices of what to do by simply the latest and loudest things in your psyche. Good luck.

OK, I admit it—I’m just projecting some of my own frustrations with the resistance to full-out execution of the Getting Things Done process that I have encountered with so many people, and the unfortunate give-up energy I have seen from people who “fell off the wagon.” Don’t take me too seriously. Most people haven’t really had the game defined so they could see how the partial solutions are no solution. But if you have...

Give yourself a break. If you’re going to play this game the way you are trying to play it, you’d better really play it.

Write it down. Anything, everything. Decide what your intention is about it, and what the next step would be. Do the action, delegate the action, or defer the action to your list of optional things to do. Look at all that regularly. Be conscious about what you’re doing, and what you’re not. Get free. You should be focusing all your energy on bigger issues, greater joy, and more expanded opportunities.

Thanks for listening.
>>

Isn't that lovely?
November 21, 2017 at 17:15 | Registered Commenterubi
Yes, I sometimes get that sort of feeling too sometimes!
November 21, 2017 at 22:28 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
You mean you feel like David Allen re: the sort-of followers, or you mean you also feel occasionally overwhelmed and in want of escape from the process.

<<Stop complaining about your stress and your overwhelm! Look outside—the universe is not stressed-out or confused. It’s fine. >>
November 21, 2017 at 23:30 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
David Allen contributes again to the GTD cult image by getting angry at anyone who will not fully implement his ways.

GTD's workflow is too big for what it is trying to accomplish, so people will not stick to it, no matter how much you yell at them.
November 22, 2017 at 0:30 | Unregistered CommenterConnor
I received the same email. I agree with Connor. On another hand after 10 tears using GTD by the book (I red it 10 times and bought the 3 updates) I brave anyone if he does apply perfectly and permanently his method. I just can't. I can spend hours emptying my head an even it is done the very next second after I have tons of ideas. That said the process in 5. steps is interesting and I use it but when everything is organised I dont feel engaged doing all. I just try to do the right thing at the right time and I prefer other ways for doing things like MF approach.
November 22, 2017 at 7:01 | Unregistered CommenterJupiter
GTD is all about getting things out of your head and on to lists. Lots of organising and planning out what needs to be done next.
Is it just me, but when I did that it just made me think more about all the tasks I had not done and lots of sleepless nights?
After the initial relief and great feelings GTD gives of getting it all organised and down on paper, a sense of overwhelm then starting to creep in. Especially when all those nicely organised tasks just were not getting done. Perhaps too much time organising slowed me down too much. It is way too easy to organise and not do.
Interested to hear if anyone else has the same feelings, and which systems they use so that does not happen?
November 22, 2017 at 10:23 | Unregistered CommenterMrBacklog
Alan Baljeu:

When he says:

"You should be focusing all your energy on bigger issues, greater joy, and more expanded opportunities."
November 22, 2017 at 12:25 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Connor:

<< GTD's workflow is too big for what it is trying to accomplish, so people will not stick to it, no matter how much you yell at them. >>

On the other hand when I propose something really simple, the immediate reaction on this Forum is to make it more complicated. It's happened over and over again.
November 22, 2017 at 12:28 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Jupiter:

<< but when everything is organised I dont feel engaged doing all. >>

Exactly!
November 22, 2017 at 12:30 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
MrBacklog:

<< Is it just me, but when I did that it just made me think more about all the tasks I had not done and lots of sleepless nights? >>

That's because usually paralysis is caused not by a lot of things, but by one thing which you are avoiding. That one thing is the key to everything. Once you've identified it and dealt with it everything else suddenly becomes much easier.

You can sometimes identify it because you are avoiding it so much you are even reluctant to put it on your list.

http://markforster.squarespace.com/blog/2007/4/19/time-freedom-the-black-cloud-hunt.html
November 22, 2017 at 12:34 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mark:
That is interesting and I will give black cloud hunt some thought.
I'm not aware of anything that I'm hugely resisting so it might be down to periods of bone idleness and slacking off when there is less pressure.

I'm beginning to think the various TM systems are all good really in principle and the faults are with the users (me). I suppose the search should continue for the perfect system that deals with the users inadequacies or minimises them.

Hope you can find a solution to high intensity use of time as I think the title alone is motivating and certainly gets me thinking about what I'm doing. For me it is just a case of getting into the flow of doing tasks one after the other, instead of spending stupid amounts of time opening and closing the tasks without action and organising everything. i.e. making a simple system more complicated that it should be.
November 22, 2017 at 13:29 | Unregistered CommenterMrBacklog
I'd like to make a few points here, which I'll probably use as the basis for a blog post at some stage.

1) As we discussed recently in an earlier thread, after all this organizing is done, David Allen still recommends using intuition as the final arbiter of what one does now this minute. Also if I remember correctly he writes somewhere that you can't expect to actually get it all done. One begins to wonder therefore what the point of all this organizing is.

2) I have precisely the opposite approach. Don't bother about organizing - it's a waste of time. Rely on your intuition to tell you what to do.

3) Ever since Autofocus version 1 all my systems have been based on the above principle. None of them have been about how to organize your work - they have been about the best way to bring your intuition into play and the best way to weed out stuff when it's become apparent you are not going to do it.

4) So in short, minimum time organizing, maximum time doing.

5) If you take what I'm saying seriously, then you will realize that the most important thing is the principle in para 2, while the exact way of implementing it is of secondary importance.

6) Consequently any attempt to add complications to any of my systems is likely to be self-defeating.

7) And note that just about all my systems include these or similar words "Start your list with a few tasks and let it build up gradually once you've started working on it".
November 22, 2017 at 13:29 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
More food for thought:

After I got rid of my projects list, there was an immediate sense of freedom. I think this is because having targets creates pressure. You are aware of where you aren't.

I think the same applies with tasks.

Having next action lists where everything needs to be done is just a smaller scale projects list. Having a catch-all list where you give yourself the choice of whether or not you want to complete a task has no pressure, because there are no targets until you pick them. Not only that, allowing yourself to only work for as long as you feel like it means you set the one target your aiming for at any distance you like.

I know this is ripping off of what Mark has written about earlier in the blog, but looking at it in a new context can be helpful for some.
November 23, 2017 at 0:35 | Unregistered CommenterConnor
@Mark (the 7 points) I love it and so interesting ! From my experience I realize a few things.

1. Whatever my/your system is there is a need of collecting and clarifying your crucial intend.

2. That means it is just a collector. A warehouse were you drop it with no intention of doing it. If you do so, it just drives you crazy because it is absolutely and definitively impossible doing all at the same time. Then, consequently It is just a "collection of stuff".

3. However as said "You should be focusing all your energy on bigger issues, greater joy, and more expanded opportunities." which includes a specific list for projects you really feel engaged doing. That said, I feel must engaged doing thing using goals map-mapping. It is clearest with me and more peaceful and it lets explains my intuition. I alway worked like this and uses is extensively. Reporting projects and stuff on my omnifocus database is just considered as my personal warehouse. It makes things easier to collect stuff by project and see my deadlines. and makes the execution faster. Anyway I could do it on paper or on another digital way but it would only makes things more complicated.
November 23, 2017 at 9:04 | Unregistered CommenterJupiter
And Gtd in his way is indeed and definitively to complicated for me... I prefer intuitive systems as MF does...
November 23, 2017 at 9:08 | Unregistered CommenterJupiter
I also notice a law. The best day I ever spent were these were I was only focus on a few projects or task and I noticed I did not look at all at any list ! All was clear in my head when I woke up !
November 23, 2017 at 9:12 | Unregistered CommenterJupiter
Connor wrote: << GTD's workflow is too big for what it is trying to accomplish, so people will not stick to it, no matter how much you yell at them. >>

Mark replied: <<On the other hand when I propose something really simple, the immediate reaction on this Forum is to make it more complicated. It's happened over and over again.>>

Well yes, the obvious riposte is thinly veiled in Connor's reply:

<< MF's workflow is too small for what it is trying to accomplish, so people will not stick to it, no matter how much you yell at them. >>

Of course you quickly argue against this reaction.

<<2) I have precisely the opposite approach. Don't bother about organizing - it's a waste of time. Rely on your intuition to tell you what to do.

3) Ever since Autofocus version 1 all my systems have been based on the above principle. None of them have been about how to organize your work - they have been about the best way to bring your intuition into play and the best way to weed out stuff when it's become apparent you are not going to do it.

4) So in short, minimum time organizing, maximum time doing.>>

I agree this characterizes your approach well, and the approach largely works.

<<6) Consequently any attempt to add complications to any of my systems is likely to be self-defeating.>>

This however seems a slight exaggeration. Your "minimum time organizing" could possibly be less than optimal, and efforts to add structure may have a valid purpose. At least, you need more than the bald assertion in para 2 to establish your claim.
November 23, 2017 at 12:34 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
From the original post, I find myself fully agreeing with David Allen's words, up to but not including last paragraph. The stated goal is to free your mind, in order to get doing what matters. Wonderful! And then you get to the summary of the process in the last paragraph.

<<Write it down. Anything, everything. >>
Well, anything you care about getting done, that's taking mental space, not everything.

<<Decide what your intention is about it, and what the next step would be.>>
These are good decisions, but don't all need to be done now. The rule of triage is to scan over everything quickly, and make decision only about those items that are most urgent or ready to be done now.

<<Do the action, delegate the action, or defer the action to your list of optional things to do. Look at all that regularly. Be conscious about what you’re doing, and what you’re not.>>
The article preceding this paragraph was to free your mind of all the things that weigh you down. This chunk of dictums might be useful in that, but not necessarily. There really is no basis in the philosophy that mandates all of this, this is merely one notion of how to deal with the list we created. Well structured, and seemingly sensible, but its in this bit that everyone who "fails" GTD gets stuck. The trouble I think is when you multiply, this list of instructions times your list of things to (maybe) do, it gets overwhelming.

<< Get free. You should be focusing all your energy on bigger issues, greater joy, and more expanded opportunities.>> Wonderful. But this directly contradicts the last chunk I quoted, which tends to get you "conscious about what you’re ... not [doing]".

I'm buying his goal though not his method except for the bit of writing things out of mind.
November 23, 2017 at 13:00 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
Alan Baljeu:

<< Your "minimum time organizing" could possibly be less than optimal, and efforts to add structure may have a valid purpose. >>

You could quite possibly be right in saying that my approach may be less than optimal. But there are a couple of factors to be taken into consideration:

1) Finding an approach that is optimal will probably take more time than you would save once you've found it. I've so far spent twenty years trying to find it!

2) When I talk about "minimum time organizing" I'm talking exclusively about managing one's time management list. There is of course a lot more to organizing than that, both small scale and large scale. But the other aspects of organizing should grow out of one's time management system, not be part of it. Efficient systems for filing, project management, necessary/recreational reading, exercise, client follow-up, etc, can only be established and maintained if one has an effective base system.

All these systems need you to be able to rely on yourself to take the necessary action to keep them going.
November 23, 2017 at 15:14 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
@Mark "When I talk about "minimum time organizing" I'm talking exclusively about managing one's time management list. There is of course a lot more to organizing than that, both small scale and large scale. But the other aspects of organizing should grow out of one's time management system, not be part of it. Efficient systems for filing, project management, necessary/recreational reading, exercise, client follow-up, etc, can only be established and maintained if one has an effective base system"

Do you mean after all you experiments and life devoted to time management systems that finally what matters the most is our habits and processing system about doing things such as clients follow up (eg => calls) way stuff is organised (eg tickler, habits about projects filings...) and recurrents habits such as reading email twice a day and so on...

Then all systems as you said before if I rightly understood are just system devoted to your intuition and action. Organising is just a loose of time except may be putting the big stone (steps) of your life :-)
November 23, 2017 at 17:55 | Unregistered CommenterJupiter
Jupiter:

Sorry, I'm not sure I understand your question. However I'll do my best to reply.

What I meant was that your systems for client follow-up, project management, exercise, etc, etc, will only be as good as your ability to actually do what is required to plan and carry them out.

And that depends on how good your basic system is at getting you to do those things.
November 23, 2017 at 18:11 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mark Ok what I meant to say : I thought that finaly you thought that we dont have to get involved in details and that what matters was our bigs goal and subjects we are devoted too. Ie list and so on did not really matter. So a list of goals if you are accustomed to the process would be suffisant.

What you explained just before is deeper. It means for me that in fact that none system can survive if you dont follow it permanently and plan core subjects is that right ?
November 23, 2017 at 19:01 | Unregistered CommenterJupiter
Jupiter:

<< It means for me that in fact that none system can survive if you dont follow it permanently and plan core subjects is that right ? >>

No, you've got it the wrong way round.

Your time management system (e.g. AF1, FVP, Simple Scanning) is like the Operating System on a computer.

Planning, Establishing Routines, Client Follow-Up, Project Management, etc, are like programs and apps on the computer.

All programs run on the basis of the operating system. If the operating system is faulty none of the programs will run properly.
November 24, 2017 at 1:52 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Thank you Mark. I got it ! I am going to check my all system. Step by step. By the way your forum is so interesting ! I still notice I am not alone being found of T.M systems and good practices about it. And I like it ! Best To you.
November 24, 2017 at 8:08 | Unregistered CommenterJupiter
From David Allen's post: "if there’s only part of all this in your system and only a part in your head, you won’t trust either place to give you appropriate guidance."

On my reading, DA's principal complaint in his post is about people who fail to "empty their heads" and then conclude that GTD isn't working well for them, and less about people who do empty their heads frequently but fail to do full-blown GTD including the weekly review, keeping a complete project list, deciding on next actions up front, etc. -- although he clearly believes that full-blown GTD is the optimal system.

The fundamental principle on which GTD is based, on my understanding, is that "your mind is for having ideas, not holding them," as DA has said at least 100,000 times with minor variations. We can, however, implement this principle just by keeping a catch-all list and other lists such as checklists and lists of books to read that move things we want to remember out of our heads and "into a trusted system." The other features of GTD (weekly review, project lists, two-minute rule, etc.) are, I think, primarily intended to assist one in making good in-the-moment action choices. Opinions will differ as to whether they are actually worth the bother.

My experience has been that when I feel particularly disorganized and my life feels out of control, I have gone through the GTD process and gotten everything organized, a process that takes a lot of time and effort but makes me feel better for the time being. Then, after I have recovered from my exhaustion, I scan the appropriate action lists, but I quickly find that scanning a list with 200 items to choose the appropriate next action, per DA's instructions, is both time-consuming and discouraging. So I go back to Mark's methods for dealing with a list. My conclusion thus far is that all that effort to get organized may not be a good use of my time.
November 26, 2017 at 16:38 | Unregistered CommenterRichard C
@Richard C Same experiments. For 11 years I struggle getting organized with GTD. When I think about the amount of time I spent trying to stay organized instead of doing things with GTD I have a vertigo. Now I am fed up of it. I keep some principle but do things differently (list, mindmap, databases...) for the main reason that I noticed that I never be so productive, efficient and successful only but when I had no list at all and guided by my intuition.

Among all MF systems I am sure that there is something which could be better for me just for doing and following core things and stuff
November 26, 2017 at 17:50 | Unregistered CommenterJupiter
Richard C wrote:

"but I quickly find that scanning a list with 200 items to choose the appropriate next action, per DA's instructions, is both time-consuming and discouraging. "

If you've got uncontrollably large task lists, that sounds symptomatic of not properly utilizing the Horizons of Focus model in GTD.

If you move up to your Areas of Focus level (at least), you'll probably be able to see your priorities fairly clearly and be able to discard/defer most of the tasks.
November 27, 2017 at 8:14 | Unregistered CommenterFrank
@Frank Yes and no. In GTD DA explains that the global next action list must'nt exceed from what I remember 30 items. If it does items must be grouped by contexts ie what helps you for making action eg @home, @work @boss and so on... The main problem that you get a list of actions relative to different projects and then nothing really advance. Of course he also said that the choice making is done by context energy time priorities and intuition. But the real trouble is that it is indeed difficult to choose and to stay focus when everything arrives from everywhere. You put stuff in an inbox that you will have to review and clarify again and again. So you never stop to organize your stuff instead of acting. On another hand DIT is much better for that te inbox is for tomorrow and you will have to do it except if you erase the action. Mixing all creates a buffer wich is better for acting. About the different horizon of GTD it makes thing complicated. I Like the idea but not the way it does it. 5 horizon is far too complicated. So In short GTD is more for organising than doing.
November 27, 2017 at 9:24 | Unregistered CommenterJupiter
<< but makes me feel better for the time being>>

Close to two decades of trying different productivity systems, and I find they all offer the same short term benefit. For me, the sweet spot (and eureka moment) was finding something that held promise beyond the short term "feel better for the time being". Years and years of experimentation led to the creation of something that works for me (going on 2 years now, with minor tweaks).

I credit Mark Forster for encouraging me to try different ideas, and to find a system that fulfills my psychological needs and yearnings.
November 27, 2017 at 16:59 | Registered Commenteravrum
The way I understand GTA, you don't have to clarify the same thing multiple times. You clarify it when you process your inbox. Clarifying includes deciding the next action (if not known), and moving it from the inbox to the correct list. You never have to clarify it again.

Here is where some people get carried away. Their lists are too complicated! They fine-tune it so much that there dozens of lists with one thing each.

Subdivide your lists _only_enough_ that you can quickly find something to do, and that you make good use of rare contexts. E.g., If Bob is rarely available, it's worth having a separate list of things to discuss with him. If he's always there, don't bother.

Someone with a list of 300 tasks will need more sublists than someone with only 30. Your home list might be subdivided by weather, your office list won't.
November 27, 2017 at 18:33 | Registered CommenterCricket
My approach to this is quite simple.
An AF4 list and a Review List.
Every new task goes onto the AF 4 list, then I go through the backlog and the current until the AF 4 list is quite short and hundreds of Tasks are in the Review List which gets reviewed at least weekly.
Deciding on a task, splitting up a Task, or rewording Tasks in the AF4 list count as working on a task for me.
November 27, 2017 at 19:08 | Unregistered CommenterRainer
@Cricker Yes but you also need to review your projects each week so clarify again. If you have 5 projects it is ok if you have 20 like mine things becomes difficult

@Rainer I love AF4 it gave me many succes. I wonder do you use the classical or AF4 revised ?
November 27, 2017 at 21:35 | Unregistered CommenterJupiter
&Rainer do you use paper or digital ? how ?
November 27, 2017 at 21:36 | Unregistered CommenterJupiter
Jupiter, I don't wait for the weekly review to clarify my projects.

I clarify each project when I finish the session. When a project has a lot of moving parts, I put status sheet either on the front of the file or with my active list (it varies). The status sheet is a summary of what needs to be done (including list of people I'm waiting for) and deadlines (including "remind Susan before she goes on vacation.") Some of those dates also go on the calendar. I update it while the project is fresh in my mind.

Often, the Next Action for my projects is "When Joe sends comments, incorporate them fast," (often paired with "Friday remind Joe.") I usually remember which comments need to be dealt with as soon as they arrive, and which can wait.

The files for some slow projects rarely get touched. Status is "start work after Christmas," and "On Track". No need to clarify them every week.

My weekly review of projects is very fast. I check the status sheet for each project and ask am I on track, done, late, or at risk (aka problem). If I'm not confident about the status (rare, since I'm a stickler for keeping up to date), or the project is at risk, the Next Action for the project is Investigate and Deal With, Urgent! Actually investigating isn't part of the weekly review, it's part of the project.

Currently, most of my project status sheets are combined into one list of projects. None of them have very many moving parts, so only need a few lines.
November 27, 2017 at 22:18 | Registered CommenterCricket
I also got this scolding message! Mark, I like that your systems have very little overhead and a focus on actually doing stuff. When things go a bit off the rails for me, and I feel utterly overwhelmed, it's DIT principles I turn to so I can do something (to be honest, anything) and get some momentum again. Thanks for your work, and for using yourself as a guinea pig!
November 28, 2017 at 8:56 | Unregistered CommenterBen H
@Cricquet

@Cricket I red again your comments about GTD and it gave me many sources of thinking.
(1) about list you said "Here is where some people get carried away. Their lists are too complicated! They fine-tune it so much that there dozens of lists with one thing each" I agree. we all have tendencies to make things complicated. But simplicity is "the ultimate degree of sophistication" Leonardo di Vinci. I will try to be more precise.

(2) About your status list / Project list and organisation you may use if you like digital Omnifocus it is an amazing software wich would save you a lot of time. There is a view of all incoming dead line and a link to your diary and a list of your project you can make actionable or not and it sync with your iphone if you have one...

(3) You also said "I don't use the 2-minute rule, since it encourages me to do too many quick but unimportant tasks, but trying it made me think about the overhead of putting a task into the system rather than doing it, and also of the overhead of having it in the system. How long does scanning through dozens of less-urgent tasks take, done day after day? Can (or should) the system be changed to reduce that overhead, or should I do more immediately?"

So I imagine you treat them at as a batch do you ?

(4) About context. I still struggle with this. I tried many but never succeeding about acting. So GTD is just a collector for me for now and I use MF systems wish quiet short list for acting and doing my core business. It free my intuition witch is slaved by the digital.
November 28, 2017 at 10:14 | Unregistered CommenterJupiter
@Cricket I think you got me back on the rail ! I have made a real segmentation of context on OF and it seems to be working directly with OF. However it need a real concentration and reporting to keep efficiency. Thank you !
November 28, 2017 at 15:05 | Unregistered CommenterJupiter
Glad it helped!

Omnifocus is overkill for me. It's easier to open Google Calendar and add when I need to, about twice a day. In my main list, the only contexts I use are those that will make the coming week smoother, and each week is different.

Yes, I do email in in batches. Morning triage of new mail on a my tablet (can't even label things, just open, star or delete). Then every few days, process email in a batch, beginning with emptying the trash and spam bins, then add project labels to everything (including Read Later and No-Project) and get them out of the inbox. (Or, just consider anything that's been triaged but has no project label to be in No-Project. It depends on my mood and the size of my inbox.)

(Tip: In Gmail, you can filter by "has:nouserlabels".)

(In typing this, I realized that I recently cleared one reading backlog (yay!), and now should add Email Read Later to my morning reading time. Thanks!)

I don't work on the project when I get email for it. All I do is add the project label, and maybe update the project status or Next Action. (Get Joe's comments = done. New NA = Read everyone's comments. If I'm expecting several comments, it's faster for the NA to be "Monday check which I've received and choose next NA" than to update it every time I receive one.)

Once that's done, I work on Starred, and if there's time I get to the unstarred + No-Project. Then I decide when I need to email again. Frequency varies widely, depending on how may starred and unstarred+No-Project are left, and the rest of my life.

Many companies have experimented with slower responses to email. It works better than expected. When I was a QA Manager at a custom foundry, I dealt with many defective material complaints, from a wide variety of customers and people. Because of the way iron crystallizes, there are always defects around corners and at the top. Most customers expected this. Others didn't listen during the pre-order engineering review. Even the most panicked was calmed by, "I understand you have a problem. If you describe the defect and what you want to do about it, I'll have an answer for you within 12 hours."

My entire system is based on triage and efficiency. Triage means urgent things get dealt with fast enough. Efficient means it's faster for me to keep the grocery list on a pad on the fridge, where everyone, including the kids, can add to it, and then copy everything to the shared app before shopping, than it is to find my phone each time I want to add something (and who knows what the kid will do when they open the last jar of peanut butter). If my husband is going shopping after work, he calls me so I can update the online list. The online list is also nice if I remember something while not near the fridge.
November 28, 2017 at 17:35 | Unregistered CommenterCricket
Exception to the Quick Review:

Sometimes, the system breaks, if I'm sick or an unexpected project comes up.

In that case, I try to look at each project as soon as possible, quickly, asking, "What must I do so I can ignore this project until the crisis is over? Is there anything that must be done during the crisis?" Usually, let people know it will be late, ask for help, lower expectations, ask Joe for comments before he goes on vacation, even if I won't look at them immediately. Also, in a true crisis, expectations for other projects get a lot lower!

This review is very fast. Anything I expect to do in the next few days is already top-of-mind. Everything else is already on either the calendar or the status sheet. I might add details to the status sheet if they will help me during or after the crisis. A note saying "Nothing needed until Dec 15" will reassure my exhausted post-crisis self.

It is easier to be pessimistic now than have to review everything a second time mid-crisis. The crisis might take longer than anticipated, and once it's over I will have several late projects to deal with.

When the crisis is over, I do a _quick_ triage or status review of each one. I ask "Can it wait?" Also, "Is anything urgent hiding?" If I don't know, then finding out is urgent -- but not part of the quick review. Most of these questions are quick to answer -- if I did the early-crisis step well.

Again, the goal is a quick review of everything. Once I know everything that's urgent, I can make a better decision of what to do next. Once the urgent things are dealt with, I can spend more time with each project finding the easiest way to get it back on track, or reDefine or DDDD it.

Now I'm wondering what else is in GTD's weekly review. If my status sheets and NA list are updated each time I work on a project, and my inboxes are empty, what's left other than looking ahead on the calendar and planning the week?
November 28, 2017 at 19:13 | Unregistered CommenterCricket
Cricket

Hi folks ! since the 28 I applied what you said about GTD :

" you don't have to clarify the same thing multiple times. You clarify it when you process your inbox. Clarifying includes deciding the next action (if not known), and moving it from the inbox to the correct list. You never have to clarify it again. During the day email twice in batches, "Next Action. (Get Joe's comments = done. New NA = Read everyone's"

Here is where some people get carried away. Their lists are too complicated! They fine-tune it so much that there dozens of lists with one thing each.

Subdivide your lists _only_enough_ that you can quickly find something to do, and that you make good use of rare contexts. E.g., If Bob is rarely available, it's worth having a separate list of things to discuss with him. If he's always there, don't bother.

Someone with a list of 300 tasks will need more sublists than someone with only 30. Your home list might be subdivided by weather, your office list won't"

I stuck to omnifocus and made it more precise. eg clear project list, clear context (more numerous too because I have many tasks, more, dit clarification eg I capture during the day my items and clarify them the next morning, daily routine ie making one list at night before living and review it the next morning with a selection based on do, delegate, defer and first at all erase !

Clarify more precisely my next actions like you do ie "Next Action. (Get Joe's comments = done. New NA = Read everyone's" + date of the item (omnifocus doesn't sho it)

clarify each day what project I make actionable or not for the day only.

The result is great. I was on the track all the time and did a great job ! Thanks to you I think I made some progresses. I did not need a lot of paper except some lists and I mainly worked directly with omnifocus which works pretty well with me.

My next challenge will be this week end to make my weekly review correctly and define my goals for the month.

Thank you so much

Best to you and all !
December 1, 2017 at 7:59 | Unregistered CommenterJupiter
Jupiter, regarding only one actionable project per day (plus, I assume, overhead and LAO projects):

I tried reducing my list of active projects, and the number I expected to work on each day, in October, using Productive Flourishing's Momentum Planners.

At first, I thought it wouldn't work at all. Not nearly enough lines for all my projects! I was wrong. By knowing what I wanted to focus on for the month, each week, and then each day, I made great progress. I need to type up the new system -- but if I do that now, I won't get to my project for the day.
December 1, 2017 at 17:24 | Registered CommenterCricket
Jupiter, more thinking. There is one type of project, one I rarely do, where you have to check frequently.

If things are likely change without you knowing, then you need to check. For example, people work on it without updating you. So many things happening that it's easier for you to deal with them all at once than look at every update. (It's the absence of an update that needs your attention!)

In that case, I don't know if checking on it would be part of my weekly review, or a separate routine or calendared Next Action. It probably depends on how long the update takes. Ideally, I'd know the status before my weekly review, but if I didn't, I'd probably do the review and mark it "status unknown, NA = find out". I'd rather have an accurate list of projects to check on than not finish the weekly review.
December 4, 2017 at 21:34 | Registered CommenterCricket
Like you all, I tried GTD and let go.
I am slowly realizing that having an 'unorganized' list of tasks/ ideas helps me rathar that than which is organized to clinical precision. Especially when taking up the task of organizing I go overboard, spending both time and energy, with lot of expectations that when it comes to doing the task, I feel high resistance to move any further.
That said, I am going to theorize a bit here.
I read somewhere that the desk/ room of a scientist (may be Einstein) was the most disorganized. But it is in the middle of those disorganization he was able to organize his ideas - and the author argued it holds true for many 'creatives' who have a messy room/ desk. To extend that idea with organization, you let ideas to mix and creative flow when in state of 'unorganization' or at least 'semi-unorganized'.
December 11, 2017 at 16:57 | Unregistered CommenterSathya