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Daily Processing



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Alisa

Posted: Jan 27, 2009
Score: 2



Hello,

Would anyone be willing to discuss their daily and weekly processing "process" for time management? I'm really struggling with getting myself back on track. I think my entire house could qualify as my InBox! LOL! Anyways, what does your morning processing routine and your evening processing routine look like? During the day I have resorted to using a Hipster PDA when my digital PDA died. This is working surprisingly well.

Thanks!
InfoMan

Posted: Feb 20, 2009
Score: -1



Alisa,
I read an article in which people were managing their time with checklists of activities, much like airline pilots. I am also interested in what you discuss in your post (but I don't have the answer). I am finding it difficult to get through the initial emails and responses to people - and on to substantive projects
gwendolynrose

Posted: May 31, 2009
Score: 2



I've found that it is essential to keep the "Processing" and "Weekly Review" tasks separate. As the title of your post indicates, "daily processing" means you have to do it daily or else the backlog will start to make your system unreliable. By making "in-to-empty" a priority each day (two days at the most), I know I can ignore the in-box until the next morning without worry. But if you let it slide for 3 or 4 days, you start having to think about what is sitting in the in-box.

I find that early morning (right after I wake up) is the best time for me to process whatever has landed in my in-box during the last 24 hours. It really doesn't take long if you are dealing with only 1 day's worth of stuff. I have to look at my calendar to plan my day anyway, so quickly processing items is not a big burden.

I also have a Toodledo default that puts all new tasks in a Context called "@Processing." This catches any emails I forward to Toodledo and the items that I just quickly want to enter, but do not have time to assign specific folders/contexts. Any time I have a spare moment at my computer, I glance at the @Processing context to see if there is anything I can quickly process. That, too, reduces the daily processing time....and keeps new items from getting lost in Toodledo. (I know you can look for items that have "no context" or "no folder" in Toodledoo. It is just more intuitive to me for all new, unprocessed tasks to go to a specific spot that I have identified as my need-to-process spot.)
Karuna

Posted: Jun 27, 2009
Score: -1



i stopped gtd a couple years ago cuz i couldn't keep up with my processing. Nor did I stick with the weekly review! Too busy I think. So chaos has reigned. So would like to get back into processing and weekly reviewing.
Tyler

Posted: Jun 28, 2009
Score: 0



Can someone post a link to a good summary of daily processing?

I'm kind of familiar with the GTD basics, and the idea of weekly processing, but curious about the approach to daily processing... doesn't have to be a link to "orthodox" GTD approach, but just a decent summary of how it might be approached.

Thanks.
Alisa

Posted: Jul 20, 2009
Score: 1



Hi All,

Just checking back in to this thread I posted awhile ago. I appreciate the feedback.


This message was edited Jul 20, 2009.
LayZComputerGeek

Posted: Aug 06, 2009
Score: -1



Some of the things that I can share are:

Find out what you want to do to make yourself a better individual either professionally or personally.

- Learn to Play the Xylophone
- Develop Super Powers
- Get a Masters in underwater basket weaving


Take these goals and split them up into sub goals, and those sub goals into tasks.

Develop Super Powers
- Become a millionare
- (Left as an exercise for the reader)
- Build a Bat Cave
- Get blue prints
- Hire builders
- Get Certificate of Occupancy

Now take each task and schedule a part of the day to complete them. This is important to make sure you stay on target.

How many times during the day do you have someone come by and ask you to help them take care of a task? If you're like me, it's more than once a day. They don't intend to, but they are wasting your time. If you have something scheduled at the time level, you have the ammo necessary to answer back to them "I'd love to help you out, but I'm working on something right now, can I come by at (fill in the time)?"
Two things come out of that;
1. You get more of your tasks done
2. People bother you less when their gratification is not immediate.

Final Note: It takes time to do this. Have 30-45 minutes set aside at the end of the day for assessment. How did you do for that day? How can you do better.

Start Point: Take a good time to sit down with yourself and figure out what are your large goals. This could be obvious like a professional goal. The things that will make a difference in your life will be things that will better yourself. These are a bit tougher to find and it requires you to think about what you want to be different about your habits.

When it comes around to end of December if you make a New Years Resolution what is it?

Do you stick to it?

Personal Note: Knowing is not the same thing as doing. I'm still struggling with trying to get back to being productive. I know what I need to do, I just need to do it. I'm hoping this will be the bite in the tuckus I need to start. Good Luck to you.
Proximo

Posted: Aug 06, 2009
Score: 1



My work email has about 10 to 12 emails at any one time in my inbox.

Proximo, you must not be an important person. Well, I think everyone is important, but as work goes, I am a Manager and get many emails.

What I do is keep processing things in my inbox as they arrive and put things in my head into Toodledo as they arrive.

I tackle it in the morning and get the email inbox to zero before doing anything else. I check frequently and when I get a few new emails I process them quickly.

Learn to say "NO"

Too many people stay busy with things that are truly not important in the grand schemed of things because they don't learn how to say NO more often.

It's not that you are mean, but to be productive you can't do everything, so you must get comfortable with saying NO to many things.

Delete, Delete, and Delete You don't need to read every email, process every email or respond to every email. Learn how to Delete the useless things and stay on top of what actually matters.

At the end of the day, I get my email inbox to zero before I leave so that I won't have many to deal with the next morning.

Productive people learn how to choose what keeps them busy. You decide what's important and quit letting others decide and keep you busy against your will.
Alisa

Posted: Aug 08, 2009
Score: 1



Thanks everyone for the tips. My main area of concern though is how to schedule my day and week. For example, I created a Google calendar called Schedule which I filled with blocks of time to do certain tasks.

Morning Routine
Travel
Work - AM
Lunch
Work PM
Travel
After Work Routine
Dinner Routine
Evening Routine
Bedtime Routine

And then scheduled weekly zones for errands, housework, work projects, household projects, etc.

I'm hoping this will help me determine WHEN to do certain tasks. The problem that I have is often a task ends up taking far longer than the time I have allowed for it and overlap into other "zones." Then my whole day is thrown off track.

I can't find much info about scheduling tasks into specific time periods. Just wondering how others schedule their day/week.
Alisa

Posted: Aug 08, 2009
Score: 1



OK, I was searching around and did find a program that does exactly was I am looking for. Ironically it is a program that works with Outlook and I had pretty much given up on using that program. It is called Taskline and it allows you to "schedule" your tasks into your calendar. It actually schedules tasks itself based on available time and "working hours." I can set regular work hours (9-5) and hours for things like "Household Projects" (Saturday from 6:30-11:00). When you add the task you tell it which hours to use and it will schedule the task based on your priority, availability, etc.

It would be great if Toodledo could have a scheduling feature like this!

Off to figure out how I can use this program along with Toodledo.

ETA: Well Outlook 2007 doesn't support sub-tasks so I guess that takes care of that idea!


This message was edited Aug 08, 2009.
Tyler

Posted: Aug 09, 2009
Score: 1



Posted by Alisa:
OK, I was searching around and did find a program that does exactly was I am looking for. [...] It is called Taskline and it allows you to "schedule" your tasks into your calendar. It actually schedules tasks itself based on available time and "working hours." I can set regular work hours (9-5) and hours for things like "Household Projects" (Saturday from 6:30-11:00). When you add the task you tell it which hours to use and it will schedule the task based on your priority, availability, etc.

It would be great if Toodledo could have a scheduling feature like this!


My understanding is that ToodleDo is to a large degree based on the GTD paradigm of organization, and a major aspect of GTD is that tasks are generally not scheduled on a calendar.

I can understand, though, why you are doing what you are doing... but I do wonder if perhaps you are overdesigning your approach.

There was a good post on Zen Habits about this -- not sure if I can find it right now -- but he basically uses a GTD approach, but he also prioritizes major tasks -- what he calls "big rocks". His idea is to set out out a "Most Important Task" for the day (he also does this for the week & month, etc.; it's a form of goal setting), which he calls a "big rock." After he does his morning routine (exercise, feed kids, etc.) he works only his "big rock" or "Most Important Task" (which is usually tied to a long-term goal in some way). That way he gets it out of the way before all the "little rocks" (the day-to-day stuff that just comes up during the day and eats up all your time) can prevent him from working on the most important things...

I'll see if I can find the link, but you might try googling for it.

His method keeps the flexibility of GTD, but also helps to emphasize working towards goals without rigidly scheduling tasks.
replytoken

Posted: Aug 10, 2009
Score: -1



Posted by Tyler:

...but he also prioritizes major tasks -- what he calls "big rocks". His idea is to set out out a "Most Important Task" for the day (he also does this for the week & month, etc.; it's a form of goal setting), which he calls a "big rock." After he does his morning routine (exercise, feed kids, etc.) he works only his "big rock" or "Most Important Task" (which is usually tied to a long-term goal in some way). That way he gets it out of the way before all the "little rocks" (the day-to-day stuff that just comes up during the day and eats up all your time) can prevent him from working on the most important things...

[/quote]

Many time management seminars recommend this considering this philosophy. And, as a victim of dealing with too many small rocks too often, I find these to be good words of wisdom.

--Ken
Proximo

Posted: Aug 11, 2009
Score: 1



Here is the link to "Zen to Done"

http://zenhabits.net/2007/04/zen-to-done-ztd-the-ultimate-simple-productivity-system/

It's based on GTD with some tweaks. I honestly feel most of the complaints that warrant a tweak from Zen are user specific. I don't have any of the issues mentioned here because it's what my normal GTD process is.

GTD was never meant to be an exact structured system as Zen to Done mentions, but I believe that is a plus because you can add as much structure as you want. Which is basically what they did with Zen to Done.

Anyway. Hope the link helps.

I personally feel you are over complicating your system and that in itself will make you unproductive. GTD is very simple and it's focused on doing what you are wanting.

Getting Things Done
Alisa

Posted: Aug 11, 2009
Score: -1



Thanks for the feedback!

Just an update on using Taskline - I had the trial loaded and found that it took quite a bit of time classifying each task so that it would be scheduled appropriately. Then I found that the Outlook Sync for Toodledo didn't handle repeats very well and ended up uninstalling that. Overall, using the task list in Outlook reminded me of how much I like Toodledo and how easy it is in comparison. I can still see the benefit of being able to select certain tasks to show on your calendar though just to make sure you have time available and don't over-commit yourself.

I do know the benefit of taking care of the big rocks first but my dilemna has always been ignoring the little stuff to the point where they become big rocks. I would like to get a handle on the routine, day-to-day stuff to see what time is actually left to Get Things Done. :)

One problem that I am having is finding time to go through my various Inboxes or collection areas. It is supposed to be part of my morning routine but I find that it takes much longer to process than what I have time for. I guess it will just take time.

Thanks for the link for Zen-to-Done. I visited that site not too long ago and found the information helpful.


This message was edited Aug 11, 2009.
Proximo

Posted: Aug 12, 2009
Score: 1



@Alisa,

I strongly recommend GTD by David Allen. Everything that you claim is a stumbling block for you is easily controlled with GTD. Inbox Zero by Merlin Mann will help you with your email inbox problem also.

I use both GTD and Inbox Zero for my Productivity System.

I won't go into a lot of detail here, but just a couple of nuggets you may find useful.

"my dilemna has always been ignoring the little stuff to the point where they become big rocks"

GTD has a great concept that eliminates this issue. There are no priorities. You conduct a Weekly review and choose what your "Next Actions" for the week will be (Big Rocks in Zen). You also manage what you can do by Context, Time available and Energy.

Let's look at Energy for a minute. This is one of my favorite concepts of GTD. The "Little Stuff" gets attention with GTD, but what is great about the Energy Level concept of GTD is that you choose what task to tackle based on the current Energy Level you have.

Even if I have 3 to 4 "Next Actions" that I should be focused on, I may not have that much energy after lunch to tackle them right then. So I go through my task and knock out some of the "Little Things" that are not too complex to get done. These are low energy level task.

You can knock them off your list, be productive and once your energy level is back (Your lunch settled), you can dive back into your "Next Actions". I love this about GTD.

As for your Inbox issues, I can't recommend Inbox Zero enough. Do a search on Youtube and you will find the video presentation by Merlin Mann. It will change how you use email and how you look at your email inbox as well as your physical desk inbox.

I keep my email inbox and physical inbox at Zero. Not just at the beginning of the day, but all day long. The most email's I have in my inbox at any one time is less than 5 or 10, but it get's processed to zero several times during the day. My Physical inbox is not different because I use the same concepts of Inbox Zero.

Visit the Getting Things Done section of the forums and you will learn a little more about GTD concepts of productivity.

If you like what you are seeing, I recommend buying the 2 books from David Allen on GTD. It has changed the way I handle all task in my life. "Mind like water"

I am now teaching GTD to my entire Department and other Departments are asking me to do a full Company training on it.


This message was edited Aug 12, 2009.
Lance

Posted: Aug 13, 2009
Score: 1



Proximo is right on track with this. I think many people are uncomfortable with looooooong to do or next action lists. With GTD you will gain familiarity and learn to like them. My process is very similar to Proximo's with maybe a couple of variations but the basics are there.

Get inbox (physical inbox, email inbox, etc.) to zero! Right out of the GTD book, I pick up the first piece of paper in my box or email. Is it actionable? I think this is where people have such a hard time because if its not actionalble for them, then you either delete it (in effect saying NO), delegate it (saying not ME), or file it in a file folder for reference right then and there.

If it is actionable for me, can I do it within the next 2-5 minutes? Sometimes yes, often times no. If I know I need to handle this item, but I'm not sure all of what needs to be done, I will make it a project such as, "Clarify item X deliverables for person Y." Under that project, the very next physical thing to move this forward might be a phone call, email or face to face with the person who put this in my box and I will list a sub-task such as, "Ask person Y for clarifying information on item X" (verb the noun with the object).

I go through this process, the GTD workflow that's in the GTD Forum, with every single item that's in my various inboxes. My weekly review is my fail-safe, to make sure nothing slipped through the cracks.

Couple of tricks-of-the-trade for me:
I have a physical in-box at home that my wife puts stuff for me she wants me to do. No kidding, because of the ADD in me I may be hearing whats coming out of her mouth, doesn't mean I'm processing it. It works for us.

I don't leave MS Outlook on all day! Yes, I only check my email a couple of times a day, and I get several hundred a day. There is no way I can work from my email in-box and get anything done and keep my sanity. I work from my next action lists. If it's a crisis, they will call me or come see me. I have found, more often then not, that their 'crisis' was usually resolved by the time I got to their email, by themselves.

When your boss freaks out because you didn't respond to his/her email immediately, explain what your doing. Tell them that if they want all this 'other stuff' delivered on time, you can't be reading email all day long and getting distracted by every little email 'ding' that comes in. They may be a bit put off by it at first or feel uncomfortable (their own inability to manage time), but as you deliver on your commitments, they will come around.

Turning off your email, does wonders for your energy level as well.
Proximo

Posted: Aug 13, 2009
Score: -1



Very well said Lance.

I know most people know this, but it's worth mentioning again.

The "Weekly Review" is the single most important part of GTD. This is straight from David Allen. The Weekly Review is what makes GTD work or not work.
Tyler

Posted: Aug 17, 2009
Score: 1



Great posts from Lance and Proximo... I'm still struggling to put all this together (I find it's a bit like trying to repair a car engine WHILE you're driving it!), and its encouraging and helpful to hear how you approach GTD (and also TD).


Posted by Lance:

Couple of tricks-of-the-trade for me:
I have a physical in-box at home that my wife puts stuff for me she wants me to do. No kidding, because of the ADD in me I may be hearing whats coming out of her mouth, doesn't mean I'm processing it. It works for us.


Yeah, I think this is a great idea. I have starting leaving a stack of 3 by 5 index cards on my home desk by my inbox, so that I (or my wife) can just jot down something on the card and throw it in the box. Later I can process it and add it to TD...
castiron

Posted: Aug 26, 2009
Score: 1



Posted by Alisa:
The problem that I have is often a task ends up taking far longer than the time I have allowed for it and overlap into other "zones." Then my whole day is thrown off track.


There's a couple ways to work with this, depending on the kinds of tasks you're usually having this problem with.

Is it usually tasks that you can stop in the middle of and pick up again later? Then when you reach the end of your scheduled stop, write down where you left off, and schedule the rest for another day.

On the other hand, if it's usually tasks that you _have_ to finish (if "repair the shower faucet" is my task and it takes longer than I expected, I can't easily leave the shower disassembled and the water off until tomorrow!), you may want to put a catch-up time in your daily schedule. That way, if you need some extra time, it's there, but if you stay on track, you can use that time to tackle something small or interruptable.
Proximo

Posted: Aug 27, 2009
Score: 1



@castiron,

I agree completely. Using the notes section of a task, is where I type where I left of and I start each line with a date stamp.

ie.

08/24/2009 - I researched the options for our new design and need to determine how it can affect Manufacturing.

This way, when I can jump back on the task, I know where I left off.
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