View Full Version : The 5 Phases
08-20-2003, 03:40 AM
We all progress differently in implementing GTD, but I wonder if anyone else out there has noticed some of the subtleties of the 5 stages of workflow, i.e., collect, process, organize, review, do.
My initial intrigue with the system was with the collection phase. It was something of a revelation to think that I could collect everything that was tugging at me. I became a great collector and loved putting things in the right bucket. I see now that I actually skipped processing and went straight to organize. I then compounded the error by going straight from organize to do! This seems to relieve stress and get things off my back but they resurface in ugly ways!
Having never fully implemented the process and review phases I find that the doing always feels a little fuzzy and uncertain. "What should I be doing?" is always in the back of my mind. Collect, organize, and do seems to be my main mode. They are the quickest and easiest of the phases. Process and review require me to stop and look at stuff and ask myself the serious questions like: What is it? Whats the outcome? Whats the next action?
There is a subtle interrelationship between and amongst the 5 phases. They definitely work together.
Anybody else out there pushed past or experienced this barrier?
08-20-2003, 05:31 PM
I can relate to your comments in one particular area - and that is my 'reluctance' to do the weekly review if my collection trays are overflowing.
I always feel like I can't do a serious review if I'm in this state but that it will take 6 hours to process my buckets so I procrastinate the review and attack the buckets but time runs out before I've done any reviewing.
For me this is also like putting a gun to my head - with so many things going on right now!
Appreciate any suggestions on how to handle this little gloop in what is otherwise a life saving system for me.
08-20-2003, 07:57 PM
I filter everything that comes to me in bulk before it hits the Inbox. Incoming mail, email and voice mail go into (in order of volume) Trash, Inbox or Hold (mildly interesting). The filtering is a very quick decision. Inbox items need to be Processed Today, even if they may turn out to be Nonactionable. Hold stuff waits for weekly Processing. It might accumulate physically but it doesn't bother me psychologically. I would rather sacrifice some psychic RAM to the residual consciousness that results from previewing Inbox items than have to stare at an overflowing unProcessed Inbox.
10-03-2003, 01:31 AM
I always feel like I can't do a serious review if I'm in this state but that it will take 6 hours to process my buckets so I procrastinate the review and attack the buckets but time runs out before I've done any review.
I might suggest you check out:
People who've gone through our telecoaching program have found tips and tools (and tricks) to more effectively make it through all of this...
I found that when I started to implement the methodology, I was not making the distinction between processing and organizing. I would take one item out of my inbox, and if it was an action item, I would try to understand whether it was a project or not, to identify category of action, and to do the action if it would take less than two minutes.
Eventually I figured out that it goes much faster if I plow through the inbox and put the action items together without first deciding exactly how to categorize the action that I will need to take. During the processing stage, I file reference and reading material and throw away trash (I am talking about my home situation where "delegate" is usually not an option). Then when I'm done, I'm left with only action items which I then proceed to organize. Even if I let my inbox fill up for [unforgivable time period omitted], I can go through the process step quickly this way.
There's also a benefit of subconscious incubation of organizing ideas as I maintain a conscious focus on the processing step. This means that as soon as I'm done processing, I can organize my action items better, because I have a big picture of the sum total of new action I need to take.
10-07-2003, 12:37 PM
Good point Cris.
I find another hazard along these lines. I collect too much before I process - especially the handwritten notes I jot down all day long. I chunk them into "in" and then I dont get back to process them soon enough.
Just today, a customer called and asked me to call him about upcoming operational changes. He had left the same voicemail last Friday, but I (a bit slow after surgery) had not folded that processed that into my system yet. Embarrassing.
Glad I had the surgery excuse!
One can also miss opportunities by not processing and organizing frequently. One of the oft overlooked benefits of GTD is that you waste less action because you have a clearer overview of all your work.
10-31-2003, 07:36 AM
I understand the intent behind the phases much better now.
This topic has really helped me realize that I was trying to Collect AND Process AND Organize each incoming item all at once.
I need to defer Processing to some appropriate point... but depending on what's in the Inbox, that 'appropriate' can vary widely since new actions can cover the entire gamut from 'immediate attention required' to 'life dream - review in X years'.
I'm now going to keep myself locked into *only collecting* an item when it comes up, and tracking the most urgent requirement currently unprocessed. Then I can schedule processing time (at least once a day anyway) as far out as practical without missing deadlines.
I'll see how this works, but it's a lot better than the "Recognize new item - collect - process - organize - feel guilty about taking so much time on just that" that I have been doing.
10-31-2003, 09:15 AM
Not sure I agree with trying to separate "process" from "organise".
I find that defining the context of an action helps me to check that I really understand what the very next action is.
10-31-2003, 11:40 AM
"Collect" was toughest for me early on with GTD. Now I more easily recognize when I need to get things out of my head and into my system.
I think "Do" is hardest now, getting into the zone where things are flowing and actually getting done. I tend to procrastinate anyway, and can organize things too much.