View Full Version : Epiphany: Getting Read/Review basket empty
07-28-2004, 08:48 PM
IN the course of my implementing GTD methodology I had an epiphany.
I have started looking at organizing (like other phases in GTD methodology) as a place holder for my labor, for my effort, and for my work-in-progress.
The work I used to dread most was in which I had to redo work which I had done previously. Take a draft of the proposal which has been written and then you lose it. And to get to work again on the draft was a nightmare and the quality of my work would suffer. With the freedom to create file folders I am able to save my work in progress and continue from where I had left (previously I would try to trace the paper in my stacks and many a times would be unable to trace it).
Anyway now the epiphany. So what if we could have placeholders for every labor which we do.
The one place that I have used this insight is for reading magazines. Many times I just have time to scan through the magazine (and not read it). What I do while I scan the magazine is to wirte on a post-it note the topics/articles that interest me and then put the note on the magazine.
When I get time next I already have the next action defined for this magazine! Even though GTD principles did get my reading material in one place- what I was not able to do was read the stuff. Now I am regularly getting my read/review basket empty. What a feeling!
07-29-2004, 05:32 AM
I've always followed the habit of keeping my reading material in one place, but have problems with the post-it note concept:
1) The ink smears too easily;
2) The pieces of toilet paper won't cling to the front of the publication.
07-29-2004, 05:40 AM
1. There is a very recent invention called ball pen-the ink does not smear :o
2. Try putting the post-it note inside the magazine flap.
07-29-2004, 08:14 AM
Also, there is now a 3M product called Super Sticky notes. They do stick! I found mine at Target...
07-29-2004, 08:55 AM
I think a joke might have missed its mark. But I chuckled. :)
08-07-2004, 01:52 PM
So what if we could have placeholders for every labor which we do[?]
This concept has been vital in implementing GTD, which is where folders have made all the difference. I went from never using folders to making sure I have a folder for everything. Now I never allow a piece of paper I'm not currently processing to lay on my desk outside of a folder. In the unlikely event that a paper doesn't fit into one of my current folder designations, that means it's time to create a new folder. If I'm too busy to decide what to do with a new piece of paper, it goes into my "Just In" (i.e. Unprocessed) folder, which is empty 98% of the time. I have ten folders on my desk, alphabetical folders below in the file cabinet, and a 43-folder tickler file.
These days, free-floating papers on a desk just looks like pollution to me, and I've come to believe that, up to a point, the state of one's desk mirrors the state of his or her consciousness. Every time I watch a co-worker spend two minutes looking for something I gave them to get back to me on, it reinforces the point. I used to do the same thing myself. Now I can find any paper in 15 seconds, tops. Placeholders rock.
08-08-2004, 04:33 AM
I have established a discipline for my Read/Review folders (analog in my current folder rack, digital in Outlook). I make emptying it part of my Weekly Review.
David Allen remarked in the seminar I attended years ago that the RR folder has enormous potential to become a black hole. In fact, my experience bore this out. At one point, I had dozens of things I really meant to read in there for weeks at a time.
Now I do a scan and highlight (as in the original post in this thread) when I'm processing and, if I haven't read something by the time Friday comes around, I reprocess my RR folder just as I do my other buckets. Anything not read by Friday gets one of three actions:
- Delete it (I've become pretty ruthless about this)
- File it as reference (if it has long-term value to a project I'm on or an interest area). For paper, this involves clippping and filing in my reference file drawer. For digital, it goes into my Reference folder on my PC and is indexed by search tools (Lookout and x1) for instant retrieval.
- Act on it which, for me, translates to: put it in my travel folder, take it home, and read it that weekend. If it has value, it goes back to the office on Monday. If not, it goes into the Recycle Bin.
Nothing lives in this folder for more than two calendar weeks (I tend to be forgiving of things I put in RR on Thursday or Friday and will sometimes leave them in for the following full week).
08-08-2004, 06:29 PM
In the GTD Fast CDs David says that when your "Read and Review" stack gets so high that it falls over you just throw it all away and start over again. "That's how you 'process' Read and Review!" :D :D
08-08-2004, 11:29 PM
That reminds of the guy who said he came from such a poor family that for years after he left home he was never able to read anything unless it had a hole in one corner and was hanging from a nail...
08-09-2004, 02:07 AM
Busydave: Hole in one corner, hanging from a nail, and hopefully printed on recycled paper (not that shiny stuff)... LOL
08-09-2004, 04:27 AM
I absolutely agree with you when you say that fileholders act as important work-in-progress placeholders. I am also very liberal with the process of creating folders - if it doesn't fit into any existing categories - I create a new folder and there it goes - something like you do.
But I am looking at the paradigm of placeholders of effort in new places. My wife who is a teacher at an MBA school liked the concept and realized that everytime she prepares she goes thru a number of textbooks looking for case studies, etc. And the next time she prepares she does this effort all over again. Now what if she records the important cases, interesting points, etc., at one place (I suggested she create a folder for every topic-I know, not an original one!) - the next time preparing will be a breeze. I know some people do all this stuff naturally - but for me it was a great principle I chanced upon because of GTD.
Looking from this perspective the five phases of workflow can also be interpreted as placeholders for our efforts in progress.
08-09-2004, 09:40 PM
To a man with a hammer everything looks like a nail :-)