View Full Version : Separating Process and Organize
03-25-2005, 12:06 PM
I read somewhere I think on this site or one of the mailing lists recently about the importance/benefits of separating out each of the different stages of collect, process, organize, review and do.
However, I often find that as I process my collected items that I am immediately putting the next actions on their context lists or creating a new project on my project list (I at least create the project to put it on the list so I don't forget it, and then go back at a later time, usually review and figure out future actions etc).
I don't understand the effeciency of separating out processing and organizing, unless I am missing something. Where do others store their next actions during the processing stage if they are not immediately putting them on their contextual next actions list?
Am I missing something?
Paul, There's another current thread which may help you distinguish between Process and Organize. Please see
Mohamed's analysis of the different roles we play at each stage of the GTD process is, IMHO, brilliant. See if it helps.
03-26-2005, 02:32 PM
Paul, are you talking about the initial organizing necessary to implement GTD or about on-going organizing tasks?
I like Mohamed's role descriptions, but IMO the processing and organizing stages are intricately related. I doubt anyone here really refrains from absolutely all organizing activities while they are processing. Even the "judge" stops processing and just does the actions under two minutes. I think organizing is basically the same. It's faster to do a two minute organizing task now than come back to it later. Once someone has their basic system in place, most of the organizing tasks will be short ones that are most efficiently done in the midst of a processing session or a weekly review.
I'm curious now: how long do people spend each week wearing the "organizer-librarian" hat?
And after the initial set-up, and not counting further work on those areas you put "crime scene tape" around and approach later as projects, how rigidly do you separate organizing from processing?
03-26-2005, 04:09 PM
Separating collection from processing has its advantages. But on separating processing from organization, Paul's onto the right idea: you process into your organization: Projects, Actions, Calendar, Someday/Maybe, Waiting For, Tickler File or General Reference File. I can't think of an outcome or action I wouldn't want to immediately put in one of these buckets. That is, unless, as Unregistered said, Paul was referring to "organizing" as the initial setup of the GTD system.
03-26-2005, 04:31 PM
Hi everyone, thanks for the feedback
Just for clarification, I was thinking more in terms of maintaining an on-going system and not the initial set up phase.
Typically I try to keep my inbox close to zero or at zero on a daily basis. So I empty my email in box once or twice a day. I clear out any voicemail and also any stuff in my in-tray. As I get a new action to record I am fairly consistent at putting it straight onto the relevant context list.
I just read about separating out the phases of process and organize and could not see the benefit in doing this - at least not in terms of defining what the next action is as part of the processing phase but then not recording it onto the relevant list until the organize phase.
Perhaps it is different for the initial phase, but it still seems to be that you would handle each item twice. Once in the process and then once to record the action. That doesn't seem efficient to me.
PS I thought the post on the different roles was excellent and I have certainly printed that out to review and implement.
03-26-2005, 05:49 PM
I agonized over processing vs. organizing until I realized the important distinction between initialization and utilization.
Please see my record of epiphany at:
I too was confused by the presentation of processing and organizing in the book.
At the end of the day we must each make our own rules. I thank DA for systematizing his approach. Then I figure out how to make sense of it in my life.
03-26-2005, 06:27 PM
There are a few different kinds of "organizing" within my system. Some of them are entangled in the "processing" step and some aren't.
Some inbox items drop directly into appropriate spots in my system. They represent phone calls I need to make, materials I need to review, whatever. So "organizing" simply means putting them on the appropriate list.
Some inbox items add a lot of information at once to my system. A meeting, a conference, or the end of a project might generate a pile of materials for which the next action is "organize."
Some inbox items represent new projects, for which the next action might be to plan my approach, work out a timeline, etc. Again, "processing" generates an "organize" next action.
And then there's the daily organization step that happens so quickly that it isn't really noticed as such: look over my lists and decide what to do and in which order.