Is it really possible to separate GTD phases?
David says we need to separate the phases of GTD: collect, process, organyze and review. But is it really possible? For example, you got a note from your boss. How can you just put into inbox for later processing without looking into it? Maybe that's an urgent task you need to do today or now? Or you got a call from your friend who told you to meet with him in the evening. You have to process that input on the fly and you can't just make a note and put into your inbox for later processing that could happen only i.e. next morning.
Of course, it's great to separate phases but is it really possible?
Emergency scanning vs processing
David distinguishes between emergency scanning and processing in the book. Depending upon the priority of the item that has your attention, you may decide to put everything away and jump on it, and go through all five phases without even bothering to draw a line between phases. But that's emergency. If the item is not *that* important, it can rest in your inbox waiting for the next processing turn without distracting you from what you are doing right now. And for most of us, only a minority of items are such priority items; YMMV.
Originally Posted by Borisoff
In your second example, you may decide to go through three phases at once: collect (you received the call), process (decided that it is actionable and you need to meet your friend), and organize (this evening, so it is time-specific and goes on the calendar). Review (perhaps optional in this case) and 'Do' are separate in this case. (In fact for me the process and organize phases are usually merged together.)
So I think the key is to separate the phases as far as possible; but it is best to trust your intuition as to when to use emergency scanning as against processing. You may want to listen to a podcast available on this site in which David Allen talks with Merlin Mann regarding Interruptions.
Further, being able to give in to real emergencies without loosing track of regular work is one of the boons of GTD. One can do so because all the 'bookmarks' are outside one's head. And they will be outside the head if the processing is regular. So regular processing allows one to go for real emergency scanning whenever needed, and avoids emergencies which are caused by unprocessed stuff.
Kelly Forrister Blog Post
A recent post by Kelly addresses this very issue: http://www.davidco.com/blogs/kelly/a...ing_proac.html