New to GTD, I have been through the collection part (which I felt has been pretty successful), and struggling through the "processing" part because I am not entirely comfortable with what comes out, when I organize the next actions by GTD (context, time, energy, priority).
By way of background, I am a litigation attorney with about 50 active lawsuits, maybe another 30 or so active "matters," all of which I have turned into "Projects." My work is very deadline driven (hard deadlines that must be met, followed by soft deadlines ... when I promise completed work to a client and/or simply need to complete the work in the course of good business/professionalism). I also have a lot of outside interests/activities, including coaching three soccer teams, belong to a couple non-profit boards, other volunteer stuff, workouts/sports, etc.
I have been reading the board for about a month, and I realize there are no "sub-projects" in GTD (only projects), that every project should have only one "next action" (even if I have 100 things to do on every case), and that organizing by priority is one of the problems that Allen is trying to address. At the same time, it is like I cannot accept an organization system where I do not have a complete "overview" of a specific Project, or a way of keeping together all of the numerous "next actions" on the same project. Example ...
In any given litigation matter, I have some sequential next actions (i.e., I need to analyze facts/pleadings/documents before I research the legal issues involved, I need to research before I take depositions, I need to take depositions before I draft certain motions, etc.). I also have concurrent next actions (schedule expert meetings, report conferences with court, conduct site inspection), and some ad hoc next actions (client called and wants update, trade emails with opposing counsel on scheduling). When I organize them GTD system, this stuff is scattered all over the place within my @work context or @work-active (with lots of other cases) or inter-mixed with @telephone/@email for all of the calls and emails I have to make ... which is even worse, because that list includes personal stuff that may or may not be as important as the work telephone calls (e.g., I can call my college roommate back tonight, but I had better email my soccer team that practice is cancelled due to wet fields now, or I am going to get a dozen calls/emails). And then, when I do make that work call, I am going to want to see every "next action" on the file and be up-to-date on everything that has been done, and still needs to be done, scattered all over my @work context.
I am using Miscrosoft Outlook ... Outlook Calendar has all actual events and deadlines (with reminders), Outlook "Tasks" contains my project list, and at least right now, an Excel spreadsheet contains my next actions, which has turned into an 800 lb alphabetized gorilla ... all while my "soft deadlines" are piling up in Outlook and "dinging" me with reminders incessantly. I have been thinking that maybe the answer is maintain a separate "Project" Sheet (Word document) for every case/project, but that sounds like a very daunting organizational system ... In essence, I have too many collection baskets at that point (Outlook Calendar, Task-Project List, Excel-Next Action List, Work-Project Overview ... none of which includes the hard files in my cabinet, the telephone log I keep on a piece of paper, or the timesheets I have to create each night to chronical all of the above). So in a word ... HELP!!
I am guessing that my problem is a mixture of not understanding/committing to the GTD methodology, and breaking old habits ("Where is my to do list?), but I am also thinking about whether my calendar/time management software is properly suited to implementing GTD in my practice/life. I am looking at Amicus Attorney software as a possible solution, and would be interested in anyone's thoughts who has tried it.
Sorry for the long post ... thanks in advance for comments and advice.