GTD Day 13 – Processing: Getting “In” to Empty

My Blog Block

My dear friend, Leslie A., made this. She's very creative, isn't she?

Chapter 6, Day 1 of 2.  

We have made it through to Chapter 6, which means we collected all our stuff and put it in some sort of inbox or stacks surrounding our inbox.  Now, we get to the art of processing all the stuff.  This does not mean we will be taking action or doing any of the stuff.  I know, more “preparing,” right?  I’m just as tired of preparing as you are.  That said, I still want to try it Mr. Allen’s way and see if there’s anything to this – see if his 5 step process actually helps me.  We will simply make decisions about each item:  “what it is, what it means, and what we’re going to do with it.”  

Once you’ve finished with this second stage (Processing), you will have decided 1 of 5 options for each item:

  1. trashed it;
  2. “completed any less-than-two-minute actions;”
  3. “handed off to others” – delegated;
  4. “sorted into your own organizing system reminders of actions that require more than two minutes; and
  5. identified any larger commitments (projects) you now have, based on the input.”

Ok, the first 3 things, I get.  The last 2 – huh?  We’ll figure this out together, k?

To help you with the overview, check out the Workflow Diagram on page 120.  The center column is what’s used in processing.  A great example is, “if you pick up something from “in” and realize, “I’ve got to call Andrea about that, but I’ve got to do it on Monday, when she’s in her office,” then you’ll defer that action immediately and enter it into your calendar for Monday.”

Now, listen up, because I did stuff on my own before reading ahead.  I probably should not have.  I feel a little thrown off my current task, which was to process, or so I thought.  I collected, and now I guess I’m just reading, because he recommends that we read through this chapter, as well as Chapter 7, on organizing our actions, BEFORE we actually start processing what we’ve collected in our inbox.  Really?

Ok, here’s what I did.  I went to my friendly office supply store to get a labeler.  One with an adapter would have been nice, but they did not come with adapters.  Oh, no.  That would make too much sense.  See, the manufacturer of the labeler wants to rip off the consumer by pricing them as separate items, and if that wasn’t bad enough, my friendly (or not so friendly) little office supply store did NOT even carry any of the *beeeeep* adapters!  I did not wish to purchase batteries, but I would have had to buy 6 AA batteries had I not already had some waiting for me at home.   

One good thing about the labeler was that it was originally priced at $50 and I got it on sale for about $25.  I didn’t even know the stinkin’ thing was on sale.  Rock on!  Love it when I can save money. 

Oh, and the other little office supply store up the road?  I called them to see if they had adapters for their labelers – I called 3 times.  The third time, I asked for a manager and still, no one would help me.  I was not driving 10 more miles with gas at $3.27 a gallon for them to tell me they don’t carry the *bleep* adapters, either.  Ok, I’ll stop my ranting now. 

Well, I got my 100 file folders (for less than $6) and my trusty new labeler ($25) and a pack of labels (about $13!), even though the labeler comes with labels.  Plus, I saved more money than I expected.  I do have to order an ac adapter, probably from the *reeeooowwwww*claws sharpened and glistening* manufacturer, because I do not like to depend on batteries.  They are a nice back-up if your electricity goes out, but honestly, I don’t see myself labeling by candlelight.  ???  Ok, getting out of my smarty pants mood and onto a lighter one.  Gimme a minute . . .

Oh, and I read my instruction book that came with the labeler – lots of handy little tips and fun functions I can use at a later date, but I wanted to get busy, so I got my handheld recorder that I take with me everywhere (I have reasons) and went through my filing cabinets, prattling on to my handheld what each file was labeled, then I played the tape and typed each one on my computer.  That way, I’ll have an index of what files I have, I can make a list of what files I need, and what files need to be stored off-site, or trashed, or combined with another file.  Then, I started typing out the labels.  Fun!  So simple.  I replaced all of my hanging files with the manilla files.  I realize now that I should have just stuck with the program, because while I did get something accomplished, I should have read more into this book and then just dealt with the task at hand = Processing my inbox.  That was the next step, after all.  Did I do that?  No.  I’m back on track now. 

If you schedule your life on a PDA and sync it with Outlook, then you should read page 121.  I don’t know if this is the best option for me.  I just have a thing about seeing it in writing on paper.  Don’t know what it is, but that’s just me.  What system you use to set up your reminders can be decided later on.

A few rules to follow in processing would be:

  • Process the top item first.
  • Process one item at a time.
  • Never put anything back into “in.”

Sounds simple, right?  The only way to get through all that stuff and get to the bottom of the stack and have an empty inbox is to deal with each item, one at a time.  Pick it up, decide what it is, what action needs to be taken and then dispatch it.  Now, if you are processing emails, it’s smarter to process the last-in first, because of discussion threads.

And once it comes OUT, it does NOT go back into “IN.”  I’ve had a hard time with this one, myself.  You pick it up, you have no idea what you want to do with the thing and you decide to figure it out later and make another stack or put it on top of another stack.  No, no, no.  This defeats the whole purpose of what you are trying to do here.  Deal with the item, get it to where it needs to be and be done.

No action needed on an item?  Trash it, incubate it or use it for reference material.  If it needs incubation, write it on a “Someday/Maybe” list, or put it on your calendar or in a “tickler” file.  I have a couple of tickler files.  I have monthly file folders in my filing cabinet and I have an expandifile on my table beside my desk, with slots numbered 1-31 for each day of this particular month.  Not only do I need to check my calendar, but I check what I call my pending file every morning.  This is where I keep concert tickets or something I need to do or read on a particular day.  I’ve just got to get back in the habit of actually checking my pending file every day.  I do think once my office is under control, I can remake daily dos much easier, such as checking my pending file every morning.  What do you think?  Am I making it all too difficult?  Is Mr. Allen?  Do I think too much?

For all this stuff that needs incubating, you don’t have to calendar or put it in the tickler file just yet.  “For now, just put a Post-it on such items, and label them “maybe” or “remind on October 17,” and set them aside in a “pending” (ha!  Fancy that!) category you will be accumulating for later sorting.”  Not back into your inbox, but YES, a different stack or basket or box.  Great, more in-baskets.  *sniff*  I need a drink.

Make it a good Friday.  Be productive.  I’m going to be reading the rest of this chapter and the next, so I can get busy.  I am ready to get busy, dangflabbit.  Hurry up and wait. 

Love ya!  *hug*



About Carol B Sessums

Writer, Editor, Coffee Addict, Lover of Mountains. Lives to shrink the planet, one story and connection at a time.
This entry was posted in Body, Mind and Soul, Book Study, Books, Self-help, Self-improvement and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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