Wednesday, December 15, 2004

GTD: Processing
As I read David's book over the past months, his points and suggestions reminded me of previous organizational attempts of mine. Yesterday's work of Collection reminds me of the Franklin Covey Seminar (when I attended it was pre-merger Franklin Quest) that I attended while a sophomore (I think) in college.

(It was a gift from my dad. I was having trouble keeping up with and keeping track of my school work and extra curricular responsibilities. See any pattern in my life here? If you've been reading this blog for very long, you might also notice a Stokes Family pattern as well -- if something is worth doing, it's worth researching it and availing yourself to as many ways of learning as possible: via books, movies, conversations, professional seminars, experience, etc.)

To return to topic: The key of the Franklin Quest seminar/system was that it provided a space (the planner-book) where you were to capture all the info you needed for your life & work. Depending upon how small you wrote, you could do this in a very small planner-book, or a planner-book that exceeded the size of a legal pad. You were supposed to keep your calendar, address book, to-do list, and project planning stuff all in the book. When you needed to put a new month in, you were supposed to take the oldest month out and index & archive it. If you had a plane ticket you needed in two weeks, or directions to a place you were going in a few days, they suggested you clip the tix & directions to their relevant dates. That way, when you opened up your planner on that relevant date, ta-daa! your tickets were right where you needed them!

I learned several good habits thanks to the Franklin Quest seminar. One - It's a really good idea to have your address book with you all the time, as you never know when you'll need to use it. Two - Writing things down on a calendar, and then having it accessible is also a good thing. Not writing everything in your calendar makes it pretty useless. Three - Long range / Life planning can be very helpful (more on this as it relates to GTD in a later post).

Finally, this is have-things-there-when-you-need-them is a good idea! The problem with the Franklin Quest program is some things are just physically too big to fit in the planner. Another problem was that once a month was indexed & archived, it was effectively lost to me. I might have just as well thrown that month away for all that I ever looked at it again. In the Franklin Quest system there was no approach to having a filing or library system outside of your planner-book. (I have no idea if the Franklin Covey System still has this liability.)

In his Collection discipline, David picks up this have-things-there-when-you-need-them value. The point of Collection in GTD is the same point as the put-everything-in-your-planner point of Franklin Quest: have everything where you can look at it and get to it. David is trying to build a place where you've got all your info in one reliable place/system so you can relax that you're not losing/missing anything when you sit down to do your work. What David has over Franklin is that he's building a system that can tolerate things larger than a planner-book and he's got a way to help you have a filing system to hold all your relevant stuff. (That filing system comes after you've "Processed".)

Remember that all my stuff is in my "In Box"? This is what I'll be doing today:

(You'll note that it's not the whole flowchart. That's ok, I'll get to the rest of it later. I'm already daunted by the volume of stuff in my In Box, so I'm not thinking about the rest of it!)
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