organizer - the Netherlands - Self training

Hi all,

I wanted to start on the 8th of June but I didn't see the workbook wasn't an eBook. I mailed support and Kevin responded quickly and send me the pre-training preparation immediately and within 2 days I had was able to order the eBook. Thanks Kevin for the quick response and great service. So far I have been busy with the preparation phase.
I also have ADHD and want to get more organized. I suffer extra from the pop ups in my mind and distractions. TRO seems a very complete product to me and I really like your approach to things.

I have a service job where I am working with costumers, and since this is almost ongoing my productivity there is 100% in the time management sense since i am always busy doing the core business. I want to use TRO(g) to manage a my life outside of my job (not two timelines), since my job is pretty much defined.

My home office isn't really that messy, but certainly not fully organized. here are the pictures:


  • I am gonna start today with TRO(g). i have done the preperation in the last 2 weeks and are ready to start.
    I fell in a few of my know traps and have a lot of questions after skimming the whole course.

    1) want everything to be perfect before starting organizing. ???
    2) getting caught in the trap of not knowing where to start. (organizing my old mail, before that i should reinstall everything before that i should organize my files, before that i should consider buying a new pc, before that i should consinder using vista, before that i should check if all my hardware is compatible before that.. well you get the picture)
    3) thinking that buying stuff will solve the problem. (I am not a shoppaholic, more a buy first solve later kind of guy)

    I have decided today to just follow the steps in the book without retinking everything.

  • I will post my questions here as they pop into my mind during training:

    1) One email address and forwarding vs. multiple addresses in one outlook profile. I have personal email address and a website email address which I don't want to get mixed. If I use one outlook profile isn't it effectively the same as 1 email address from a tro point of view?

    2) Remote backup, I like to keep my backups in house. I have my own sambaserver which can do the same for me.

    3) Exchange server versus synchronizing laptop with pc. I mainly use my pc and ppc for daily use and sync my laptop when I am on holidays and resync when I am back is this a problem in your opinion. I see the advantages of exchange server but I like to keep it all "in house”?

    4) I would prefer to have as little as possible on my desk (distracting) so I have my inbox in a cabinet nearby within easy reach (the movement will be good for me) but if it fails I will adjust immediately. Do you think this adjustment is acceptable? I know I adjust a lot to my situation, but I feel I have good arguments to do so. And I am prepared to change if it fails.

    5) Do I understand correctly when I say that I can still use chat programs just not to collect tasks or to do things or are you suggesting to not use chat programs at all?

    6) Do you have any suggestion for using my whiteboard now i it is no longer a collection point? (everything i can think of seems somekind of disguised collecting point)

    7) Am i correct in concluding that everything in my office is either a resource, pending action, reference or decoration? (so I can catogorize it by asking myself what is it?)

    8) If i would use garbage as scratchpaper. how do i know which side to use if i take it out of my inbox for the task on the other side?
  • here are my after pictures
  • Your questions:

    1) One Outlook profile is the same thing. The point is that you want your emails to come to one Inbox (one collecting point) rather than five where possible and practical.

    3) Manual sync can work if your 100% comfortable with it. Exchange just syncs effortlessly all the time if you have a reliable provider, and it's cheap ($15/month). (NOTE: Manual sync failures are common and painful to correct. Beware.)

    4) This adjustment is perfect for you. Principle: Things you use frequently should be closest at hand.

    5) Chat programs are great tools of weapons we use against ourselves. Use them correctly and they help you (channel of communication for co-workers), use them incorrectly and they can be horrible time wasters (constant interruptions from friends). They are terrible collecting points, don't collect tasks to chat programs. They are excellent "resources" since they maintain a log of your communications.

    6) Whiteboards are like a notepad stuck to the wall. Brainstorm and work through things on them, put checkmarks next to action items, collect the action items to your task list, take a picture of the whiteboard if you care, and erase the board. Do not accumulate items on a whiteboard.

    7) Everything in your office is either a resource, reference item, collecting point, or decoration.

    8) I put scratch paper blank side up. If I resuse it, I cross off the "used" side before putting back in the scratch paper tray.

    I hope this helps!
  • Thanks Kevin all clear.

    I have more questions.

    1) i have gift certificates for a certain store they will be valid for a year. so there is no action right now, since i don't know what i want to buy. but just reference will probably cause me to forget it. how should i process this?
  • Processing gift certificates goes something like this:

    1) Create a task. Making the purchase is a project. Next step is "Decide what to buy." So the task reads: "Dillard's certificate - decide what to buy".
    2) Schedule that step with a "loose goal" date around when you think you might want to make the decision.
    3) Add a "Do On" date about a month before the certificate expires to make sure the task doesn't slip through.
    4) Create a "Certificates" file folder and keep them there. Put in an envelope, maybe, to keep them from falling out.

    Coupons are easier. They are just optional resource items. File them in their own hanging file folder. Add new ones to the front. The old, expired ones naturally gravitate to the back where you can throw them out.
  • Hi Kevin,
    i was a bit dissapointed and stopped for a little while, actually i had problems with the project feature which made it less clear and easy for me, i guess i did something wrong but decided to get back on the horse and put trying out preview/beta feature ast a future task. since i really want to complete this course and get it going and reap rewards.
  • Yes, the Project feature is really a preview feature--pre-beta code actually, designed to let people try out the current state of the feature and give us feedback. The manual is not written with that feature in mind as it is still in transition.

    I recommend just turning off the preview features (leave beta features enabled, though) and following the training exactly as it is laid out in the TRO Field Guide. Typing the next step inline rather than using a separate project field is amazingly productive and fast. Store subsequent next steps in the Notes. If you have huge projects with dozens of steps, there's a great way to handle those as well, and you can mix and match the approach among multiple projects.

    Just keep it simple. It will serve you better in the long run. The training is about making you as productive as possible, and that means simplicity.

    When the new Project management feature is really released, I expect it will be intuitive and as easy as the current recommended approach, but it isn't there yet....
  • organizer,

    Please tell us your current status. How is your Self Training going?

    It's best to post your current status here daily (number of items in each collecting point, how long it took you to do your daily review each day, etc.) so we can make sure you're on track with the right habits.

    Daily accountability is VERY important for establishing the right habits. That's why the 21 Days of Accountability and Follow Up is so valuable. It's included with Coach Assisted Self Training and Remote/On-Site Training. See:
    21 Days of Accountability
    Coach Assisted Self training

    P.S. Again, the preview features in Trog Bar aren't the best way to manage your tasks and projects right now since those features are still under pre-beta development. The method I recommended works very well for most folks...
  • Hi Kevin,

    To be honest I stopped the training after the process part.
    I will explain what happened. once I started the processing I needed to make categories and that made me think about a good structure for categories in outlook and that in turn made me think about how I should change my view in outlook and I started to work outside the training. And there are a million things to do outside the training so I got sidetracked. But today I am starting over and won't let myself be distracted. I have cleared today and tomorrow completely to work on TRO without distractions.

    There are also some questions that pop up before I even get to some parts.

    1) With the processing part, how do I prevent the same action being scheduled twice or more in different words or in the same words? (If for example I put cleaning windows already processed in my task list. but forgot that I put it there and write it again in my scratchpad?)

    2) How do I prevent a wild grow of categories?

    3) I have changing shifts at work how do I put that in my strategic agenda do I have to adjust that every week??

    4) while working with the trogbar i noticed that when and appointments time is past it gets crossed out. if i haven't done it (like a task with a deathline) can't things slip thru the cracks?

    5) while deciding i have problems distinguishing between a project and a even bigger project. for example my focus this year is on my health and all aspects of it. so i typed "getting eyes lasered" in my scratch. so when i was deciding i made it an project: eyes lasering: talk to denise who had her eyes done for info. than i thought this is part of my health 2008 project and "getting the most out of my expensive healthplan insurance" so i moved up a step (I know the tro guide only speaks about if it is a project what is the next step (down)) but another subject in my scratchpad was my health 2008 project so it would have come up later anyway. I know it is quite a long discription but this is what confuses me at this moment and makes the system less workable for me. do you have any suggestions for me here? or did i misunderstand anything?

    6) when i use an contact to group simular tasks is there a way to find them in my smartphone when i happen to meet that someone?? if I use the contacts field?

    7)how do i keep my projects from not growing wild? i know have a system and system management for the same kind of project tasks.

    Thanks in advance and I keep you posted

  • Organizer,

    Keep It Simple

    Total, Relaxed Organization is a simplified yet enhanced approach to GTD principles. Keep it simple to boost your productivity. Don't over-complicate it or you'll work against yourself. Press forward and you'll see it all fit together.

    You're very analytical, which is good (I'm trained in physics), but it can work against you if you look too far ahead, not seeing exactly why TRO is telling you to do what it is and not fully trusting it. You'll likely re-engineer a solution before actually seeing how TRO already addresses it. Sometimes you have to DO and then see how it fits together rather than the other way around.

    Getting a Coach Is Important

    Having a coach--a trusted expert--delivers relief fast and eliminates the uncertainty that is so distressing. The coach can say "yes, this will work for your situation, just press forward and you'll see it fit together" or they can say "here are the simple adjustments you'll need."

    This forum can only serve that need in a limited way (though I will try to address your questions below). You should seriously consider Coach-Assisted Self Training or Remote Coaching. They both include 21-Day Accountability and Follow Up, which gives you a coach to correct you when you get off course, plus it adds additional training at the right times, plus it keeps you accountable to making the change until your habits are right and permanent.

    Remote Training puts you in control fast with a dedicated coach to 1) step you through exactly what you really need to do for your work style and skip past anything that doesn't apply to you, 2) refresh you on exactly what you may have missed (instead of trying to scan the book to figure out what you've overlooked or misunderstood), and 3) address all special needs from the outset, as they come up. We literally put you in control in 7 hours without stepping into your office, with only minimal preparation on your part.

    That said, here are my answers to your questions.

    Choosing Categories

    Categories should be chosen as shown on the Processing Flow Chart, page 70, lower fight corner, #3, Defer; also Chapter 12; also Chapter 21, page 142. (All page numbers are for the current edition of the TRO Field Guide.)

    You will usually tag tasks with more than one category. This is important. Tags and dates always apply to the very next step and not the entire project.

    1) Major categories describe areas of your life that need balancing, into which you will schedule tasks: (Work), (Personal), (Family), (Volunteer), etc. If (Chores) is a major subgroup of (Personal) or (Family) then create it as a totally separate major category.
    2) You also need S/M or Someday/Maybe, Errands, Calls. Maybe Store, grocery, etc. These are used for lists and other special tagging purposes.
    3) 1-1Person categories for ad hoc meetings.
    4) @Meeting categories like @AllHands, @Manager, etc. if you have regular meetings into which you will schedule agenda items. Any tasks scheduled with a category named like this will be suppressed from your regular lists until the meeting time. (You can change the naming convention for meeting agenda categories in the Trog Options screen. CAUTION: This naming convention differs from the GTD convention, in which  all major contexts start with @. If you follow that convention and don't change your Meeting Agenda rule, you won't see most of your tasks in the task lists!)

    Do NOT create categories for Waiting For (W/F) or projects. GTD requires those to support its oppressively-long Weekly Review, which is not necessary in TRO because of optimizations in the approach. A TRO Weekly Review is only 5-10 minutes!

    Double Entry of Tasks

    Relax, it's OK. Just enter it if you're not sure. It's more efficient to double-enter tasks than to search. Amazingly, duplicates eventually end up next to each other in the lists anyway, and you will see the duplicate and delete or merge it then.

    Appointments Getting Crossed Out

    (CLARIFICATION: We're talking about appointments here, not tasks.)

    Crossed-off appointments just mean that the appointment time is fully past. You honor appointments using a different system.

    "Honor" appointments (see pg 100 in the TRO Field Guide) by always setting Outlook Reminders for them, then never dismiss the appointment reminder until you have honored it. This is the default option in Outlook. Set the default reminder time long enough in advance. That's the fail-safe to ensure that appointments don't slip through the cracks.

    Changing Work Schedules or Shifts

    Change the recurrence pattern in your Strategic Calendar when your shift changes. This changes it throughout your calendar.

    If your schedule changes periodically, you can set up two Strategic Calendars and just change which one Trog Uses when your schedule changes. Set this up in the Trog Options screen (click {+] near upper right corner of Trog Bar), then click "Profile and folder options".

    Projects and Bigger Projects

    Again, it's easy to over-engineer this. Most things are interconnected, but that doesn't make any difference to ACCOMPLISHING them. Create tasks and projects focused on the best way to accomplish things.

    You shouldn't try to enforce a rigid project structure. The inline Project - Next Step method we recommend (it's actually very time-efficient and effective) only allows you one level of subtasks anyway. That means that subprojects need separate task records. Projects can have "Waiting For" (W/F) steps for other projects.

    In your case, you would create one project record for Health 2008, then other records for the projects of Laser Surgery and Getting the Most Out of My Insurance. The Health 2008 record would look like this (the Subject is listed first; the subsequent lines are entered in the top of the Notes field):

    Health 2008 - W/F Laser Surgery
    - W/F Get the Most of Health Insurance
    - Next health project or goal for 2008
    - Another goal for 2008

    Laser Surgery - Talk to Denise
    - Review heal plan for best options
    - Decide on doctor

    Get the Most of Health Insurance - Annual physical
    - W/F Laser surgery
    - ...

    NOTE: The 21 Days of Accountability teaches even better, advanced methods for larger projects. One of these is to create a special "project category" for overarching projects. For example, you could create a Health category for your overarching health goal for 2008. Put all the tasks in that category if they support that goal. There are some cool things you can do with this approach, like adding Health to the "20/80 or Best Result" list, which will boost the priority of that category automatically in your lists.

    Grouping Tasks by Contact

    Right now, using TRO and your smart phone, I recommend NOT grouping tasks by Contact. Turn that option off on the options screen and use 1-1Person ad hoc categories instead. On your Windows Mobile smart phone you'll see that category near the top and can see all tasks in it quickly.

    I hope this helps!

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