Bryan - Southern Califoria - Self Training

First up, let me confess that these are not 100% "before" photos...  I took these photos after gathering a bunch of unprocessed stuff.  This stuff had come from

-my briefcase (actually a roller-bag)
-the floor of my office
-the surface of my desk
-my portable inbox (plastic folder)
-my existing Outlook mailbox (68 projects, ~300 tasks, ~120 unprocessed e-mails)
-and a kitchen cupboard in my home

(The second photo at the bottom of the page shows where I've piled these unprocessed items piled on the left side of my desk).

Furthermore, I should also confess that my life hasn't been entirely out of control lately.  I've been a follower of David Allen's GTD system for almost 2 years now.  And I've owned (and used, more or less) the GTD add-in from NetCentrics.  Unfortunately, I never really loved that GTD add-in.  And lately, it's minor quirks and idiosyncracies have begun to really get on my nerves.  I decided that I needed to be free to meet other software.

So here I am.  I've had the software and Field Guide for a week.  I've set up a new Exchange provider, configured Outlook / TROG Bar, and arranged a few days next week to be available "for emergencies only".  (Let's see how well that works).

Anyhow, here's the photos:

-The first two just show different views of my desk.
-The third one shows my "junk drawer" (I guess I should probably put that whole drawer into my inbox...).
-The fourth one shows my filing drawer (it only looks organized).
-The fifth photo is another filing cabinet that has my supply of file folders and envelopes.
-The sixth one is my "junk drawer annex" (I've just realized that my inbox is getting much bigger).
-The seventh one is a shelf of reference materials.
-The last one is my portable inbox.  This is the thing that's been the primary source of my anxiety lately.  Some of those pages have been in there, unprocessed, for over a month (yikes!).

So, I'll be taking the 3-day self training approach starting on Monday.  I'll keep you all updated.



  • End of day 1:

    I was able to spend a solid 6 hours working on my system.  When I started, I was feeling about 30% "in control".  Right now, I'm at about 50% - which feels a lot better.

    I didn't do a "daily review" today.  My main focus was just trying to get collecting and processing current so that a "daily review" would actually include everything (or mostly everything) that I have on my plate.  The full 6 hours that I spent today working on TRO would be classified as "triaging" and "processing".

    Fortunately, I was able to delete a nice chunk of the things on my tasklist, project list, and inbox.  That gives me a good sense of accomplishment.

    There are still 113 items in my inbox (that haven't yet made it into my "unprocessed" list).  And I haven't even looked in my "junk drawer" yet.  I think that what I'm looking for is a certain comfort level that my system is current enough that I can focus on these other areas without worrying that something is going to blow up.  Getting my e-mail and tasklist current bought me a heap of relief.
  • Bryan,

    Thanks for the updates. Don't skip that Daily Review. It's only 5 minutes or less but it's crucial for ensuring that your "hard dates" are realistic and properly satisfied. Likewise, the Weekly Review is only 5-10 minutes but critical to making sure your "loose goal" dates are being handled correctly. Monthly Reviews (just 10 minutes) do the same for Someday/Maybe tasks.

    If you find yourself lagging in posting progress to this forum, consider the 2 days of coach accountability and follow-up. It's easier to be accountable to a person, and a coach will keep you on the right path day in and day out.
  • I had an epiphony a couple of days ago...

    David Allen makes reference to something called the "scuzz factor".  With regards to personal organization, this is his way of describing the arbitrary level of chaos that each of us can operate with and be comfortable with.

    I realize that I've fallen into a trap whereby I've been able to clean up my system just to the point where the chaos is back within my "comfort zone", but my systems are still quite far from squeaky clean.

    I did a pretty good job on day 1 of going through a huge amount of unprocessed stuff. Then I fell into the trap of, "I'd better handle just this one thing right away - then I'll get back to collecting and processing."  Then, of course, "just this one thing" turns into, "well, I can't do this one thing until I first take care of this other one thing".  The next thing I know, it's the end of the day and I never did get back to my unprocessed items.

    Anyhow, I think that admitting that I'm having a problem is the first step toward resolving that problem.  But it's only the first step.  Admitting it won't actualy solve the problem.  That's still something that I have to do myself.
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