I’m looking for some workflow advice regarding a problem that has gotten more severe as my life gets more hectic with work and family obligations.
David Allen obviously recommends the weekly review, which I do religiously. But I’m finding that by the second day after the review, I am far from “current”. So many things come flying at me day to day, I started doing a mini-review daily, where I would just process all the new inbox items once a day.
The problem is that sometimes now, I don’t even get a chance to do that. (I could if the app wasn’t so cumbersome to navigate on the phone; some days I can’t get to my Mac).
How do you all stay “current” at a micro level? Sometimes I get tasks that are due that day and are relevant that day and should be processed almost immediately. I capture them, and they end up in the inbox, but then I end up abandoning my perspectives/contexts completely because I know they are no longer current. And chaos ensues.
What do you all do to stay current at times like these?
First off most folks need at least 1-1.5 hours a day just to process new inputs. You need to plan for that. Weekly review is not for clearing the inbox for the whole week but for those last few things that came in since the day before. You should have empty inboxes daily. I usually make it in my paper inbox but not always in my e-mail inbox.
Once you deal with processing you can decide what you have to say no to or defer to stay in control. When things get crazy you have to allocate more of your time to doing work as it shows up rather than predefined work.
During lambing I know that basically nothing will get done except work as it shows up, i.e. lambs that are being born. Some might need assistance, some just need to be tagged and weighed, some might get sick or injured and need additional care but in any case I have absolutely no control over when, how many or how often I need to deal with them. So for lambing I never plan on doing anything but processing my unavoidable inputs in between checking the sheep. Before lambing starts I put everything I possibly can on hold, delegate anything I can and clear the decks so I am present and available when the sheep need me. Lambing preparation starts before their due date as I prepare meals for the freezer so when it’s a rough day I can come in and have a hot meal on the table in less than 15 minutes. The goal is I should be able to prepare and eat a hot meal in less than half an hour as that is about the time when I might need to get back out to deal with sheep.
So my major suggestion is to look at what you can put on hold or stop or delegate while things are busy.
Second suggestion is to do a quick review of your context lists each morning. I have 35 active contexts, about 300 available actions and about 250 active projects. It takes me less than 15 minutes each morning to do a quick scan of my context lists to see what contexts need attention today. I do this after I check my calendar for scheduled items and the weather since that affects so much of my work.
I’ve run into the same problem. Let me tell you about my current experimental solution.
I use Drafts for iOS for capture, using its automation capabilities to send data to OmniFocus.
(Look elsewhere in this forum for discussion about configuring Drafts.)
The setup I’m trying now takes captured items and automatically sets the project, context, flag and makes them immediately due. This prioritizes them in my system for immediate action. If I do nothing else but capture them, they end up at the top of my perspectives, due and flagged, reminding me to do them. They do not fall between the cracks.
If I get time to process things, I go to my urgent context and clarify which items can be postponed or unflagged.
The central idea is to bias capture towards immediate urgent action, and then adjust to lower urgency if you have time.
So far, it’s working better for me than the standard GTD capture system.
I initially created this system because I visit a remote work site every week where they bombard me with new tasks. I needed a way to capture all the tasks and have an easy list for that location. So far, this is working well.
In the discussion of automating Drafts, make sure you use the variation that processes a whole list from one note. That has worked well for me.
This might be something that could work. I currently use Drafts to capture as well.
My current process is this: I use Drafts to capture throughout the day. Most of what is captured however is typically just random thoughts and observations, and not items that would go into OmniFocus.
Then, at the end of the day, I push the random thoughts into nvalt (for processing during the weekly review into journal entries in OneNote at the end of the week) just to clear my Drafts inbox, and push any potential tasks into OneNote.
As I said, the problem is those hours between the processing when, if anything was due, I’ve lost all trust in the system. I think your solution could work.
Staying current is about as useful as Inbox Zero. We’ll never get to Inbox Zero with the way the world works nowadays.
The beauty of OmniFocus and other task managers is that you can process your inbox and park all of your projects and next actions in the appropriate container. Feel secure and confident with the idea that you have safely placed every project and/or next action in its proper place. Then go take care of business. When you have some downtime or slower times, you can easily refer to OmniFocus and use it as a bucket list of actions to refer to.
Staying current might just mean that you have processed all the new incoming actions so that you can take care of the more urgent matters that just come your way.
For example, I work in retail. I’m just so busy with handling customers. I don’t have time to work on the current project load. But I know that when the Holiday shopping season is over, I can easily pick back up where I left off by referring to OmniFocus.