Issues about capturing everything

As explained in the previous post, I have decided to take my Easter weekend OFF to tackle the initial capturing process – an Augean task that has hindered my implementing the GTD method for months! As alluded to many times already, I am trying – after hours – to collect all the physical, digital, and mental things in my life that need processing. However, after months of filling my INs, I am still stuck at this first step; hence, my decision of blocking a full weekend to put an end to this never-ending task. Going through chapter 5 of David Allen’s book again, I realized that I made many mistakes that slowed me down indeed, beyond doing this after-hours.

I don’t recommend using after-hours for this work. It usually means seriously reduced horsepower and a big tendency to get caught up in “rabbit trails”.David Allen

In the chapter Capturing: Corralling Your “Stuff”, David Allen has a section entitled Issues About Capturing in which he explains in detail the typical issues you may run into as you engage in the capturing step (and how to handle them):

  • you’ve got a lot more than will fit into one in-tray;
  • you’re likely to get derailed into purging and organizing;
  • you may have some form of stuff already collected and organized; and/or
  • you’re likely to run across some critical things that you want to keep in front of you.

While I did mention some of these problems, as well as their solutions, in my post covering this chapter, I did not pay enough attention to the second one on the list: the Purge-and-Organize Bug! Here is an excerpt from the book:

Many people get hit with the purge-and-organize virus as they’re going through various areas of their office (and their home). If that happens to you, it’s OK, so long as you have a major open window of time to get through the whole process (at least a whole week). Otherwise you’ll need to break it up into chunks and capture them as little projects or actions to do, with reminders in your system, like “Purge four-drawer cabinet” or “Clean office closet.”

What you don’t want to do is let yourself get caught running down a rabbit trail cleaning up some piece of your work and then not be able to get through the whole action-management implementation process. It may take longer than you think, and you want to go for the gold and finish processing all your stuff and setting up your system as soon as possible.

I let myself get caught running down a rabbit trail indeed! Not having a major open window of time to get through the whole process (at least a whole week), I could not pass this step until now. I should have followed David Allen’s advice and added many (not that) little projects in my IN.

I made another mistake, though; I let myself get wrapped up in things piece-by-piece, trying to decide this or that. Again, David Allen’s warned about this issue in his book. In keeping with oversight, I was also trying to re-design my existing organization system while going through the capturing process. Another very costly (in terms of time) rabbit trail.

When I instituted a new general-reference filing application on my computer, it required a good three months of my experimentation to find the optimal way to organize it, and another three months to get it on “cruise control,” so now I’m just using it instead of thinking so much about it.David Allen

But the biggest error I made was not to be at home or in my work office for this weekend’s endeavor! How to go through the Physical Gathering when not there? Duh!

At least, I could make some progress on the Mental Gathering (despite my worrying about his condition) and the Incompletion Triggers lists provided in the book turned out to be quite handy – the Projects started, not completed, in particular. Yet, I persisted in my wrongdoing; not following David Allen’s recommendation.

You could make one long list on a pad, or in some digital application, but given how you will later be processing each item individually, it’s actually more effective on separate sheets.David Allen
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For the sake of the many trees that it would have cost to do so, I have a very long list in a digital application indeed. I will pay the price during the processing stage – if I even reach that step one day…
And I did not follow that one either: If you’ve been using a digital application for anything other than calendar and contact information, I suggest you print out any task and to-do lists and put them, too, into your in-tray.

Capturing is complete when you can easily see the outer edges to the inventory of everything that still has some of your attention in any way.David Allen

Not there yet!

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