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Chapter 2

Chapter 2

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Chapter 2: Getting Control of Your Life: The Five Stages of Mastering Workflow

Introduction: 1. Five stages are: We (1) collect things that command our attention; (2) process what they mean and what to do about them; and (3) organize the results, which we (4) review as options for what we choose to (5) do. 2. The quality of our workflow management is only as good as the weakest link in this five phase chain, so all the links must be integrated together and supported with consistent standards. 3. The dynamics of these five stages need to be understood, and good techniques and tools implemented to facilitate their functioning at an optimal level. 4. I have found it very helpful, if not essential, to separate these stages as I move through my day. 5. I have discovered that one of the major reasons many people haven't had a lot of success with "getting organized" is simply that they have tried to do all five phases at one time.

Collect: 1. In order for your mind to let go of the lower-level task of trying to hang on to everything, you have to know that you have truly captured everything that might represent something you have to do, and that at some point in the near future you will process and review all of it. 2. Gathering 100 Percent of the "Incompletes": a. In order to eliminate "holes in the bucket," you need to collect and gather together placeholders for or representations of all the things you consider incomplete in your world. b. That is, anything personal or professional, big or little, of urgent or minor importance, that you think ought to be different than it currently is and that you have any level of internal commitment to changing. c. Even though it may not be as obviously "in your face" as your e-mail, this "stuff" still requires some kind of resolution²a loop to be closed, something to be done. d. As soon as you attach a "should," "need to," or "ought to" to an item, it becomes an incomplete. i. Decisions you still need to make about ii. "I'm going to"s iii. all pending and in-progress items

you likely won't be motivated to use and empty your in-baskets with integrity. You should have as many in-baskets as you need and as few as you can get by with. it just means you have to take it out of the container. 6. b. These collection tools should become part of your life-style. b. You must empty them regularly. E-mail. organize it into your system. 8. primarily in the areas of note-taking and physical in-basket collection. if it's still unfinished. The real improvement opportunity for most people is on the low-tech side. Teaching them the item-by-item thinking required to get their collection buckets empty is perhaps the most critical improvement I have made for virtually all the people I've worked with.and high-tech. you won't be able to process them easily or consistently. Then you must empty these containers regularly to ensure that they remain viable collection tools. Every open loop must be in your collection system and out of your head. 7. b. Empty the Buckets Regularly a. however. b. If you're still trying to keep track of too many things in your RAM. If you have too many collection zones. Minimize the Number of Collection Buckets a. If you don't empty and process the "stuff" you've collected. e-mail. Higher-Tech Devices The Collection Success Factors: a. you need to capture it into "containers" that hold items in abeyance until you have a few moments to decide what they are and what.3. Voice-recording devices.g. The collection tools: a. Emptying the bucket does not mean that you have to finish what's in your voicemail. In order to manage this inventory of open loops appropriately. that can be used to collect your incompletes. Electronic note-taking devices. Physical in-basket. In order for you to get "in" to empty. or in-basket. b. . E. Paper-based note-taking devices. Process a. c. iv. f. There are several types of tools. You must have as few collection buckets as you can get by with. your total action management system must be in place. if anything. completed things but not yet acknowledge completed e. c. c. 5. decide what it is and what should be done with it. you're going to do about them. your buckets aren't serving any function other than the storage of amorphous material. both low. and. You don't put it back into "in"! d. Get It All Out of Your Head a. 4.

This is the component of action management that forms the basis for your personal organization. you organize the actions you'll need to take based on the decisions you've made about what needs to be done. e. or self-generated idea that comes your way? c. d. memo. Processing and organizing is captured in the center "trunk" of the decision-tree model: . voice-mail. Instead. What do you need to ask yourself (and answer) about each e-mail. You can't organize what's incoming²you can only collect it and process it.b. 9.

No action is needed now. Djlfkjdljfljdlkjfldjf 14. There are two possible answers for this: YES and NO. What is it? a. What "project" or outcome have you committed to? And ii. stuff about which something needs to be done. Is It Actionable? a. Djklfjldjfldjlfj 15. b. Many items here including HR policy email.10. there are three possibilities: i. government circular. => a "tickler" file or calendar for material that's incubating iii. No Action Required If the answer is NO. 12. no longer needed. 11. but something might need to be done later (incubate). Actionable: This is the YES group of items. . b. => a good filing system for reference information c. Gkhlgkhlkglhklgk f. del key ii. Two things need to be determined about each actionable item: i. What's the next action required? e. Dfjldjlfjdljfljdf 13. The item is potentially useful information that might be needed for something later (reference). But we haven't discussed what stuff is and what to do about it. => trash basket. d. Its trash. etc.

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