Sunday, 12 May 2013

Using incubation lists

I am currently experimenting with an incubate list for items that I want to get to soon, but not right now.  My lists for work had become too long and I realised a couple of weeks ago that some of the items just didn't have a high enough priority at the moment to be on my regular action lists.  The question was where to put them so that I could be sure that they would be reviewed often enough.  I had recently read a thread on the GTD Connect forums about incubating to "month X" and placing the list in the tickler to be reviewed at that point.  This really made sense to me so I have given the idea a try from April to May.  I made the "incubate" list in mid-April and placed it in my tickler for 1st May, with a reminder in outlook to check it on that day. 
The list worked really well - I had much tidier and more focused actions for April that really helped me to engage with my lists (see also my post on coloured paper!) and could be certain that the items I had incubated would not be forgotten.  When 1st May came round I brought out the list, scanned through it and put a couple of the items back onto my action lists.  The rest stayed on the incubate list to be looked at in 3 weeks time and went back into the tickler (with the appropriate reminder).
This list is obviously a version of Someday/Maybe, but feels more active.  I have always struggled a bit with the Someday/Maybe list.  I can see its value and wish that I could utilise it better, but somehow I always feel slightly nervous about it for items that need to done at some point, just not now.  I'm very happy to use it for items that I'd like to do, but don't actually matter if I don't get to them.
The incubate list is definitely the best route I have found so far to stay comfortable with that "not now but later" type of list.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Fun with coloured paper!

I often read about the amazing gadgets that people are using to run their GTD system but I'm an old-fashioned type and have been using paper to run my system for at least 2 years now.  I find paper works brilliantly for me. A few years ago I had my lists in excel and they just weren't particularly attractive. I found myself being reticent in wishing to look at them and use them. Paper and pen is just more comfortable somehow.
 I have just reinvigorated my lists at work by printing lines onto A4 coloured paper and using different colours for different contexts.  It's made them really enjoyable to work with - a simply change that has made a bigger impact than I expected.  I have surprised myself at how much more engaged I feel with the contents of the coloured lists compared to the "boring" white paper lists.  The tasks haven't changed at all and yet I am convinced that I have been more interested and productive since the change.  The brain works in strange ways! 
Aside from just enjoying the look of the colours, the change has a practical purpose which allows me to find my different contexts more quickly, as each has a different colour.  I think this has definitely helped me to improve my processing speed.
I guess that sometimes the old saying "a change is as good as a rest" really can ring true.  So I would recommend that if your lists are feeling a little stale, then even a small change can help you reconnect and get back on track.