Delegating GTD?

Delegating GTD?
0.0 0

(Tyler Weitzman) #1

There’s a lot of work associated with operating a GTD system, has anyone succeeded in delegating a large amount of any of the five step process?

There are certainly many CEOs who have help processing their email, why not more than that?

(Wilson Ng) #2

Let’s take a look at what the five steps of GTD are:


Collection what has your attention.


Process what it means.


Put it where it belongs.


Review frequently.

5 Engage

Simply do.

I’m guessing that the steps that take the most time are Capture, Clarify, Organize.

One thing I like to do to speed up repetitive actions is to document a workflow or system about how you want tasks, emails, and requests delegated.

Capturing, clarifying, and organizing seems to be a big burden because we are overwhelmed with constant input from within the organization and from outside the organization. I sometimes wished that I could have an assistant to think like me. One way I am trying to overcome this is to create office documentation. I’ve been looking for situations that tend to repeat itself. It’s like following a script that you hear from telemarketers. Most situations can be handled by a script. Of course, common sense must take over when going off-script is needed to handle certain situations. It helps to have a checklist to ensure that steps aren’t overlooked and progress is recorded to ensure a constant march towards completion.

if you have an assistant, he/she should be able to think like you. The office documentation should provide general guidelines about how you think. I’ve been thinking of using (if this then that) to help automate delegation with incoming work. Hazel is also another Mac app that can probably be helpful in processing email attachments and forwarding them to the right person or folder.

I know I don’t want my e-mail inbox overloaded. So one way around that is to create separate e-mails within your domain:

This should help sort out different emails into the appropriate department. I don’t know if i could try to use mail rules to figure out which e-mail goes where. Using multiple emails will help sort things out.

GTD step 4 is my favorite: Reflect. The review process is the glue that keeps my system together. I review at different times of the day to follow up on things that might otherwise get neglected.

Hopefully, if we can speed up steps 1 to 4 ( Capture, Clarify, Organize, Reflect), then we can actually start Engaging or just doing it. Hopefully you will have office documentation that will automate things for you. Your colleagues should have enough instructions about how to get things done.

Then you can be called on only for special cases that requires your interaction.

Document, document, document… That should lead us closer to automation and your presence isn’t required as often. Then you can focus on the important things.

I wonder if someone else has a different spin on things?

(Justin DiRose) #3

Oh man. I’d have a hard time with this one. I think at the executive level the idea is for assistants to keep off the executives plate what shouldn’t be there in the first place. To function as basically a gatekeeper.

The struggle with delegating the GTD process is it’s immensely personal. They are your contexts, tasks, and ideas. You could probably train someone else to do the organize step, but nobody else can mindsweep your head or review your priorities. Most of the clarity that comes from GTD is being forced to make decisions about what’s on your plate. I don’t think anyone else can more effectively make those choices than you can.

One of the strengths of GTD is it can be applied to your life, not just work. I’d also find it hard to delegate the process of managing my personal responsibilities to someone else.

In summary, only you can manage you; GTD is a tool to help you do that. While I don’t think it’s impossible to delegate the processing of your task list, I don’t know how effective it would be.

(Wilson Ng) #4

Delegating is hard. It’s also hard enough to try to get others into GTD when they don’t see the cost-benefits ratio to it.

The only pieces of GTD that I can optimize are my own. We can forward/delegate tasks to others but hopefully they have a system in place to take care of things. I get disgruntled when I delegate to someone verbally and I don’t see them write it down. They have “picture perfect memory” they say. So I just roll my eyes and tell them I’m gonna e-mail it to them. That’s mostly to document the fact that I did talk to them about it (as per our hallway conversation of April 12, 2018, I am forwarding this conversation…). It irks me when they come back later and tell me “oops, I forgot about it.”

If the request is documented, I covered my @$$. Then I put in a task into OmniFocus to follow up with that person at least a couple of days or hours ahead of deadline to check on their progress.

As @justindirose said, the only person you have control over is yourself. Someone else will have their own way of doing things. It looks in-efficient to you but it works for them. Take care of your end and let the other person take care of their end. Otherwise, the other person might be out of a job when you know they can’t handle assigned duties.

@justindirose: I think Todoist has some kind of task sharing feature? Maybe you can post about that sometime? :wink: I haven’t played with Todoist in a long time but it appears to be a popular reason for people to switch to Todoist.

In OmniFocus 3, it is reported that the app will have a task delegation feature. You forward a task to someone and the receiver will put it into their OmniFocus database in whatever folder they see fit. This is what I read from the Inside OmniFocus website:

With OmniFocus’s new collaboration features, I could send you a task with all its data, and you could accept, which links this task across our databases.

While the task is linked, both of us will see updates to that task, including status updates. One of us may add sub-tasks, and one of us might not. One of us might move it to a different project. The task remains linked.

This lets you keep using OmniFocus for your personal task management, while still allowing for flexibility and for the sharing that you need.

This is what I was thinking of. Forward the task to the other person and let them figure out how to work on a task themselves.

The OmniFocus 3 collaboration feature sounds like it might be a version 3.1 release instead of a version 3.0 release. But things can change.

(Justin DiRose) #5

I may not be the best person to talk about this because I don’t actually use the feature :blush:. It sure is a popular reason, though. It seems great for delegating tasks for sure.

(Mike N) #6

The assistant in this case could server as an Inbox with processing / filtering rules. They could also function in the organize step if those were clear rules to be processed against (or they had a similar thinking process).

(Justin DiRose) #7

True story here. The automation would have to be really good (or a person would need to verify its accuracy) to prevent rework and actually be more efficient than just doing it yourself. AI could help theoretically.

Honestly, if we are just talking about email (because who isn’t talking about email when it comes to GTD processing), I think a solution like Sanebox would do the trick. It can learn where to sort things for you. I don’t personally use it but I’ve heard great things.

(Joe Buhlig) #8

My sense is that email is one of the easy ones here. You can set up multiple email addresses and have those land in a lot of systems pre-processed.

But getting outside of that, you would really need someone you can wholly trust and who knows how you think. And then, you MIGHT be able to have someone entering tasks for you into the system or at least dumping things into your inbox.

Using the five steps piece above, I don’t think you’ll be able to outsource the Organize or Reflect steps. And those are where a lot of time in the system are spent. The Capture piece certainly could be in some areas and the Organize piece can work only if you find the right person and they are around you the majority of days. Even Engage can be outsourced for the right price and with the right relationship.

But to me, the big ones are Organize and Reflect and those need to stay in my court.

(Tyler Weitzman) #9

Thanks everyone for the comments