Trip Report: Seattle Mini-Adventure
I am now returned and mostly recovered from my whirlwind trip to Seattle, which involved dropping off the pooch at my dad's place after work Thursday, meeting up with a colleague, and then sitting in traffic for 20 minutes waiting to get onto the freeway headed north. Once we got going, the trip was relatively quick (made it there in about 2 hours, 40 mins) and painless. When we arrived in Seattle, there were a few confusing moments involving the cutting across several lanes of (no) traffic and almost turning the wrong way down a one-way street but on the whole I think I managed to get us to Seattle and our hotel without completely freaking out my colleague. She didn't seem to have any concerns about returning to Portland with me, so I must not have terrified her too badly. (And yes, dad, I maintained the proper distance between my car and the car in front of me THE WHOLE WAY. All that nagging in Boston? Totally worked... :)
ANYWAY. We arrived at Hotel Max around 8:30, checked into our rooms and then headed to The Red Fin for dinner. This restaurant is a sushi restaurant and while I wanted some sushi I didn't particularly want to spend a ton of money and still end up hungry, so I went with medallions of beef with fingerling potatoes. It was pretty good but, unfortunately, a bit over-salted. Upon returning to my room after dinner, I opened a ($5!) bag of gummy bears and a ($4!) bottle of water and logged onto the Internet to get a few things done that I hadn't had time to do before heading north.
Our trip north was for the David Allen seminar, "Getting Things Done: Managing Workflow," which was being held at the W Hotel. In addition to my colleague from Portland, two folks from my company's Seattle office met us at the seminar and we all had a really good time. Despite having implemented and used David Allen's system since late January, this seminar was really great for me from a number of perspectives. My system was pretty good, I thought, but after learning about why David Allen recommends certain approaches and how to use them I was able to implement a few new ideas to really support the work I've been doing thus far.
For instance, I hadn't really been using a portable "in box" or capture mechanism for when I'm away from home or my office, which meant that when I would think of something I'd just pull out my little Pocket Moleskine and jot down the item onto whichever list seemed to make the most sense. After attending the class, though, I added a couple of notecards to my system to catch random thoughts/ideas. Now, when I get home or I'm ready to do a review, I can process the ideas and really figure out what I want to do about them, if anything. Obviously, for items like "get celery" I can just add them to my grocery list, but for bigger ideas I think this will work better for me. I was also finally able to see the value in creating project and "next action" support folders: they give me one place to capture and manage everything so I don't have to hunt around when I want to take an action.
However, the main piece of the seminar that I found most helpful was the illustration of how to get to the root of each of your projects, how to define what you'd like the outcome to look like and to determine the very next action. When I first read the book I think I glossed over this part, thinking, "Oh, I know how to do that!" The truth is, it's a key to making the system work and it seems to take some real practice and thought to get to the very next physical action to take to move a project forward. Obviously, I'm still not great at it yet but I do have a vision for what I'd like my weekly reviews to look like, so that's an improvement!