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Not Much on Someday/Maybe List - Wishful Thinking?

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  • Not Much on Someday/Maybe List - Wishful Thinking?

    I'm starting to notice that a lot of my Next Actions never seem to get completed. More pressing things always seem to come up. This woudn't be an issue except that all the Next Actions are cluttering up my lists (I suppose this relates to my previous post) which makes it difficult for me to efficiently review my Next Actions for the things I HAVE to get done.

    I'm starting to think that maybe I'm not being realistic about what I put on my Someday/Maybe list. I really don't have that much on there at the moment. Do you think I need to bite the bullet and move over those projects that I REALLY WANT TO DO, but just don't seem to ever make time for?

  • #2
    Move Projects to Someday/Maybe.

    To trust your system you have to move Projects to Someday/Maybe if there's no progress for several weeks.


    • #3
      Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
      To trust your system you have to move Projects to Someday/Maybe if there's no progress for several weeks.
      I disagree with that most vehemently. It really depends on your projects. Just because time and weather may conspire to prevent me from working on a specific project for weeks does not mean it's a someday maybe project. I need the next actions ready and available for when the weather is right. Working on a project within some arbitrary time-frame is not a requirement for a project be either active or inactive.

      That said though I do have lots of someday/maybe projects. For me I use my areas of focus to limit the number of current active projects. If one area is suddenly getting more work I ask whether that is because it needs too or whether it's because I want to If the latter. I try to put some of those projects into Someday/Maybe to keep more balance in my life.

      If you don't have much in your someday/maybe list then I'd consider whether you have actually done a complete mind dump of everything you are thinking of.

      My someday/maybe list currently has over 500 future projects.
      Last edited by Oogiem; 06-01-2012, 04:41 AM. Reason: typos


      • #4
        Everything is Someday/Maybe

        I heard David say (and I'm paraphrasing) that, strictly speaking, whatever you're not actually engaged in right now is a "Someday/Maybe"... it really depends on one's own tolerance for open loops, I think...

        Someone with a very fast-moving workflow would perhaps be overwhelmed having projects on their lists that might take 4-5 years to complete. On the other hand, someone who is used to long lead-times might cut their project/someday maybe lists differently.

        The "standard," off-the-shelf GTD definition of a project is something that can be completed within the next 1-2 years; but Oogie is a prime example of someone who has taken the system and made it work for her unique situation. To me, it all boils down to: are my lists supporting a state of stress-free productivity or not?!


        • #5
          Too long.

          Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
          I disagree with that most vehemently. It really depends on your projects.
          Ok. So I modify my rule to:

          To trust your system you have to move Projects to Someday/Maybe if there's no progress for too long according to your best judgment.


          • #6
            Maybe it's the name "Someday/Maybe" with the implied implication that you may never get to the task? Or the idea of mixing doubtful tasks with tasks that you absolutely will do but not for six months? If so, you could perhaps create an intermediate category and call it, oh, "Pending", or something like that.

            Edited to add: I deal with a lot of those cluttery I'm-not-going-to-do-them-this-week tasks by giving them Start Dates in the future so that they disappear but I know they'll resurface. But that works because I'm using a tool, Omnifocus, that neatly supports that.


            • #7
              Someday/Maybe isn't just for "dream" or "bucket list" projects

              Once I got it through my head that Someday/Maybe is a placeholder for even those really good value-added projects that I want to tackle in my life but for whatever reason just can't commit to them now, I stopped resisting that list. When I did that my long action lists shrank to a manageable size and all aspects GTD became much easier-particularly the "doing" part.


              • #8
                I've actually been thinking for a while about splitting Someday/Maybe into a Someday list and a separate Maybe list.

                I think a Someday list would be really useful for me right now. I have just moved house so there are far too many personal projects to think about doing all at once. Everything that isn't essential for being comfortable in the new house is on the back burner, to be restored to an active state once I am settled. A Someday list (i.e. really soon list) would be useful for that.

                A Maybe list, on the other hand, would be dangerous for me. I don't think I would ever look at it. I would intend to look through it every week in my review but I would resist it. In reality I'd put it off until the Someday list was empty and I don't think it will ever be empty. Some of the most inspiring ideas I've collected have ended up in the Maybe end of the Someday/Maybe list.

                The way things are set up just now, I look at my inspiring Maybes every week during the review and sometimes I even start making projects and actions out of them. If I hide them in a list I'll resist looking at, I fear I'll be taking one step closer to filling my life with the less inspiring, mundane, automated-through-GTD, housekeeping work.


                • #9
                  Someday and Maybe

                  For me, I decided it was more important for my next actions lists to reflect things I was actually going to work on in the coming week. It also helped me to see the "Someday/Maybe" list as a "Someday" and "Maybe" list.

                  Someday: These are things that are important to me that I would get to if my current situation was different. I'm comfortable moving things to this list because I know that I will review this list during my Weekly Review.

                  Maybe: These are mostly creative things that I would love to do in the future. "Learn Chinese" has been on that for a while

                  Having said that, I keep these two things on the same overall list. Just because it all gets reviewed with the same fresh look of "am I ready to move on this this coming week?"

                  I think the key to effectively using your Someday/Maybe list is to review it during your Weekly Review. That gives you the freedom to put things into it because you know they won't get lost.


                  • #10
                    An idea struck me today during my weekly review. I've created a Paused list for projects that I have started but won't be able to continue working on for a while. It means I can get items I won't do out of my action lists and it keeps them out of my Someday/Maybe list too.

                    The intention is that I either reinstate them as projects and next actions or I decide that my intentions have changed so much that I will just delete them. I don't plan to put them on the Someday/Maybe list.

                    In reality, this is just the kind of extra Someday/Maybe list I was objecting to in my last post but the language is different, and I think that's important. I'm hoping it will encourage me to use it as a bank of actions that can be used to top up action lists as they get smaller, while at the same time keep my working action lists focussed on things I actually intend to do soon.


                    • #11
                      Weekly Review

                      I must admit I am trigger happy when it comes to moving projects to someday/maybe. And I've learned it's because I rarely miss a weekly review. What that means is that I am very comfortable moving a project to someday/maybe because it really only stays someday/maybe for about a week. In 7 days when I get into my weekly review, I see the project again and I can revive it if I need to / want to / of think I may want to something on it during the coming week.

                      So on the weeks I know my calendar is full, or I just need to take it slow, or I don't really want to tackle that kind of project ... I move as many projects as I need to to my someday/maybe list. It automatically tells my brain that I am not committed to doing anything on those projects ... even if I had extra time ... in the coming week.
                      Last edited by enyonam; 07-05-2012, 03:02 PM.


                      • #12
                        Multiple lists, multiple names

                        The generic someday maybe list doesn't appeal to me although I do have a someday incoming to be sorted into a better category.

                        I like to give my lists names like Places to go, Movies to Watch, Someday Home Projects, Maybe or Maybe not, and whatever I think of from time to time. I also use things like "Waiting on bandwidth" and "On deck."

                        I find lists of like items easier to review. and for the rest I like to separate things I want to make time for in the next several months if possible from ideas that are more pie in the sky.


                        • #13
                          Yes. Move them.


                          • #14
                            If you are having trouble accomplishing the tasks you have at runway level then maybe you have some work to do on your higher levels of focus. Are you setting the right goals for yourself?


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
                              working on a specific project for weeks does not mean it's a someday maybe project. I need the next actions ready and available for when the weather is right. Working on a project within some arbitrary time-frame is not a requirement for a project be either active or inactive.
                              An arbitrary time frame isn't, but a dependency is—if the project list is to maintain any authority. Maybe it's because I live in California, where the weather doesn't fluctuate radically, but I'd defer any project that essentially required a change of season. Like next actions, I don't want to keep looking at projects that I can't implement due to lack of agency. I would just grow numb to the list.

                              The someday/maybe list is the most controversial list in the GTD canon. 10 people will implement it 10 different ways. Merlin Mann has even argued that David Allen "knows" that the someday-maybe list is a flaw in the system.

                              For myself, I use the list to park projects that are only actionable when a certain constraint is removed or additional resources are needed. I don't use it as an attic for storing fantasies, commodities, travel destinations, or interesting skills to learn unless I would move on them if the time or money were suddenly available.