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My Personal Issue With Project Creation

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  • My Personal Issue With Project Creation

    My Personal Issues With The GTD Process
    I wish to write about my issues with GTD. Do not take this as a hit at GTD, but how my personality currently is not compatible with it.

    We all know the different steps from the workflow diagram? I will just recap to be sure:

    * Collect
    * Process
    * Organize
    * Review
    * Do

    It is of course a bit more complex than that. Collecting for me is very easy. I have no problem whatsoever writing down my thoughts in the different buckets. Having less buckets are also important as well. My own experience tells me that I should really limit them because stuff slips through the cracks. Using text files in Dropbox and OmniFocus at the same time became a no go. I put stuff in there, but I did not do much about it afterwards as frequently as I wished.

    Processing, this is where things go a bit wrong. I have no issues deleting, archiving, or incubating. Projects however are something different. I can see that something is a project. I can put it in a projects list (OmniFocus), but there is where the trouble starts.

    Not every project needs a detailed outcome nor may it need the brainstorming. However some projects do and my brain is a source of mindlessness and agony. I have an analytical mind and in the GTD workflow it really goes berserk to the point of paralyzation through analyzation.

    It is a conditioned behavior. It is a conditioned behavior that is really not compatible with GTD (in my case at least) because it does not say stop. It can always tear down my current plans, find something better or simply analyze it so I reject the notion of it completely.

    Though that behavior is currently preventing me to fully implement the GTD system, I still have many benefits from GTD. I am also training myself to become more mindful (through meditation for instance) and other mind-calming techniques.

    There is also a realization (as with the Dropbox and OmniFocus inbox) that I really do not like having many systems (paper, Windows, Mac). I have some documents in paper. I have other documents that absolutely do not need to be in paper.

    It is essentially scattered. Along with an over-analyzing mind. I need to simplify. I intend to simplify. Dual systems be gone (selling PC), changing the paper system to only contain really important legal documents, etc. Always scan bills, documents and archive them. I learned that I needed to view my process, but also put it in writing.

    As I mentioned I am learning about being more mindful. There are a plethora of reasons and initially I did not think it would affect anything with my GTD process. Without a clear mind few things around you are really obvious. Now that I have a calmer mind I intuitively see ways to improve my workflow. I cannot yet proclaim to have solved the projects issue, but I think in time that will also become more obvious.

    I am not sure whether I am writing this to get input, or that I want to share my thoughts in hope that others can benefit from it. Hope that people find this post useful!
    Last edited by theilluminated; 05-24-2013, 10:45 AM. Reason: adjusted a little, thanks to ellobogrande!

  • #2
    You missed one key step "Review" in your workflow process:
    • Collect
    • Process
    • Organize
    • Review
    • Do

    Regarding your issues with Projects, I may be able to help. Like yours my mind was once so analytical that I was suffering from analysis paralysis on a regular basis and I was mentally stressed all the time. It took time and effort to retrain my mind to give up that way of thinking (similar to tuning the wires on a piano). You'll likely undergo the same transformation. At first it will not "feel" right but keep doing it for a month; your mind will start to engage differently with these things.

    You don't need all of the details all at once in your system. In many cases you may not know how you're going to achieve that outcome at the onset so keep planning to a minimum, observe your progress carefully (review) and make course corrections by defining appropriate next actions as you go.

    Once you have defined a project and put it on your Projects list you only need *the* or *a* physical next action that you can take right now to move that project forward. Think of your next actions as bookmarks for your projects.

    For those projects that do require a great deal of planning your first action might be to draft a project plan or map or just brainstorm in general. Perhaps you might talk to a friend or someone that you can use as a sounding board and capture all of that. As you review the data that these actions generate you'll be able to decide the next action that will get you closer to the outcome.

    More complex projects may have intermediate outcomes well. Make sure you have the primary project identified and listed. Sub-projects don't have to be listed on your projects list (I usually track these in support materials) but there's not any harm in doing so.

    Hope some of that helps. Best of luck to you.


    • #3
      Hi and thank you for replying. It did feel like something was missing when I was writing it.

      Your insight about this is quite welcomed. Improving my current train of thought has already provided myself with more happiness (some of the principles from Buddhism as in not clinging to things as much). In some ways it is the constant lust to have everything figured out and under control. That does not really translate into reality very much except in fields one might have a strong expertise.

      I'm a trained IT professional and I recently grew a bit when I realized that I held myself to an impossible standard. What I know with my profession became the bar to stay at, which was just plain silly. No room for error. No room for fun either. I think your point in creating projects with minimal physical next actions will do me good. Training myself to be more secure in doing things a bit spontaneously.

      As my project creation bit was out of hand my project support became also out of hand. I have to review my whole system and start a bit from scratch, mostly by eliminating the amount of inboxes. I think I also would enjoy spending time with the system if I also just saw one action at a time for a particular project. One of my bad habits along with analyzing things to death is finding information. I really have an issue with information overload. Working on that also, deleting stuff left and right these days!


      • #4
        Like looking into a mirror

        Thanks for posting this. Project creation and finding information are also my two big issues. I make projects out of lots of things that most people would reduce to a single action (due to my overanalysis), ALWAYS find multiple sub projects within a project. And trying to find the information I need is often a challenge.

        Every software application I've ever tried has failed because I tinker too much with it. Paper failed because I think WAY faster than I can write.

        So, I figured the answer was a simplified software system. I started a book this weekend called "Outsmart/Outlook 2003/2007 by Taco Oosterkamp, which takes the reader step-by-step through how to set up a GTD system in Outlook. I'm already 3/4 of the way through, and the system looks pretty good because it keeps things simple.

        Fingers crossed.


        • #5
          I hope things work out for you with the GTD on Outlook system. I am setting a lot of the GTD system aside for the moment (I got the luxury to do so these days) while working on improving my mindfulness.

          It comes in many shapes and forms such as deleting files, throwing away paper, getting rid of old items that I am emotionally attached to and even food. I recently found out that I am sensitive to some types of food like grains. Excluding it entirely from my diet has changed me in several ways, but it is a difficult change nonetheless.

          One of current and dominant issues have been the "want it now" mentality. Expectations are thus impossible and I easily would disappoint myself in different ways due to it. The same with the GTD system. I expected more than what I was able to do. In that regard I have to move on, even forgive and forget mistakes because it only becomes additional baggage that is holding me back.

          It is almost a bit strange how the lust for implementing a system like GTD has revealed sides of me I did not even think about before. You live, you learn.


          • #6
            Originally posted by theilluminated View Post
            One of current and dominant issues have been the "want it now" mentality. Expectations are thus impossible and I easily would disappoint myself in different ways due to it. The same with the GTD system. I expected more than what I was able to do. In that regard I have to move on, even forgive and forget mistakes because it only becomes additional baggage that is holding me back.
            I think mistakes are nature's way of letting you know what you really want. There seems to be an optimum amount of planning for big projects requiring many steps. Too little and you make big mistakes which discourage any further activity. Too much and you make no mistakes and learn nothing. Make just the right level of mistakes and the feedback this creates shows you the best way forward, things you could never even think of no matter how much you planned at the start of the project.


            • #7
              Your insight makes sense. It also makes sense in regard to a book I am reading (The Talent Code, I really recommend it!) since you will always learn if you have some problems and basically nothing if no problems occur. Too many problems can simply be the big test to see if you really want to do something, and in that regard one has to look in the mirror.

              When I think about it I still make mistakes in my primary profession, not big ones, but small ones here and there so I know that doing X is not working for instance. Comparing it to stuff I am learning I have a low to no tolerance of making mistakes, which of course is really the wrong mentality to have. I really want to change it, so instead of saying I am making mistakes I can say that I am discovering methods that don't work. Might not be a practical difference except that the mentality behind it is totally different.


              • #8

                I used to struggle with projects until I got my project support into OneNote and got organised. Now I have pages just for dumping my mind's random thoughts about a project, and can happily generate ideas into it until they are all out. Then I leave them there for a bit, come back and review them later and I see them in a different light, view them with an organising mind and able to chunk them and make them into actions.
                As for finding things, I make links to all my files in OneNote, with copies of sections of the best bits and I can find things a lot faster.
                I'm finding the mental peace that DA talked about now I am using OneNote more fully.


                • #9
                  Thanks Suelin23!

                  I got an idea yesterday about having a journal-like program where I could do the following:

                  Create a journal for a particular project. Then I would write my thoughts about my project and also put time spent as well. This way I can account for the time I have used and get a bit more attached.

                  The journal would work in similar ways that you are talking about OneNote. I have tried OneNote and I like it, I just do not really like being tied to a vendor due to potential future pain (I´ll avoid preacing about software).

                  I am a bit determined to make it myself. I got the skills and it will really give me an interesting case to wrap my brain around. That will also give me the option to customize my workflow specifically to my needs and change it as I go. And that I really like databases.


                  • #10
                    I think there are a lot of systems like OneNote that you could use.
                    The principle is getting every thought you have about the project out of your head, just type as the thoughts are flowing. Leave and come back and organise later and make sense of it all. I agree with DA, separating the collecting, processing and organising helps, having a break between different brain processes helps make it easier to do.
                    The system just makes it easy to put down and pick up later on without missing anything.