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My home and read projects are not moving

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  • My home and read projects are not moving

    I'm productive at work. Move all my projects consistently forward by dedicated time for my action lists (@Mac, @Phone). And Though I'm still struggling with my home and read projects. When at work, I have so many planned meetings so I just can't focus to read in-between the meetings. As I said I schedule doing time and only that allows to clean my action lists. Fortunately, I don't need so much focus to move my action lists then reading. When I get home, my internal voice says that I have higher priorities like my children so again my read projects don't move. The same situation with my home projects. They are not moving at all

    Any ideas how to make my read and home project to start moving?

  • #2
    I cannot pretend to be an expert in any of this, but what strikes me is the opposite question: Are you sure that there is really anything wrong with what you are doing? If you focus on your job and your children, then maybe this is exactly right for you?

    But if you are sure that what you are doing really does not seem quite right to you, then maybe (I am only guessing here) the fault lies in the way you are treating things as categories. For example, is each end every phone call really equally important? And is every book or article equally important? Is a phone call always more important than a book, regardless of what the phone call or book is about? I know that at least for me there is no such pattern.

    It is indeed efficient to batch things up, to make use of those contexts that we get ourselves into, but this cannot taken to the absurd. Often enough, switching to another context is not all that "costly" (in terms of effort or time) and can even have a beneficial effect on your "energy". And it is equally important to consider the importance ("priority") of each particular task - in essence consider all four selection factors simultaneously.


    • #3
      A couple of thoughts:

      Reading is a form of doing, not some simple activity like drinking a glass of water. Try using verbs in your next actions that reflect the kind of reading you need to do: skim, scan, review, browse, take notes on, whatever speaks to you. Of course, if you have a six-inch backlog of optional reading, the solution may be to throw out some or all of it.

      Home projects can be tough. Being very granular in next actions may help. Involving your kids may work sometimes, or schedule time when they are otherwise occupied.

      Finally, you may need to move some things to someday/maybe.


      • #4
        I'll take an uneducated, if possibly unfair, guess here and suggest that you may not be giving these projects as much planning as they might benefit from.

        If you've really gone through the entire project planning process with them, through defining their purpose, and principles, and outcome visioning, and brainstorming, and all the rest, then I apologize whole-heartedly, and the rest of this post doesn't really apply to you.

        But if I've guessed correctly, then you've fallen into the same tempting trap that has caught me hundreds of times -- not giving some 'easy, obvious' project as much planning as it might need to maximize value.

        The obvious solution, then, is to undertake that project planning process with these stuck projects (which is probably a pretty good recommendation in the most general sense) and see where it takes you. If you run across something surprising, which I think you might, please share it with us.



        • #5
          Yes, and furthermore it can be added that Reading is not a project (not even a limiting context). So the whole premise of planning it as a whole in fundamentally questionable.


          • #6
            How are you structuring your reading goals?

            I would have the following structure. This would be affected by the fact that I have no problem reading two or three things at once. (That is, swapping from one book in the morning to another in the afternoon.)

            1) A tickler on the second-to-last Friday of every month, "Complete reading prep checklist."

            2) The reading prep checklist would include:

            - Spend half an hour selecting next month's reading.

            The "half an hour" is just to keep this from becoming brain surgery. I'd dig up my "I oughta read that" list and see which ones might interest me this month, check my list of "to sort" web bookmarks, and otherwise look for all the places where I have stored ideas for things to read. Odds are that I'd really just need to do this every few months with a couple of minutes' brush-up each month; you can gather a lot of reading plans in a small amount of time.

            - Gather next month's reading.

            Put the web bookmarks on whatever device works best for reading, order books, request books from the library, dig the magazines out from under the Christmas catalogs, whatever. Make reading quickly available at work, at home, in the briefcase, on the phone, whatever. This might produce a few quickly worked Actions.

            - Book one lunch per week for solitary reading.

            If you don't block off some time, or set up a habit, for a low-urgency activity, odds are that it's not going to happen. You won't get a ton of reading done in one lunch a week, but it will keep the habit in front of you, and maybe you'll do more reading at other times.

            3) I'd also have a tickler that appears once a week, "Do I have a book on my phone?" There are a lot of several-minute delays that would come in handy for reading, but when I finish the current book, sometimes I go a long time without a new one.

            That's how I'd do it.


            • #7
              Gardener, your advice is helpful tome also. Borisoff and Roger: good to see you old-timers are still active around here. I still remember when you guys were new here, you always brought a sense of "high speed" to the table.

              I also want to say one quick thing regarding the topic of this thread. I often found, with profesional and recreational reading alike, that you don't have to read it all. There is so much out there, that has an interesting tidbit in it or two, but overall just isn't worth it. I believe ther is a chance for further organization along the line of "checking it out" vs "studying and meditating on it".

              Oh, mcogilvie already said that!

              Another thing: Borisoff, if you have kids, chances are they have a mother who is your wife. A lot of new ideas can be much faster processed by our brains, if we get refelection on them by another human being. Wifes can be awesome for that! My suggestion would be to develop the habit to talk with your SO about what you are reading, regularly, in a fast back-and-forth way. Then: listen! Listen what comes back.

              (P.S. sometimes it's just stupid, other times it's brilliant and many times it will save a lot digging in rabit holes that are not worth it.)


              • #8
                And I am still sitting here totally confused about how Reading could even be a project. Do you also have a project for Talking? Or Breathing?

                Some of the stuff you need to read belongs directly in some other project, for example to read a request for tender in order to be able to prepare a tender. And some stuff you read just for fun or relaxation; I am not sure you need to have a plan for that.

                And then, and probably what this thread is really all about, you may have some reading in mind that feel you probably should be doing as a part of fulfilling some vague desire to be generally well equipped. But when you think about it, these desires probably need some further qualification (equipped for what; and why). And each one of these sets of knowledge or skills probably can be attained in various ways, probably in combination, where reading is just one. For example, if you read a book about how to feed your children better, reading that book is not the only thing you do - you might also ask friends for advice or go to a cooking class etc. And reading that particular book is not in any way a substitute or alternative to reading other books on other topics, e.g. how the new taxation rules might affect your economy. You read what you think you need to read - be it a lot or nothing; it does not matter, and it does not need to be coordinated.

                What is the purpose of grouping it all together as a Reading project?


                • #9
                  > And I am still sitting here totally confused about how Reading could
                  > even be a project. Do you also have a project for Talking? Or
                  > Breathing?

                  If I'm a really shy person, and I feel that that fact is hampering my social and professional life, yeah, I might well have a project for Talking. I would do some brainstorming about the occasions when I feel least terrified striking up conversations with people, and about how I could feel more prepared for those conversations. I would set week-by-week goals ("Initiate one social conversation with one person at work.") of increasing ambition.

                  Eventually, I might have reduced my shyness to the point that fixing it is no longer an immediate priority, and that project would go on hold.

                  Breathing? If I had allergies, asthma, or both, and therefore had some issues with my breathing, I could easily see writing a project for that. It could include experimenting with changes in my diet, trying humidifiers and various air filtering devices, taking a month off from visiting a relative who has a cat to see how that affects the situation, and so on.

                  I'd say that anything in your life that needs changing may result in a project. It does seem logical for the reading to be associated with projects that drove you to want to read the material. But if you find that you have a frequent issues with projects--multiple projects--being stopped due to a failure to read the associated material, then "reading", just plain reading, sounds like it's an issue.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Gardener View Post
                    I'd say that anything in your life that needs changing may result in a project.
                    I agree, too, wholeheartedly.

                    The question, I guess, in this case, is whether the original poster's Reading ability was really a problem in itself that needed fixing, or whether Reading was perhaps just an unfortunate grouping of unrelated actions that he would had been able to deal with more effectively within their respective projects.

                    My gut impression of the thread as a whole was not that it was about fixing a Reading inability (or attaining a higher Reading capability), rather that posters tended to view these actions as a project merely because they entail very similar work (reading). That goes for Calls (Phone/Person), too, but I never heard of anyone regarding that as a project. Maybe an alternative approach would be to regard Reading (Book/Armchair, whatever) as a context?


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by bcmyers2112
                      Borisoff, I'm sorry if I've contributed in any way to helping Folke derail this thread because your post deserves better.
                      I am sorry, too, Borisoff, if my thoughts have not been of any help. And I fully agree with bcmyers - and also said in my previous post - that if you have some general problem with reading which impedes your life, then by all means consider it a project to deal with that problem.

                      But what I am trying to say (based on the minimal information I have at hand) is this:

                      What if your children and other work are more important or valuable to you?
                      What if you don't really need to read those books at all?
                      What if you have just got the idea stuck in your head that you somehow have a duty to read books?
                      What if your intuition to refrain form reading them is perfectly sound (perhaps even admirable)?
                      What if the reason why you do so little reading has nothing to do with reading?

                      Question: Do you sometimes have some books that you read and finish quickly? Did you encounter any problems while reading those? Did those books have something in common? (Such as perhaps a very direct relevance to something important in your life?)


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Folke View Post
                        And I am still sitting here totally confused about how Reading could even be a project. Do you also have a project for Talking? Or Breathing?
                        Anything that you want to change in your life is grounds for making one or more projects.

                        I have actually had breathing, as in "Develop lung capacity so I no longer need to use an inhaler several times a day", as a project. I did finish that project and am now off all my inhaled drugs for my breathing problems.

                        I have multiple reading projects right now, they vary from reading specific books, to reading a series of books I have borrowed that I need to return before the end of the year to on-going reading on critical farm concepts in the various magazines I subscribe to. I have a goal of reading one new book a week plus one extra each month for a total of 64 new books read this year. It is a sub area of focus under my Personal Development AOF. So I have a list of the books I want to read, in order and have projects for those books to help me reach my goals.

                        I track them in my GTD system because I can review whether any things are falling through the cracks each week. Sometimes reading is a next action for some other project but some are projects in and of themselves. For example, I am taking a masters class in Animal Industries as part of pursuing a masters degree. I have an assignment due next month and my current next action is to read and review the papers on the Holstein bloodline research and the genetic variability of US sheep breeds research. That's reading as part of another project. But the goal of finishing 64 books this year is its own area unrelated to other projects.

                        To answer the OP One way I deal with the issue of sets of projects not getting enough time (for me it's the housecleaning stuff that drops off the end of the world) is to break the projects down into really, really, tiny next actions. I won't work on a big project like "Bookshelves clean and full of books we love and use as reference" when the next action is "Sort out unwanted books". That's way too big of a task. So I set tiny goals/actions like a current one "Decide whether to keep the old AHA yearbooks with McKinstry's notes or whether to donate to the AHA or ALBC library."

                        Sometimes I can deal with monolithic next actions and still feel I am making progress. For several years I was working on a project to weave enough yardage to make a cloak out of our sheep's wool. I spent 6 years working on that one project and the next action was "weave the cloth". That was after the spinning, plying, warping etc. Once the cloth was woven I moved on to full and finish the cloth, research cloak patterns from medieval to 18th century, decide on a cloak pattern, cut the cloth and so on. But for several years I never finished the single next action of weaving yet I felt my project was moving forward so I didn't worry about it. Whether I can handle a big next action will vary from project to project.

                        This summer I fell way behind in my reading goals. I got back on track though. What I did was during a weekly review I realized I was not working on my reading goal enough. I dug a bit deeper into why I was doing it, what I wanted to learn, what the benefit of attaining that goal was for me and also what if any other projects I could put into someday/maybe to make space for that one. I did some rearranging and I'm back on track reading. Now I may not attain my 64 book goal this year but I feel I am moving forward. Last year I read 92 books. So my goal of reading 64 is certainly attainable and reasonable for me.

                        But this year I'm writing a huge software program to do flock management and that is taking up a lot of the time I would have normally spent reading and doing weaving and knitting. That means that all my knitting projects are on hold and there is only one weaving project active right now.

                        My projects ebb and flow. I am comforted by the fact that I never lose any and I can pick up a project I set aside into someday a year or more ago, and because I have a well defined next action I do not backtrack much if at all before getting it moving forward again.


                        • #13
                          It is very interesting to discuss things with other people. It had never occurred to me that people could have reading projects and reading goals, but now I know. And I agree with bcmyers that this then is something that would be anchored at the higher horizons.

                          Personally, though, I have no such goals for reading per se. For me, reading is one of all those things that the autopilot takes care of for the most part - along with eating, sleeping, watching television, taking a shower or a walk. I normally don't write these things down at all, and I have no particular goal for any of this except to "Enjoy life". This is probably why I was so confounded by the whole discussion.

                          Sometimes, obviously, I need to write such things down, for example if I have undertaken to cook or have promised to meet someone at a restaurant, or if I need to read a particular book or text for a particular purpose, but apart from such specific actions I don't write anything down, and I usually do not even think about it until I notice a sudden urge to just do something, and then I do it, for example eat something or read a book. I find all these things pleasurable, and I don't care if I don't do them, either, because there is no major danger or downside to not doing them (and these impulses will come back quite frequently, anyway).

                          Out of curiosity - not to quibble, I promise - do you guys see some particular danger or downside to not reading that you feel you must safeguard against through conscious planning?


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by bcmyers2112
                            Some people are passionate about things you're not. I think it's a big enough world for all of us.
                            Oh yes, definitely! And all that variation also makes it more interesting, less predictable, more fascinating!

                            And it seems we all here like to read, for one reason or another, so that seems to be something we have in common.


                            • #15
                              Perhaps reading could be considered a context. There may be numerous projects which contain steps to be taken when in a "reading" context. It's reasonable to feel a need to spend more time in a certain context.

                              My suggestions: Be ready to take advantage of short bits of time, such as when standing in line at the bank. Carry the reading material around in such a way that you can pull it out quickly. Use stick-notes to mark not only what page you're on, but what part of the page, so you can progress when you only have time to read a paragraph at a time. And yeah, prioritize and scan.

                              If you ride a bus or carpool to work, you may be able to read on the way there and back. If you're walking or operating a bicycle or car yourself, you may be able to arrange for "talking books" that you listen to on the way. Maybe there's software to convert print material into "talking books", if the stuff you need to read isn't easily available that way. Many books may already be available in "talking" form at the library. It may be acceptable to listen to "talking books" while interacting with traffic, though the distraction could still contribute to collisions. (Some might argue it helps keep you awake or something -- that may depend on the individual, and the material.)

                              You can use sorting methods to prioritize your reading material, and perhaps discard or demote the lowest-priority stuff, leaving a reasonable amount for the time you usually have available.

                              We go through different phases in life and we have to adjust to them. The trade-offs between time, money and other things change. If we keep on thinking as if we have lots of spare time for reading, when we no longer do, our little decisions such as "put this in the reading pile" won't be very efficient.