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Getting a Technique Incorporated Rather than a Project Done

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  • Getting a Technique Incorporated Rather than a Project Done

    Hello - I have an area in which I'm really struggling making good use of the GTD skills. It has to do with changing how I do things while I am doing them rather than a project with an exact finish. Probably not many of you are facing exactly what I'm dealing with, but there are most likely other examples (like a teacher or speaker trying to gesture more, using speed keys when you type, ohhh I dunno - being a beauty pagaent contentent and remembering to smile all the time) . Heck, even learning GTD is an example.

    Here is the three year old was recently diagnosed with a serious neurological development disoder. Over the past several months, we have gotten her into a special preschool and set up with various therapists who work on her one and one. She is doing great. (GTD has been a huge help getting all this set up - a big sanity saver). The thing I'm struggling withis that each therapist she works with has given us a huge list of great ideas to incorporate into our day to day life with her. All of them easy and most of them are fun and no one expects them to try them all this week (or even this month), but sometimes it is so overwhelming, my husband and I just don't do any of it.

    The other day the occupational therapist was at our house for her weekly session and asked, "did you do any of the homework" and my response was "uh, hmmm, weeeellll, no". I simply just didn't write it down or think about it again after she and I had last talked. And by the end of the session she had 5 more great ideas for us to do.

    The various tips seem to fall into three categories.

    1) Basic parenting skills that are more important in her situation like getting down on her level when she is trying to say something - not too hard to remember because it is so logical and has immediate pay off - it really does help.
    2) Little projects like buying a big bags of beans and letting her play with them - buy beans, organize materials, find time to play with them with her - GTD skills work great here.
    3) New techniques that aren't so logical that you work into every day life- give her jobs that require "heavy work" (like lifting heavy things), specific ways to eleborate on what she says to promote dialogue, ways to work on her fine motor skills, etc. There are lots of these.

    It is number three that I'm struggling with. The other day I walked out of the grocery store with her and realized I just missed a golden opportunity to have her help put food on the checkout stand which would have been heavy work. I just don't think about them until it is too late..although, perhaps next time we're at the store together, I'll remember.

    Any ideas on how to use GTD to raise my intetionality on this issue - just REMEMBERING what I need to do?? Right now, it is an "emorphous blob of undoability". Creating an "@with daughter" list seems a little strange. Maybe I need to pick a "technique of the week" and focus on just that one thing.

    Of course, in writing this I'm coming up with part of the solution to my own problem.. .I need to work harder on keeping "vision of wild success" - I need to remember WHY I am doing this and keep that vision of my daughters future positive in my mind...then I'll be more attracted to what I need to do.

    I also need to get an idea of my committment level...some parents of kids with autsim go hog wild and their life turns into one big therapy session....other say "I'm her mother not her therapist and I need to maintain focus on the parenting role" and do very little. We need to figure out where we fall in that range.

  • #2
    I think creating an @daughter list is a good idea, as is taking just ONE technique at a time to work on. You can't incorporate every suggestion at once, especially when you are getting many new suggestions every week! Talk about information overload. The most important thing is to improve the quality of your whole family's life .. for now, and well into the future. For someone with autism, keeping life is simple is absolutely critical .. that can be an extremely important "therapy" in and of itself, as persons with autism are already on "sensory overload" and suffer most in a family that is too busy.

    (I speak as a person with high functioning autism who has looked at many of the therapies available. If you haven't already run into Dr Steven Gutstein's "RDI" (Relationship Development Intervention) just thought I'd mention it. Not to overload you with yet more information, but it's about a sane and positive way to parent a child with autism, while addressing autism's core deficits. It allows moms and dads to be parents, not therapists, while restoring real family life ... in so many cases, the whole family becomes bent out of shape and actually 'autistic' from trying to deal with their child's autism.


    • #3
      btw, another couple ideas in addition to the ones you've come up with, yourself:

      When doing everyday tasks with your daughter, deliberately add 10 or 15 minutes onto the time you've allotted, to give yourself more space to go slow and think how you might include some of your objectives with her.

      Maybe when starting your day, or planning your day, put on your "hard landscape" calendar another 10 minute block of time to think through what you plan to do in the day with her and to come up with some ideas.. or review things you've already done where you can start making a list of things to remember for next time.

      And be very patient and gentle with yourself, as this is a marathon and not a sprint ....


      • #4
        You may also find one or more checklists to be helpful. I keep a checklist of weekend chores. It doesn't mean I do every chore every weekend, but I can run down the list quickly and decide which tasks need to be done the most.


        • #5
          Don't forget what you are doing right.
          Try to spend a few minutes reviewing the day and listing (even if just mentally) the occasions when you did incorporate a new tip. You need some pats on the back too!

          My second recommendation is to check over the next day's activities and see what you can add in. In your example of the grocery store, try adding one of your tips to your shopping list. Lots of places can be the @context for your working with her.

          I agree with what the others say also. Don't feel overwhelmed by everyone's suggestions. Take what you can, and don't worry about the others for now. Work on one thing at a time. Babysteps!

          Sending warm thoughts your way,


          • #6
            Thanks for taking the time to read my long post and make these great suggestions. I'll look into that book (maybe not this week ) - it sounds like it could really speak to the situation. And I need to place a similar post on the other forum I belong to which is for families who are dealing with autism.

            I'm finding that in general checklists/routines are what I rely on most at home and context lists are what I rely on most at work - so I think the checklist or daily reminder list would be key since an opportunity could happen anywhere....I also love the idea of putting grocery store ideas on my grocery list - that is so clever...I need to get creative...I think just spending 10 minutes thinking through our daily routine would uncover do-able ideas....for example, she could carry in my briefcase from the car. She's already become the "official scooper of melon balls" which is heavy work activity for her hands. And so much depends on the mood she is in at the time.

            Most importantly, thanks for the admonition to keep things slow, simple, remind myself of what are are doing well and be kind to myself. I love the marathon analogy.

            I'm going to be a bit philosophical...and I'm sharing this because I think it applies to anyone who is thrown into a new role. I was noticing that I feel so conflicted - part of me knows I can do a better job, yet part of me knows I need to be more gentle with myself. Then I realized that this, like everything else, has two levels - the nitty gritty and the big picture. To put it in business terms, being a parent of a small child is bit like constantly vacilating between being their CEO and being their personal assistant (hopefully as they get older it will be more like mentor or colleague).

            On the personal assistant level, this is just like anything else I do, it is fairly easy and applying a bit more rigor is needed. I need to have a collection tool with me of some kind when I meet with the therapists and then process - what is it? is it realistically actionable now, someeday/maybe or reference? Could someone else do this? If not, where do I need to write this down so I'll see it when I need to remember it at the right time/place? It is processing 101. Thankfully, it is a skill I already have and just applying it can really help our family - even if it is just one little thing which is better than nothing. We need some momentum.

            On the CEO level, this is totally unlike anything I've ever done, (in fact, something I never thought I've ever need to do), it is very difficult - maybe the most difficult thing I'll ever do- and I need to cut myself more slack. It is something you just can't be prepared for or read a book or go to a seminar to deal with. It raises questions that I need to deal with on a bigger picture level..what is the right pace, how much support do I need from others (been working on engaging our whole network in the process), how much time and money can we spend on this, how does affect our other child, what are the implications for the future. ....etc. These are hard questions and a freaked out CEO needlessly stresses out the personal assistant whose job in reality is not that hard.

            I need to realizing that it is going to take awhile to work through the CEO issues, but in the meantime, we can just play with beans every now and then.

            Again, thanks for your ideas and support.


            • #7

              Instead of an @withDaughter context list, try looking at your other context lists and look for opportunities for your daughter to participate in these actions, or opportunites within these contexts where your "homework" can be executed. You can also create context list for each location she spends time in (e.g. @kitchen, @bedroom, @supermarket).


              • #8

                I'm a child therapist who works with parents in your situation.

                It sometimes helps to have a "point person" such as myself that can function in a couple different ways. First is to gather all the recommendations from the various therapists (you would bring in all the reports, verbal recommendations) and you and the therapist would prioritize them into a doable and commonsense order.

                The other way is for the therapist (or point person) to have direct contact with the various providers to come to some kind of agreement on the order to approach things.

                Ideally all the providers would have a meeting with you to hash this out but in reality is sometimes challenging to do and may entail some cost on your end. But, since we are talking about your daughter here, the cost may be a non-issue.

                My long-winded point is to think about enlisting one of the providers to help you sift through all that is coming at you and come up with a reasonable and doable approach.

                Hope this helps.



                • #9
                  DWest and Gameboy - thanks for your ideas.

                  Here is some interesting syncronicity....I had a meeting last night with a therpaist who KINDA does what you do, David. My daugher qualifies for a type of service in which someone comes to our house/childcare for about 10 hours a week partly to do work that supports the other therapies - the things we'd like to do more of but there just aren't enough hours in the day. The role of the lady I met with last night is to set goals across all the child's therapies, plus the parents point of view, to give focus for this person when she/he gets started. So this will be a big help.

                  I can see where what you do would be a valuable service. I'd love to get all the therpaists together to talk/compare notes/prioritize, but that would be hard to pull off. (As an aside, therapists could really benefit from GTD so I'm glad you are getting into this, David...they are such creative, imaginative, focused,, caring people with an inordinate amount of paperwork and scheduling to deal with - I can tell "inbox processing" or the lack thereof is the bane of their existance! )

                  I asked her about RDI which "guest" mentioned. One of her other families paid (a hefty sum), to go to an RDI workshop recently and she heard Dr. Goldstein speak. She thought it was fabulous and is bringing me some articles, made recommendations on books.

         your ideas, I do need to spend some time just thinking through how I might work what I'm doing into the daily fabric of life....I think I need some other sort of reminder/feedback system other than my context lists - too many contexts and I wouldn't be inclined to get out my palm when playing with my daughter..It needs to be in my head before I get started....sort of like preparing for a need to think about your techniques in advance and then critque/praise afterwards rather than during.

                  My most important NA is schedule some think time and time with my husband to organzie my reference stuff and think through these issues more.

                  New question. out of curiosity..for guest who posted on 8/2 - or any one else who might be reading who may be dealing with high functioning you feel like GTD helps you to manage your autism? I know its been used to work with kids/adults with ADD as it helps with the "executive function" (prioritizing, decision making, organizing). Folks with autism have similar challenges - if I understand correctly, they simply have less neural pathways in this section of their brain, but this can be strengthened with practice. I'd love to know your thoughts.


                  • #10
                    I wasn't logged in when I posted just a minute ago..sorry!


                    • #11
                      I think I need some other sort of reminder/feedback system other than my context lists - too many contexts and I wouldn't be inclined to get out my palm when playing with my daughter..It needs to be in my head before I get started....sort of like preparing for a need to think about your techniques in advance and then critque/praise afterwards rather than during.

                      The power of context lists is that they narrow the scope of where your activity takes place. You're only in so many places in a day, and you're with your daughter in even fewer. So instead of thinking of all the things you could be doing with her, you only have to think about what you can do in a finite number of situations. Limiting your field of attention is essential to keeping a mind like water.

                      Keeping things in your head may exacerbate your stress rather than reduce it. PDAs are great for taking things down, but since you can't (or shouldn't necessarily) carry it with you at all times, it helps to have each context list where it will be used if possible. One example would be an "@computer" list that displays on your Today page in Outlook. You could have an item like "Show daughter how to use mouse" (teaching hand-eye coordination). The point is to look for opportunities for developmental exercises within your current contexts, not to add new contexts.

                      If you know where and when you spend time with her throughout the day, this knowlege will help narrow all the suggestions you're given down to which ones are actionable, like a Venn diagram: Field A would be "@withDaughter"; Field B would be "Suggestions 1-20." Given those two fields, asking "Is this actionable?" would leave you with Field C, which might be something like four suggestions that you can actually implement and find Next Actions for. That's a huge load off -- 16 things you don't have to feel guilty about not doing or thinking about.

                      A common problem with implenting GTD seems to be collecting without processing. Keep your mind from being cluttered with a good idea that isn't actionable by immediately asking yourself if it is actionable, then deciding what to do about it; or discarding it otherwise. Knowing what not to do is as important as knowing what to do.


                      • #12
                        • It helps to have each context list where it will be used if possible.
                        What a nice idea : I may print and pin some context lists where they trigger best !
                        Pda is not always the most appropriate.

                        Bellaisa :
                        • what about a big poster or whiteboard in your daughter's room where you would decoratively write reminders with color markers. You could play with her and not forget your stuff. You could also play and talk with her about what you write, where and how big, choose colors... ?
                        This idea is so simple I never thought of it ! Thanks Gameboy70


                        • #13
                          Jaques - thanks for your creativity!

                          Gameboy - I'm with you on contexts.....what you are referring to, I think, is a context list in a looser sense - just a list by scenarios. I was refering it in a more "within my structure" sense - as in my outlook/palm system (I try to keep that lean). A list of kitchen stuff that I keep in the kitchen and backyard stuff that I keep in the backyard ...things a long those lines, is a great idea. And yes, then I'm only being reminded of what I CAN do at the moment which would mean less on my mind. I was just calling them a reminder list and you were calling it a context list.

                          This situation is an example of just learning to be more flexible and creative in how we think about GTD - it is simply mainly just getting stuff out of you head, breaking it down into actionable reminders that we'll see when and where we need to be reminded and then doing our best to make the right choices moment by moment. What works best might be way outside the typical confines of outlook, palm, paper notebook, etc. I was resisting looking at my @home list on my palm and just recently realized, hello! (or more like "duh!")- get in the habit of printing it and putting it by the kitchen phone. Now it is much more useful.

                          For example, one of the things we are supposed to do with her is talk more slowly. If I needed to drive more slowly, I'd put a big note on the dash of my steering wheel to remind myself rather than create an @car in my palm.

                          The trick for certain things would be to look at it BEFORE we start our day and think about possible applications ahead of time so that we can go with the flow, her mood, build on HER interest and play. Many of these are things that will never be "done" so these lists would really be a form of mental preparation, source for ceativity, rather than true NAs.

                          Actually, a list like this could be great for parenting in general (or many things)... a brief list things you want to do daily with your kids like "be consistent, say I love you, pay attention to the example you set." or whatever is important to you and reminding yourself often would be smart. We know these things, we just forget.

                          Thanks everyone - this has helped me a lot.


                          • #14
                            I wasn't logged again...that was me just now.


                            • #15
                              >New question. out of curiosity..for guest who posted on 8/2 - or any one else who might be reading who may be dealing with high functioning you feel like GTD helps you to manage your autism? I know its been used to work with kids/adults with ADD as it helps with the "executive function" (prioritizing, decision making, organizing). Folks with autism have similar challenges - if I understand correctly, they simply have less neural pathways in this section of their brain, but this can be strengthened with practice. I'd love to know your thoughts.

                              Hello. Me again. About GTD helping manage my autism .. not particularly, no, I don't think significantly more than any other time management program has helped (and I've tried countless). What I have managed to implement re GTD has helped only marginally. GTD like any other system (making lists, keeping calendars, etc) are just tools/skills. The problems with autism related to executive functioning have more to do with the root issue of the problems with episodic memory (also called emotional memory or autobiographical memory) and the autistic problem of limited motivations.

                              Yes, I believe it is generally accepted at the moment by researchers that the problem in autism is the wiring between the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system, but (IMHO) "practice" by rote trial has limited value in strengthening the pathway, because a lot of practice means little if the *memory* part is not there to support it. I am a big believer in Dr Gutstein's approach in building *motivations* for a skill before trying to rote-build a skill. In addition to my own personal experience, research has shown that skills without intrinsic motivations are very poorly generalized later. Also, I am a big believer in doing things at the developmentally appropriate time. Doing things "out of order" is a sure recipe for a mess later. My life is a testament to that.

                              About GTD and autism specifically .. where it breaks down in a huge way is the 'intuitive choice' about what to do in a given moment .. without a well-functioning episodic memory, that's an extremely difficult task for a person on the spectrum. "Managing" autism is more about addressing the deeper deficits of relative information processing, flexible thinking, past/future thinking, episodic memory, (and of course social co-regulation, referencing and declarative communication.) To a large extent, GTD "assumes" an ability in the fundamental neurotypical abilities of 'executive functioning' (defined by Dr Gustein as 'the ability to reflect on past experiences and anticipate potential future scenarios to make decisions in the present to lead to desired goals,' which goes back to the problem with episodic memory.) So in developmental terms, I would say that much of GTD is for individuals who are quite far along the developmental pathway.

                              I'm not quite sure I have put my finger on the "dissonance" I feel in terms of your question .. GTD may help me manage my life as well as any other time management system I've tried over the years .. but I would not say that it helps me manage my autism, no, because the problem with autism is a lot deeper than any "tricks" or tools. Let me see if I can explain this better .. if you couldn't remember how much you loved doing something (or hated doing something).. how easy would it be for you to know if you wanted to do it again and whether to make it a priority? If you never experienced feeling happy about interacting with someone else, how easy would it be for you to decide you wanted to see them again despite it being a next action on your to-do list? GTD may help manage 'stuff' and 'activities' but it does not really help "manage" these more fundamental difficulties of autism, no.

                              Hope this helps explain it a bit. Thanks for asking. )