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GTD Fast & Project Power

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  • GTD Fast & Project Power

    I have been working on mastering the GTD workflow system for some time, like since the first book came out! I was an organizational and logistical mess, living in a landscape of piles. I am a fine art painter, a mother of a toddler, and run the admin, pr, and personnel training for our ecommerce business.

    After GTD- I have two tall functioning general reference A-Z file cabinets. Everything is a swivel distance away at my desk: my labeler, files and collection buckets that work. My weekly review, that was once monthly for 6-8 hours, is now weekly, for 4-6 hours! I listen to Baroque, I am committed to a black belt. I mediatate on the GTD /Fast CD's everyday. Yet, my projects need more time. Everything needs more time, the "in"flow, and demands keep coming.

    Although I operate daily from "zero base" with email, two voice mail systems, and just recently my in box. I use my tickler daily. My project list is looking like "Someday Maybe" as I haven't streamlined my weekly review, and responsibilities to allow for creative time to flush through those projects.

    Basically I want my time back. I run our household, and our ecommerce business in an extremely streamlined, effective mode. However all of my projects cry out to me daily. I have broken them down to NA, and I wittle away at them, but I miss the long stretches of zone time to soar and accomplish. My weekly review is not under 4 hours, and it has become my main weekly project. All of the runway stuff gets handled, but I miss the higher elevation projects. Any suggestions? What color belt do I have, yellow?

    Another question: how do you glean the 20% gold from endless meeting and seminar notes?

    Thanks for the input.

  • #2
    4 - 6 hours is too long for a Weekly Review. The simple answer is that you have too many Projects (which I think you realise already). How many have you got? Anything more than 50 or 60 is probably too much.

    You do need to decide which are important enough right now. I would suggest asking yourself the following question for each Project (including your Someday/Maybe list) at the next Weekly Review:-

    "Do I need to advance this Project in the next week?".

    If the answer is "No" stick it on your Someday/Maybe List to be reviewed at the next Review. If it is Yes you need to decide the very Next Action.

    Remember a Next Action could be Brainstorm Project xxx. If you are having difficulty scheduling this try making an appointment with yourself in your calendar.

    Another thing worth doing is to schedule some time to think about the next level and your longer term goals, ideally before your next Weekly Review. Try and make a list of them. This will help you decide what is important to you over the next few months.

    Do you have anyone to delegate to? If not and you still have more to do than you have time for are you in a position to hire someone either to help with the household duties or the business?

    I hope this helps - I really think the key is in reducing your number of Projects to the point where the Weekly Review takes between 1 and 2 hours.


    • #3
      Saw this over at Kathy Paauw’s site:

      Got everything done. Died anyway.
      -Epitaph of a toxically successful person

      Like Jac said, pick out the key projects and get out from under the others. Don’t worry, in life you are allowed do this. We have to be Black Belt at the higher altitudes too, not just at the in-basket level.

      ( Sounding as if I new all about back belt level, but I live in hope!)


      • #4
        Re: GTD Fast & Project Power

        Originally posted by ShawnMarie
        Another question: how do you glean the 20% gold from endless meeting and seminar notes?
        90% of my meetings boil down to four things.

        1. What did I promise?
        2. By when did I promise to do it?
        3. What was promised to me?
        4. When should I get it?

        Remember sometimes what you've promised is just to yourself. From that, you can generate next actions and reminders.

        HTH, (Hope This Helps)


        • #5
          GTD Fast & Project Power

          Yes I have too many Projects- over 60!

          Is a Project anything that takes well over 2 mintues and requires multiple actions? I have one major Project that involves several companies, seasonal deadlines, and is likely more than one Project , but instead a major P with minor P's involved.

          I have no "Someday?Maybe" list because I thought it a luxury I cannot afford so I have kept my fun creative ideas parked in my head! Ugh!

          Obviously putting some of the extra, not time specific Projects on a written "Someday/Maybe" list, with all of the fun creative ones in my brain will cause a great competition for what matters most, thus flying at higher altitudes! Yeah, thank you for the insight. Obviously black belts don't come without utilizing all of the basics, like a "Someday/Maybe" list.

          As far as delegation. We have staff at home that I delegate often too, but I am responsible to do most of these Projects, until I can hire a full time personal admin assistant, which I anticipate in 1-2 years. For now, the GTD system is perfect for our lives and business. However, reaching black belt effectiveness is essential to make this work until I can hire out more runway and low elevation Projects.

          Elena- thank you for the 'Basic 4 Note Groups'

          1. My Promise
          2. When
          3. Their Promise
          4. When
          These 4 questions boil my notes down to my essential NA, Projects and Waiting For's. I am so excited to flow through piles of meeting notes, that have become Projects, with no clue how to glean the gold 20%. This could be done in "Read & Review' time, these 4 questions are awesome, thanks. I am prepared to come across the occasional jewel for General Ref, and my tickler etc.

          Whew! I think that covers all the replies, thanks everyone. Except of course what on earth I am doing with a 4 hour Weekly Reveiw. I will expose my WR list on another post to see what needs to go.


          • #6
            I have no "Someday?Maybe" list because I thought it a luxury I cannot afford so I have kept my fun creative ideas parked in my head!

            Therein lies your problem: the lack of a Someday/Maybe list. If it's on a list, it's not parked in your head. To paraphrase DA, you can feel good about what you're not doing when you know what you're not doing.

            The whole point of lists is to have everything in a place where you can compare items against each other and decide which ones to execute based on time, location, resources and energy. A S/M list is simply a list of projects you've consciously chosen to defer, not projects you're not going to get done. You can always chose to put them back on your active project list when your doing your weekly review, which is when you should be looking at all your S/M list.


            • #7
              Yes I have too many Projects- over 60! .... I have no "Someday?Maybe" list because I thought it a luxury I cannot afford so I have kept my fun creative ideas parked in my head! Ugh!
              I feel your pain! I'm having major difficulties with GTD, which I have been trying in vain to implement for 2-3 months. I have too many projects -- probably close to 120-150, plus managerial duties that add another ~40 -- and work in a deadline-driven environment. (This isn't counting anything for home.)

              Lately, I have mastered "Mind Like Stagnant Pond." In a given day, there are projects I MUST WORK ON because I didn't have time to do them earlier -- these float like dense scum on the surface of my murky consciousness. Then there are the many projects THAT I REALLY OUGHT TO GET STARTED ON -- these are the murk that totally clouds the water. Eventually, these rise to the top (due to deadline or others' demands) and become dense scum.

              -- "What's the best use of my time?" is often answered with "What's due tomorrow?"
              -- My Active projects are whatever the heck deadlines or circumstances are forcing me to work on.
              -- My Someday/Maybe projects for work are whatever I don't get to after a 12-hour day.
              -- I can't find or develop a tracking system easy and fast enough to track all of my commitments as they pop up and/or shift.
              -- On those rare occasions that I can create either list, it just makes me acutely aware of what's about to bite me in the butt.
              -- Things quickly shift from one list to the other based on any number of factors. Perhaps it's just lack of clarity on a higher altitude (30k-40k) or an inability to set boundaries or speak up for myself, but I can't make any system to prioritize my duties stick.
              -- There is no one to delegate to, as we are short-staffed and all of my people are overloaded with their own projects.
              -- And the fun/creative ideas? These get lost behind more pragmatic concerns, like "Do the laundry," or "mow the yard," or "sleep."

              What really gets me is that, prior to having these 40 managerial projects added to my role, I was expert at managing 120 projects at a time. I didn't know anything about "mind like water," and I had it; now I've read David's book several times, and I can't even get mind like molasses.

              So what's the problem?
              -- It could be that the 120 projects were very routine and well defined (I could do them in my sleep -- the lists were just bookmarks). In other words, if you took the 120 away and just gave me the 40, I'd still be struggling to come up with a good way to track and execute.
              -- It could be that I am in an impossible situation, and no system will help. It might help to remember that this situation is (I hope) just temporarily bad.
              -- It could be the solution is just as simple as making the time and reserving the energy to go back and reevaluate at a 30-40-50k level. (As has been wisely said, "You can do anything, but you can't do everything.")
              -- Or, it could be that I just need to get comfortable with working reactively -- or with the idea that David's system (and Franklin Covey, and all the others) aren't going to work for me.

              If anyone has some sage words of advice, I would appreciate it!!



              • #8
                GTD Fast & Project Power

                Don't give up on "Mind Like Water" so soon!

                My former 60+ projects is now a list of 30, with 30 projects added to my 'Someday/Maybe' List. What a miracle. I chose my Top 5 Projects,
                to focus on this week that are time sensitive. My mind is clear. I have already knocked off my 1st Project and I am well into unraveling the other 4. These Top 5 may run into next week but they are moving, and getting done.

                As far as "Mind Like Stagnant Pond", I understand! Do you 'operate from a zero base' like DA talks about in GTD-Fast? I have begun consistently operating from a zero base daily, in which all collection buckets are emptied, deferred or processed. This zero base has kept anything from 'biting me on the butt'. I don't like things lurking in my 'in' boxes, voice mails, purse, briefcase, car, or scraps of paper etc.

                With zero base, I daily get each item to the next level: on a list, in the calendar, filed, or in the trash. I operate off of a great number of NA lists, which helps me get to the ACTION Fast. I have Next Action lists like: Calls, @ Desk, @ Computer, @ Home, @ Studio, @ Calendar,
                @ W Review, @ Process Day. Also, keeping a variety of agendas for all of the key people I regularily meet with, keeps the stuff out of my head until we talk, call or email.

                Zero base for me is deciding up front: what is the most "wildy successful outcome for this?", and 'what is the next action?' Since more thinking is on the front end, the next action happens much faster, and nothing piles up.

                I'd encourage you to only focus on what HAS TO BE DONE THIS WEEK, and put the other projects on your Projects List & Someday/Maybe List.
                My focus is my Top 5. If there are Next Actions to make this week for my other less urgent projects, those Next Actions are on my NA lists, but the project as a whole, doesn't come to view in my Top 5 until it has to be done.

                Again, I encourage you to try operating from zero base, with nothing in email, inboxes, or other collection buckets, at the end of your day, and it may help clear out the pond.

                These steps have helped me move forward faster.


                • #9
                  ShawnMarie -- great post! All too often I find myself with too many "right now" assignments to accomplish at once. I have done something similar to what you describe, but not in as as organized a manner as you. I'm printing out your post as a reminder of a better way.



                  • #10

                    I'll second that, ShawnMarie -- thank you! Your response helped me do quite a bit of brainstorming and problem solving this morning. While I still have some work to do (i.e. figuring out what sort of trusted system will be fast/flexible enough to work with), your points have been extremely helpful.

                    -- Getting a clear "Top 5" (or 6 or 7) for the week list
                    -- Operate from a zero base daily, at the end of the day (instead of trying to clear email and other inboxes 20 times a day ... after all, when was the last time I received an email that couldn't wait 7 hours at most for a response?)
                    -- Training myself to make decisions up front (sometimes I just put things on a list to get them out of sight)

                    Also, rereading Elana's post, I really like the 4 points for blasting through piles of meeting notes. And the reminder that "sometimes what you've promised is just to yourself."

                    So, the murk's still there, but there's a light at the bottom of the pond. Thanks again for the encouragement!