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What about "iffy" projects?

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  • What about "iffy" projects?

    I’m just getting started with GTD and have blocked out the next couple of days to get set up.

    I have a question about dealing with “iffy” projects. I have a couple of personal projects where the next action is: decide if I’m going to do the project. I got started with GTD once before, and this lack of decision got in the way.

    For example, my dog has shown great aptitude for herding and I’d like to try my hand at competing with her. I compete in several other sports, so it will be challenging to find time for this extra activity. There are several ways to get started. One way is to attend a one-week training camp held in a beautiful community. The camp is in April. If I were committed to doing this, I can see how to break this down into tasks such as call the trainer, send a deposit, make hotel reservations, get time off from work, etc. But really, the next task is: decide whether or not I want to go. I keep putting off this decision and before I know it, the deadline will pass and we won’t go. In the meantime, it is taking up “brain ram” as I fret about it.

    My question is: do you have any procedures you go through to clarify the vision of a project?

    I may be answering my own question by the way I phrase it

    I suppose I need to ask: Why do I want to go? Or more importantly, Why do I want to train her in herding? And what would be a successful outcome of spending this time (and money)?

    Thanks for any insight you have to offer.

  • #2
    All right! Something I may be able to help you through: Dog stuff!

    Maybe you need to focus, at a 10- or 20,000-foot level, on how incorporating herding activities into your schedule would *feel* to bring your feelings to the surface and make a less costly, but more profitable, decision.

    For example:

    1) Say there are herding lessons once a week on Saturdays an hour from your house. You must get up 30 minutes early on Saturday to drive the 60 minutes to the ranch and still get there by the 9:00 start time.

    How does that scenario, or a similar one, feel to you? The few people I know who've done herding all say that Saturday morning is the popular time around "these parts" to keep the temperatures down and not destroy all of Saturday. (I'm not including price info, b/c I haven't done it myself and haven't asked my friends how much $$$.)

    Still wanna do herding with that girl?

    Yes => next action: find out about herding classes in your neck of the woods. When are they offered? Year-round? Seasonally? One quarter out of the year? What do they cost? Are they open only to Herding Breeds, or may any dog with aptitude participate? (I don't know if yours is purebred, etc.)

    No => Project goes into the Someday/Maybe list or, perhaps, drops out of your universe.

    2) Now, assuming your previous feeling was "Yes," find out at what level you want to do herding with this girl *before* you commit to the full-on, one-week camp:

    **Fun activity for Mom and dog to enjoy the outdoors?
    **A way for Mom to decide whether she's going to add sheep to the family? (don't laugh; people have done it!)
    **Competition? How often are competitions held? Where? One-, two-, or three-day events? What will you drop from your existing schedule to accommodate the herding competitions?
    **If "yes" to competition: local only? Or would you like to go to a state/regional/national level with her? Does the DOG travel well??
    **If "yes" to MAJOR competition: does the DOG travel well by plane??

    Getting stuck at any of these points will (I think) give you information you currently don't have access to.

    But enjoy that girl! Maybe agility, which is much more available, could be a compromise activity?



    • #3
      Thanks, Cynthia, for your insights. Good thoughts all. I think you are absolutly right. When I'm feeling stuck about a project, I probably need to get up to 10,000 feet and look at the bigger picture.

      But..back to doggie stuff...We compete in agility now (1 leg away from our AX). We have fun doing it, but I still sense she is "doing it for me". Herding, however, she has a real taste for.


      • #4
        IMHO, if you can't decide on it now, either put it on a Someday Maybe list (there's a reason you're putting it off) or put the due date on a calendar so you have to act on it that day or never.

        Whenever GTD breaks down for me, it's because I have some reason I'm putting something off. A psychological block of some sort, something I don't want to confront. Once I realize that, I make my mind up to do it or not, and commit myself one way or the other.


        • #5
          I think you hit it on the head....there's a reason I'm putting something off. I guess what I'm looking for is a way to encourage myself to confront what that reason is.

          Using my original example...I realize that taking up herding will mean a huge commitment of time--even to participate at a recreational level. This conflicts with another goal of spending more time at home with my family.

          Originally, I'd planned for my family to go with me to camp. My DH says he's not interested. Aha! Conflict.

          If I really look deep, I'll see the causes of the conflict and have to make some value judgements. Simple decision, complex issues.

          I think I'll add to my brain dump to outline a process for analyzing indecision, a list of questions to ask myself when I'm feeling wishy-washy.

          Thanks for the insights.


          • #6
            I think I'll add to my brain dump to outline a process for analyzing indecision, a list of questions to ask myself when I'm feeling wishy-washy.
            Something like this would be great. I'm going to sleep on this and see if I can come up with anything.


            • #7
              I've found that there are some decisions that I just need to allow time to incubate. I'm not yet ready to make a decision on it, and yet, there aren't specific next actions to move me toward a decision (such as additional research to be done). On the other hand, I don't want to lose the idea, or miss an important deadline (similar to the situation you've described).

              For these items, I add a reminder in my tickler file, some time from now that is determined by the nature of the item.

              Because it's in my tickler file, I don't worry about it getting lost, and therefore don't think about it constantly. However, in the course of regular life, it often comes up just in my thoughts, and when I see that tickler reminder, I re-evaluate the idea. If I've already decided and acted by the time the reminder comes up, I just toss the reminder.

              Obviously, some decisions might require more focused thinking, or an outline of options, or a list of pros and cons, etc. But for those things I just want to toss around for a while, this scenario works well for me.


              • #8
                Ko's method works for me, too. I'll either put indeterminate items in my tickler file or create Someday/Maybe projects with a set review date.

                Before GTD, this kind of item accounted for much of the "stuff" that stayed in my Inbox for weeks (or months!) on end.. This approach works much better, and keeps the Inbox clear.



                • #9

                  You always herd the ones you love.


                  • #10
                    I think I'll add to my brain dump to outline a process for analyzing indecision, a list of questions to ask myself when I'm feeling wishy-washy.

                    Something like this would be great. I'm going to sleep on this and see if I can come up with anything.
                    Have you come up with anything? I'd sure like a copy.