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Must I have all action options in the Next Action lists?

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  • Must I have all action options in the Next Action lists?

    I caught myself yesterday again watching TV And decided to check if I have this activity on my Next Action lists. Of course I didn't find anything like this there So I started populating my lists with actions I usually do at home to have that options: Watch TV, Read, Fix. When done I came to the question #1: Should I put general actions on the lists or concrete actions (Watch TV vs Watch "BBC News")?

    I was thinking that it's tough to live by the lists and have no options that you don't know of. Life becomes sensless. And next question came when my wife suggested to taste a good wine Question #2: "What should I do if I have an action option (like taste wine) that's not on my lists and couldn't be predicted?"

    Now I have a list of @home actions that I put in general like: watch TV, read, fix, draw a picture, play with the child. I mentioned that I tend to do more "want to do" next actions against "need to do". Any advice on that?



  • #2
    Ah, but this is the beauty of having your life all organised and planned out! All the "plannable" stuff is dealt with and you don't have to worry about it anymore.

    This leaves you with more time (and a clearer mind) to notice all the opportunities that were unseen before. You didn't notice them before because your mind was tied up trying to remember the 100 other things you have to do.


    • #3

      I think that Watch TV or Play with the child is not have to do, it's want to do. And I wonder if I should put this want to do actions on the list as they anyway the options I always know of



      • #4
        I don't put routine "fun" activities on my lists. Those will get done whether they are on the list or not; I don't need to remind myself to do them.

        I do treat more complex fun activities like any other project. Things like vacation planning or preparation for a seminar or competition require effort in advance and won't necessarily get done otherwise.



        • #5
          Originally posted by Borisoff
          I think that Watch TV or Play with the child is not have to do, it's want to do. And I wonder if I should put this want to do actions on the list as they anyway the options I always know of
          I suggest you try it and see what happens

          By the way, I think there's always room for improvement in everything we do. Even if it is something we enjoy; we can plan out the TV watching to watch better quality programmes, we can think of interesting or fun activities for the child. Maybe by having it on the list it might trigger new ideas?


          • #6
            Another great question, Eugene. I've found myself giving this some serious thought after having taken the Mission Control workshop a while back. (Mission Control, like Sally McGhee's work, has you schedule every action in your calendar - a major different with GTD.)

            I haven't done my research yet, but it sounds like the "time maps" idea you mention in the thread My version of GTD 2.0: Integration with Power Scheduling may be of use. I think there's a real opportunity to block out chucks of time for *types* of activities (not necessarily contexts, though) on the calendar. For example, "Family time," "Relaxation," "Reading," etc.

            More when I work through my stack of books on the subject!

            Related threads:
            TimeMaps and GTD
            Struggling to implement GTD for the 4th time!!
            Contexts Question- What are your Contexts? Posted in Gear by mistake as well



            • #7
              Just because you're doing something that isn't on your list...

              Doesn't mean you shouldn't be doing it.

              I believe one of David's major points is that getting all of this stuff captured and thought through to at the least the "next action" level means that you can go do stuff like watching TV, confident in the knowledge that all the stuff that needs doing has been captured in your system, and that you're not going to do any of it right now.

              I think that when you look at your list during TV time you are feeling a tug to go be productive, maybe the show isn't all that interesting. You can give in and go do productive stuff, or just shrug and decide it will keep. David's system is very flexible, but for some reason we seem to want to make it more rigid.


              • #8
                Matt, I also use TimeMaps in my daily life. Not that specific but at the moment it looks this way:

                09:00 - 09:30 Research (reading)
                10:00 - 17:00 Work
                17:00 - 23:00 Home

                This allows me to split Home stuff and Work stuff. Of course sometimes I get work calls at Home time but there's no universal TimeMap so each has it's own exceptions. I used to have more complicated TimeMaps and all of them I dropped at some point. I can try to find that and send to you if you're interested. It was connected to some context not time because I wanted something universal (i.e. check email 30 minutes before lanch). So I came to a simple TimeMap that gives me freedom to decide what to do.

                I think now that David Allen should add TimeMap concept to his GTD model as it gives at least some balance between different areas of life. In David's model you can't split Home and Work in time because you don't know when it's time for work and when for home just looking at NAs.

                As for my case I think maybe I should make my TimeMap more complex to reflect the areas I want to have, i.e. split Home to: Relax Time, Play with child time and Fix time. On the other hand you can never plan when your child would like to play with you. So I tend to leave my TimeMap as it is and find some other solution. Probably you find some ways out. Please keep us informed.

                Comments are welcome!




                • #9

                  Are you familiar with the Unschedule from "The Now Habit"? It is discussed as a strategy for overcoming procrastination, but I think it applies to balancing work and relaxation as well.

                  The concept is that you take your calendar for the week and write in all blocks of time- including appointments, drive time, sleep, and meals. Then, look at the blocks of time you have left over. Once I've done this, I find that I am better able to anticipate when I want to be productive with my free time and when I know I'll need to relax in my free time. It also allows me to set my expectations properly when it comes to what "work projects" I'll have time to do this week as opposed to what "home projects" I have time for this week. My "home" projects are the larger list for me so I find it less frustrating on the weekend if I knew I wouldn't have any time during the week to make progress on them.

                  My best example is Tuesday nights. While I have a large chunk of time after work today, I know that I am much better off watching TV tonight than trying to organize my craft room because I have a 16 hour day on Wednesday. The organizing and purging is better left for Thursday night. Those types of balances are easy to strike when you look at the Unschedule.



                  • #10
                    Unschedules and Time Maps

                    Originally posted by Mindi
                    Are you familiar with the Unschedule from "The Now Habit"? It is discussed as a strategy for overcoming procrastination, but I think it applies to balancing work and relaxation as well.
                    The procrastination angle on the Unschedule is to start by blocking out time for play before blocking out time for work. By starting with all the times you won't be able to get work done (sleep, commuting, meetings, planned social events, etc.) you see just how little time you have for actual work.

                    I think Julie Morgenstern suggests Time Maps in her book "Time Management from the Inside Out," but I haven't read it yet. (It's sitting on a bookshelf right close by, waiting its turn.) She may offer it as a way to schedule appropriate types of work for your daily energy cycles as much as anything else.

                    In either case, stepping back to look at how you plan and spend your time on something other than a momentary scale will give you a better idea of your overall balance. If your non-work time only consists of commuting, eating, and sleeping, you need to make adjustments.

                    Overall, I don't think work-life balance can be measured on a day-to-day scale. You have to look at a bigger picture to get beyond the fact that some days are just better than others.

                    Plan your time in advance, or at least log your time so you know how you're already spending it. You need work, play, and rest, in whatever proportions work for you. If this means spending three hours in a row watching TV, so be it.


                    • #11
                      I think that you're making this much too complicated and confusing...

                      The only things that go on my lists are things that I want to be *reminded* of... I don't look at my NA lists as "ToDo" lists, rather, as places to put stakes in the ground regarding commitments that I have made.

                      Do I need to be reminded to watch TV when I don't feel like doing anythign else? No...

                      Do I need to be reminded that on June 18th at 8pm there is a TV show that I want to watch? Yes.

                      See the difference?


                      • #12
                        Some find it useful to consciously prioritize enjoyable activities. Some need to organize their play so that they'll definitely do it regularly. I don't see anything wrong with that.