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Read/Review and Next Actions

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  • Read/Review and Next Actions


    I have a question which has been troubling me about GTD and Read/Review. I am a computer professional and hobbyist, and I have a lot of projects that are "Learn Open GL", "Learn Java", etc. These projects have reading material associated with them (Iin order to learn Open GL, I have to read the Open GL Programmers Guide I have. In order to learn Java, I have to read the Learn Java book). I'd like to know the "best practices" for handling this. Do I make the "Learn Open GL/Learn Java" items projects, or are they Goals/Objectives? Should my reading material be Next Actions? There are things which I'd like to learn, prompting purchases of many books I'd like to read, but I look at it on the shelf, and consider doing something else.


  • #2
    A suggestion - make the project "Learn Java" with a next action "Read chapter 1 of Java book." This way you break that large, intimidating job of reading a big book into bite-seize pieces, and you get the "win" every time you read one chapter. When you finish one chapter, make the next action "Read chapter 2 of Java book," and so on.


    • #3
      I use much of the same sort of system. During my yearly review every December, I pick 13 personal interest and development books to read over the coming year. My objective (see DA's tip on defining a project) is "Personal Interest Reading", under which I list the 13 books.

      Which ever book I have chosen to read first is my current project. For example my current project is "Read Learning from the Future" and my current next action for anywhere is "Read LF Chpt 4." I put this under "@Anywhere" because I tend to carry what ever I am reading with me in my briefcase.

      I use the same technique for other learning activities including learning German and completing my Ph.D. and it has seemd to work quite well. If it is a major objective, such as completing my Ph.D., I do do a complete project plan with all of the required reading listed in a project folder and under my objectives list.



      • #4
        When do you get to win?

        One of my good friends (and boss!) once told me, "Jason, make the project easy to win. We're all starved for wins!"

        Is "learn" a project you get to win? Personally, I might coach myself through a process of defining that project as an attainable goal that I can check off of a list.

        For example, if I were learning German, I might put down, "Complete a 30-minute recording of me talking about California in German." This way, the actions will align and pull me toward that outcome.


        • #5
          Attainable projects

          Well, the larger goal is to become a better, more proficient developer, but even that is vague. I'm not sure how to take something along the lines of just bettering myself and turn it into something tangible and winnable.

          Thanks for the responses thus far!


          • #6

            No, you are correct. You should aim for wins, but what is a win?

            I have "Learn German" as an objective. For me, my project is complete the German II CD set with appropriate next actions covering listening to the CD's and completing the exercises, just as I did with the German I CD's. When I completed this, yes it felt like a small win. The larger win comes from knowing that I improved myself and when I talk to my friend from Frankfurt in German.

            That is actually one of the things that I like about the GTD methodology is that I don't have to be so focused on checking those boxes to feel good about myself. Should you ever be totally satisfied with who you are and where you are at? Yes and no. To use the concept from anoth guru, maybe our highest achievement is constant and never ending improvement. Maybe that is one of our societal problems, we are to stuck on getting a win instead of enjoying the game.



            • #7
              With regard to the challenges in approaching a project that begins with "Learn..." or "Read..." via GTD methodology, if I may venture a thought here, I think maybe your learning project has a next action (or a sub-project) related to identifying ways to learn the subject matter that could work for you. Then you could determine the contexts they fit in. "Read____" or "Learn..." in itself may just not be do-able at this stage of the game. To get there, the first actionable step might be any of the following: "identify times and places where I can read this type of material", or "examine the book's table of contents to find relevant chapters" or "brainstorm with self or friendly expert the questions I want to be able to answer" . Or, the Next Action might be to list the external stumbling blocks or my gut-level objections to doing this "Learning Project" so far defined. I have noticed that I avoid getting started on projects in which the scope is too large, or the context and the next action are either ill-matched or even confused, or the proposed method cannot support the identified outcome until some pre-requisite actions are taken.