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Actions not getting done...

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  • Actions not getting done...

    I have a problem with my GTD system that I suspect actually falls outside the scope of GTD itself.

    I simply don't have enough time to do all the actions that I list.

    I spend most of my productive time in a work environment, and by the time I get around to "my" actions, I have little time or energy left. (Some of this is due to an insomniac daughter and a partially disabled wife, but that's another story.)

    I know I'm a low energy creature and I'm trying to insert actions that raise my energy level - regular exercise, healthy eating, more sleep - but damn it, all those things take more time out of my action time!

    While GTD is a great help with my life, as perfect a fit to my personality as I could wish for, at a deeper subconscious level I'm not trusting it as much as I should, simply because actions are not getting done.

    I'd welcome any suggestions.


  • #2
    Exercise, healthy eating and enought Sleep - Calendar Items.

    Regular Exercise - this is one of those things that only seems to work if you have a set time for it. Two times that have worked for me are first thing in the morning and at lunch time. Although first thing in the morning requires getting up earlier, you don't lose additional time as you were going to have to shower and change anyway. Plus it's done! If you can't find a block of time for it, then every little bit helps. Park further away from work - at the far end of the parking lot or garage. Take the stairs between floors at work. When you need a brief break from your computer, walk a lap around the floor. Take the long way to the restroom, coffee room, cafeteria, etc.

    Healthy eating - I don't know if you pack a lunch or eat out at lunch. It's easier to eat healthily if you bring your own food. If you don't have time or inclination to pack a lunch (it's not my favorite thing to do) and have a refrigerator at work, you can bring the ingredients and make your lunch during lunchtime. Sandwiches or salads are easy to bring in ingredients for and make up at lunchtime. Leftovers are easy to pack up when you are clearing from dinner the night before. Healthy eating for dinner - again it's easier if you're eating at home. Eating at home is easier if you put a half hour on your calendar every week to plan meals and a regular time to grocery shop. Then at dinnertime you just have to make the meal, not figure out what ingredients you have, what you can make, and stop at the grocery store too. It's just as easy to plan healthy things to eat as unhealthy. Healthy meals don't have to take longer to prepare.

    More sleep - Sounds like you have some extra issues for this. However, you need to calculate back from when you get up, when you need to fall asleep to get 7-8 hours of sleep, whatever you need. Then you have to establish a nighttime routine and bedtime. Set an alarm to remind you it's time to start your nighttime routine and treat it as a serious appointment.

    These are all calendar items to get started. At some point they become habits and may not need to be on the calendar.


    • #3
      Do just three Next Actions.

      OK. You have no energy/time to do everything from your list. So do just three Next Actions from the list. If there is still some time left - do one more Next Action.


      • #4
        Being a lower energy creature myself, I can sympathize.

        Whenever I feel like my stuff is too much, I move a few things over to Someday/Maybe. That makes it easier to focus on what I can do, while knowing that I can always pick something up from S/M when my energy increases.

        Answer A:

        But it sounds like you have some additional complications, for which I have no real solution. For me, getting enough sleep and adequate exercise are key, and I don't always get them. Are there other family members who can help, or are there other resources you can draw on?

        Perhaps that could be a project in and of itself. While daunting, you don't have to solve it at the very beginning. One next action is all it takes to get the ball rolling.

        Answer B:

        But then I re-read your post and noticed a key point. If you have low energy, you cannot begrudge the time you need for sleep and exercise and healthy eating. These things are essential to healthy living, and while practicing them will not yield immediate benefits, you will get a payoff. One day you'll wake up and find yourself with just a little more energy, enough so that you can move one--just one--project off your S/M list. It might be a week or a month or two later, but eventually you'll find yourself with some more energy, and you'll know what to do with it.

        Stephen Covey calls it "sharpening the saw." You have to sharpen yours if you expect to do any work with it. Like getting to Carnegie Hall, you'll have to "practice, practice, practice."


        I hope you find something in each of these answers that you can use.


        • #5
          Many thanks for all these answers. They really are a help.

          I get "sharpening the saw". I guess I should remember my Taoism - "The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step".

          Getting sleep is a major problem since our daughter is an insomniac. And also since I seem to need 8.5 hours per night before it helps my energy.

          I work from home, so really the problem with eating healthily is trying to avoid eating too much, rather than eating junk.

          My first take on all this is to schedule regular exercise just before lunch, since that will make me less hungry! (Yes, I know, that's odd.)

          Thanks again,


          • #6
            Exercise With Your Daughter?


            Just a thought. You mention that your daughter is an insomniac. Perhaps you could try to find an activity that you and your daughter could do together. You would get the exercise you need as well as some quality time with your child. In addition, the exercise might help your daughter to sleep better which would help your sleep problem as well.


            • #7
              I'll throw my hat into the ring on this one as well. Given the needs of your family, your situation etc. It's time to move your office out of the house!

              You need space for your self and your work. Currently it appears that you are at the beck and call of your family 24/7. Find a small space and rent it, if necessary sub lease.

              As to your family take them to the doctor and get professional help. Kids need their sleep and if it's not happening then something is wrong. For you, take the advise given ... eat well, find the time for sleep and exercise and in time you will become a more energetic person.


              • #8
                Originally posted by shadowfirebird
                I simply don't have enough time to do all the actions that I list.

                I'd welcome any suggestions.
                Just stop listing things you won't have time to do.

                In DA terms, "renegotiate your commitments."

                There is great peace in accepting the reality of the limits of your time and energy. Lists that are too long are full of wishful thinking.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by andersons
                  Just stop listing things you won't have time to do.

                  In DA terms, "renegotiate your commitments."

                  There is great peace in accepting the reality of the limits of your time and energy. Lists that are too long are full of wishful thinking.
                  That is great advice, probably applicable to many of us.


                  • #10
                    Andy, you are probably suffering from sleep deprivation like a large percentage of people in our society. It is easy to get into that trap even without a child that is waking you up during the night. I have two very young children and am well acquainted with the nighttime infant feeding/changing routine and what that does to your sleep schedule. You have sleep deprivation if you do not wake up in the morning naturally without the aid of an alarm and feeling refreshed.

                    Sleep deprivation takes a huge toll on energy levels and productivity. I would focus on only that one problem initially because finding a solution to it will make the other problems much easier to solve or deal with. You should make finding the time to get adequate sleep your top priority. If your daughter wakes you periodically throughout the night, then you need to sleep when you can. Go to bed an hour or two early and you can handle night time awake periods better. Ultimately you will want to deal with your daughter’s insomnia as well by getting medical advice, etc. Additionally, if she is over 3 years old, maybe she can be taught not to wake you at night even if she is awake. At a minimum you and your daughter should begin practicing good sleep hygiene, meaning strict bedtimes and wake times that are consistent 7 days per week.

                    Everyone needs a different amount of sleep and you may well need 8.5 hours. However that is more than average for an adult and I suspect that once you have canceled your sleep deficit and established a good sleep routine you will find yourself waking naturally and feeling refreshed after less than 8.5 hours of sleep. It takes more than just one good night’s sleep to cancel your sleep deficit. In the long run, you will probably spend very little to no more time in bed than you are now, it will just be more productive. Concentrate on the sleep problem first.

                    Also, accept the reality that you can only get so much done under the circumstances and make sure that those precious few things are the most important ones. Everything else is going to wait. Good luck.