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how do you study using GTD?

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  • how do you study using GTD?

    Currently I have about 50 books (most of them e-books) that I would like to read. They cover a wide range of topics such as marketing, leadership, innovation, management, business strategy, etc. As a small business owner, I know these books would be of tremendous help to me. But one problem that I’ve noticed is that I tend to spend (or waste) too much time reading these books. Recently I decided to use a time log to check up on myself and found out that there are days when I only spend a total of 3 hours of real work. Most of my time was spent on reading (and getting a headache from all the eyestrain.) During one of my weekly reviews, I noticed that I tend to take on as little projects as possible, so I would be free to read my books. On a typical day, I would empty my inbox, do some next actions and cross them off, and then give myself permission to read “as a reward.” (Like I learned from Now Habit.) My GTD’s clean. But it has too few active actions on it. (Although someday/maybe is quite long.) I’m thinking of blocking out calendar time for reading, but I’m not sure if it’ll work. There’s so much that I’d like to learn I’m not sure if I could trim the list down to a more manageable size. Plus the bad thing about all this is my myopia is getting worse because of all the reading. How do you GTDers study anyway? Because this would definitely be more than a "To study" list. I would appreciate any comment/advice.

  • #2
    I see you've read the Now Habit. Blocking out time on a weekly schedule is a recommended thing to do according to Fiore (for anything but work).


    • #3

      GTD can't tell you what your goals should be. You can rob banks or end homelessness.

      If you're not certain whether reading those books is valuable or a waste of time, GTD won't help you.

      It sounds to me as if you have some concerns that the reading is wasting your time. It might be. Or it might be the best thing you could be doing.

      How important is your small business to you? How much time do you need to spend on it? You need to answer a lot of high-level questions first.

      For example, you might decide that the greatest pleasure you get is from learning new things. Then reading is something valuable and something you might commit yourself to doing. You might decide that your business can provide you with an adequate income even if you devote on 3 hours/day to it.

      Or maybe not.

      You need to sit down and set some 1-year, or longer, goals.

      Then use GTD to help you implement those goals. But if you are fuzzy about what you want, you will continue to be dissatisfied with what you get (doesn't that sound like a better song than the one the Rolling Stones did?).


      • #4
        As moises said, GTD won't tell you what your goals should be.

        If you are avoiding billable work (either taking it on or doing it) in order to read, it seems to me you are asking for trouble down the road.

        Now, it's possible that you can meet your business goals in only a few hours a week, leaving time for other things. That freedom is one of the joys of being self-employed.

        But it's also possible that you are avoiding your business for some reason, and work-related reading is a handy way you can feel useful while doing so. (Maybe it's the wrong business for you? Maybe there's a client you dislike? Maybe there's some aspect of the work that you really hate?)

        Either way, it seems to me that you need to sort out your business goals before you can address the reading problem (if it is a problem). Then you can figure out how your reading can support those goals rather than displacing them.

        My own solution is that I read at lunch and in the evenings, unless the book is related to a specific billable project. Once in a great while I'll take an afternoon off to read, but I treat that as the vacation/mental health break it is, not as a normal business day.



        • #5
          Okay I hear you guys on those high level goals and stuff.

          But the thing is, I love my business. I’m just disappointed with how it is underperforming right now.

          I feel there’s still so much to learn in order to further improve business. I want to learn as much as I can; though I admit to get carried away sometimes it already gets impractical.

          Okay suppose I decide to be more practical and just pick out one book initially. I would abstain from using reading as a reward (since I tend to not notice the time while reading), and instead block off a 2 hours at night to read. Geez my calendar only has time till 6pm… Anyways, I don’t think I’ll have to write it down since I won’t forget.

          I’ll also put a note on my briefcase to “Bring book” and write down “Read book” @out just in case I get the time.

          Maybe I’ll block off more hours on weekends.

          So how’d I do?


          • #6
            If your business is underperforming, paying *less* attention to it will probably not help.... I guess the question is, is reading the best way to gather information that would help your business? Or might you get a better return for the time by talking to a mentor, an expert in your field, a fellow entrepreneur, or someone else who can target their advice to your specific situation.

            With that caveat, your plan sounds fine to me. Similar to what I do, actually. Good luck!



            • #7
              Originally posted by kewms

              Or might you get a better return for the time by talking to a mentor, an expert in your field, a fellow entrepreneur, or someone else who can target their advice to your specific situation.

              I’ll put that thought in my inbox to process...

              You know, in addition to being an effective system, I think what makes GTD stick, is this active forum. You can get quick responses from lots of intelligent people… It’s actually a superb help line. Thanks guys. I really appreciate it.


              • #8

                I think you need to get straight on what is what. If reading is your reward, it's your reward. That's OK. Just don't fool yourself and tell yourself that you are doing meaningful work when you are reading.

                Everyone has different methods that work for them. If it's important for you to grow your business, then sit down and develop a project for next week. Let's say you decide to call 15 stale leads, or former customers, or whatever. Then you can use Fiore's method. After you've spent 1/2 hour calling leads, you can reward yourself and read. But use a timer and limit the readng for 15 minutes. (Or whatever time works for you. If you are used to reading for 3 hours, maybe you'll start with 1/2 hour work followed by 1/2 hour reward.)

                Just be clear what you are doing when you are reading. You are relaxing and having fun. And when the timer says "time's up," it's time to get back to work.

                As a side benefit, you might learn something useful for growing your business when you are reading. But you need to get straight what is what. When you are calling the leads, you are doing work that you had been avoiding. When you are reading, you are rewarding yourself for doing work that you had been avoiding.

                A big part of this kind of self-development is setting boundaries. The world is full of ambiguity and contradiction. The key to an effective system is to create unambiguous categories for how your time is spent. Right now, reading for you is a reward. Use it to get yourself to accomplish the work you've been avoiding. Be clear about when you are working and when you are rewarding yourself.

                What I enjoyed in Fiore's book was the method he uses to help you figure out what you find rewarding. I always used to read stuff like, "give yourself a vacation after you've completed a big project," or buy yourself a treat or shoes or whatever. None of that resonated with me. Then I read Fiore, who says to look at what activities you tend to gravitate to. Then I realized that I could use reading a magazine as a reward.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by GTDer88
                  Most of my time was spent on reading (and getting a headache from all the eyestrain.) . . .Plus the bad thing about all this is my myopia is getting worse because of all the reading.
                  Wear reading glasses while you read. Every 15 minutes, stop reading long enough to focus on objects at different distances, especially >20 feet away.

                  Why? When you read, or focus on close objects, muscles that change the shape of your eyes' lenses must contract. To focus at longer distances, these same muscles must be fully relaxed. When these muscles are contracted for long periods, they stop relaxing fully. Reading glasses focus close images so that your eyes' muscles don't have to contract. Periodically focusing on objects at different distances helps keep the muscles functioning properly.


                  • #10
                    reading to avoid doing

                    I love to learn too. But I think you are using reading as a way to procrastinate your way out of doing the work of your business. I think you can gleen many good ideas from your reading- but you can't read 24-7 and expect your biz to survive.

                    Try this, After scaling down your reading a bit, (maybe allowing yourself certain times during the day to schedule 15-30 minutes, once or twice a day would be a good compromise) try taking what you were able to read and adapt it ASAP to your business. If you can make your reading pay off in inproved bottom line maybe you won't feel so guilty about it.


                    • #11
                      On a side note, you might be interested to read about incremental reading. It is particularly recommended with large amounts of texts.


                      Pretty out of the box way to read, but there are some very happy users (not me yet, though I have been trying).