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"On hold" items?

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  • "On hold" items?

    Shortly after praying for wisdom for the dealing with the incompletes and disorganized piles on hold at my desk, I had an interesting thought.

    There seems to be a psychological place where I get to when I have LOTS of things on my next actions/ contexts lists that I am committed to doing, but that I cannot do because I am mired down into lots of details on 1-2 major projects. This is frustrating, since I have MANY things to do that do not fall into the things I get credit for at work (those projects), any many things at home that I am INTERESTED in or just curious about, but are not mission-critical for getting through the business of house-kids-bills etc. These things are not clearly on my front burner, but they are not Maybe's. They are things that are at an intermediate priority. They make me feel like I am accomplishing something psychologically, but they are really a distraction from my most important mission-critical tasks.

    I have heard of people making a list for urgents at work, that is, picking the most importants of their next actions to get those done. That is one way, but I feel like the GTD stuff has been sold to me such that the generation of extra lists is not great. I believe that. Yet, I see its importance when it takes an hour to scroll through all your lists before you can decide on the very next action.

    One possibility is to have another time and priority position, of things that I do not have to scroll through, but that are not maybe’s. Making progress on them will probably have a very positive impact my on life/family/organization/psyche/achievement/fulfillment, but I cannot do them now with the mission-critical projects on my front burner that are of primary importance or are urgent.

    So how about another list called “Hold” or “On hold.” The airport analogy are those things “in the hangar” or in line ready for takeoff that I cannot launch right now. The someday/maybe does not fall into this for me, since that to me are things that I am only considering.

    I will try this and see what happens.

  • #2
    On Hold - with next action

    I too have found myself in this situation and come up with a similar response. I have a project list that is called "on hold" as well - unlike Someday/Maybe projects I make sure that these ones have a well defined next action - even if that next action is in the waiting on category or is on my calendar for some time in the future.

    This way I do seem to make progress on these projects - and I do get that wonderful feeling that comes from ticking off a project as completed. I also try to make these sorts of projects as small as possible so that I can reach a completion point fairly quickly - even if each project is then just a step along the way to a grander plan.

    I think in another post someone had separated the Someday and Maybe projects - I dare say that is another approach.



    • #3
      Someday concept enriched?

      After being on GTD for a year, teaching it to some friends and staff, and visiting this site a bit, I am seeing this common desire to 'prioritize' in some way pop up quite a bit. I think this is a natural desire, especially if you have been doing this your entire life in order to gain a sense of what you REALLY should be working on.

      I think that a few things help in this area. I'm pretty sure they aren't ant-GTD, but build on DA's intuitive approach. With a clear mind, we do tend to know what we're REALLY supposed to be working on, but sometimes, even with a clear mind, the following things may help gain a sense of priority and timing without using due dates or priorities.

      First, the na lits have to be scoured constantly, looking for anything that's not a real na. Usually, especially with folks who are new to GTD, I see lot's of mini projects (I know there is no such thing as a mini project, but that seems to be how folks think of them on their na list) as an na ... For instance, "write x email to jon" was on one staff's na list, and when I asked him about it in a GTD training time, he told me that this email needs research and time to think, etc. I suggested to him that he make it a project and pick the REAL na, or make an appointment with himself to 'just do it' start to finish. After years of writing 'lists' that are filled with projects AND na's mixed together, it takes a lot of clarity to keep your GTD list truly na based.

      Also, with the na's in place properly (and kept that way in weekly reviews), you could create a category called "Coming Soon" for na's that simply can wait for now ... but not for long. It puts things between now and someday, and creates more urgency for the na list, while taking the pressure off of those important, soon due, but not urgent na's that clutter up with more urgent na's.

      Personally, I haven't done this in my GTD approach. I find my na's stay pretty managable where I 'just know' what's next. Anything that is time sensitive, I make an appointment with myself in the calendar.

      However, I do the above, create a 'Coming Soon' category, when working with teams in meetings and agendas. It gives more clarity in terms of timing, and folks seem to appreciate the pressure taken off on some actions so they can really focus on others. To the 'big picture' thinkers, this doesn't seem to matter, but it does seem to help certain personality types and temperament that are very detailed in their thinking and approach.

      Maybe this would help those whose na lists are too cluttered or overwhelming ... maybe not ... FWIW


      • #4
        "Coming soon"

        I like the coming soon idea. To me, that almost implies something for which there is a hard deadline for which I need to get prepared, as opposed to things in a naturally lower priority or back burner.

        I like that idea though, too!


        • #5
          I've found that sometimes the only way to get the "intermediate priority" tasks done, is to schedule them during a weekly plannning session (ala Covey's big rocks-small rocks analogy). This is especially true for things that are "of personal interest" but are not urgently due to some other person/organization. Basically, you are giving yourself permission, and reserving the right, to do something of great personal value--and then defending the time. What's important to you is important, too.



          • #6
            Why not keep the project on your main list and put a NA on your @WaitingFor list. Then ask yourself what are you waiting for? More time? Project X, Y, & Z are done. More money? Just a thought.