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Study and GTD

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  • Study and GTD

    My question is about the implementation of the gtd methology in a study context.

    To be precise my question is: Studying a unit, a law..., is it a project or a next action? The problem I have is that it seems to me too broad to consider a unit as a project, since the actions related to it are obvious (read, make notes, underline, recite, review...). I don´t know...putting in my next action lists the little steps mentioned above (read, take notes...) to study something doesn´t make me feel confortable. On the other hand, I´m not very confortable considering it as a next action either, since a next action is the very next physical and visible action and "to study" is mainly an "intellectual action". How could I make physical the action of studying but not so concrete that would make my next action lists quite crowded with little and quite obvious actions?

    I hope someone can share with me his or her experience dealing with this problem.

    Thanks a lot

  • #2
    is it a project or a next action?
    For me its generally both. The particular subject i want to learn is a "project" with next actions to learn that are within the project. I also have an Area to group everything.

    This is how i do it. Its mainly for more complex stuff that i need/want to learn.

    (i use the word "learn" as opposed to "study" but its all the same)

    1. I create an Area called Learn. This is where all the stuff i'm learning goes. Gives a good overview when i need it also to organise, sort, etc.

    2. Then I create projects for each 'thing' I want to learn. So if i wanted to learn GTD i'd make a project called "Learn GTD"

    3. Then I need to figure out/find the different areas within that particular project. Keeping with my example of "Learn GTD" some areas within that might be 1. understand the 5 stages of workflow. 2. setting up a reference system, etc etc and I will add those as tasks to that project.

    4. This may depend on your GTD system, but i can assign tags to help organise my next actions list. I have the usual context lists then i have one other main tag which is "Learn" and obviously i assign all the stuff i want to learn with the "Learn" tag. All i do from here is click the Learn tag in my next actions to show me all the "Learn" items and I take my pick which one i am gonna focus on. And of course i do the hole "make notes, underline, highlight" etc.

    Hope that helps a bit.


    • #3
      I have never used GTD for school but I think the same rules apply...

      If the thing you are going to study can be done in one sitting then it’s a next action “Study unit #1” (@Library)

      If the thing you are going to study will take more than one sitting then it would be:
      Project: Study unit #1
      Next Action: Read first section of unit #1 (@Coffee house)


      • #4
        In your case, IMHO, study = area of focus.


        • #5
          For me, "study" is the kind of next action that will make me go numb to my lists. I tend to order my coursework this way:

          30,000 ft (1-2 year): Have a successful school year with x grades and y papers submitted to conferences
          20,000 ft (Areas of focus): Class A, Class B, Class C
          10,000 ft (projects): Class A midterm paper, Class B final paper
          NAs: @Any Computer -- get on Google Scholar and find 25 sources to read abstracts (for Class A midterm paper)
          @Desktop Computer -- print out forms for Institutional Review Board application (for Class B final paper)

          "Reading" for classes I more or less treat as a context unto itself--at my weekly reviews, I load my weeks' readings onto my tablet PC and my Sony reader, and then i have a GDocs spreadsheet where I list all the readings I need to do in the order they're due. Then I make it a point to get myself to an @reading context a couple hours a day and crank out whatever I can until either a) I've run out of steam or b) I've run out of time or c) I've prepared adequately for the next two days' worth of classes.

          The other thing that it sounds like your work lends itself to is some kind of checklist. I think "study" is probably still at least at the project level for you, because it involves NAs highlighting, taking notes, etc. But you could create a checklist for yourself for each unit you want to study, add a unit to your projects list and some sort of NA that will serve as a stake for you to go back to that checklist, and use the checklist.

          Don't overlook the power of checking things off as done! "highlight" as an NA will make you feel very good when it's finished. It might seem menial and repetitive, but if it helps you stay engaged with your list and feeling completion, these are good things.