GTD is working for me? Yes!

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss the GTD Methodology' started by Suelin23, Jun 7, 2017.

  1. Suelin23

    Suelin23 Registered

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    Hi,
    My manager recommended I have coaching to help me deal with difficult conversations and focus better on delivering on long term objectives - I'm good at getting the short term urgent work done but the longer more boring work not so much.
    My coach asked about my system for managing work and I said I'd been doing GTD since 2010 and she suggested it wasn't working and I try something else.
    I think it is working - I've changed from a messy hoarder that always had tons of junk piled up on my work desk , dining table and kitchen etc to someone that now aways has a clear desk, tidy house and achieves a lot more than I used to. I'm not quite there yet and have trouble with my email inbox and need to master MS Project for longer project management.
    I'm going to join up Connect again and give GTD a real focus again. I've reorganised my system using Outlook and am going to really focus on processing each day and not leaving things to the end of the week.
    I thought I'd post it here because the coach says its more powerful to make a commitment and tell others about it.
     
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  2. Cpu_Modern

    Cpu_Modern Registered

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    Change your coach. There are good ones out there.
     
  3. Longstreet

    Longstreet Registered

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    Glad to have you here! GTD works well for me. Keep us posted and let us know if we can be of help in any way. Cheers!
     
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  4. treelike

    treelike Registered

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    Suelin23 likes this.
  5. JodieFrancis

    JodieFrancis GTD Novice

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    Welcome Suelin23 :)
    Have a look at the recorded webinars in Connect - they are a wealth of information!
    From your post I'd suggest you review the 3-fold nature of work - processing, doing unplanned work, doing planned work (paraphrased).
    Like you I am good at getting the short term urgent stuff done - GTD gives me an excellent structure for staying on top of the many moving parts in my day - but I find it a challenge to get to the longer term things on my list. Time blocking my calendar helps.
     
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  6. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    In order to collect data I would ask a coach for a specific information what in her/his opinion isn't working. What areas need improvement. And then I would use this information in the GTD framework.
     
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  7. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    I think it's great that GTD has helped you improve in some areas. You need to take your manager's concerns seriously, however, and be open to doing whatever is needed to address them. Admittedly there's a lot I don't know about your situation but what you've described sounds like the kind of thing that can jeopardize your continued employment if you don't get on top of it.

    It's hard to know what to suggest because I don't know why you're struggling with "delivering on long term objectives." Are you having trouble defining the outcomes or breaking them down into actionable steps? Are you having difficulty with prioritizing actions related to those long-term steps? Those might be what I call "GTD problems" that can easily be solved by improving your GTD skills.

    But it sounds possible you don't have a GTD problem per se, but a problem with the content of the job. You referred to the tasks related to long-term objectives as "boring." Do you dislike these aspects of your job enough that you're avoiding them? Or is your job structured in such a way as to make it difficult to get to actions related to those longer-term outcomes, because the small stuff is always more immediately urgent? In the former case, you may want to think about whether you're in the right job, or what you can do to motivate yourself to tackle the things you like less; in the latter, you may want to work with your manager to restructure the job or change the expectations if he or she is open to that. Obviously you can use GTD to support you in solving these problems, but they go beyond just brushing up on your GTD skills.
     
  8. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    I hesitate to say this, but you don't make your coach sound very good. For example, nobody can tell you "its more powerful to make a commitment and tell others about it" because it doesn't work that way for everyone.
     
  9. Suelin23

    Suelin23 Registered

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    I'm struggling to understand the point of the coaching at all. She just asks a bunch to questions trying to get to the heart of the matter (which was an upsetting process) then asks me to suggest ways I could improve and then commit to doing one. I can't think well when I'm upset so all I came up with is pruning my daily task list to 3-4 items. I mean reviewing what I'm doing and come up with ideas to improve is something I do every day so how is a coach supposed to help?
     
  10. Suelin23

    Suelin23 Registered

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    I'm not getting the longer things done because I'm not spending enough time on them. I keep thinking about them but there's usually some urgent tasks to do so I think I'll get them done first, but they take longer than expected and before you know it the week is over and I didn't spend any time on it. Like today I have an urgent project to deal with- which I'm not happy about because it's not on my performance plan so in reality I'll get no credit for working on it.
     
  11. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

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    I would abandon "I'll get them done first". Completely.

    Instead, I would suggest that you make absolutely firm appointments with yourself for the long-term project work, and that each day you do the day's "dose" of long-term work first, instead of doing the short-term urgent tasks first. So you declare that the first three, or four, or five, hours of each day belong to those long term projects. Only when those solid hours are in do you move to the shorter-term urgent tasks. You do as much of that short-term urgent work as you can with what's left of the day, and the next day you go back to the long term projects for their allotted time.

    If you can't do that--if your boss demands that you accept any and all interruptions--then that's a problem to solve and possibly something to negotiate.
     
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  12. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    It sounds like the point of coaching is that your employer is unhappy with at least some aspect of your job performance (the bad news) but is willing to give you some opportunity to improve (the good news). I've been in this situation, sometimes fairly and sometimes not. But in any case getting upset won't help.

    It sounds like your coach was assigned to you by your employer, in which case it doesn't matter whether the coach is competent and helpful or not. But I've come to believe that just about any problem has a solution even if we can't see it at the moment.

    I think this is somewhat outside of the scope of what these forums are suited to help you with, but in my experience the solution will ultimately boil down to one of three things: you improve where you need to (whether with the coach's help or not), you work with your boss to renegotiate the job structure so that it's doable, or you leave. I've done all three at some point in my life.

    I feel for you and I truly wish you the best of luck.
     
  13. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    That's why I asked the question. Again, it's hard to give useful advice under these circumstances -- I don't know you, I don't know your job and the organizational culture within which you work. The best I think that can be offered are a few generalities.

    If the urgent tasks are crowding out the non-urgent, longer-term but apparently important tasks, you can only do one of three things: figure out how to handle the urgent tasks more expeditiously (perhaps there is a more efficient way to handle them than you realize), renegotiate your commitments so you have more time to handle the non-urgent but important tasks towards long-term projects, or (as I alluded to in my prior post) find other employment.

    I don't know your organizational culture, but I can share with you that I've worked at places that would have been willing to renegotiate my commitments if I had not been too timid to ask, and others that refused to budge when I got to the point in my life where I was no longer timid and did ask. If the problem is the job but the organizational culture is one that supports renegotiation of commitments it is incumbent upon you to find the courage to ask for help. If it's not the type of place that budges, that's a tough situation and one that may not be right for you.

    I wouldn't suggest bothering to make a defense of GTD to your employer. I doubt they'll care that you're doing GTD, nor should they. The important thing to them is that you perform your job to their satisfaction. The best way to utilize company-provided coaching (if indeed that's what this is) is to focus on getting help with the content of the job, rather than giving them an opening to micromanage your personal thought process.
     
  14. mlg

    mlg Registered

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    The question is: is it working, or do you want it works? I don't believing in GTD. GTD is developed for stress-free production, but it is only reducing the symptoms of something deeper. What your manager is asking, is to conform more to the long-term mission of the company. I think you focus on the 'how' without a goal. First find your goal, and maybe, very maybe, you can manage it with GTD.

    More in general: My problem with GTD is, that it increase the distraction of the essence of work and life. Working with systems makes blind, like bureaucracy. Developing (self) bureaucracy will be efficient, but changes (yourself, or organisations) going slow. Like Max Weber said, after a time the bureaucracy is separate itself after a time. Life is the same.

    Stress arises when we do something thats against our deeper self. So, first find the deeper self in you, think about your role (or maybe you don't) in the company. When that's clear for yourself, you can work on efficiency. Probably you maybe don't fit in the company. Find some courage to make (fundamental) decisions and probably you see that GTD is just an aspirine. Just like you drink to much alcohol and take the next day an aspirine. The same evening you drink again too much, because you know that the aspirine will take the pain away the next morning.
     
  15. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    @mlg: It's true that if someone doesn't have a grasp of their priorities or the content of their job (and I'm not saying that's @Suelin23 because I don't know her), simply refining one's GTD skills won't correct the problem. One has recognize that there is a problem and be willing to do something about it.

    But I disagree that GTD distracts from higher level focus. It in fact includes regular reviews at the higher levels (AOFs, long-term goals and life's purpose) that give you an opportunity to get clear about what's important. And I find it much easier to focus on those higher level horizons when I'm not also trying to remember what 100 or more commitments I've made in the various arenas of my life.
     
  16. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    @Suelin23, I was thinking a bit more about your situation and I have a suggestion. Perhaps you can turn around your coach's request that you come up with a list of things to change by tracking what you do for a week -- specifically, what you did, how you did it and how long it took. I'd also suggest tracking what you didn't get to that week. If your manager feels that your performance that week was unsatisfactory, you can present this information to her and/or your coach and ask for suggestions on what you might have done differently. I think this would demonstrate proactivity on your part and perhaps result in some suggestions you can implement.

    By focusing on the content of the job rather than your GTD habits, you might be able to shift the focus away from micromanaging your personal action management habits and redirect the attention where it belongs, which is the content of the job. But you can implement any guidance you receive using the GTD methods with which you're comfortable.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2017
  17. Suelin23

    Suelin23 Registered

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    I think that could be part of the problem - I have a hard time saying no to things and don't have much courage to speak up when I need help or am falling behind. The organization is trying to be more flexible to renegotiate commitments but its new and we're all still developing skills in this.
     
  18. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

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    This is part of why I suggest making the time for your performance plan projects absolutely firm hard landscape schedule. If you only allow yourself (for example) three hours a day for everything else, then even if you can't break the habit of saying yes, it's the tasks you shouldn't have said yes to that will run late, not the ones that your performance plan prioritizes.
     
  19. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    That's something that you can address in part by brushing up on your GTD skills, specifically focusing on the 3-fold nature of work as @JodieFrancis suggests. Part of it, though, is going to have to come from within. Saying "no" is hard, no matter how current and complete your GTD system is. It does, however, get easier with practice.

    I'm going to respectfully disagree with @Gardener about the usefulness of time-blocking in this situation. If you're having trouble saying "no," putting things in your calendar that are not hard landscape in my experience doesn't help. Instead it creates commitments with yourself that you end up breaking, undermining your faith in yourself and your system. On the other hand if you get good at choosing the right actions in the moment and saying "no" when you need to, you won't have to block out time on your calendar.

    I realize it's tough when you get conflicting suggestions. You'll have to try things for yourself to judge what works for you.
     
  20. Gardener

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    This is, of course, a frequently-discussed philosophy. One of the examples that I recall was a pianist who must, absolutely must, practice for X hours per day. Whether the pianist puts those hours in the calendar, or decides that they're not allowed to do anything else until the practice is done, or something else, there needs to be a way to ensure that the mandatory practice gets done.

    The problem, as I see it, is that the stakes of the decision are distributed across a large number of decisions. (And I feel as if I'm half-echoing something that I read once, as I keep typing.)

    If Jane comes to you in a panic for help with printing a report for a customer, the stakes of NOT DOING that are clear and immediate--the customer will be upset, maybe the sale will be lost. The stakes of DOING that are arguably zero, because it's easy to recover from that one and only one choice to skip some big-project work.

    And that's repeated, over and over. Every little task-interruption has clear negative consequences in the "if I don't do it" direction and vague and almost invisible negative consequences in the "if I do it" direction.

    But when you combine a lot of those interruptions together, the consequence is that the big important project doesn't get done. There's a big negative consequence.

    So the important consequence comes not from one decision, but from a pattern of decisions. Therefore, IMO, the solution has to address the pattern. You need a rule, a discipline, that stands above the clutter of the little decisions with their bright clear consequences in only one direction.

    And I struggle to think of a discipline that doesn't feel hard-landscapeish, especially for a person who is just learning to say no, who is especially vulnerable to those bright short-term consequences. So I still recommend something like "I work on big projects from 8 to 2. If nothing is on fire and no one is bleeding, that's what I do."

    And that tends to work better for other people, too. If you do something for Joe and refuse to do something for Fred, there's conflict. If Joe and Fred and Jane and Frances all hear, "8-2 is my project time. I'd be happy to see you at 2:30," they are, IMO, more likely to respect that.
     

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