advice on my GTD method

mommoe436

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FOLKE:

GTD Connect and DAC have provided a lot of best practices, recognizing that everyone's world, personalities, preferences and work styles are different. One of the most appealing things to me about GTD is that there is not one way to implement it. If David or DAC ever come out with a standard required way to implement GTD, I would be extremely disappointed. I suspect that as many as you think want something more, there are many more that gravitate to this method because they can customize it to their own needs.

I find it interesting that you don't seem to have any problem adjusting your GTD practice to use a Hot List (which you believe to be 'un GTD"), yet you seem to have a problem with others blocking time, and using 'fake' dates and 'fake' contexts ('fake' is your interpretation of what others are doing). We are all trying to see what we need to see when we need to see it.

I'm confused as to what you are looking for from this group - if you want David and DAC to do something more or different, you are talking to the wrong group. You might want to read the "What's New" section in the updated Getting Things Done book to get an idea of David's latest thinking.

On the other hand, if you are OPEN to hearing ideas, suggestions and how others are implementing GTD to help with your own practice, then asking questions and having productive discussions is the way to go (IMHO). This forum has much info on how people have implemented their system - if you really are interested in how best to practice GTD for yourself (ie, set up searches, contexts, use various apps/software etc.) all you have to do is ask.

Maureen
 

Folke

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TesTeq said:
I think David wants to keep GTD as simple and tool-agnostic as possible. So paper with its limitations will remain the lowest common denominator forever.
I believe so to.

As for the software ventures, I wasn't referring to David making his own software. I just meant he might have valuable opinions and recommendations (in the form of books, articles etc) about best practices and ideas that would apply when using or creating more advanced (computer based) tools for GTD.

Gardener said:
So that task is effectively on four lists, on one piece of paper.
Yes, I agree it is possible to make a "context table" as you describe. I noticed that in your example most of the columns are "contexts" whereas one is an "urgency" indicator. And you managed to fit it onto one list. On a computer you can do it even more easily - many apps have unlimited context tags, and you can apply as many as you like). Usually the apps have rather weak possibilities for conveniently narrowing down the list, and that would be one of the important areas to improve if an app developer wanted to create a really good GTD tool.

An example of what you cannot do on paper is switch between having tasks listed by area/project for review and then switch to having them listed by context for execution.

mommoe436 said:
I'm confused as to what you are looking for from this group - if you want David and DAC to do something more or different, you are talking to the wrong group.
You are probably right. But it could also have been the case that this forum, if there had been a strong consensus on some further development of the methodology might have been able to influence David to do something that he did not believe there was a market for.

mommoe436 said:
One of the most appealing things to me about GTD is that there is not one way to implement it. If David or DAC ever come out with a standard required way to implement GTD, I would be extremely disappointed. I suspect that as many as you think want something more, there are many more that gravitate to this method because they can customize it to their own needs.
I find that a bit strange. I always do what I want, and do not see any difference in that sense between David's books and other books. Why would I care if someone insists on some very specific ideas? I just ignore everything that I do not like.

On the contrary, I usually respect people who have thought things through and presented them well, even if perhaps I do not entirely agree with everything. I think existing GTD is well thought-through and well presented. I see it as a very good "beginner's course", if you will. It summarizes the best classical practices in a simple and easy way. Most of it is uncontroversial, already known or intuitively understood by most readers, I would suspect, and he gets it neatly summarized into a coherent system. What David also does is he takes a firm stand against some of the worst common "malpractices" (primarily regarding prioritization and dates) and a firm stand for making situational decisions. I think that is very good, and is definitely the most interesting part of GTD as far as I am concerned. Unfortunately, those are also the areas where many people lack some further clarity and perceive they have needs of various sorts that the GTD system does not cover. These are the topics that often get debated most intensely. This thread is just one example.
 

Gardener

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Folke said:
Yes, I agree it is possible to make a "context table" as you describe. I noticed that in your example most of the columns are "contexts" whereas one is an "urgency" indicator. And you managed to fit it onto one list. On a computer you can do it even more easily - many apps have unlimited context tags, and you can apply as many as you like).
Yep. I'm currently fascinated by the fact that I am finding paper to be useful, despite its big limitations. I'm normally not a paper person. I cannot come up with even a single reason why paper should be better.

It's not more available--the notebook in question is too big to haul around with me, while my phone with Omnifocus is always with me. It's not more visible--I can see far more tasks in OmniFocus on my computer or iPad. It's not easier--my handwriting is dreadful and because I rarely do write by hand my hand tends to cramp up, and I often re-write the lists because they've become unreadable.

There is a feeling, a sort of contemplative, meditative feeling as I'm writing lists on paper, even as I'm erasing scrawled words to rewrite and shaking my cramped hand and muttering, "Dangit." It's a feeling that seems to serve the analysis of...

Oh. Hey. I think that it may be about ADHD--which I suspect I have, despite never seeking a diagnosis. Maybe the act of writing pins my easily-bored, flighty attention to the task of thinking a complex matter through, in a way that the easy, almost unconscious act of typing my thoughts doesn't.

Hmmm.

That raises the question of attributes of a system or process that may have value, without there being any logical train of thought that could explain their value. The book Organizing from the Inside Out, for example, argues that pretty organizers are far more likely to be used. And I just heard, somewhere about a study, somewhere, that tested a variety of user interfaces and found that the more beautiful ones tested out as more usable--not, I think, because they were more inherently usable, it was just that their users were more successful in using them.

And it makes me think of the therm "kinesthetic learner", which until this moment I thought was sheer nonsense--how can physical activity not directly required to accomplish the task possibly be useful? Physical activity...like hand-writing my lists.

And I find myself wondering, Folke, about exactly what mechanism makes it useful for you to have your lower-priority tasks in your lists. From a purely practical standpoint, it would seem that they would be a distraction that hampers your performance. Your statement is, I believe, that you want to see them because you might have an opportunity to do them? (Correct me if I'm wrong.) I find myself wondering if that isn't just a practical issue--how often do you do a lower-priority task?--but perhaps that list supports some sort of useful psychological state. I'm not actually arguing that it does, I'm just realizing, when I didn't quite realize it before, that any practice may have reasons and benefits other than the obvious ones, and I'm using your practice as an exercise in trying to analyze those things.

Huh. This post has become barely distinguishable from free-association, but I'm going to post it anyway.
 

chirmer

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This thread has been both fascinating and infuriating. I feel like I understood what you meant from the get-go, Folke - it was frustrating to see so many misunderstand you and create a circular conversation. The fact of the matter (and what I think you were getting at) is - tasks have priorities. Some tasks should be done sooner rather than later, even if they don't have a deadline. IIRC, GTD is really fuzzy on how to handle this. So, some people put the tasks on the calendar to make sure they get knocked out, and some people color-code them so they stick out from the remaining items on the list, and some people add them to a whole other list... but none of these are really addressed in the GTD guides. We are coming up with these ideas on our own. This is totally fine, but like you Folke - I'd love to hear David Allen's exact take on this. After all, he came up with GTD, which has been incredibly helpful to a boatload of people. His opinion would definitely not be unwelcome.

I've settled for color-coding as well. I keep all of my next actions in one list because they meet the given definition of Next Action. I want to see them all together, to see what's on my plate so I can prioritize. Siphoning some off into the Someday list both dilutes my Someday list (which is reserved for things I'd like to get to someday but are not actively pursued) and disables my ability to see the whole picture. Depending on my time, energy, or context, I could complete ANY of these Next Actions - therefore, I want to see them all. And I definitely want to see them all when someone asks me to take on a new project - overloading oneself is very easy to do accidentally when you don't see the entire picture.

Every Weekly Review, I make sure my tasks are in Priority order, from top to bottom. Then I use Todoist's Priority levels (three of them) to signify Deadlines/Top Priority (Red), Scheduled (Dark Blue) and Preferably Sooner Rather Than Later (Light Blue). I also use Tags for my projects, contexts (I have very few since I plop in front of a computer for my job), energy, and time. I can then easily filter my massive next action list by any tag or Priority, fitting however I feel in the moment, or simply chug down it from top to bottom. It enables me to easily spot those items that should take priority over others (say, setting up automatic bill pay versus checking reddit), while also sorting the list however I need to.

And I think, if I'm understanding you correctly Folke, that this is the point you were making - we do all these things without any sort of guide from vanilla GTD. GTD tells us how to empty our heads of everything on our plate, break each item down into clarified next steps, and put those on context lists to get them done with our context, time and energy in consideration. But when each of these context lists has 20, 30, 40+ tasks, simply scanning it for a task to do that meets your current criteria can be time-consuming and daunting - so we've found ways to prioritize what we're doing to further pare down the list. And, some tasks just plain old take priority over others. Simply being in a context list doesn't signify this - unless you have a Priority list for every context. To me, that's exhausting. Todoist's tags work well for me - but it doesn't mean I wouldn't love to hear what David Allen has to say about priorities, because I definitely would.

TL;DR - many tasks are higher priority over others while not necessarily being "Hard Landscape" - and GTD doesn't seem to cover a method of handling this officially.
 

Gardener

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Tangent: I have recently been planning ways to make my vegetable garden prettier. Then I was watching the David Allen Ted Talk about natural planning, and the bit about specifying your goal or your vision or whatever, and I realized that my goal is not "make the vegetable garden prettier" but "make the vegetable garden more personally satisfying to me." Those two goals are tightly linked right now, because my dissatisfaction with the garden is mostly that it's not pretty enough. But they are nevertheless DIFFERENT goals.

Applying tangent: This thread has been talking about, to paraphrase how I see it, "how do I tell which tasks are higher priority". But when it gets down to the details it seems to be really about "how do I decide what task will I do now."

Those two goals are tightly linked, but IMO they are nevertheless DIFFERENT goals. Prioritization, and decisionmaking, are two different things that are supported by different things. If the problem is decisionmaking, that problem is not necessarily solved by practices that solve the problem of prioritization.

That leads me to various thoughts:

- Prioritization and decisionmaking sometimes duel. There are practices that support one and hamper the other. For example, having all of your possible tasks in front of you can be argued to support prioritization, because how can you prioritize without information? But having too many choices hampers decisionmaking, for some people. (I really think that it hampers decisionmaking for everyone, but I'm trying not to declare truth for other people.)

- The choice of task is not based entirely on priority. David Allen has his list of factors, and I would also add what I'd call the "coinflip" factor: Sometimes there is no obvious choice. Sometimes you just pick one.

- Somewhere, I read a study of people who had brain damage that suppressed emotions. They expected that the decisionmaking by these people would be clean and clear and logical. Instead, they found that these people were often incapable of making even the simplest of decisions, such as whether to use a blue or black pen to fill out a form. Apparently emotion is essential to making decisions. Many, many decisions are not driven by logic or data, but are essentially a coinflip, where our emotions are flipping the coin.

- If the decision is not driven by data, then I don't need the data. If reading through a long list of possible actions for a given context is just about a coinflip, rather than about data, then reading it repeatedly is a waste of time. At least for me.

- So if I have a bunch of projects for which the likely next actions fill a similar context role ("programming", say, or "sewing" or "gardening" or "reading"), and the priority between them is not clear and obvious, I will simply pick a subset of those projects to keep active, and "someday" the rest. I do the coinflip in advance, and repeat it every week, rather than doing it over and over and over again every time I pick a task.

- As I see it, the people who are dissatisfied with GTD's support of prioritization are not asking GTD to do their prioritizing for them. Instead, they want to do prioritizing as part of their review, and they want that prioritization information to be stored and made available at the moment of decision. David Allen says that you shouldn't store things in your brain; storing priorities in your brain seems like a violation of that. So I can see their point.

- But I don't share their problem. I am served in my prioritization by "somedaying", because the act of somedaying a project is an act that stores a prioritization decision. For me, carrying both tasks and their prioritization information all the way to the point of choosing a task--the point of pure decisionmaking--is a waste of repeated mental processing.

- But that doesn't mean that I would actually object to the ability to store the prioritization information in some other way. If I had it, then it could give me a head start in my weekly review. I just don't much need it, because I'm OK with making weekly priority analyses. Making hourly priority analyses would, I agree, be annoying.

- I feel the urge for some sort of conclusion. But these thoughts don't really lend themselves to a conclusion.
 

Folke

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Gardener said:
And I find myself wondering, Folke, about exactly what mechanism makes it useful for you to have your lower-priority tasks in your lists. From a purely practical standpoint, it would seem that they would be a distraction that hampers your performance. Your statement is, I believe, that you want to see them because you might have an opportunity to do them? (Correct me if I'm wrong.)
Yes exactly. I agree with chirmer:

chirmer said:
I keep all of my next actions in one list because they meet the given definition of Next Action. I want to see them all together, to see what's on my plate so I can prioritize. Siphoning some off into the Someday list both dilutes my Someday list (which is reserved for things I'd like to get to someday but are not actively pursued) and disables my ability to see the whole picture. Depending on my time, energy, or context, I could complete ANY of these Next Actions - therefore, I want to see them all. And I definitely want to see them all when someone asks me to take on a new project - overloading oneself is very easy to do accidentally when you don't see the entire picture.
Also, I might add that, just like David Allen, I do not believe in ABC prioritization, putting one group (A) first and "forbidding" yourself to do any of the other things (B and C) until the first group is finished (or you have reshuffled your priorities). I simply cannot see Next-Someday prioritization as any different than ABC prioritization.

(Using Someday is not always a prioritization, of course. If am not yet committed to doing the thing at all, then it is what I would call a "true Maybe", and that is how I use Someday/Maybe, or if I have "parked" a tickler project there for technical reasons - such as app features; maybe your app does not allow you to "tickle" a whole project, so you have to tickle a separate reminder action to activate that project when the right season arrives etc. We all have to inventively find adequate uses of the tools we have at hand. But moving committed stuff out into Someday just because you intend to be busy with other things first is a clear case of AB prioritization, as far as I can see).

Gardener said:
I find myself wondering ... how often do you do a lower-priority task?
Certainly fewer of those. Of all my Next actions maybe about half are "low attention", but of the actions on my tentative Today list maybe only a quarter are low attention. Most of my tentative Today tasks are regular attention. Very few are high (because I do not have many of those and I try to get them done quickly unless I am temporarily unable or unwilling for some reason).

The low attention ones usually get chosen for contextual reasons - if I am aiming to do something similar I often mark a few matching low attention ones as well just to get better mileage out of the context switch, so to speak. And it is nice to knock off a few more ;-) And sometimes I just feel like doing them for the heck of it (fun, interesting, challenging, whatever)

I prefer to describe these markers as "review attention" rather than "priority", partly because the question I ask myself is not "how important is this" or "how urgent is this" or "which one will I do first". I simply answer the question "when do I want to be sure I see this task again at the very latest?" Every week, every day or every single time I look for additional actions? I also prefer the term "attention" because it is not a commitment or decision to actually do something before or after anything else, or do sooner vs later, it is just a decision to look more or less often. This categorization tends to be very stable, unaffected by what else I am doing or how busy I am in general. The final decision to actually do or not do a task at any given point in time is still subject to the usual criteria (context, energy etc). But although the attention level is not a "hard prioritization" or "firm ordering" or scheduling of tasks it does nevertheless have the desired effect that the ones that deserve to get done faster get a statistical edge over the rest. I see them more easily and more often and when I see them I usually recognize that they are in fact in some sense more important or interesting or something, so they tend to get done quicker on average. If I occasionally disagree with myself later, or something changes about the preconditions for the task itself (e.g. something happens with that client) I just change the color, but that happens quite rarely (in a whole week I probably just change a dozen or so tasks all in all; I use colors for Waiting, too, with the same time scales, and for Someday, but with longer time scales).

Gardener said:
... pretty organizers are far more likely to be used. And I just heard, somewhere about a study, somewhere, that tested a variety of user interfaces and found that the more beautiful ones tested out as more usable--not, I think, because they were more inherently usable, it was just that their users were more successful in using them.
Yes. And David Allen talks about that, too. I think he talks about some particular gold pen or something. And people have mentioned Moleskine. And with apps it is the same thing.

In my own case I changed from Nirvana to Doit almost exclusively because of the neat color markers that sit in a fixed position on the left. Because they are pure color, no text, and in a fixed position, I can "just know" what level of attention each task requires without even looking directly at the marker. It feels so neat and clear and appealing. But I am not sure how many seconds I actually save. With Nirvana I had to scan for these attention tags in a list of context and energy tags etc on the right. Or use a filter to limit the list. That worked, too, but I did not like it - I still felt "blinded"; not seeing clearly enough.

Gardener said:
So if I have a bunch of projects for which the likely next actions fill a similar context role ("programming", say, or "sewing" or "gardening" or "reading"), and the priority between them is not clear and obvious, I will simply pick a subset of those projects to keep active, and "someday" the rest. I do the coinflip in advance, and repeat it every week, rather than doing it over and over and over again every time I pick a task.
From what it sounds like I would also keep those things as Someday, just like you, simply because I am not committed to ever doing them - they are (or sound as if they are) just "nice possibilities" that I have listed just to be able to recall these ideas (nice possible book to perhaps read, nice possible flower to perhaps plant ...). They are what I would call "true Maybes".
 

mommoe436

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@folke SAID
I find that a bit strange. I always do what I want, and do not see any difference in that sense between David's books and other books. Why would I care if someone insists on some very specific ideas? I just ignore everything that I do not like.
I suppose I could be misunderstanding your posts, reading too much into them. I read below as stating that the only one on your list that fits into GTD fundamentals is your recommendation of using Hot Lists, with no real acknowledgement that your recommendation is just what works best for you. Again, maybe I am reading too much into the words you choose or the amount of time and energy you spend on the topic.

@FOLKE SAID
But back to the main issue of this discussion, the one about "hot" next actions that are not externally tied to any particular day. GTD has no advice at all concerning these actions other than the implicit main solution which is to dig deep in your lists every single time to spot them - or you could:

  • pretend they are a separate context, as you suggest (which would probably be a bit "un-GTD" as importance is not a context, and it would also remove them from their actual context, which could be a disadvantage), and/or
  • be so totally on top of everything that you know them by heart, which David talks a lot about for the higher horizons (but which would probably be a bit "un-GTD" to apply at the lower horizons as the emphasis here is to get everything out of your head), or
  • use a calendar or dated alarm (which is clearly "un-GTD" unless there is some strong external factor present). Or
  • put a color or other clear "review attention" marker next to each action as a visual guide (this is "un-GTD" in the sense that it is not described, but does not go directly against any of the fundamental GTD reluctance against dates and priorities. It actually tallies quite well with the general review philosophy. But possibly it goes against the general GTD desire for "simplicity".
I agree that David does not spend much time on how to DO what needs to get done, but I believe this is because everyone's world, work, life, brain are so different that it would be a waste of time and IMHO impossible.

I strongly disagree with your statement that Calendar/Dated items only come from external factors. I believe it is the point of GTD to be appropriate engaged with your world. Many people have deadlines that require work in advance of the external deadline, I don't consider this to be pretending or fake (to me, these words have a negative connotation). I follow what Gardener mentions - making decisions at my higher perspective during my weekly review since this is the best time for me to make these decisions. I consider the items on my secondary 'blocking' calendar as 'Time must be spent on this week' in order to meet an external deadline or a other deadline I have set because it is very important to get done (but doesn't have a hard deadline).

The factors used to determine what to do next are: CONTEXT, TIME, ENERGY, PRIORITY. Priority is last, Time is second,abut in my world very often PRIORITY and TIME are the most important differentiating factors. Therefore I have to make time for my priorities, while keeping things out of my head. 80% of my client projects have the same external deadlines (3-4 during each year), with about 50-60 clients, if I don't set internal deadlines, this work won't get done on time. This is not pretending or using fake dates,but they are clearly not external deadlines.

I am not looking to debate or convince you to work the way I do, just providing you with my perspective and some insight into how others may work. I am also not looking for David Allen or DAC to tell me how to do my work, but am very grateful for the GTD method to help me be appropriately engaged with my world.

 

bcmyers2112

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I think the issue with this thread is that it has veered into people arguing over what is or isn't canonical to GTD or whether some of us are too slavish to GTD. I have fallen into that trap myself in this and other threads. I think the best use of this forum is for people to discuss what works well for them, and what doesn't, without getting into personal judgments or name-calling (I think the "cult" remark, for example, was unhelpful). In that spirit I'm going to try to make sure my posts going forward reflect this.

I have had the same struggle Chirmer has described. I have not found calendar-ing my actions or the use of any kind of static priority coding to help because my days and priorities change rapidly from moment to moment. I'm not saying these are "bad" things and I don't think it matters whether they are "core GTD" or not -- they just don't work well for me.

In my case I am a salesperson and I work for a company whose marketing department generates a lot of leads that our VP of Sales/Marketing insists are all hot, but in almost all cases they are anything but. I do have to make an attempt to call them all, but a calls list of 70 plus items is just too unwieldy. So I am moving these to a context list called "Calls - Leads."

The other thing I will be doing with my weekly review this weekend is to root out any actions that have been sitting on my list for a long time. If they're not getting done and the consequences haven't been significant, maybe they don't belong on the active lists. I can shunt them to Someday-Maybe or just get rid of them.

So -- basically I'm trying to create a new context to break my lists down further, and then get rid of anything I can off the active lists for now. My hypothesis is that if my lists are overwhelming, I may have committed myself to more than is doable.

One other trick I've learned is to use a form of daily to-do list. When I review my lists I flag between five and ten tasks to focus on for a given time. The difference between what I do and what Folke does is that at the end of every day I unflag any items that I didn't get to. That way I can reassess my priorities the next time I review my lists. Again -- I am not saying what Folke does is bad and I am not going to get drawn into an argument about whose way is superior. I am just offering this in case a) anyone can benefit from this and b) anyone wants to offer advice I can benefit from.

If anyone is interested I'll chime in about how my "fixes" work at a later date. If they don't work I may chime in anyway and ask for help. Thanks.
 

Folke

Registered
Okay, wow, let's see if we can straighten this out. We may not think so differently after all ...

mommoe436 said:
I follow what Gardener mentions - making decisions at my higher perspective during my weekly review since this is the best time for me to make these decisions.
...
The factors used to determine what to do next are: CONTEXT, TIME, ENERGY, PRIORITY. Priority is last, Time is second,abut in my world very often PRIORITY and TIME are the most important differentiating factors.
I see it very similarly. I always make the decision about what to do next in the moment (core GTD style), and I think the weekly review is very useful for the same reasons you say.

mommoe436 said:
I suppose I could be misunderstanding your posts, reading too much into them.
Possibly, but that is probably also my own fault, using strong words when all I really want is just to be clear. For example, you had marked the word "pretend" (pretend that something is a separate context). What I meant there is the fact (which I assume that you agree with) that a context (in GTD) is a location, tool or person etc, in other words a "situational requirement" for being able to do a task. So if somebody makes a "hot list" or "soon list" or whatever, this is not a GTD context, strictly speaking. It is something else. That's all I meant. (And by the way, I make no separate hot lists, as I seem to have inadvertently led you to believe - what I do is mark tasks on my existing context lists with a "flag", i.e. without removing them from their "real" context - and errand is an errand, even if it is "hot").

mommoe436 said:
I strongly disagree with your statement that Calendar/Dated items only come from external factors. I believe it is the point of GTD to be appropriate engaged with your world. Many people have deadlines that require work in advance of the external deadline, I don't consider this to be pretending or fake (to me, these words have a negative connotation).
I agree that time is of the essence. And I would say that external deadlines are also hard landscape (not only appointments are hard). And what I have been trying to argue here is that GTD is a bit weak (or at least fuzzy) in that particular respect and leaves it up to the individual to invent a method of his/her own to ensure that important things get the attention and time they deserve.

Normally in GTD you only use the calendar for what must be done on that day (cannot be done on any other day). So, if you schedule two hours on Monday for something very important (that must be finished by Friday, say) you have done something that contradicts the first ground rule. Whether that matters or not to you is your business. Many claim that scheduling is good for them. Many (me included) claim that scheduling causes unnecessary extra work and confusion. We can compare notes about the pros and cons forever, but I think we ought to be able to agree that 1) we both think it is important to identify the critical actions and somehow ensure we deal with them, and 2) that GTD does not offer a clear-cut approach to how to deal with them.
 

bcmyers2112

Registered
Getting back to the question asked by the OP...

larsonec said:
Since my time-block method has not worked, I’m considering instead keeping a checklist of my various projects and when I have time available simply go to the next project on the list and see if the next action is something that I can get done feasibly at that time.

I would appreciate any critique of my current setup and to hear about how other people get their next actions for projects built into their schedules?
I think if your time-block method isn't working there's probably a reason for it. You may be prioritizing the wrong things. I find it difficult to prioritize actions ahead of time.

As for organizing your actions by project, that's a common thing to do. It never worked for me because the frenetic pace of most of my workdays doesn't afford me time to go through project lists and try to cull out actions I can do. That's why I gravitated to GTD: I liked (and still like) the suggestion to define my actions and organize them by context (the person, place, or tool needed to accomplish the action).

You may find, as I and others have, that context lists can be hard to navigate if they get too long. If you can get past all of the arguing, I think you'll find a number of ideas -- some of them conflicting, but that's OK -- to try as you see fit. If you find something that works for you I hope you'll come back and share it.

Good luck with your GTD practice.
 

Longstreet

Professor of microbiology and infectious diseases
The "Cult" remark was simply because of any one person saying another person's approach is "anti-GTD". To me, that is a bit over the top. While I meant nothing personal at all about it, I stand by my assessment of the "arguments" going on.
 

bcmyers2112

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chirmer said:
TL;DR - many tasks are higher priority over others while not necessarily being "Hard Landscape" - and GTD doesn't seem to cover a method of handling this officially.
Chirmer wins. ;)
 

Folke

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bcmyers2112 said:
One other trick I've learned is to use a form of daily to-do list. When I review my lists I flag between five and ten tasks to focus on for a given time. The difference between what I do and what Folke does is that at the end of every day I unflag any items that I didn't get to. That way I can reassess my priorities the next time I review my lists.
That is exactly how I do it, too. I even change the selection during the day if I have a sudden change of heart or something new comes up. For my own practice I would reword your last sentence, though, to: "That way I can reassess my situation and selection the next time I review my lists." (My overall priorities stay quite stable, but my selection of tasks may vary dramatically.)

What may have caused the confusion is the fact that I have mentioned here that I also have my colored "review attention" flags, visible on all lists. They usually do not change much. They are quite stable. For example, if I had promised an important customer to send them a proposal asap, and it will take me a couple of days to write it, I may well mark the task as high attention straight from the start, and it is likely to stay high until it is done. This attention flag is visible in all views - in the tentative Today list view, in the consolidated Next list view, in context list views, in project list views etc. But I will only put on the Today list if I believe I will be able, and really intend to, work on it Today. (Hope that clarifies it. If it matters. Cheers.)
 

bcmyers2112

Registered
I feel like larsonec's initial request for help has gotten lost in all of this. larsonec, did you find any of this helpful?
 

Gardener

Registered
Folke said:
From what it sounds like I would also keep those things as Someday, just like you, simply because I am not committed to ever doing them - they are (or sound as if they are) just "nice possibilities" that I have listed just to be able to recall these ideas (nice possible book to perhaps read, nice possible flower to perhaps plant ...). They are what I would call "true Maybes".
But in my example many are not true maybes. I DO plan to garden next week, so gardening is not a maybe. And I DO plan to do all of a quite large number of garden projects, most of which are in Someday.

Any of my gardening projects may require prep: Purchase of seeds, weed barrier, ground staples, mulch, manure, wire for hoops, burlap for shade. Turning on irrigation so that the soil is wet enough to dig or laying a tarp so that the soil is dry enough to dig. Taking the weed whacker to the hardware store because the head is jammed. Prepping the salad bed so that it's ready for more soil block lettuce seedlings from that really good stall at the farmer's market. Presprouting lettuce seed so I don't have to spend the money on lettuce seedlings. And so on.

So I do a coinflip to pick certain projects to do in the fairly near future, and I create next actions to make it possible to do those projects, and all the rest stay in Someday--even though I WILL do those projects. I will do them, but I'm not interested in detailing them until I have decided when to do them.

Sewing is a little different. Almost every sewing project is a maybe. But the process of picking a small subset of projects and populating them with what I will need in order to do them is similar.

My Someday includes many non-maybes. My active lists include some maybes. (I may not actually sew that denim skirt, for example but working toward sewing it is the sewing project that I coin-flipped into existence.)

Part of the difference could possibly be that you have fewer projects that require pre-prep, or at least not a lot of projects that require mutually exclusive pre-prep. For example, there's no point in my pre-soaking more square feet of ground than I can dig before it dries out, or buying more seedlings than I can plant before they die. My cutting table can only hold one sewing project. My den can hold only so many sewing projects. And so on.

So it's not just not useful, but actually counterproductive, to have a bunch of Next Actions telling me to "soak this", "soak that", "buy those seedlings", "and those seedlings", "and those seedlings", "cut X", "cut Y", "cut Z", "thread serger in black", "thread serger in red", "thread serger in blue", and so on. Now, I could have a bunch of Waiting Fors for all those mutually exclusive projects, but I'd rather just keep them in Someday until their time is imminent.
 

Gardener

Registered
Longstreet said:
The "Cult" remark was simply because of any one person saying another person's approach is "anti-GTD". To me, that is a bit over the top. While I meant nothing personal at all about it, I stand by my assessment of the "arguments" going on.
That was me, or at least I was one person who used that phrase. You are assuming that I find "anti-GTD" to be BAD. It's not bad. It's just not GTD. If we're discussing GTD, it's useful to know what is or isn't a GTD practice. I do plenty of things that are anti-GTD.

Edited to add: Let's imagine that someone offers a recipe for comment, and mentions that it's a vegan recipe. Let's imagine that it includes eggs. If I comment that eggs are not vegan, I'm not acting as part of a vegan "cult." I'm addressing definitions that are relevant to the subject at hand.
 

Longstreet

Professor of microbiology and infectious diseases
@Gardener: But that is my point. I DO NOT consider such practices as anti-GTD. One can do these and STILL have a GTD approach. There are webinars within GTD Connect that state this clearly. One such webinar is called "breaking the rules". You CAN have modifications and still be doing GTD.
 

Gardener

Registered
Longstreet said:
@Gardener: But that is my point. I DO NOT consider such practices as anti-GTD. One can do these and STILL have a GTD approach. There are webinars within GTD Connect that state this clearly. One such webinar is called "breaking the rules". You CAN have modifications and still be doing GTD.
Did I say that you weren't doing GTD? I said that that specific PRACTICE was not GTD.

You can have modifications and still be mostly following a vegan diet, too. But in a discussion of, say, whether a vegan diet provides adequate protein, it's not useful to say, "Well, I get plenty of protein from eggs." One can easily argue that eggs from happy backyard chickens are philosophically consistent with the goals of most vegans. One can easily argue that a vegan that eats eggs is still following the goals of veganism. Nevertheless, it's not acting as a cult member to keep in mind that the egg-eating is a non-vegan practice.

"Cult" was not appropriate. I do not think that defending it is appropriate.
 

Longstreet

Professor of microbiology and infectious diseases
Sigh....I give up. You actually have proven my point nicely. Enjoy the forums.
 

Gardener

Registered
Longstreet said:
Sigh....I give up. You actually have proven my point nicely. Enjoy the forums.
Well, I'm going to give it one more shot.

Perhaps your problem is with the word "anti"? Maybe you're seeing a negativity in that word? I don't mean it as negative, but I can see how you might see it that way.

I used "anti" to avoid saying, "A practice that may work well, but that is not actually part of the standard GTD process, so that's something that I like to keep in mind in discussion, because when making exceptions in one area, other areas may also need to be changed." That would be more accurate, but it would be, well, long. Actually,I think I did say something much like that somewhere, but it's hard to use it as a quick label.

In a podcast, I heard someone use the terms "orthodox" versus "observant" with regard to GTD. I'm not sure if that's an inappropriate cultural hijacking, but it did seem to communicate the idea nicely.
 
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