First Things First (Habit 3), GTD, hard work vs Procrastination, Drive

TheBlastFun

Registered
Hello Everyone,
I am a university student. I want to find drive towards my education and career but I usually find watching a Netflix episode to be more interesting than just sitting down to study some Data structures. It's not that I am not Interested in the field of computer science. It's just that In the moment an episode of "Arrow" seems far more exciting than just studying some CS concepts. I know that if I don't do the work now, my future self will suffer. But Usually I am selfish towards my present self, probably because of the readily available Dopamine that I can binge on.

How do I build a work ethic to avoid procrastination?

Would this system help me do things that actually matters in my life?

How do I find the drive to choose the pain of hard work(studying) over the easily available pleasure of watching a show?


I am new to gtd but according to my knowledge it helps with a lot of small intricacies of life while the FTF method helps with going in the right direction and move towards a worthwhile purpose in life.
I have really loved Stephen Covey's "7 habits of highly effective people". The third habit is First Things First which also has a separate book. What I was wandering is, Has anyone combined the two systems to make one holistic system? So you can, not only move towards your life purpose, but also not get bogged down by day to day intricacies of life? If anyone uses the two systems I would love to know how it works.
I was also planning to read: "GTD for teens"(might be simpler to grasp), "First Things First", "7 habits of highly effective people", "GTD" (classic adult version).

Any suggestions about what order should I read them if I want to apply both philosophies in my life?

Is there a way I can just start using these systems first before reading the books?


I usually find myself in a tutorial purgatory and the action step never comes. I would like to do the reverse for once and just start using the systems before I go and read the books to understand them in more details. I think that would be a good approach.

Thoughts?
 

ivanjay205

Registered
Hi there, first off I'll commend you on acknowledging the struggle of motivating yourself vs watching a TV show. A lot of people do not have the first step which is realizing that and being honest about it. I am a COO of a company, and you do not get yourself into that type of position without having a lot of drive. It often frustrates me when I see very talented people without it, as that holds them back big time. So applaude yourself first for acknowledging and wanting to improve it.

Secondly, for being in university and already reading a book like 7 habits. Clearly not the average student.

There is no system in the world that will build a better work ethic to avoid procrastination. That is something you have to do. Personally, I am very routine oriented. And GTD helps me avoid procrastination by establishing my priorities and routines.

For example, every single morning I have a "Weekday Startup Routine" in which I scan all of the incoming requests I have gotten and sort them out so I start my day organized. Empty inbox, everything clarified in different areas of focus. I first work on my client related next actions first. Once those are done each day I have a different priority, team development one day, HR another, finance another, so i focus on that given day.

I have a similar end of day routine. The reason I share this is procrastination, for me, is defeated by routine. My morning startup is EVERY SINGLE DAY at 6 AM with a cup of coffee in hand. I actually look forward to it as by selecting a first morning activity that sets up my day for success once complete I am organized and ready to hit the day on with whatever it will bring. In a way it motivates me.

In addition, those first activities of the day are EASY. That gets the momentum swing going. I would not want to start my day with analyzing the business finances from last month close, that is a big action taking lots of time and brain energy. By simply starting with creating my priorities for the day, organizing my inputs, and having everything in order I start my day easing my plate from anything that showed up overnight or the day prior.

I recently listened to an interesting Podcast on the exact topic you mention about the daily grind vs items that move the needle forward. It was all about how you have to accept those daily items that will pop up, they are part of your job whether it be career oriented or education oriented. You cannot be frustrated by them as they are not items holding you back, but part of your responsibility. However, you also need to be focused on what they called in the PODCAST a WIG or Wildly Important Goal. To be that is why I love GTD and the Areas of Focus, Goals, Visions, etc. Not only do you handle the constant barage of daily needs, but you must remain focused on your perspective and long term initiatives. Ask yourself do I have enough planned as Next Actions to move the needle on those items.

My team gets amazed by how much I get done, remain focused on, without distraction, and am never panicked or overwhelmed. I thank GTD for that. Everything has its place and I will get to it all when my time and focus allows me too. That is why I dont worry about procrastination.

One last tip.... GTD is all about breaking things down into small tasks. That is why most people procrastinate. They have a mega multi hour project in front of them like read an entire book on data structures as you reference. But in GTD sense break it down, and have a Next Action to only read (5) pages about data structures. That doesnt sound so bad or scary, and once done reward yourself with watching that show. Have your cake and eat it too and you'll never procrastinate!
 

mcogilvie

Registered
GTD promotes honesty in recognizing what outcomes we find desirable and/or necessary. It also promotes clarity in understanding how to achieve those outcomes. This helps most people with procrastination, but it’s not a complete solution. It is likely that clarifying next actions would help you, as ”read section 3.6 of textbook” is not as inviting as “understand basics of c++ garbage collection (3.6 of text)”.

I am not one of those people who are helped greatly by routine for routine’s sake. I respond much better to intrinsic value than to extrinsic psychological tricks. Some people do respond, but not everyone. If you don’t, you will be disappointed by focusing on habits without being intrinsically motivated.

I read Covey’s books as well as books by many others before coming to gtd. While Covey’s books have useful ideas, they are not particularly suited as guidance for daily life. Covey’s “Think win-win” may be a successor to Watson’s “Think”, but they are more helpful as cultural manifestoes for business than as guides for daily action or weekly planning. If the GTD book seems too hard to implement, try reading David Allen’s book Ready for Anything. It is a nuanced explanation of the ideas behind getting things done.
 

TheBlastFun

Registered
Hi there, first off I'll commend you on acknowledging the struggle of motivating yourself vs watching a TV show. A lot of people do not have the first step which is realizing that and being honest about it. I am a COO of a company, and you do not get yourself into that type of position without having a lot of drive. It often frustrates me when I see very talented people without it, as that holds them back big time. So applaude yourself first for acknowledging and wanting to improve it.

Secondly, for being in university and already reading a book like 7 habits. Clearly not the average student.

There is no system in the world that will build a better work ethic to avoid procrastination. That is something you have to do. Personally, I am very routine oriented. And GTD helps me avoid procrastination by establishing my priorities and routines.

For example, every single morning I have a "Weekday Startup Routine" in which I scan all of the incoming requests I have gotten and sort them out so I start my day organized. Empty inbox, everything clarified in different areas of focus. I first work on my client related next actions first. Once those are done each day I have a different priority, team development one day, HR another, finance another, so i focus on that given day.

I have a similar end of day routine. The reason I share this is procrastination, for me, is defeated by routine. My morning startup is EVERY SINGLE DAY at 6 AM with a cup of coffee in hand. I actually look forward to it as by selecting a first morning activity that sets up my day for success once complete I am organized and ready to hit the day on with whatever it will bring. In a way it motivates me.

In addition, those first activities of the day are EASY. That gets the momentum swing going. I would not want to start my day with analyzing the business finances from last month close, that is a big action taking lots of time and brain energy. By simply starting with creating my priorities for the day, organizing my inputs, and having everything in order I start my day easing my plate from anything that showed up overnight or the day prior.

I recently listened to an interesting Podcast on the exact topic you mention about the daily grind vs items that move the needle forward. It was all about how you have to accept those daily items that will pop up, they are part of your job whether it be career oriented or education oriented. You cannot be frustrated by them as they are not items holding you back, but part of your responsibility. However, you also need to be focused on what they called in the PODCAST a WIG or Wildly Important Goal. To be that is why I love GTD and the Areas of Focus, Goals, Visions, etc. Not only do you handle the constant barage of daily needs, but you must remain focused on your perspective and long term initiatives. Ask yourself do I have enough planned as Next Actions to move the needle on those items.

My team gets amazed by how much I get done, remain focused on, without distraction, and am never panicked or overwhelmed. I thank GTD for that. Everything has its place and I will get to it all when my time and focus allows me too. That is why I dont worry about procrastination.

One last tip.... GTD is all about breaking things down into small tasks. That is why most people procrastinate. They have a mega multi hour project in front of them like read an entire book on data structures as you reference. But in GTD sense break it down, and have a Next Action to only read (5) pages about data structures. That doesn't sound so bad or scary, and once done reward yourself with watching that show. Have your cake and eat it too and you'll never procrastinate!
Routines sounds great and would be very helpful. If I can get myself to sleep and wakeup at the same time everyday it would be super helpful I think. I think, Once I get through my morning routine and when its time to actually start the work, is when it feels the most dreadful to me. Like ugh I have to sit down and study.. Watching an episode sounds way better and time just disappears into useless activities like that. Its the starting part that seems to be the most difficult. Things are much easier when I have started and am in flow.
I like the rewarding part but when you are your own boss your mind is like huh why not just give yourself the reward now instead of going through the whole hoola loop. I know why not logically, its because my future will be super depressing if I don't do the work now but I cant think of that future me in the context of the present pleasures and temptations. Taking responsibility of your own life is boring when theres lots of easily available dopamine to binge on.
For simple next actions, it gets harder when you have a time bound deadline thats approaching soon. Like you know you will have to study for 7-10 hours a day everyday to be able to finish your degree in 2 months. And then I think, Whats the point of next actions when All I gotta do is sit and study for 8 hours or something to move the needle towards my major goals. It seems too much and feels like I give up even before attempting to achieve it because I will probably fail at it so again why not just give up now and watch a show..!?
I have to finish a little more than one class per week to be able to finish my degree on time. And for that I know that little next actions like 4 chapters a day isn't gonna cut it. Also what about Deep Work. How would NA apply to knowledge work like that? Next action just becomes "Study for an hour" but whats after that? "Study for 7 more hours after that hour" so it seems to help less in not feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work thats needs to be done. Which results in me avoiding the pain (procrastinating). Me looking into gtd and other system is also likely Procrastinating as I should be studying instead. For the most part, studying seems way harder than working. I guess I would need some purpose higher than myself to obsess over to put myself through the pain of it all. I feel like I need a bigger "Why". Like money isn't that big of a motivator in my life. It feels pointless to do so much just to earn money. what a sad way to live life. it feels empty. I feel like it should be something that I want, which is much better than mindlessly watching some exciting tv shows to put myself through the pain of working hard towards it. That future should be more exciting than the presently available free dosages of Dopamine. Idk, I am just thinking through things so that the inevitable work becomes exciting todo and is done for a worthwhile purpose too. In this Utopia sacrificing tv time would be worth it for the exciting study time. Because now there is a very exciting "why" attached behind the studying. What do you think?
 

TheBlastFun

Registered
GTD promotes honesty in recognizing what outcomes we find desirable and/or necessary. It also promotes clarity in understanding how to achieve those outcomes. This helps most people with procrastination, but it’s not a complete solution. It is likely that clarifying next actions would help you, as ”read section 3.6 of textbook” is not as inviting as “understand basics of c++ garbage collection (3.6 of text)”.

I am not one of those people who are helped greatly by routine for routine’s sake. I respond much better to intrinsic value than to extrinsic psychological tricks. Some people do respond, but not everyone. If you don’t, you will be disappointed by focusing on habits without being intrinsically motivated.

I read Covey’s books as well as books by many others before coming to gtd. While Covey’s books have useful ideas, they are not particularly suited as guidance for daily life. Covey’s “Think win-win” may be a successor to Watson’s “Think”, but they are more helpful as cultural manifestoes for business than as guides for daily action or weekly planning. If the GTD book seems too hard to implement, try reading David Allen’s book Ready for Anything. It is a nuanced explanation of the ideas behind getting things done.
I like the idea of making your next action clearer. This method doesn't tell you how long you should be doing this action for, right?
I like Covey's habit 3 which is Put First Things First compared to just dealing with stuff as they come along. Covey has the Urgent/Important Matrix and a weekly planning thing. (Here) he explains why weekly planning is the best way to approach your life instead of daily. I think these two methods can really be combined to work holistically. Covey's method takes care of the big things like life's purpose and progress in different roles you play, which leads towards overall satisfaction and peace. It provides the intrinsic motivation from the knowledge that you are doing the things that really matter in the long run. Gtd helps with dealing with random things that you gotta do which interrupt with your main goals and it gives you a peace of mind to deal with things and reduce stress overall. These 2 might really compliment each other.

I should read these two concepts fully to understand them better.
 

ivanjay205

Registered
Routines sounds great and would be very helpful. If I can get myself to sleep and wakeup at the same time everyday it would be super helpful I think. I think, Once I get through my morning routine and when its time to actually start the work, is when it feels the most dreadful to me. Like ugh I have to sit down and study.. Watching an episode sounds way better and time just disappears into useless activities like that. Its the starting part that seems to be the most difficult. Things are much easier when I have started and am in flow.
I like the rewarding part but when you are your own boss your mind is like huh why not just give yourself the reward now instead of going through the whole hoola loop. I know why not logically, its because my future will be super depressing if I don't do the work now but I cant think of that future me in the context of the present pleasures and temptations. Taking responsibility of your own life is boring when theres lots of easily available dopamine to binge on.
For simple next actions, it gets harder when you have a time bound deadline thats approaching soon. Like you know you will have to study for 7-10 hours a day everyday to be able to finish your degree in 2 months. And then I think, Whats the point of next actions when All I gotta do is sit and study for 8 hours or something to move the needle towards my major goals. It seems too much and feels like I give up even before attempting to achieve it because I will probably fail at it so again why not just give up now and watch a show..!?
I have to finish a little more than one class per week to be able to finish my degree on time. And for that I know that little next actions like 4 chapters a day isn't gonna cut it. Also what about Deep Work. How would NA apply to knowledge work like that? Next action just becomes "Study for an hour" but whats after that? "Study for 7 more hours after that hour" so it seems to help less in not feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work thats needs to be done. Which results in me avoiding the pain (procrastinating). Me looking into gtd and other system is also likely Procrastinating as I should be studying instead. For the most part, studying seems way harder than working. I guess I would need some purpose higher than myself to obsess over to put myself through the pain of it all. I feel like I need a bigger "Why". Like money isn't that big of a motivator in my life. It feels pointless to do so much just to earn money. what a sad way to live life. it feels empty. I feel like it should be something that I want, which is much better than mindlessly watching some exciting tv shows to put myself through the pain of working hard towards it. That future should be more exciting than the presently available free dosages of Dopamine. Idk, I am just thinking through things so that the inevitable work becomes exciting todo and is done for a worthwhile purpose too. In this Utopia sacrificing tv time would be worth it for the exciting study time. Because now there is a very exciting "why" attached behind the studying. What do you think?
I changed my majors way back when I was in college... It set me behind. I was 100% committed to finishing my degree on time in 4 years and would not accept any other way. I had already started working (where I am currently the COO). I started from the very bottom and worked my way up through the organization. My 2nd semester of senior year I took 21 credits and worked full time. I had to sign paperwork to do that because of the workload and was told I was insane. I did absolutely fine, graduated on time, never missed a day of work, and look back on it as such a wonderful accomplishment. Everyone told me not to do it, shouldn't do it, cant do it. I said I am going to do it. That is all it takes. Systems like GTD are great, but they only enable you to be productive, they do not make you productive. You need to find that inside of you.

I am my own boss, As the COO and with the structure of my company I really do not report to anyone. I still reward myself only when doing something major. Sure, I can just reward myself whenever. But it is all about self discipline.

Dont write about how it would be helpful if you wake up at the same time, set your alarm tomorrow and just start doing it. Try it for 2 weeks, nothing to lose. Small steps to get the momentum going. Start there.
 

GTDengineer

Registered
You’re describing a distraction issue. Your best bet for succeeding in your goal is to cancel any cable or streaming video accounts and sell your television.
 

mcogilvie

Registered
You’re describing a distraction issue. Your best bet for succeeding in your goal is to cancel any cable or streaming video accounts and sell your television.
In my experience, people who are denied the thing they are using for escape will usuallly just find another form of escape, until they address the underlying issue. TV, alcohol, sex, drugs, comic books, food, you name it.
 

OF user

Registered
I would recommend that you look at Cal Newport's webpage Study Habits. Currently, Newport is not a big GTD fan but in the past he wrote some great articles about how students should implement GTD. He also has a good book on how to be a straight A student. Newport was not all work and no play. I don't think he did any studying between end of classes Friday and Sunday at noon. He did a lot of work in between classes if I remember correctly. So you might have to switch to binge watching Netflix. You can google Newport GTD for students and probably find stuff directly without plowing through his website. Currently Newport is a computer science professor at Georgetown. When he wrote the GTD student stuff he was an undergrad at Cornell and did his graduate work at MIT.
 

RuthMcT

Registered
Being a procrastinator is a very frustrating condition - I know, I am one! And the phrase "just do it!" or "have some self-discipline" doesn't really help, as if it were that easy I'd have done it already. There's a very helpful website called Procrastinators Anonymous, which has lots of useful ideas. See http://procrastinators-anonymous.org/ The thing I find works best is using the website to check in at the beginning of the day or a work session, and then to report back on how much/little and what I managed to get done. There's something very encouraging about publicly declaring your commitments for the day, and reporting back; if you have trouble meeting the commitments you've declared people will understand, and you will also start to recognise just what you have trouble with and why.
 

John Ismyname

Registered
I usually find watching a Netflix episode to be more interesting than just sitting down to study some Data structures.
Your leisure time is just as important as your/work study time. GTD focuses on the calendar, not the task list. Put on your calendar five days a week that you will work on your university study 7pm - 10pm with a maximum 10 minute break every hour, watch Netflix from 10-pm - 11pm and go to sleep at 11pm. This is your plan!

s not that I am not Interested in the field of computer science. It's just that In the moment an episode of "Arrow" seems far more exciting than just studying some CS concepts. I know that if I don't do the work now, my future self will suffer. But Usually I am selfish towards my present self, probably because of the readily available Dopamine that I can binge on.
How do I build a work ethic to avoid procrastination?
How do I find the drive to choose the pain of hard work(studying) over the easily available pleasure of watching a show?
Make a plan, put that plan into your GTD calendar and stick to it. The nitty-gritty is you are commotong to focusing on your task-at-hand for 50 minutes, then goofing off for 10 minutes. You can do that! Then repeat this cycle two more times. Done! Your next task is to watch Netflix, a reward of lesiure you just earned!
Would this system help me do things that actually matters in my life?
Let's see, you set a goal, make a plan to realzie it, and discipline yoruself hour by-hour to get there. I think GTD could help you with that! :)

I have really loved Stephen Covey's "7 habits of highly effective people". The third habit is First Things First which also has a separate book. What I was wandering is, Has anyone combined the two systems to make one holistic system? So you can, not only move towards your life purpose, but also not get bogged down by day to day intricacies of life? If anyone uses the two systems I would love to know how it works.


I use both systems simultaneously as there is virtually no overlap.
 
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