Getting tasks and projects done - my problem.

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss the GTD Methodology' started by Piotr, May 9, 2019.

  1. Piotr

    Piotr Registered

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    Hi,

    I'm using GTD method for about 6 months. I keep all my tasks in Wunderlist, I think they are well organised, do my weekly reviews. But I have problem with getting them all done! What I mean is that I have plenty of tasks (e.g. doing programming course, reading specfic amount of book daily, compliting my mind map, ordering some stuff from online store etc.) and they are all there, in my wunderlist lists but I barely menage to finish any of them. I get back home from my work and even if I manage to sit infrot of my list, I'm so overwhelmed with the amount of taks I'd like to do, that I finish doing nothing or reading my GTD notes. Any ideas, how to push my tasks forward?
     
  2. RS356

    RS356 Registered

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    Piotr,

    Long lists (and overwhelm) are a common side effect of wanting to get a lot accomplished. It might be helpful to move some of your projects over to your Someday/Maybe list, and focus your short-term efforts on those things that will move your larger priorities forward. GTD doesn't stress strict prioritization in the moment-to-moment decision making, but some strategic thinking about your projects may help to shorten your lists and make them more manageable. Don't worry so much about it - we've all been there. I still get overwhelmed and need to defer things - I've been at this for 15 years!
     
  3. Piotr

    Piotr Registered

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    Thank you for your reply. Yes, I understand it and agree with you. But how do you manage to keep going tasks like learning new things if they neither neeed to be done in any specific date, nor are on the top of list of priorities (because there is always something more urgent)? I try to learn programming and speed reading but my progress is miserable and GTD doesn't really seem to help me keep these things going.
     
  4. Geeko

    Geeko GTD since 2017

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    Hi Piotr,

    I know how you feel. First of all you have to get clear about one thing: You will never get all your lists to zero, nobody ever does. As @RS356 says, it might be a good idea to move some stuff to someday/maybe. This could make your head free for the stuff you actually need to do. Maybe you could also have a look at your lists and consider whether your contexts still attract you or if you have to change something there.

    And most important: Try not to get lost in managing your stuff. The main idea of GTD is getting things done and not spending most of your time sorting it into lists.

    Cheers,
    Tristan
     
  5. Longstreet

    Longstreet Registered

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    We all have the same amount of time. If there are things you really want to do, then block time just for them. Remember, you decide what you want to do. Then schedule a time for all of those urgent admin tasks. Make the calendar your ally, not your enemy.
     
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  6. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    It sounds like you are having trouble with the number of tasks on your lists, and too many choices. Try shortening your lists. One way is to increase the number of contexts to give a shorter, more focused view. An example would be to break out @email from @computer. However, since you are using Wunderlist, I will ask if you use the star functionality? This can give you a smaller, more focused list for each context. You could pick in the morning a few tasks to work on that evening. This will help you focus your mind on doing rather than on thinking about doing, and help build the habit of doing. If you finish your short list, either go for more, or kick back and bask in a job well done.
     
  7. Piotr

    Piotr Registered

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    First, thank you all for answers. It's nice to find community so willing to help.
    So, my takeaways are:
    • adding blocks in calendar for learning new stuff
    • updating my contexts
    • shortening lists if possible
    I'll try my best and see how it works.
     
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  8. andrew732

    andrew732 Registered

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    This is indeed a very tricky problem in GTD. What can we do about things that are important but not urgent, and which always seem to get ignored when we look over the Next Action list for things to do? I believe that having to constantly grapple with this issue is part of the price we pay for a very agile system/philosophy that does not explicitly prioritize action items.

    One approach stated above is to designate such items as calendared items to ensure they get done, although this is contrary to the GTD philosophy of only using the calendar for things that must be done at a specific time. However, this might work for you. In any case, I really don't have a better idea than another one that was already stated, which is to simply make your projects and lists as short as possible to facilitate intuitive, informal decisions about what actions to prioritize.

    One thing that has helped me to keep my lists short is to remind myself that I only need one next action for each "moving part" of the project, and that it is not necessary to have all the next actions I can think of for every project on the Next Actions list. Another thing that has helped me is to look more deeply at procrastination around these types of important but not urgent items. It is possible that the relative freedom of the GTD system is enabling you to avoid some discomfort around handling these items.
     
  9. Longstreet

    Longstreet Registered

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    Actually, it IS okay to schedule an action that is very important and will take 30+ minutes to do on your calendar. This is not against GTD philosophy. Meg Edwards in GTD Connect webinars has repeatedly said this is a valid approach if you have a lot of meetings and need protected time for these important actions.
     
  10. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    Great to hear that GTD works in Szczecin. Move as many Projects and Next Actions as possible to Someday/Maybe. It works in Warsaw. Focus on few goals, accomplish them and then move to next goals. Powodzenia!
     
  11. Cpu_Modern

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    You have to ask yourself why this is a problem. Your why (purpose) is important. You probably now it. Then, the next clarification is the question for the successful outcome. Why is an evening doing "nothing" not better than starting to program? If you move on with the programming course, would this mean you won't do anything else on that evening?

    What I am trying to get to is, that "programming course" is not quite a good project. Better would be something like "establish habit of coding for an hour before dinner" or however else you would describe the success outcome. How would a well-lived work actually look like?

    In the morning, before you go to work, you usually already know if you will have enough energy to code in the evening. Will you use your GTD-system to lie to yourself?

    I don't know what that means, but from the sound of it something like "Hurray, pirates! Gun powder is exploding!"
     
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  12. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    "Powodzenia!" = "Good luck!" :cool:
     
  13. SimmonSydney

    SimmonSydney Registered

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    100% this !! I get up to 400 emails a day and 200 are actionable. My lists were out of control. The webinar where @kelstarrising and @megedwards talked about it being ok to move things to an “incubate list” changed my world ! (I can’t remember which webinar that was maybe someone can help there)

    I now have these lists

    - INCUBATE WORK WEEKLY
    - INCUBATE HOME WEEKLY
    - INCUBATE ONLINE WEEKLY

    - SOMEDAY WORK
    - SOMEDAY HOME
    - SOMEDAY ONLINE

    works really well. When I have massive lists, anything that it wont kill me to not get done that week I move to the incubate weekly lists, and if it’s just a straight someday maybe you know in your heart anyway.

    Then it helps me make sure I do my weekly review because I know I have tasks in the incubate lists that will be ready to push up to the normal lists

    Doing this left me with much more manageable real time lists.

    The big question I always ask myself is “Simon does this need to be done this week ?” - if no then it gets incubated or someday maybe
     
  14. bcmyers2112

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    Hi, @Piotr. Don't feel bad. I struggle with the same thing you do. I've recently had some insights that have helped me and I'm happy to share them on the chance they may be useful to you or anyone else.

    To provide some context (no pun intended), my life's dream has been to work as a professional comic-book writer and illustrator. But a long time ago I allowed myself to become convinced that this was not realistic or worthwhile to pursue (how that happened is beyond the scope of this conversation). So I tried to content myself with a "normal" career, but at the age of 49 I've realized that I've lived every day yearning for something else and I'm not happy with the life I've created. I believe it was a mistake not to pursue this goal. If I don't at least try to achieve it, I know that when I reach the end of my life it will be with a terrible regret. (There is no guarantee of success, of course. I can live with that. But I can't live with never having tried.)

    I've tried a number of GTD-centric solutions. I recorded a 3-to-5 year goal of becoming a comic-book professional. I've tried time-blocking as @Longstreet advocates. Tried creating new contexts. Tried restating my projects and next actions related to this goal. Nothing helped. At the end of every day I'd go to bed having neither written nor drawn anything.

    In the last few weeks it dawned on me: the problem wasn't with my lists or my GTD system. That's because there's no magic to GTD. Your GTD system is nothing more than a reflection of your own thoughts. And I was laboring under the mistaken belief that I had to get everything else done on my plate before earning the right to spend some time pursuing my life's ambition.

    I now know that the only way to bring this dream to fruition is to spend some time every day writing and drawing, and if other things have to fall by the wayside, so be it. Because I'm a morning person, every day before work I spend 30 minutes writing and 30 minutes practicing drawing. I tackle other things later. (If I were an afternoon or an evening person, I'd structure my day differently. But I trust you get the point.)

    My GTD lists now look different to me, because I have an understanding of what's truly a priority in my life.

    Perhaps it might be worthwhile to look at your own priorities. Are the things you're not getting done important to you? Perhaps more important than the other things you're getting done on a daily basis? Then you might want to make some different decisions about what commitments you're making in order to allow time for what's important. Conversely, if these things you're not getting done aren't important you may want to let go of them and stop beating yourself up.

    Others have already done a good job suggesting some GTD techniques to help pare down your lists, and I don't think I have much to add there. I think they're all potentially useful suggestions. In my case, though, I had to get clear about what I wanted out of life before any life management techniques could be helpful.
     
  15. Longstreet

    Longstreet Registered

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    This is wonderful! As I have stated , there are inherent priorities in our lives and it is totally up to us to make time for them as you have done. Cheers!
     
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  16. Longstreet

    Longstreet Registered

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    One more comment -- actually, what you are doing IS a form of time blocking. I do the same with my writing. :D
     
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  17. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    I suppose it is. Although I don't schedule it in my calendar. I just get up and do it. But I get your point.

    (Does anyone besides me suspect that @Longstreet is an advocate of time-blocking? Just a feeling I get.)
     
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  18. Rostane

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    • Shorten the long list using filters
    • Just start on something, not specifically the "Frog" but can be the easy task first, to get you going
    • Use Pomodoro method
    • Add some background music or podcast or anything that could motivate you
    • Don't overthink... just do it, have fun !
    • Cut big tasks into small ones
    • Reward yourself :)
    This actually my process, working great so far !

    PS : Interesting read about Pomodoro : https://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/the-pomodoro-technique-is-it-right-for-you.html
     

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