GTD stresses me

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss the GTD Methodology' started by MartinJ, Apr 9, 2019.

  1. MartinJ

    MartinJ Registered

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    Hello all,

    I have a problem with my GTD system, that I have tried to develop for a couple of years now, and that is that I just feel stressed by using it.

    Often the factor that stresses me is "have I missed something" or if I have broken down an action enough or maybe broken it down too much?

    And one other big thing that stresses me is that I can't seem to remember what I have done. I am trying to use a good reference system for note taking but cant seem to get the hang of it.

    I dont know if anyone can make sense of this post or push me in the right direction but thought it was worth a try.

    Thank you!
     
  2. David Parker

    David Parker GTD Connect

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    Are you doing a regular Weekly Review?

    If you were, this would help to close the open loops that are possibly causing you stress.

    If your GTD system is causing you stress, then something about it is clearly wrong as a good system would do the exact opposite.

    Perhaps one of the coaches could share how they would approach this with a client . . .
     
  3. MartinJ

    MartinJ Registered

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    Yes, I am doing the weekly review so that is not the problem. At least I dont think so. Thanks for the feedback.
     
  4. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    Yes, everything you say makes perfect sense. It seems to me that you are experiencing some degree of aversion within your system, probably because you don’t trust it. Perhaps a good place to start is your list of next actions. Are you attracted to your lists? Are there actions that repel you? If so, ask the “why” question, but don’t stop until you feel you have reached a deep understanding. Are you repulsed by some but not all actions? Is there some common factor? If you feel you are repulsed by the system itself, what aspects repulse you?

    You might consider writing down what your system components are and how your system works for you, perhaps here in this thread. I think a little more detail might be useful.
     
  5. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    Good questions! In my case repulsement is contagious. When I put a nasty action on @context list this list becomes nasty too. And I hate to browse it. So I always try to avoid nasty actions...
     
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  6. Jared Caron

    Jared Caron Registered

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    I feel like this is a common intermediate experience. Theres a level i think where you have everything "set up" and "implemented' but then you have to learn how to "integrate" this into your work and life and that can cause some angst.

    A couple of thoughts:
    1. Higher horizons- have you perhaps not fleshed these out quite enough? They could be whats pulling on your attention. It also could be the source of a lack of clarity if you have information here but not a trusted system to park it in and then review when you need clarity.
      1. If not i would suggest listening to the Areas of Focus and Higher Horizons webinars with Meg and Kelly. Perhaps even more than once. It might help you unearth some additional content that you had previously excluded from your system.
    2. Do you have too many lists? - this is an easy thing to fall into as many list managers make it easy to over categorize, tag, or segregate your next action lists. I (with the help of a coach) recently trimmed down from almost a dozen context lists to just 6. Most recent example was eliminating my "read/review" list as I realized i was using the items as the reminder in my folder of the same name.
    3. How's your calendar look? Are you honoring the threefold nature? If you're booked back to back every day, you probably don't have enough clarifying time or even enough space to accomplish an effective mind sweep. If that's the case, in your next weekly review, make it a point to go out far enough to where you can actually see some white space and block some serious catch up time. Then make it a standing item in your weekly review (during the future calendar step) to play some defense and block some protected time. I just put something generic like "Hold" or "do not book" into my calendar. This at least prompts our project manager (and others) to check with me before they "land grab" my calendar, which allows me to renegotiate other commitments if I need to sacrifice that time. Your calendar is yours. own it.
    Also, have you considered purchasing coaching? Even just an introductory package with 1 call is well worth the investment if you feel that you get value out of GTD. Its the difference between trying to brute force your way into the method and getting some really personalized advice that helps you tailor the methods and best practices to your unique situation.
     
  7. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

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    I sometimes segregate certain things into a "procrastination" folder and "procrastination" context, and hide those from my OminFocus views. As a result, I have to force myself to look at those things once in a while or I'll forget them entirely, but I'm not wary of my other lists. (Oddly, a "look at procrastination stuff" repeating task doesn't seem to contaminate the regular lists.)
     
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  8. MartinJ

    MartinJ Registered

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    Thanks for the feedback. I will try to see if I can find a common factor.

    Regarding my system:

    The main problem I have is that it comes up so many new things when doing an NA that you have not planned for. Like for instance, I am trying to figure out if a pipe will fit to another pipe (I am a project engineer). So the NA might be; "See if pipe A fits with pipe B". Then I realize I need to check if they have the same standards, then maybe I realize something else and so on. So this small NA evolves to many new, small, ones that I did not think of at first. And I feel a little bit stressed because I feel like it is a timewaste to put them into my GTD system (it is easier just to do them) but then I am thinking I should put them in so I can look back at why I made the decision to go with pipe A.

    The above is one of the things that causes stress.
     
  9. MartinJ

    MartinJ Registered

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    Thanks for the reply.

    1) I will check the webinars out since I am not that familiar with the different horizons.

    2) Which lists do you mean. Like NA and "someday" lists for example?

    3) What is the threefold nature. I am almost in no meetings at the moment so no problem there :)
     
  10. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

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    For that specific situation, I think I'd suggest that instead of entering all those very small tasks, you write up the reasoning for your decision after (but soon after) you make the decision, and put it in some place that you've chosen for that sort of recordkeeping. Even if you were to record and check off all those actions in your project/context lists, that wouldn't be an ideal place to refer to the decision when you wonder later.

    I recently planted a cutting garden in my larger garden, and I COULD have written it as a bunch of very specific little tasks:

    Project/Outcome: Successful cutting garden
    Next Action: Plant Cosmos Sensation Mix in bed 3.A.A.
    Next Action: Plant Art Deco Zinnia in bed 3.A.B.
    (Etc., etc., for eighteen different types of flowers)

    But I didn't. My actions looked more like:

    Project/Outcome: Successful cutting garden
    Next Action: Determine cutting garden layout.
    Next Action: Choose cultivars for cutting garden.
    Next Action: Order seeds for cutting garden.
    Next Action: Prep, measure, and mark cutting garden beds.
    Next Action: Seed cutting garden.

    And then I put the list of cultivars, and a sketch of the cutting garden layout, and a few notes about what I planted and what proportion of each seed packet, in my garden notebook. So, later, if I want to know which bed the Art Deco Zinnia is in, or how many seeds I used, I don't go through my checked-off next actions--instead, I go to the notebook, which I regard as a combination of project support material and reference.
     
  11. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    Yes, I would separate recordkeeping (reference information) from the actionable stuff (Next Actions) too.
     
  12. MartinJ

    MartinJ Registered

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    Yes, I agree with this and I think I have moved more towards this. The problem is then on which level the NA should be, how detailed it should be. If I have for instance "create drawing of object A". That contains alot of actions and sometimes unique from drawing to drawing. And it feels like I can miss some actions when I dont break them down.
     
  13. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    Several things come to mind:

    First off, if you feel stressed by using GTD the issue is probably that you are not capturing enough stuff or that you are not really processing it well. Once past the initial "oh my, I can't possibly do all this" angst of your first few complete collections of things to do you should feel a sense of freedom when you identify that niggling thing that has been bothering you but now has a name and a space and is finally in a place where you can deal with it when you are ready. That means not only do you capture it completely but that you have processed it completely. That takes time to learn how to do.

    For capturing ask yourself
    1. Do I have a way to capture ANYTHING at ANYTIME?
    2. Do I like to use the tools I have to capture?
    3. Do I still feel that capturing something tiny is inappropriate?
    4. Do I worry about the volume of stuff I am capturing knowing I will never get it all done?
    5. Does that make me resist capturing ideas even when I can't or probably won't do anything about them now or possibly ever?
    For 1 and 2 find things that you like that you can carry with you everywhere, even plan for taking notes in the shower or other unusual places you go.

    For 3 know that until you are comfortable your brain is reveling in the idea that it no longer has to remember tiny things because you capture it down. So go ahead, put the minuscule stuff in your capture tool to quiet your brain and leave space for big, grand thoughts.

    For 4 and 5 understand that no one will ever get to finish everything on the GTD or any other todo list. The choice is to decide what to work on and when in a way that meets your needs.

    For processing ask yourself

    1. Do I have time to process inputs daily?
    2. Do I have a good filing system for things I won't do now?
    3. Do I understand how I think well enough to decide whether I like long extensive lists or short focused ones?
    4. Do my list manager tools support the way I think?
    For 1 Plan on a couple of hours a day just to process your stuff. At least 1 hours and usually for the first few months or year it will take more like 2 hours a day just on processing.

    For 2 make sure you use the Someday/Maybe list for everything you may want to do sometime in the future and anythign you cannot do now. The definition of now depends on the answer to number 3.

    For number 3. If you get overwhelmed reading a list of things to do to choose what to do that is longer than say 3-7 items then only pick out and keep inactive a few projects that you will work on this week. If you like a longer timeframe (I use 3 months) then you must be comfortable with NOT DOING many of the things on your lists or not doing them right away and you must be comfortable reading and looking at lists with many items on them at a time.

    For number 4 that's going to be personal preference. I can tell you why I chose my tool but no one can tell you what tools to use for you.

    For the remembering what you have done I'd ask yourself why do you care? Don't the results speak for themselves? If you must show progress to a boss or customer then pick tools that store completed actions and allow you to bring them up again.If it's for longer term personal education then find ways to store the ones that matter. I keep a paper journal of books I've read with notes. Most of the other stuff I don't really care that I completed it so I quit bothering to read it.
     
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  14. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    OK, this is something we can handle. Think of your typical next action as a bookmark, not the first step in a project plan. It’s a reminder: “When I last stopped working on this, here’s what I thought at the time I should do next.” You May pick up from there, and do five or ten discrete things before stopping. There is no GTD requirement that this sequence be recorded, documented, or planned. When you stop, record what you think you should do next. You may have other requirements, that cause you, e.g., to record what you did in a lab notebook or to file away the new appliance installation instructions, but that’s not a GTD requirement. You may look at a next action and realize you should do something else first or instead. The bookmark idea is a really helpful metaphor.

    Of course, sometimes you do want to record a sequence of possible future actions. In GTD, this is usually lumped in with project support. Personally, I think it depends on your tools. If you are using Omnifocus or something similar, there is a natural place to put these later possible actions, but overdoing future planning of this kind will sink you and your system quickly.
     
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  15. MartinJ

    MartinJ Registered

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    Thank you for the massive feedback!

    One main problem, when I use GTD in private, I dont know what to put down. I dont want to put down "unpack training bag" "vacuum" it feels so basic and I will probably get more stressed by putting those stuff down. As you mention in step 3, it is hard to know what to put down in the list.
     
  16. MartinJ

    MartinJ Registered

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    I often find myself stressed over what I have done or not have done since I am putting some stuff down and some other stuff I dont put down. Maybe the problem is that I need a better reference system. And maybe think of the NA as a bookmark, as you say.
     
  17. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

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    If those things are habits that you do without even thinking about them, you don't need to put them in the list.

    If they're not habits, or if they are but not putting them down leaves you with a nervous feeling that you might forget something, you could create checklists--a "getting home" checklist, a "housecleaning" checklist, that sort of thing. That way you just write it down once, and maybe put it up on the refrigerator or somewhere, rather than filling up your daily lists with those items. If you want the checklists represented in your daily NA lists, you could put a repeating, "Check/work cleaning checklist" item in your lists, and that would represent the maybe dozens of items in the cleaning checklist.
     
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  18. Geeko

    Geeko GTD since 2017

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    I think one of your problems is (as already mentioned above) that you still don’t really trust your system. It is ok not to put every small action into your system, especially if it is the very next action you want to take on or if you know that something else will remind you. Checklists are great for reoccurring tasks like house cleaning and you can for example put them into your tickler file. That way they don’t take (mental) space in your lists or your calendar and your just “find” them when you need them.
    I still struggle with my personal system and I know it is hard to trust your tickler file. You just have to build the habit of checking it daily, then it will save you a lot of mental RAM.

    Cheers,
    Tristan
     
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  19. BadHairDay

    BadHairDay Registered

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    Have you done a GTD-Q asessment lately? From what you are describing, it sounds a bit like you might be caught in the micromanagement quadrant. I land there quite often myself and am seriously considering to found a micromanager anonymous group or maybe a thread for starters. Sometimes it helps me to ask the question: Why am I doing GTD? What do I want out of this?
     
  20. SteelcaseGTDr

    SteelcaseGTDr Bob Hendriksen

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    This is a great reply and along the lines of what i was thinking: It's very easy to say we need to build a "trusted system" but as with any relationship in life, including our relationship with our commitments, trust takes time to build. If we've been stressed out about mismanaged commitments for years, it's not going to build into a "high trust relationship" over night. But I can promise you, it will continue to build. The respondent's other point about each of your projects and next-actions either drawing you to them, or repelling you....also, spot-on advise. I've been at this for nearly 10 years and I still find things on my action lists like "plan" for...And I skip over it again and again, because I haven't "finished the thinking" and don't really know yet how to "plan" something. Is that a call, is that research? The point is though, that trust will build if you keep using the approach. Again, I've been at this for years, and have yet to find a SINGLE hole in the process. The only gap, is ME!:) If you want any additional help, you can reach me on Voxer at bhendr007 with any questions.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2019
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