How to not feel like you have to "empty" you NA lists?

folke123

Registered
Hi!

I have a problem where I feel that I need to "empty" my NA lists before I can do something that is not on my list (Like a leisure activity)

I guess this problem is compounded by the fact that my list is quite short, and sometimes I can "finish" them (before adding in new stuff from my S/M projects, or starting a follow-up project, or just adding the things I do daily onto the list for tomorrow)
Meaning that for me my day is quite often WORK -> Empty my NA List (daily stuff like reading, and next steps on the projects I am working on) -> do fun stuff -> Before bedtime add stuff to the NA list again (new projects/actions/daily actions)
But this does not always work since sometimes the NA list is not something that could be finished in a day.


I know that the point of the NA list is not to empty it, but I think I need help/inspiration on how you decide when it is time to work on stuff on your lists, and when to just do leisure activities, even though your list is full of good/needed stuff to do. I feel like I am not "allowed" to not do stuff on my lists
 

GTDengineer

Registered
Schedule your leisure time on your calendar.

Keep a list of leisure time activities which you pull out during your leisure block.

Remember that it’s you who decided what is a leisure activity and what is good/needed activity in the first place. Review your assumptions!
 

ChristinaSkaskiw

GTD Connect
I have a problem where I feel that I need to "empty" my NA lists before I can do something that is not on my list (Like a leisure activity)
I can relate, seeking that elusive feeling of freedom of “no have-to’s”. The thing with the NA lists is that things get added all the time, so if you feel like you have to complete every action on them, you’re always “on call”. Not very stress-free.

I have a couple of strategies. For my weekly review of my personal stuff, I print out a template of a sort of weekly checklist that I made. It has space for each day of the coming week, where I pen in date and time specific things, a space for “should really get done this week”, and a space for “good/fun to do, but can wait”. Going through my calendar and NA lists, I select things to put on my weekly list. I then refer to the weekly list, more or less exclusively. (If you don’t have a printer, you could simply use a blank piece of paper.)

Another strategy is using time blocks, like GTDengineer suggests. For example, I may have a bunch of paperwork to do, so I block off time on a Saturday morning to deal with that. Another might be that after 5pm on a weekend, it’s all play time, no work.

In addition to the above, I allow for max two computer/desk-related projects and two practical projects active at any time. If necessary I can bend this rule, but as an example, let’s say I already have two desk-related projects, and the tax forms show up. I might then decide to put one of desk-related projects on hold until I’ve completed the tax forms. If deadlines won’t permit this, I bend the rule and manage all three.

As David would say, all lists are really “someday, maybe”, until you actually engage with any actions. The difference is how often you need to refer to them. My printed weekly list is for daily review, my calendar and NA-lists are weekly review material, my “someday/maybe” lists are for when time opens up or the seasons shift. I have nothing on my “someday/maybe” lists that would at some point become have to’s. If I never do any of it, it’s fine. (I just want to point out that in “official” GTD, the calendar and NA lists are daily review material, and for my work, that’s how I use them.)

The bottom line with all this is to be super-clear with myself what I’m committed to, and what are “maybe’s”. When I’m done with the “have to’s”, I’m free to do what I want, which may or may not be one of the “good/fun to do” things.

Hope that gives you some ideas. :)
 

Jared Caron

Nursing leader; GTD enthusiast
Hi!

I have a problem where I feel that I need to "empty" my NA lists before I can do something that is not on my list (Like a leisure activity)

I guess this problem is compounded by the fact that my list is quite short, and sometimes I can "finish" them (before adding in new stuff from my S/M projects, or starting a follow-up project, or just adding the things I do daily onto the list for tomorrow)
Meaning that for me my day is quite often WORK -> Empty my NA List (daily stuff like reading, and next steps on the projects I am working on) -> do fun stuff -> Before bedtime add stuff to the NA list again (new projects/actions/daily actions)
But this does not always work since sometimes the NA list is not something that could be finished in a day.


I know that the point of the NA list is not to empty it, but I think I need help/inspiration on how you decide when it is time to work on stuff on your lists, and when to just do leisure activities, even though your list is full of good/needed stuff to do. I feel like I am not "allowed" to not do stuff on my lists
A couple thoughts here -

1. Are you re-writing your lists every day?
2. Are you also capturing leisure activities along with "work"?

David goes thru this in the book, I forget where, but there are limiting criteria- where you are/context, what resources you have, how much time you have, etc.
 

mcogilvie

Registered
Hi!

I have a problem where I feel that I need to "empty" my NA lists before I can do something that is not on my list (Like a leisure activity)

I guess this problem is compounded by the fact that my list is quite short, and sometimes I can "finish" them (before adding in new stuff from my S/M projects, or starting a follow-up project, or just adding the things I do daily onto the list for tomorrow)
Meaning that for me my day is quite often WORK -> Empty my NA List (daily stuff like reading, and next steps on the projects I am working on) -> do fun stuff -> Before bedtime add stuff to the NA list again (new projects/actions/daily actions)
But this does not always work since sometimes the NA list is not something that could be finished in a day.


I know that the point of the NA list is not to empty it, but I think I need help/inspiration on how you decide when it is time to work on stuff on your lists, and when to just do leisure activities, even though your list is full of good/needed stuff to do. I feel like I am not "allowed" to not do stuff on my lists
I can’t tell from your post how you implement your lists, but perhaps paper? However, your description makes it sound like you have a daily action list for each day. A lot of people work that way. It’s not what David Allen does. He stresses the value of having a complete inventory of all your next actions. Of course this can lead to long lists, which some people don’t like. Many digital task managers implement some form of a short daily list by offering the ability to “star” a set of tasks and view only those tasks. You can emulate this with paper by maintaining a master lis of all next actions, which is reviewed daily for items to be placed on the daily list. Anything you don’t do today can be crossed off and dealt with another day, as it appears you are doing. This approach to task management predates GTD. I first learned about it from the books of Stephanie Winston, and a form of it underlies the design of many ”professional” paper planners, such as Franklin-Covey. I don’t think this approach is as effective or simple as GTD, but many people seem to do ok with some variant of it. You might want to look at some of the set-up guides available for purchase on this website, or the GTD Workbook, if you would like to see examples of WWDD (what would David do).
 

Sarahsuccess

Registered
Hi!

I have a problem where I feel that I need to "empty" my NA lists before I can do something that is not on my list (Like a leisure activity)

I guess this problem is compounded by the fact that my list is quite short, and sometimes I can "finish" them (before adding in new stuff from my S/M projects, or starting a follow-up project, or just adding the things I do daily onto the list for tomorrow)
Meaning that for me my day is quite often WORK -> Empty my NA List (daily stuff like reading, and next steps on the projects I am working on) -> do fun stuff -> Before bedtime add stuff to the NA list again (new projects/actions/daily actions)
But this does not always work since sometimes the NA list is not something that could be finished in a day.


I know that the point of the NA list is not to empty it, but I think I need help/inspiration on how you decide when it is time to work on stuff on your lists, and when to just do leisure activities, even though your list is full of good/needed stuff to do. I feel like I am not "allowed" to not do stuff on my lists
Do you have a projects list?
or do you just have a na list?

I think da would say that if you have the projects and nas captured then the tasks will be off your mind as long as you can trust yourself to look at those lists as necessary.
 

folke123

Registered
I can’t tell from your post how you implement your lists, but perhaps paper? However, your description makes it sound like you have a daily action list for each day. A lot of people work that way. It’s not what David Allen does. He stresses the value of having a complete inventory of all your next actions. Of course this can lead to long lists, which some people don’t like. Many digital task managers implement some form of a short daily list by offering the ability to “star” a set of tasks and view only those tasks. You can emulate this with paper by maintaining a master lis of all next actions, which is reviewed daily for items to be placed on the daily list. Anything you don’t do today can be crossed off and dealt with another day, as it appears you are doing. This approach to task management predates GTD. I first learned about it from the books of Stephanie Winston, and a form of it underlies the design of many ”professional” paper planners, such as Franklin-Covey. I don’t think this approach is as effective or simple as GTD, but many people seem to do ok with some variant of it. You might want to look at some of the set-up guides available for purchase on this website, or the GTD Workbook, if you would like to see examples of WWDD (what would David do).
I'm using text files currently on my computer (before deciding what tech system to use)

I would not say that it is a daily list (or that is not my intention) but I guess that is part of my "problem" that I have few enough "forced" projects that I have to have active at the same time, that I could finish most actions on the list (if I do not immediately add new actions for the projects/activate a new project when one project is finished) and since this is possible I try to do just that before "letting go" and doing fun stuff.

So my question is more since you with GTD have the things that you should do (or for some reason have added as actions/projects) so much clearer than if you would not use GTD, and this list never ends, how do you decided when it is time to do stuff not on the list?

I guess one way would be to actually add actions like "watch a movie from the movie list" to the NA list but that does feel wrong to me because:
A) This is not something that I have decided "needs/should" be done
B) Maybe I will not want to watch a movie when I am not productive but would rather listen to a podcast/take a walk/surf the web etc
 

Jared Caron

Nursing leader; GTD enthusiast
So it seems that this has to do with the threefold nature of work.

Quick recap - 3 kinds of work:
1. Planned Work (next actions/projects/etc)
2. Planning/Defining Work (Clarifying/organizing)
3. Unplanned work (interruptions, cool ideas, opportunities, random human moments)

All three count. All three are work. One of the best benefits of GTD is that it helps you get really effective at #1 and 2 so you can be more present with #3.
 
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