Theory, theory

Longstreet

Professor of microbiology and infectious diseases
I am always befuddled why you, Folke, want to make something so straight-forward and simple into a complex, psychological argument. I do not mean that in a mean-spirited manner at all. I really am confused by your constant dissecting of what David says and how it may or may not be in the 2001 book. Why does this matter? You constantly agitate about whether something can be done in one's practice and still be called GTD. Again, why does this matter to you? A number of us have provided evidence from senior GTD coaches and yes, David Allen himself that these "things" are fine and do not move you into a non-GTD, blasphemous context. So one more time - why does this matter to you?
 

Folke

Registered
In all honesty, Longstreet, I think it is a viscious circle. I sometimes say something, quite innocent, just trying to be correct and truthful, and immediatly get attacked by someone who does not like some possible inference of what I am saying.

But I will try to answer your question all the same, recognizing that it is not mean-spirited.

Longstreet said:
... make something so straight-forward and simple into a complex, psychological argument.

Are you referring to communities, villages and such? Well, that's something that came up after god knows how many iterations of mutual non-understanding as a hypothesis for how something can matter to one person and not to another. Although no one has responded to that hypothesis, I think it may well be the case that the question of how to characterize GTD will matter more to someone who wants to be an advocate for it than to someone who wants to just use whatever parts they want of it for their own use only, or among friends only. To some extent maybe also because I am influenced by my own work experience, always having to describe and pinpoint and argue the merits of this or that (a plan, a proposition, a product, a company, whatever).

Longstreet said:
I really am confused by your constant dissecting of what David says and how it may or may not be in the 2001 book. Why does this matter?

Are yo referring to my response to Oogie? The answer is simple. I was surprised to read her statement because I don't recall that from the book.

Longstreet said:
I really am confused by your constant dissecting of what David says and how it may or may not be in the 2001 book. Why does this matter? You constantly agitate about whether something can be done in one's practice and still be called GTD. Again, why does this matter to you?

Same answer as the first one - I think GTD is good enough to be advocated strongly, both to people and to app developers, so I'd like to put my finger on what is and is not GTD in order to be able to describe it concisely.

Longstreet said:
A number of us have provided evidence from senior GTD coaches and yes, David Allen himself that these "things" are fine and do not move you into a non-GTD, blasphemous context. So one more time - why does this matter to you?

I honestly do not care whether a particular person is doing GTD or something else. Or whether what I do is GTD or not. I genuinely believe the same that you so often repeat - that we must do what works for us. This personal indifference to what my system is called is probably why at first I had no idea that there could be such a reaction to that line of inquiry from others. I was genuinely surprised that someone could seem upset about such a thing. (And yes, maybe that hypothesis about a "community" and "belonging" started to creep in already at that stage.)

So it is mainly quite innocent. But then:

I sometimes do not know whether to laugh or cry when I hear silly-silly things, such as (if you allow me to paraphrase): "David Allen invented the next action. Before 2001 people did nothing.". "GTD is the only school where people read their email promptly". Y'know. Such crazy attributations, such beliefs and statements do not - I seriously believe - help the GTD cause. They are, at best, a sign of immense ignorance or arrogance.

Another, more complicated, objection I have is to the ... no, I'd better not say; we might have a WW3 coming up ;-) (But I'll give you a clue: If Adolf Hitler had said that Nazism was a righteous cause for forming a better world, would you take his word for it just because he was the creator of his ideology? Or could it be that, despite the creator's intentions, thoughts and expressions, what really matters more is the gradually maturing and settling opinion among the wider circles of people and historians who have had reason to contemplate it all? But that's a tricky question that we'd probably better avoid here.)
 

Folke

Registered
Yes, you quoted my message exactly .. but then inferred a different meaning. Does "hard coding" and "time blocking" mean the same thing to you?
 

TesTeq

Registered
Folke said:
I sometimes do not know whether to laugh or cry when I hear silly-silly things, such as (if you allow me to paraphrase): "David Allen invented the next action. Before 2001 people did nothing.". "GTD is the only school where people read their email promptly". Y'know. Such crazy attributations, such beliefs and statements do not - I seriously believe - help the GTD cause. They are, at best, a sign of immense ignorance or arrogance.

Enough is enough.

For the sake of the scientific honesty and accuracy I ask you to provide ONE specific quote with such "crazy attributations".

And you don't have to laugh or cry - we know how David Allen discovered the "Next Action" concept:

stargazer_rick said:
Here is a copy of a post that David made to another discussion forum back in February:

To give a brief (very) history:

1981 - I became a facilitator of Insight Seminars
1981-83 - developed my own consulting practice (a mentor, D. Acheson, taught be the "next action" concept")
1983 - Joined Insight staff, created Insight Consulting Group (with Russ Bishop)
1983 - Insight acquired U.S. rights to Time/Design from Denmark and became the first English-language distributor, used as tool in the Managing Accelerated Productivity seminar I developed for Lockheed, then offered publicly
1985-1990 - sold Time/Design to Skip Sagar, who then sold it back to Danish group in the U.S., who then sold to Southworth Corp. in Mass. Meanwhile I/we were doing all the seminars around the book, in an alliance with the Time/Design distributor
1990-1994 - In partnership with Southworth-Time/Design, providing all the seminars while they solely marketed the planner.
1994 onward - Time/Design decided they wanted to offer "light" and cheaper version of our training to corporate clients, so they took our outline and used their own trainers. (Not a nice thing to do, from our perspective) For a year they then hired me to do their seminars for them, but stopped that when they decided to use their own trainer in-house.
1995 - stopped using any specific planner or system in the seminar, as most people had a tool already and needed to focus on the thought process
1995-1997 - my two partners (Russell Bishop and Sally McGee) went into somewhat different directions, I bought out the whole consulting and training business and Kathryn and I created it again as David Allen Company.

David
 

Folke

Registered
TesTeq, re ONE quote: Not to be mean or anything, and probably not the best example, but since you are asking, and since I have no wish to scour the whole forum, here is one such statement made by none other than yourself just a page or two ago, that even made somebody else's eyebrows go up.

http://gettingthingsdone.com/forum/f...061#post184061

But then again, as I said to Longstreet a couple of posts ago, I believe maybe this whole debate has become a vicious circle. What do you think? It seems we in these threads are perhaps unnecessarily questioning (attacking?) each other's presumed intentions and less fortunate expressions. rather than focus on the "core" discussion itself - whatever that "core" may be, if it can even be agreed (and there's that word "core" again).

For example, one of the discussions that have been going on here is whether it is meaningful or not to analyze GTD in terms of what makes it unique. Some say yes, and even provide examples, Some say no, and even question our motives for even asking such questions.
 

Longstreet

Professor of microbiology and infectious diseases
Yeah, I think we all need to take a deep breath and start over. Or at least give it a rest for a while. I think I will do the latter. Best wishes to everyone.
 

TesTeq

Registered
Folke said:
TesTeq, re ONE quote: Not to be mean or anything, and probably not the best example, but since you are asking, and since I have no wish to scour the whole forum, here is one such statement made by none other than yourself just a page or two ago, that even made somebody else's eyebrows go up.

http://gettingthingsdone.com/forum/f...061#post184061

Probably I am the only one that sees the difference between:
1. "Example of a person who have heard about some GTD ingredient before hearing about GTD."
and
2. "Example of a person who says that David Allen invented some GTD ingredient."

But I want to take a deep breath (or six) too. Best wishes!
 

GTD-Sweden

Registered
TesTeq said:
Probably I am the only one that sees the difference between:
1. "Example of a person who have heard about some GTD ingredient before hearing about GTD."
and
2. "Example of a person who says that David Allen invented some GTD ingredient."

1 Logical meaning: to hear about something is not equal to invent the GTD ingredient.

2 To invent something is equal to be the originator of the concept. Like Edison inventing the lightbulb.

Conclusion: there is a logical difference between 1 and 2 above.

I might continue to post on this thread, but if everybody else is withdrawing it might be lonely.:)
 

Folke

Registered
I also see a clear difference, TesTeq. And I, too, truly appreciate David's immensely valuable work. The principles he has chosen to describe are truly essential. I believe his lucid descriptions have opened the eyes for many, and still will.
 

Folke

Registered
Alvin12,

An alternative to this forum could be various app forums, especially those apps that try to cater for GTD. You'll notice some major differences, both for better and for worse.

In those forums not everyone likes GTD, some believe they like it but perhaps do not actually have a clue what it is, and some are very knowledgeable and strong advocates of GTD. People there may have just as much knowledge and sympathies for other books and gurus. All in all, the situation in those forums tends to be more "neutral" overall, but will span a larger spectrum, where some views may be extremely different from regular GTD views and others may be utterly "othodox" or "minimalized" GTD.

For example, in some forums the overall emphasis is more strongly toward the "situational" interpretation of GTD (context, energy etc and how to facilitate managing that to the fullest) whereas in other apps the empasis is towards "pre-programming" of more or less everything (and beeps and snoozes etc). Another difference is the interpretation of the normal English word "review" - some take it in the GTD sense, others take it as a performance assessment (counting checked-off tasks, getting scores for meeting quotas etc). Some want convenient ongoing reviewability built into the very lists and structures as such, whereas others want special modes, features and timers etc for reviewing. It goes on.

People on app forums do use a computer app, which means that no one needs to bother whether some particular practice would be impossible when using paper. The discussion tends to focus more on what would or would not be useful app features, and corresponding practices - either in line or out of line with GTD, but usually in total disregard of any compatibility with a paper based system.
 

Gardener

Registered
Just FYI: Alvin's post #71 is a verbatim duplicate of my post #35. Alvin's post #72 is a "spun" copy of that same post.
 

Folke

Registered
Aah, and I just noticed in another thread that Alvin had quoted Longstreet's DA quote about "anything that works is canonical GTD".
 

chirmer

Registered
Folke said:
Neither did I say that. He has, in my understanding, expressed strong opinions against hard-coding anything other than context for actions, whether that be in the form of priorities, arbitrary dates or anything else. Generally speaking, he seems to me to have advocated that decisions be made in the moment.

Although this is nothing I recall him saying about individual actions, you could be right, of course. Obviously, time blocking in some form - documented or undocumented, firm or loose - applies to many things in life, such as family weekend, working hours, morning routine, dinner time and what have you, so he probably mentioned that. But did he really mention explicit time blocking in the sense of downright scheduling of individual actions in the 2001 edition? Just to ensure a decent level of "priority" to that individual task? That's something I definitely do not recall, and find it odd that I could have missed. He seems to recommend that now, anyway, at least judging by the above quote posted by Longstreet. And in a sense I think it is a step in the right direction, if used in moderation, even though I personally prefer a date-free highlighting of such actions.

There must be a misunderstanding in terms used, because I understood your post exactly as Oogiem did. How do you define "hard-coding"? How is it different than time-blocking for you? I struggle to find a way to describe them as different.

Also, I definitely didn't get the vibe from the 2001 book (still working my way through the 2015 edition) that he expressed strong opinions against any of that - not even close. I very much felt he just skimmed over it or forgot about it. Perhaps we all read into the book with our own biases? Since you clearly dislike setting deadlines, you perhaps read the book and, not reading about deadlines, inferred he opposes them? Whereas I, someone whose job is dependent on scores of deadlines per month, kept waiting for them to show up and when they didn't, saw it as an omission?

Regardless, a search through the ebook does not pull up anything against blocking time for high-level, deadlined tasks, DA's said a few times here and there (podcasts, emails, etc.) that it can be a very powerful tool when used appropriately, the fact that it's standard practice to block time for your Weekly Review (a task), etc. lead me to believe that periodic time-blocking is in-fact in-line with GTD. I also think the discussion has gone on longer about this topic than its importance merits :D It's definitely starting to feel like the point is less about defining GTD and more about proving people right or wrong...
 

Folke

Registered
chirmer said:
How do you define "hard-coding"? How is it different than time-blocking for you?

Hard-coding is a word I have picked up from DA. He seemed to be using it frequently, in connection with virtually anything that he found meaningless or counterproductive to write down or organize things by. If I recall correctly, for example, among the four decision criteria (for choosing an action right now) he only emphasized context as being useful in such an "organized" way, whereas time, energy and priority were best dealt with intuitively and were meaningless to "hard-code" for (and in a paper system it would be difficult, anyway). In general, he made the impression on me that he thought hard-coding of all kinds was often unnecessary or pointless, something to at least be wary of.

Time-blocking would seem to me to be just one of many such possible "hard-coding" practices. I honestly do not recall him mentioning time blocking specifically at all, but, again, my memory could fail me. I do remember him being quite restrictive with scheduling, though.

chirmer said:
Perhaps we all read into the book with our own biases?

Most definitely. (Don't we always.)

chirmer said:
It's definitely starting to feel like the point is less about defining GTD and more about proving people right or wrong...

Yes, unfortunately. It has been quiet for a week now, but apparently there is some magic lure in all this. Mind you, even you and I had this little exchange here just now, but at least it was in a friendly way, not malicious or sarcastic. Cheers.
 

chirmer

Registered
Folke said:
Yes, unfortunately. It has been quiet for a week now, but apparently there is some magic lure in all this. Mind you, even you and I had this little exchange here just now, but at least it was in a friendly way, not malicious or sarcastic. Cheers.

Yes, unfortunately our personal life management systems are, well, very personal - I think we react instinctively with defense when someone challenges our thoughts. I have been working very hard for years to master this in myself, to see things as they are versus how I'm reading them, and it's led to less stress in my life at least 8)

I also do agree that there really should be some defining for GTD. After all, it is a thing, and as a thing, it's got a definition. I know that when I color-code certain tasks to keep them on my radar I'm drifting from GTD (According to GTD, my weekly review should handle this). I like doing it; I read a book recently that talked about enchanted objects, and it discussed how simple sensory input like a color change is not distracting from the work you are doing - our brains can actually multitask that stuff because it's sooo far on our mental backburner. So, I like color-coding. But I also recognize it's not GTD in its strictest definition. Is it a flair on GTD? Well, since I'm using it with my Inbox, Next Actions, Weekly Review, blah blah the rest of GTD, I would say yeah.

I just happen to think periodic, decisively selected scheduling of task completion on the calendar fits in the standard GTD definition ;-)

To dump this topic, I would love to discuss the theory behind the Next Actions list. Currently, I have been using my NA list as the home for every single next action for every single item I've committed to. But, I'm starting to think this leads to overwhelm and I might be better served keeping it pared to what I would like to focus on for the week and use my Weekly Review to prune this list, putting everything else in my Someday list. I struggle with this, though, because I did commit to these things; I like seeing everything I committed to in one list so I can see if I TRULY can handle taking on that other project. Thoughts? How do you guys use your Next Action/Someday lists?
 

Folke

Registered
chirmer said:
I just happen to think periodic, decisively selected scheduling of task completion on the calendar fits in the standard GTD definition ;-)

Let me just confirm that I think you have given lots of excellent examples recently (in several threads) of where even a "date avoiding" person like myself might see scheduling as the best way to deal with something. To begin with, we all agree that hard appointments and hard deadlines are definitely perfectly valid. I think we have also agreed in wide circles that some actions can also have indirect hard deadlines etc, and you have given many such examples. I think you have even given proof of lucid sophistication in how you deal with some things by both scheduling them for the "best" (optimal) timing, e.g. preparing for a meeting the same morning, while also leaving it as a possible next action that you might want to consider doing a little earlier. I am totally open for creative thinking.

chirmer said:
I would love to discuss the theory behind the Next Actions list. Currently, I have been using my NA list as the home for every single next action for every single item I've committed to. But, I'm starting to think this leads to overwhelm and I might be better served keeping it pared to what I would like to focus on for the week and use my Weekly Review to prune this list, putting everything else in my Someday list. I struggle with this, though, because I did commit to these things; I like seeing everything I committed to in one list so I can see if I TRULY can handle taking on that other project. Thoughts? How do you guys use your Next Action/Someday lists?

This has been discussed before, and I know many have no problem dumping stuff in Someday, and others don't mind having long NA lists, but:

My own take on this is that I keep only true Maybes in Someday (because I do not like to confuse maybes with less urgent nexts, and I do not like to miss chances to knock things off, if possible), but to make the NA list easier to read I color-code the NAs in three levels. The lowest level I do not routinely scan every morning, only every week, but I do see them every time I look for tasks in a given context etc - thanks to the color bar on the left they are easy enough to ignore whenever I want to. Works perfectly for me. And conversely, the highest level I see easily whenever I take a look, so I never worry about accidentally overlooking important/urgent things. This is not a "GTD" approach, but I think it tallies brilliantly with GTD, as it relies on differentiating between different review cycles, which is part of (other parts of) GTD.

For you, using Todoist, I imagine this might be difficult to implement, should you want to. Todoist does have a very neat "priority" feature with colors that would be perfect for this purpose, but I assume you need that feature for other things, such as distinguishing between Next, Waiting, Someday etc - or do you use "labels" for that?
 
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