What to do with things I'm not doing right now, but are not "someday/maybe"

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss the GTD Methodology' started by Misha Glouberman, Sep 21, 2018.

  1. Misha Glouberman

    Misha Glouberman Registered

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    I find my list of projects and, especially, my list of next actions, gets very long because of a couple of things:

    Contexts don't seem to help much for me. I work from home, mostly at my desk. I feel like 95% of the items I have to do are things I can do when I'm home at my desk. @computeer, @phone, @desk, @home are all sort of the same context.

    More importantly (i think): When I look at my lists, it seems like what I really want to to is separate out all the stuff I'm probably not going to do in the next week or so, and put it in another list. As an example: I should probably get a haircut in the next few weeks. But this week I'm really busy, and so I know I'm not going to get my haircut this week. I find that seeing "get a haircut" (and 50 other things I l know I'm not going to do this week) on my next actions list makes it hard to me to stay organized and focused.

    I feel like "Get a haircut" isn't a "someday/maybe item". It's something I'm going to do for sure Probably in the not-too-distant future. Just not right now. So I'm not sure what to do with it. But having a million items like that really clutters up my lists.

    Do other people have this problem? Do they have good solutions?

    I'm tempted to use time as a kind of context. Like a "can wait till next week" context. Have others tried that? Is there some other solution?
     
  2. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    You don’t mention your list tool, but that does play a role. However, here are some ideas.
    • Defer things like "get a haircut?" to next week via a tickler system. Mine is digital.
    • Schedule your haircut and other activities.
    • Break up your longer lists like @computer so that there is more clarity. I break out email & web tasks.
    • Experiment with some simple way to mark crucial next actions, or try putting them on a "Today” list.
    • Get used to long lists. Your next actions are your next actions, and sometimes there is a lot of them.
    • Look for stuff to drop, erase, kill.
    • Delegate down, up and sideways.
    • Are there things on your list that you would pay someone else do?
    Not a comprehensive list, but things to try.
     
  3. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    First off I'd suggest you broaden your view of contexts. While the ones you mention are a good starting point, when you live and work in the same place the context lists can get very large and even someone like me, who thrives on long lists of next actions, can get overwhelmed. Consider making your contexts more finely tuned. @ Computer becomes @LibreOffice, @LightRoom, @Photoshop etc. I have boht inside and outside work to do so I split @Home into @Inside by Myse;f and @Outside by myself. I sometimes need help to do actions so I also have @Inside with Help and @outside with help. We have 2 barns and a guest house and I have a workshop where I weave and sew. I have contexts for each of those locations even though they are all within an easy walking distance.

    It is absolutely a someday/maybe Item. Expand what that means. Someday can be the bucket list I may never do it things but can also be the got to do but not this week things and everythign in between. Now you may want a separate list for those but I've got a few other suggestions.

    First off I like long lists and I work from home. I currently have 34 different contexts. That helps limit what's on each list . I like them to be no longer than 1 screen full on my main computer where possible.

    For the example you list, a haircut you need to do soon but not this week. Do you have to make an appointment to go get your hair cut? I do, and yes it seems overkill but I have a recurring project that starts again 6 weeks after I get my haircut to call the hairdresser for an appointment. That's because she usually is booked up for 2 weeks and I generally like to get my hair done about every 8 weeks. I won't even see those things until then. If you can just walk into a place and get your haircut and during this weekly review you decide you can't get to it this week at all I'd personally just put a start date on that action item for next week when I think I might be able to deal with it after reviewing my calendar. I use an electronic system that allows start dates and hides actions and projects until that date. If I used a paper system I'd write a note "Go get haircut" and put it in my paper tickler file for the first date I could possibly see myself doing it.

    It sounds like you prefer short lists of only this week things. That's fine, but then that means you need to easily be able to move things into and out of your Someday/Maybe system. Whether you temporarily put a project on hold or move the entire thing and all its support data into a new place is more based on how you keep your lists but you should feel comfortable moving actions and projects in and out easily. If its not easy and effortless with your current system then figure out how to make it simpler.

    If your lists are cluttered with simple easy things and you feel like you are spending all your time doing them and never get to the important stuff that is not urgent, look at whether you can outsource some of the work you are doing. Maybe a housekeeper, maybe you contract a company to come pick up the backlog of papers to shred because you haven't had a chance to investigate where to get a new shredder or what kind to buy and they are just piling up. Maybe you need to hire a gardener to take care of the lawn and yard even just temporarily. Look at your situation and see if you can stop doing some of the things that you really don't need to do.

    Maybe your lists are long because you really don't ever want to do those things but feel guilty about them. Re-evaluate them and make a clean clear decision. Call the organization you promised to help with a future event and say that you are sorry but now you really cannot do that and help them find a replacement. Decide that no you are not in fact ever going to read all the neat articles you saved from the Internet and just delete them all. Decide that you did not in fact really want to learn how to do needlepoint and get rid of the half finished project and all the materials that go into it. If you still need needlepointed covers for chairs then hire someone who loves to do the work to make them for you.

    Maybe it's a problem with dealing with backlog. Put all of your e-mails older than say a week or month into a special folder and figure that over time you can deal with them slowly. Agree with yourself that the pile of boxes of papers and stuff you inherited is going to take time to handle and plan on dealing with only 1 box or folder over some period of time, maybe a box a month.

    And maybe you just need to cut yourself some slack and realize that you willnever get everything done on your lists because even if you complete allthe current things on them new things will show up and be added. There is never going to be a magical moment when sudenly you have nothing to do. So you might as well get used to the fact that GTD is a process for helping you handle the influx of need/want to do things and you get to decide how to throttle the flow to meet your goals and long term vision for your life.
     
  4. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    And mcogilvie said the same things much more succintly than I did. :)
     
  5. Misha Glouberman

    Misha Glouberman Registered

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    Thanks! This is all tremendously helpful!! Here's One specific question:

    Oh! That sounds like a dream. I'd love to be able to use that as a sort of "snooze" button: To quickly go through projects and next actions and say "okay, system, hide that from me for a week". That seems amazing. What tool are you using?
     
  6. RS356

    RS356 Registered

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    This works for me. I use my someday/maybe list as a catch-all for everything I don't plan to do in the next week. I can always reprioritize and bring things onto my active projects list during my weekly review. I'm comfortable putting things here because I know I'll see them again in the near future. A tickler file serves much the same purpose: separating the active from the inactive.

    I'm reminded of something David mentioned regarding what needs to be tracked (and I'm paraphrasing here): you don't need to keep a placeholder for the things the universe will remind you of. Being out of socks will be enough of a reminder that you need to do laundry :) This simple principle helps with the overwhelm. For me, the purpose of GTD isn't to track a ton of items, but to be confident that I'll be reminded of my commitments at the appropriate time and place.
     
  7. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    Oogje is using OmniFocus and I am using Things, and they actually are amazing tools. When I decide to defer scheduling my haircut to next week, it reappears on my chosen date in its regular place (it's a recurring action) and on a special "Today" list marked as starting today. OmniFocus and Things run on iOS and Macs, not on Androids or PC's. Nirvana is similar to Things, though, and runs on more platforms.
     
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  8. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    Omnifocus on Mac, iPad and iPhone. That way I have my lists no matter where I am.
     
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  9. Longstreet

    Longstreet Registered

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    I use Nirvana. It too has iOS and Android apps so my lists are with me at all times.
     
  10. Misha Glouberman

    Misha Glouberman Registered

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    Thanks!! This is all super-helpful!! I had thought of the "someday/maybe" list as a list for daydreams and things in the distant future. Thinking of it as a catch-all for everything I don't seriously intend to do in the next week or so is a big shift!

    The thing I just did was this:

    I went through my long next-action list, which was a google doc, around 6 pages long. I took out everything i realistically don't plan to do in the next couple of weeks. I put all that in someday/maybe. Now my next-action list is super-manageable!! This feels like magic! The other stuff is still there (I'm pretty good about doing weekly reviews, during which I do check my someday/maybe list) so I don't have to worry about it. But I also don't have to look at it all the time. Amazing!!!! What a small step for such a great difference in clarity and focus!

    (Things I want to do next are: Get a little more disciplined about separating projects from next actions, think about switching to an app like NirvanaHQ, and maybe see if I can make better use of contexts....)

    Thanks so much!!
     
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  11. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    I schedule my next haircut weeks ahead - just after leaving my barber...
     
  12. AFG

    AFG Registered

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    Yeah, the tool certainly affects the system.

    I use OneNote. Per the GTD setup Guide, I use OneNote Sections for each context:
    • Agendas
    • Anywhere
    • Calls
    • Computer
    • Errands
    • Home
    • Office
    • Waiting For
    • and lists for Projects and Someday Maybe
    In OneNote 2016 the Sections appear as horizontal tabs. On my big, 30", landscape mode moniotor, I can see the horizontal tabs for all of this standard list of GTD contexts. But I flank the 30" monitor with two 24" monitors in portrait mode. On that monitor the horizontal tabs list gets cut off halfway across - i,e. I can only see circa 5 tabs, depending on how long the names are. I have to resort to sorting the tabs, clicking the ..., or using section groups.

    In the OneNote table app, the section tabs are arranged vertically, so I can see them all on most monitors. But the OneNote tablet app has other limitations.

    PLEASE: if you are programming such an app, make it possible to have both horizontal and vertical tabs. For everything.
     
  13. John Ismyname

    John Ismyname Registered

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    Consider reducing and re-aranging your contexts.
    @Computer - call it an @iPad or @laptop, if its a desktop computer, then it's part of your @deskjet
    @phone, if its a landline, then it's @home, if its a celphone then it is @anywhere
    This is what I do in MS-Outlook, you may be able adapt this to your platform. I have divided the three levels of Outlook tasks as follows;
    high - things that I am COMMITTED to do today. (GTD favours the calendar not that task list so this is a deviotion on my part.)
    low - my @ context list, each @ has its own Outlook category, Outlook sorts by these categories
    medium - things I would LIKE to do this week.

    In Outlook, I can hide all of my tasks until each item's start date in on or before today and turn red if it's due date comes and its incomplete.

    A haircut is a great example.

    I have a re-ocurring Outlook task called "haircut". This is a low priority task in my @Errands list. It automatically regenerates 30 days after I mark it complete in Outlook with a due date seven days after. I ignored that this month.

    Thus, I 'promoted' this two a medium priority aka "this week" task ... last week.I ignored it again.

    I really need to get a haircut before a meeting Thursday so it goes on my high priority list for tomorow. I have to be in visinity of my barber tomorrow and I have a time window of 90 minutes for a 20 minute haircut. I'll use the extra time for reading or @laptop.



    It's something I'm going to do for sure Probably in the not-too-distant future. Just not right now. So I'm not sure what to do with it. But having a million items like that really clutters up my lists.
    [/QUOTE]
    That's what the @ lists are for. The clutter sits there until you are in the context to get it done...or you decide not to do it, or delegate it, or move it forward, which is your next point.


    "If not now, then when?" - Hillel

    My rule is that if I am going to defer an @ context item, I am going to "promote" it to medium or high priority task or assign a specific date/time in an appointment. If I don't do this, I feel like I am procrastinating by saying to myself "I'll do this later". If I "promote" this low priority task, I am not procrastinating - I am committing to do it on a specific date.
     
  14. Misha Glouberman

    Misha Glouberman Registered

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    I've started using Nirvana. It lets me put start dates on projects like Oogiem said.

    Maybe even more salient to my question: It has a "later" list. Their definition: " Not technically part of GTD®, this optional list serves as a middle ground between Next and Someday."

    That is, I think, the thing I've been looking for! I think I'll try it out and see how it goes. I'm sure there's some good reason that it isn't part of the official GTD system, but maybe it'll work for me...
     
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  15. Longstreet

    Longstreet Registered

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    Yes! I love the "Later" list in Nirvana! :D
     

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