Why is GTD so often misinterpreted or misunderstood?

bcmyers2112

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Roger;111751 said:
I can't really say for sure, but I'd be pretty surprised if I got the chance to ask David Allen if that was okay, and he said "No, according to GTD you shouldn't be writing your wife's birthday on your calendar."
I bet divorce lawyers would love it if he did, though.
 

Folke

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Back to the original question

The first post references the lifehack article http://www.lifehack.org/articles/pr...productivity-part-3-the-trouble-with-gtd.html and then quite correctly disproves most of the allegations made therein, and I basically agree with most of the points that bcmyers is making, BUT:

The fact remains that other people, too, not just the author of the article, but also, for example, app users who express themselves on their respective app forums, often convey similar misinterpretations (and other misinterpretations that bcmyers had summarized so well in one of the deleted posts, e.g. the false notion that there can only be one next action etc etc.).

Part of the reason for all the misinterpretations is probably the effect of hearsay/rumors. I doubt that all people who express opinions have actually read even one of DA's books. Information tends to be distorted when passed along. But even so, there must have been at least some people who actually read the book and still somehow "misunderstood" it or summarized its ideas in a "skewed" way. And maybe they did not do this on purpose - maybe the text itself is not as clear and unambiguous as we all here like to think it is.

So, if we look at the article again, and bcmyers's critique of it, I think its is fair to say:

1. "it feels like business" etc: Sure, many people probably feel that way about most things that are a bit long too read, especially if it has some for of structure to it. Methodologies generally have structure. No one can legitimately criticize GTD or any other methodology for having structure, but it is understandable that a person who avoids structure will feel this way. I do not think this problem can be fixed. I am sure all the other gurus get their fair share of the same kind of criticism.

2. "No priority": Well, DA probably does deal with priority in a perhaps "reckless" way, as if it were equally obvious to others as it is to him that the word priority can mean so many different things. This has caused an enormous amount of confusion. The way that he (totally correctly) describes the relevance of priority as minimal in situations where the context, energy and time aspects are all already set seems to have caused many people to erroneously generalize that priority at all levels is irrelevant. He does speak a lot about priority at higher levels, but in a more philosophical way, whereas in the first and narrower sense he does it in am easy-to-read "cookbook" fashion where priority is only number four. And the way that he speaks (again totally correctly) against using priority based fixed sequencing of tasks has been widely misunderstood as if the importance of different things never matters at all. Although the article does not point out the real flaws accurately, I think it is fair to say that the author is on to something here. The various interpretations of DA's thoughts on priority (i.e. on importance, urgency and sequencing) are too widely dispersed.

3. "ground-up system": I think the article is quite silly in the sense that I do not believe for a second that people would dislike or misunderstand GTD because of its "do, do, do" orientation (next action etc). I think it is quite accurate, though, to describe GTD as a ground-up system. True, DA mentions all levels, but mainly sweepingly/philosophically. He focuses on the low levels and even makes the point that this is a good place to start. Most of the first book is dedicated to the practical aspects involved when somebody is trying to get himself/herself organized for the first time in their life and need to "collect" stuff from absolutely everywhere and need big dumpsters for all the trash etc. Comparatively little attention is given to detailing a structure for the higher horizons. I disagree with the article that this would be a major problem for the majority of people, though. But it could well be a major problem for advanced "geeks" and project managers and "corporate" people who are accustomed to very advanced rivaling methodologies and tools.
 

cwoodgold

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Folke;111787 said:
And the way that he speaks (again totally correctly) against using priority based fixed sequencing of tasks has been widely misunderstood as if the importance of different things never matters at all.
OK, maybe, but he doesn't speak against using priority-based sequencing of tasks. Priority is one of the aspects he advises using when deciding what to do at a given moment: he implies that given the selected (filtered) list of actions, you should do the highest-priority first.
 

Folke

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cwoodgold;111790 said:
OK, maybe, but he doesn't speak against using priority-based sequencing of tasks. Priority is one of the aspects he advises using when deciding what to do at a given moment: he implies that given the selected (filtered) list of actions, you should do the highest-priority first.
True. Priority comes as #4 (after context, energy & time) in such a given situation, and it does not need to be coded in any way (and I agree). He also says that sequencing or batching of tasks in a predetermined way (such as A, B, C), where the first group must be finished first, is no good (and again I agree; too rigid). And he often mentions priority as one of all the aspects that will determine what projects you keep active, what tasks you need to do etc (and I agree again). But, all in all, all this has made many people believe that priority (in all of its forms) generally is taboo in GTD. I am not saying they are right. I am saying that maybe DA could explain it better, perhaps define it in different ways, and describe when and how to use it in which of its definitions.
 

TesTeq

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What is the better way to explain it?

Folke;111794 said:
I am saying that maybe DA could explain it better, perhaps define it in different ways, and describe when and how to use it in which of its definitions.
What is the better way to explain it than to say:

"If you don't know what to do look at your NA lists relevant to the environment (context) that you're in, consider time available, your energy and priorities and do what gives you the best value when done and/or is most risky when not done (Kelly Forrister's questions)."
 

Folke

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TesTeq;111797 said:
What is the better way to explain it than to say:

"If you don't know what to do look at your NA lists relevant to the environment (context) that you're in, consider time available, your energy and priorities and do what gives you the best value when done and/or is most risky when not done (Kelly Forrister's questions)."
I am not sure what the best way to explain priority would be, but apparently that particular way has not quite found its way around the world. As I said earlier, it is not that I personally have any problems with it; I am trying to see it from the perspective of all those who apparently misunderstand it. As bcmyers also seems to have noticed, there appears to be some considerable variation in how people understand it - particularly in app forums, but even in this forum sometimes.

So, TesTeq, why do you believe so many people misunderstand priorities in GTD? Or are you indirectly saying that there exists a sufficiently uniform and correct interpretation among those who claim to know GTD?
 

TesTeq

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Blame GTD!

Folke;111798 said:
So, TesTeq, why do you believe so many people misunderstand priorities in GTD?
I think (and I hope it will not offend innocent) that it's all about honesty with yourself.

Some people simply don't want or don't like to think. So any system - including GTD - is an excuse for their inability to achieve goals. They want to be rich, famous, happily married, handsome but the effort to convert these dreams into real outcomes and actions is too big. Who's to blame? GTD!

Some people think they are not smart enough to decide what to do so they are drowning in preparation. They think they need to create elaborate priority systems and rankings, input it into a spreadsheet or an AI system which will automagically display: "Now you should take a shower." No GTD based software can do this? Blame GTD!

To summarize - it is not misunderstanding of priorities but lack of honesty with yourself and fear of decision-making.

And I really don't know how to teach people to be honest with themselves... :-(
 

Folke

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TesTeq;111803 said:
They think they need ... an AI system which will automagically display: "Now you should take a shower."
ROFL :mrgreen:
I, too, feel totally alienated when I hear people require features for mindless automation.

As a "natural born reviewer" I like to make the decisions myself, and be able to "see it coming", and be able to use my lists to make creative plans for the future - both near and distant.

TesTeq;111803 said:
I think (and I hope it will not offend innocent) that it's all about honesty with yourself.
...
And I really don't know how to teach people to be honest with themselves... :-(
That's probably very true. In addition, everybody is not ready for structured thinking in any form. With all these kinds of "objections" I would guess that all methodologies get "blamed" equally unjustly; I assume it depends mainly on which structured methodology the "unprepared" person has happened to have been exposed to.

But, TesTeq, among all those who apparently think quite a lot and are not dishonest or lazy, and even write about it on various forums, including this one, what would the explanation be for their widely different interpretations and opinions? Or is it your impression that among these people everyone essentially interprets the role of priority in the same way?
 

fwade

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Jump in and Duck?

I have been reading this thread, wondering if I should jump in with my very different POV... and thought I would... and then duck if necessary!

As a few have mentioned on this thread, there are many who use calendars instead of lists as their central point of coordination. I am one of them.

When I empty points of capture, I move tasks right into my calendar... knowing that I can juggle whatever is in my calendar on a given day with ease. (This wasn't possible when my calendar was on paper.)

I won't tell anyone that this is the only way, right way or best - it depends on the individual and a number of factors. I can report the benefits of this method, however, and what happened as I shifted back and forth from lists to a schedule, back to lists before finally settling on a schedule. Whew! That only took about 14 years...

There's also academic research that shows the benefit of daily scheduling (which I'm glad to share) and the anecdotal evidence that there's a good reason George Bush (and I believe Barack Obama) schedule their days in 15 minute increments. And why many college students use detailed schedules. Presidents and college students are both extremely time-pressed... Also, many people who keep lists construct a mental calendar each morning of what they plan to do that day. Keeping it mental works for some, but for others, it doesn't... especially when the juggling game starts... which happens whether there's a written calendar or not.)

However, to repeat what I said before... using a schedule isn't the only, right or best way. It's just one way.

An overall principle does seem to obtain: I have observed that regardless of the predominant method chosen, an individual needs to carefully balance their schedules and lists. That holds true for the number of tasks in both places as well as the specific practices needed to maintain both storage "locations."

But back to the purpose of the thread: "Why is GTD so often misinterpreted and misunderstood?" I think it happen sometimes because some users try to get GTD (and their system of choice) to take responsibility for their success/failures. Instead, there needs to be much more a focus on what works for them as individuals, and the best way to discover this is through ongoing experimentation, given our idiosyncratic nature.

Remarkable: over at the www.psychowith6.com blog, Melanie Wilson (a psychologist,) is spending the year experimenting with one productivity technique per week. I'd love to see more people with her courage (let alone stamina) reporting from direct experience... or at least the research data generated by others.) It would give us all a lot more concrete data to work with!

Francis... tell me when to duck...
 

TesTeq

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"Delayed prioritization" concept.

Folke;111804 said:
Or is it your impression that among these people everyone essentially interprets the role of priority in the same way?
I think everybody understands the concept of prioritization in the same way. But GTD is based on the "delayed prioritization" concept. It seems awkward and even contradictory to a common sense (what am I saying!) to delay it to the "cranking widgets - no thinking required" phase. Common sense tells us that priorities should be assigned to Projects and Next Actions during the Processing phase. But these fixed priorities often must be changed because of current circumstances so I understand why David Allen is against it. Of course it is not comfortable for unprepared...
 

TesTeq

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Calendar instead of lists.

fwade;111811 said:
As a few have mentioned on this thread, there are many who use calendars instead of lists as their central point of coordination. I am one of them.
This idea comes back to me regularly. I try and I always end up with a huge backlog from the last week to be moved forward...

fwade;111811 said:
(and I believe Barack Obama) schedule their days in 15 minute increments.
Aren't basketball matches scheduled similarily? ;-)
 

Gardener

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TesTeq;111822 said:
I think everybody understands the concept of prioritization in the same way. But GTD is based on the "delayed prioritization" concept. It seems awkward and even contradictory to a common sense (what am I saying!) to delay it to the "cranking widgets - no thinking required" phase. Common sense tells us that priorities should be assigned to Projects and Next Actions during the Processing phase. But these fixed priorities often must be changed because of current circumstances so I understand why David Allen is against it. Of course it is not comfortable for unprepared...
I would say that prioritization is also included in processing, as a major part of the decisionmaking that makes some projects active and sends others to Someday/Maybe. I could argue that with sufficient use of Someday/Maybe, and after appropriate realistic trimming of one's commitments, everything remaining *is* a priority that should be worked on, and that workload should be doable, so the decision of which task to pick up right this minute shouldn't have priority as a major deciding factor.

I don't know if I do argue that, but I could. :)
 

fwade

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Backlog!

TesTeq;111823 said:
This idea comes back to me regularly. I try and I always end up with a huge backlog from the last week to be moved forward... Aren't basketball matches scheduled similarily? ;-)
I have come to think that this in inevitable... yesterday I ended up with a backlog after I discovered that a key part of my website wasn't working. Bam. 3 hours required. Just like that.

Many who use lists (and argue against others using schedules) predict that I should feel guilty, stressed, or annoyed as I reconfigure my schedule, but that's not necessary. It's just life. Like anyone else, I just change my plans around.

You see, I discovered that with or without a schedule... when I lie in bed in the morning, my mind constructs a mental calendar of what my day will look like. I think this is only natural for those who are time-constrained.

As I lay in bed waiting for my body to wake up, I consider the following:
- what do I need to get done today?
- how much time do I have?
- how long will each item take?

I start constructing a mental calendar - automatically.

The difference comes in the next step - I spend time that morning putting together what I hope is a realistic calendar, and not give into the planning fallacy (our tendency to be over-optimistic.) Then I see what happens. During the day, I am able to juggle it more easily than ever before thanks to improved mobile technology.

Point is... I have discovered that it's easier for me to juggle this calendar if it's electronic, and displayed in front of me - than if I skipped over this step and kept it mental.

To elaborate on TesTeq's experience - success at this approach requires a number of new practices, such as juggling, planning, task estimating and responding to prompts. Most people won't succeed at first for a number of reasons - but the skill can be taught and learned if broken down, supported and converted into new habit patterns.

Why go through the pain? Because there's tantalizing (but not conclusive or exhaustive) evidence that this approach allows someone who is extremely time-starved to do better than they'd do with lists. We can discuss this further, if interested. It happens to match my experience.

Francis... still ducking a bit... LOL
 

Folke

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Priorities summarized

Wow! A lot of very interesting posts here both about priorities and about scheduling. Too much for me to comment on in one go, so I'll start with priorities. It is quite apparent that we (and DA) are using the word priority in a lot of different senses, and sometimes are using entirely different terms when in fact we could equally well have used the word priority.

Let me try to summarize it all. But before I do, let me suggest that we leave causal sequencing (hard priorities) out of the discussion, e.g "raise ladder", followed by "climb ladder". Although we probably have different opinions about whether such causal dependencies should be "coded" or not, I believe there is no fundamental disagreement whatsoever that "raise ladder" needs to be completed first - prior to "climb ladder".

OK, then, this is what we have got (please correct me if I am wrong):

Fact 1: DA/GTD, and I believe the vast majority of GTD followers, favor what TesTeq calls "delayed prioritization" when already in a given context, e.g. if while doing errands we find that we still have some time; we look at our Next actions (Errands Context) and decide right there and then what additional errands to do and in what order. No one really needs any predetermined coding for this, nor would it be meaningful or possible, I believe. In other words, prioritization in terms of task selection and task sequencing is decided on the fly. This choice, however, is often influenced by other prioritization factors such as importance and urgency, which are often quite stable, but which may "drown" among temporary contextual factors such as distance to next shop.

Fact 2: DA/GTD advises strongly against "ABC" prioritization of tasks, in other words against deciding in advance that you will do the A tasks before even considering to do the B tasks.

Fact 3: DA/GTD emphasizes the need for keeping only a reasonable number of projects active. This is, in fact, is an "AB" type prioritizatation, but at the project level, just as Gardener points out.

Fact 4: DA/GTD indicates that Someday/Maybe can be used for many things. It can be used for "true Maybes", i.e. things that you are not sure you would do even if you had nothing else to do (and this is how I use it). DA also seems to indicate that you can put things there if you deem it unlikely that you will do it in the near future. This is, in fact, another instance of a "AB" prioritization, just as Gardener points out.

In a way, you could say that if the C tasks are the "Maybe" tasks, and if the A tasks are the "definitely quite soon" tasks, and if the B tasks are the "definitely but no rush" tasks, then the only question is where the B tasks should be tracked - as Next or as Someday. I keep them as Next. Many others keep them as Someday. I am not quite sure how to interpret DA's own recommendation.

So all in all, I think it is reasonably clear that DA clearly condones and even recommends "AB" prioritization (phasing), definitely at levels above the runway, but sometimes even at the runway level (using Someday, not the letter B, for the "low priority" tasks). And he speaks clearly against coded priorities for typical spur-of-the-moment "context scenarios".

I do not recall DA mentioning in any "methodological" terms how to use priority in the sense of importance and urgency when looking ahead at the rest of the day (or couple of days) for which contexts you will choose to set yourself up, e.g will you plan to go on an errand run, or will you go and spend the rest of the day at office2 etc. He often mentions more generally that you must always consider what is important, but does not detail how these considerations should influence your choice of context. But he does mention, I think, that you must look at your calendar before choosing additional tasks (based on the context of the calendar actions).

For me it is no wonder at all that there is quite some confusion about GTD's priorities. The only reason that I do not feel confused - only amused or rather a bit disappointed - is the fact that I'll only do what I personally have concluded is the best way known to me so far ;-)
 

bcmyers2112

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I had chewed on this a bit and had decided I'd asked the wrong question. I mean, people can and often do misunderstand anything and everything. The reasons are as plentiful as there are people.

With all due respect to Folke I don't think DA was "reckless" with the use of the word "priority." The word has an established definition already. The question isn't how to define "priority" but how to determine what one's priorities are. Getting Things Done is unambiguous about that issue: the best way to do so is intuitively, each time you review your lists, but grounded in an understanding of your roles, goals, and life's purpose.

I think a better question to ask is, "Why do people insist on complicating GTD?" TesTeq beat me to it with the answer I'd've offered.

Ultimately it all comes down to this: if you want to get things done you have to do things. Talk to someone. Send an email. Write the next paragraph of your novel. Draw a preliminary sketch for your painting. Calculate pricing for a sales proposal. Pound a nail into that block of wood. Create a spreadsheet with budget estimates for the coming fiscal year.

DO. SOMETHING.

Again, with all due respect to Folke and others: projects, roles, goals, etc. are all there to serve as triggers for actions. Priorities shift like desert sands in a sandstorm. If you are overly concerned with what HOF a particular action is tied to or trying to force priority codes ahead of time you are distracting yourself from being fully present in the moment as you perform that action.

I've got a leaky toilet at home. I need to make sales because that's my job. I am toying with the idea that my artistic aspirations are more important to me than I used to tell myself. Those can all be tied into manifold levels of thinking. But ultimately it comes down to this: I need to order a part for that damn toilet; I need to call a client to get her reaction to my latest proposal; and if I want do determine how good I am as a writer of fiction or an illustrator I can go online and sign up for some classes to build my skills. At the moment where the rubber meets the road I don't want to be thinking about anything but the action to take and do it as well as I can, by being as present in that moment as I can. Not because DA said so but because I've found I do my best work when I'm in that zone, and when I'm not I don't.

It's that simple.
 

bcmyers2112

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fwade;111825 said:
Many who use lists (and argue against others using schedules) predict that I should feel guilty, stressed, or annoyed as I reconfigure my schedule, but that's not necessary.
You are using lists, though. You list your actions in your calendar. By your own admission, this forces you to spend time re-arranging your lists on your calendar. I don't see the efficiency to be gained in arbitrarily scheduling.

I wouldn't worry about ducking by the way. I don't think most of us have the inclination or energy to verbally attack someone just because they disagree.
 

Folke

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bcmyers2112;111857 said:
Getting Things Done is unambiguous about that issue: the best way to do so is intuitively, each time you review your lists, but grounded in an understanding of your roles, goals, and life's purpose.
Yes, this is what TesTeq and I both said, too. And it applies to the runway level only, within a given situation (context, energy etc). This is where it makes sense to use this kind of "dynamic" prioritization.

DA does point out very clearly, though, that already at the next higher level, the 10k level, prioritization is essential - he usually uses the word "active" for the prioritized projects. And that kind of prioritization, at that level and above, is very well grounded in common sense and tradition. At the higher levels you simply cannot twist and turn just because your energy varies etc. It would not make sense. You may have tied up capital, credibility and all kinds of things starting a mussel farm, and most likely cannot switch halfway and start to build a gym - not even if you have the firm intention to do both of those in due course. It is only at the runway level, within given situations, that dynamically shifting prioritization has a major role to play as a means to accomplish more efficient "batching" of tasks (It reduces the "cost" of unnecessary context switching.) (Of course you can change your mind even about the higher level prioritizations, but that usually comes at a "cost" and is usually best avoided unless you discover that a particular avenue was a bad choice etc.)

I hope it is not me you are referring to when you are asking why people insist on complicating GTD. Be that as it may, though. I am mainly to trying to clarify it to those who are not equally cocksure as you or I ;-)

I believe maybe I have discovered yet another reason why GTD is often misunderstood. Some people probably use the two lower levels only - short-term minor projects and actions. Others are trying to incorporate longer-term projects and goals, too (higher levels). When these two categories of people compare impressions it is no wonder if they understand things a bit differently and have different requirements. Is it possible that this difference might apply to you and me?

As I said, I am not confused at all about how I myself will deal with priorities. I do as I hinted above. I keep it totally dynamic at the task level. I keep it as firm and steady as possible (but not carved in stone) at the projects and goals levels.

At the unnamed level in between these, where I choose a suitable context to spend the morning or afternoon etc., I use a kind of "attention flagging" which is neither directly GTD nor any other methodology. It is my own invention, but definitely aligned with the GTD spirit of reviewing and making dynamic decisions. Before I even choose a context to be in next, I always look both at my calendar (for appointments etc) and at my consolidated Next list for flagged next actions. Based on what I see I will intuitively select a context to put myself in (or remain in), and based on that choice I will then select the actual actions intuitively within that context. I usually review my choice of context a few times a day, and check flagged next actions each time.
 

Folke

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Calendars

fwade;111811 said:
As a few have mentioned on this thread, there are many who use calendars instead of lists as their central point of coordination. I am one of them.

When I empty points of capture, I move tasks right into my calendar... knowing that I can juggle whatever is in my calendar on a given day with ease. (This wasn't possible when my calendar was on paper.)
Although I personally avoid "subjective" dates, and always have, I have full respect for your choice. I suppose the majority of people do like you do, and I suspect it is because it is what works best for them. Well, in some cases maybe they have not realized that there is an alternative, due to the heavy touting of the "put-it-on-the-calendar" philosophy that we are exposed to most of the time from other gurus, but I believe that for you and many others it has been a conscious choice. And there is nothing wrong with it. It gets more and more "accurate" the more stable your personality and life/work conditions are, and, as you say, it is easy enough to shuffle stuff around if you have electronic tools. But personally I have no use for it.

What really beats me, though, is why time planners do not make the distinction between "hard" and "soft". One of all the disadvantages I can see with time scheduling is the fact that you cannot see any difference between those tasks that you can juggle as you please (soft; non-GTD) and those that you would need to renegotiate (hard; GTD). The real ones drown among all the phonies, as it were. In electronic apps for time scheduling they ought to use two different calendars with different colors, and for the soft calendar they could even have more convenient reshuffling features, such as move all soft events forward one day while avoiding time slots that are hard scheduled. Since I do not use soft scheduling at all I do not need this myself, but I find it quite remarkable that this never comes up as a request in the forums of generic time planning apps. (Lucky for them I am not a time planner ;-) )

fwade;111811 said:
Also, many people who keep lists construct a mental calendar each morning of what they plan to do that day. Keeping it mental works for some, but for others, it doesn't... especially when the juggling game starts... which happens whether there's a written calendar or not.)
I do something similar, but perhaps a "tentative written picture" rather than a "calendar" with exact times etc. The last few apps I have used all have had a Star, which allows me to make a tentative selection of tasks from all over the Next list(s). This gives me a tentative written picture, but without exact times. I never enter task duration - too fiddly and inaccurate for me, and even the selection of tasks is not carved in stone - if I get tired or unexpectedly need to move to another context I will simply un-star many and select other tasks. The Starred list always does represent my latest tentative choice, though.

fwade;111811 said:
But back to the purpose of the thread: "Why is GTD so often misinterpreted and misunderstood?" I think it happen sometimes because some users try to get GTD (and their system of choice) to take responsibility for their success/failures.
I think you may well have a valid point there. A good illustration might perhaps be all those "bandwagon" allusions we always get to hear. Everyone is responsible for creating his/her own system. If they use GTD to some extent, or to a large extent, is fine. But the choice is each person's own. It is probably good to be a bit eclectic. I would advise people never to blindly follow other people's advice ;-)
 

AJS

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Folke;111864 said:
What really beats me, though, is why time planners do not make the distinction between "hard" and "soft". One of all the disadvantages I can see with time scheduling is the fact that you cannot see any difference between those tasks that you can juggle as you please (soft; non-GTD) and those that you would need to renegotiate (hard; GTD). The real ones drown among all the phonies, as it were. In electronic apps for time scheduling they ought to use two different calendars with different colors, and for the soft calendar they could even have more convenient reshuffling features, such as move all soft events forward one day while avoiding time slots that are hard scheduled. Since I do not use soft scheduling at all I do not need this myself, but I find it quite remarkable that this never comes up as a request in the forums of generic time planning apps. (Lucky for them I am not a time planner ;-) )
You could use either Google Calendar or Outlook to display soft tasks in a separate window while keeping the hard landscape calendar in the main view. Both support different list views undated if you want to view tasks next to your calendar. I understand where fwade is coming from. These days most electronic calendars allow you to create as many calendars as you like so they could be based around location, role or project if you like. One click is all it takes to display or hide the relevant context, then you can drag to arrange or rearrange according to your needs. The advantage would be you could see all tasks and calendars in one cockpit view which makes it easier to judge the merits of one against the other.

From what I've seen most electronic task apps these days are moving far beyond the basic GTD concept of simple lists to becoming mini project management tools in their own right and that's the only way they can command a paying customer base.
 

fwade

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Is a Schedule really a List?

bcmyers2112;111858 said:
You are using lists, though. You list your actions in your calendar. By your own admission, this forces you to spend time re-arranging your lists on your calendar. I don't see the efficiency to be gained in arbitrarily scheduling.
bcymers - of course, you are absolutely right. A schedule is nothing more than a fancy list. In other words, it's a list of tasks, each of which have been tagged with a particular attribute: start time/date and duration (at the very least.)

(By the same token, a list is nothing more than a schedule with the dates removed!)

To take that thinking further, time is a particular kind of context. A temporal context.

I won't try to prove that there's something to be gained from "arbitrarily scheduling...", but as I mentioned later, people do it all the time - just not on paper.

Let's a take an everyday example: At 11am your boss wanders into your office and asks, what do you plan to work on this afternoon?

Most people don't say "I have no idea, it depends on what I choose from my list at the time." This might be because they don't want to appear to be inefficient. But it's more likely that they'd give a definitive answer such as: "The Penske File" because earlier that morning they created a mental plan of the work they decided to do. A mental schedule, in other words.

If their boss responds with "Can you take 2 hours away from working on the Penske file and work on something else I want you to do?... But I still need that Penske report done by Thursday."

Now you have to make a snap judgement based on you mental calendar for the next few days.

One small efficiency to be gained is that it's far easier to tell your boss "Let me check my calendar" than it is to consult your memory.

I have found that it's stressful to maintain a mental calendar.

Small example. With more time and space, I could share some others, I imagine. i'm not trying to prove that one method trumps the other (Lists vs. Schedules), BTW, just that there are efficiencies I have discovered from my first-hand experience of both that aren't discussed.

This all makes me wonder where particular spatial contexts come from in the first place, such as @Errands.
 
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