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  • Lists are just lists, and mine is like an old salad.

    Help! I've hit a point with my GTD implementation which I can only describe as a very old salad. It goes like this:

    I buy/subscribe to an application, and through all my stuff into it. I am satisfied and feel like I have a handle on my life, although I haven't actually done anything with my list. As time progresses, new stuff arrives and I throw in this too. Meanwhile, the original stuff is becoming old and watery. The new items on top get dealt with because they're either more pressing or fresher. After a couple of weeks, my salad is layered. On top there's the current stuff, but the lower you go the list is beginning to decompose into a weird mush of data.

    By this stage, I will probably have constructed a mind map to focus on what's important, and dive into the salad and get the things I need. I find the mind map really useful to define explicitly what done looks like (sic) and focus on that.

    And at some point, I will throw the salad out, and start again. No list I have found can do the strategic stuff GTD discusses, or provides perspective and control.

    I would very much like to separate what I am working on this week: the stuff I have decided to commit to right now, from a general list of projects and actions which I own. And so I am wondering if and how others have managed that sustainably?

  • #2
    Unprocessed stuff is not actionable!

    Originally posted by danscoular View Post
    I buy/subscribe to an application, and through all my stuff into it. I am satisfied and feel like I have a handle on my life, although I haven't actually done anything with my list.
    Maybe you shouldn't throw your stuff into list but first process each item and then organize them. Unprocessed stuff is not actionable!

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    • #3
      That problem is what GTD is supposed to help you with, and it can! It sounds as if maybe part of the reason why you are experiencing trouble is that you are perhaps not reviewing the lists as you should? And as Testeq said, perhaps have not even processed the stuff.

      But I'll also offer a more controversial explanation. David Allen and many people in this forum advocate simplicity (and so do I, but I mean something different). So if you would do it in the "simple" way you just take all your bottom layers and call it Someday. And you separate all your remaining next actions by context. For me, that is too simplistic. That is how I did it 30 years ago, before there were any computers or GTD books. Now I want something more.

      When I say simple I mean something that most GTD people actually do not seem to like (for some reason). By simple I mean keep a structure with cross-references in a computerized app (not paper or a paper-emulating app).

      I keep all my projects organized under Areas of Responsibility and under Goals. As soon as I assign a task to a project it automatically gets classified/sorted in the app as belonging to the corresponding area and/or goal. This makes my weekly reviewing easy and natural - goal by goal (or area by area). It beats me why some people say this is complicated - it helps me a lot. I also put my goals and projects into sequences and/or totally inactivate those that I cannot deal with in the near future.

      I also use my task's app's "priority" feature (High, Medium, Low) for the tasks in order to more easily remember (and be able to see very quickly) how often and under what circumstances I need to look at it again. Some tasks I need to look at very often and these may even influence my next choice of context. Some tasks are normal. And some are no hurry at all, although they are firmly committed. (I use a similar priority approach also for Waiting and S/Maybe to facilitate my reviewing: review often, normal, or seldom).

      YMMV, but maybe what you need is not just more reviewing and initial processing, maybe you would enjoy implementing some more of the GTD concepts (and some of your own, too, perhaps) into your formal structure.
      Last edited by Folke; 02-18-2014, 09:11 AM.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by danscoular View Post
        I buy/subscribe to an application, and through all my stuff into it. I
        How did you process that stuff before adding it to your list?
        Did you make a conscious decision as to what was a current active project?
        Did you clarify the outcome you expect from each project?
        Did you think about what was the next logical step and only put that on your list? Or if there are several things that are independent you could choose to put them both on your lists?
        How big is your "bowl"? Do you have enough space for more "salad" or are you full and need to put the rest into the fridge for later?

        Sounds like you just grabbed some lettuce and tossed it into a bowl without washing it, sorting out the bad leaves and tearing it into bite size chunks or making sure it would all fit into your bowl of life.

        You can't treat your "salad" of stuff as a catch all for things you have not gotten ready to do.

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        • #5
          Weeding the garden

          The salad metaphor is getting a bit tired for me: I'm visualizing wilted salad greens soggy with old salad dressing. Maybe a better metaphor is the garden: it needs to be planted, fertilized, watered, weeded and harvested. You can't skip any of it and have a successful garden. You can't skip steps with GTD either: you have to collect, process, organize, review and do. Every so often I run across one of those "throw everything into one big list/journal" schemes. If it works for someone, that'a fine, but I've tried it and I think it's like living in your inbox and your trash can at the same time. Sometimes you have to weed the garden to see things clearly. That's what the weekly review does for me.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by mcogilvie View Post
            Every so often I run across one of those "throw everything into one big list/journal" schemes. If it works for someone, that'a fine, but I've tried it and I think it's like living in your inbox and your trash can at the same time. Sometimes you have to weed the garden to see things clearly. That's what the weekly review does for me.
            Love this!

            Comment

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