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Uniterrupted time or rapid change of focus?

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  • Uniterrupted time or rapid change of focus?

    Recently I was reading a psychology book. I found somewhere in the book a statement that our psych system prefers to have stability and focus. It was said that we need an uninterruptable focus for at least 1 hour to feel not stressed. Now, my GTD system has 16 projects with 55 next actions. They are different and usually not to big (2 to 20 minutes). It assumes my psyche has to change the focus every 2 minutes. It makes me feel nervous. Plus if I follow the priority when choosing an action then I have to change contexts that doubles the stress.

    Can we say that batching actions leads to more focused work? Do you batch calls, computer actions etc or follow the priority indespite of contexts? What's the best way to DO?

  • #2
    minimum change of focus, without forgetting priorities....

    Originally posted by tychinin View Post

    Can we say that batching actions leads to more focused work? Do you batch calls, computer actions etc or follow the priority indespite of contexts? What's the best way to DO?
    batching is one of the advantages of working with contexts... you get in the mood in a certain context, and it gets more easy to finish some different actions. For example: you start filling out a form, it takes you some time, but when you have to fill out 5 forms, you get in the flow, and it becomes more easy. One form might take you 5 minutes, but 5 forms usually won't take 25 minutes, but maybe only 20, so there is a win in the focus.

    On the other hand, you do have to take priority into account. So what I do is look at priority, and then at context. So maybe the result would be that I don't fill out the 5 forms, if two are only needed next month, but I do fill out the 3 I need done by tomorrow in one shot.

    And when I'm in the (rare) position that I'm not working against deadlines, then yes, I might just go for "filling out 5 forms" and be happy with myself, because I didn't wait for the deadline next month and I got that work done now. I'm starting to realize that it is in those moments that I truly benefit from GTD, because by doing this, I get those 10 minutes next month that I might need for something urgent then. Or for something not so urgent

    By the way: if I'm working during 1 hour, I consider that as "focus", even when during that hour I perform 20 different NA's.

    Myriam

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    • #3
      Why do you have to change your focus every 2 minutes when you have 20 minute NAs?

      Originally posted by tychinin View Post
      Now, my GTD system has 16 projects with 55 next actions. They are different and usually not to big (2 to 20 minutes). It assumes my psyche has to change the focus every 2 minutes.
      Why do you have to change your focus every 2 minutes when you have 20 minute Next Actions?

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      • #4
        scheduled focus time

        I think it depends on your job and what you are doing as well as your work style. My job entails drafting very complex documents and governmental filings and research (including the Federal code and CFRs and that always requires a double cappichino) that require a set aside time of complete attention. I need to block out two hour blocks for concentrated work. When I don't do this I am always stressed.
        Last edited by Mardo; 11-06-2010, 04:52 PM. Reason: typo

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        • #5
          Testeq, i meant i had to change focus every 2 miniutes for 2 minutes NAs, of course. Actually 70% of my NAs are 2-3 minutes actions that lead to meetings (call to setup a meeting). My psyche prefers to complete one project instead of doing lots of NAs and not completing any project.

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          • #6
            global vision

            I think gtd can allow us to keep the global vision and choose what we need to do and what we don't. So,if we can get what we choose this is fine even if the method is slightly different but in the mean time a method could give us incredible benefits.

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            • #7
              Sometimes I work out of my Context action list and sometimes out of a specific Project's action list. I let myself make that decision in the moment or when planning the day.

              I also split my main ( at Mac laptop ) context into Mac100, Mac25 and Mac5 contexts, for the minutes the task may take. ( These chunks are loosely based on the Pomodoro Technique, which I think may also be relevant to your question.)
              Then I can choose a 100 for focused effort and then work through some 5s when I'm more tired and want some quick wins.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by pxt View Post
                I also split my main ( at Mac laptop ) context into Mac100, Mac25 and Mac5 contexts, for the minutes the task may take. ( These chunks are loosely based on the Pomodoro Technique, which I think may also be relevant to your question.)
                That's an interesting idea. The other thing I could say is that actually it's a fact of life, and of knowledge work, that most of us just don't have the luxury of uniterrupted time that often. So regardless of whether our brain prefers it, we're not going to get it. Where GTD is a proven win is in being able in the heat of the moment, with a 15 min slot of time to be able to do the best job of selecting a task to work on that is relevant to higher life goals. Because our stuff is broken both into context and next action it's much easier to make the right choice. I do like the idea of having a context appropriate to estimate length of time. Good idea that. I'm particularly interested in Pomodoro and GTD interactions... watch this space
                Then I can choose a 100 for focused effort and then work through some 5s when I'm more tired and want some quick wins.

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                • #9
                  I still don't understand.

                  Originally posted by tychinin View Post
                  Testeq, i meant i had to change focus every 2 miniutes for 2 minutes NAs, of course. Actually 70% of my NAs are 2-3 minutes actions that lead to meetings (call to setup a meeting). My psyche prefers to complete one project instead of doing lots of NAs and not completing any project.
                  I still don't understand. If a meeting is a Project you are making a call to setup a meeting and if there is nothing to do in this Project you move on to another Project. You have to switch your focus or relax.

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                  • #10
                    Testeq, sure I change projects. The problem is I want to spend more time in a single project instead of constant change of contexts or next actions for different projects.

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                    • #11
                      if you feel like working on a specific project, then just do so...

                      staying in one context is supposed to be a help, not a constraint... the goal is not to stay in one context no matter what, of course you can continue working on one project if that's what you feel like doing!

                      For example: you are working in the @call context, and make a call to schedule a meeting. On the phone you promise this person you will be meeting to send him a confirmation mail... now you have a choice. Either you continue working on this project and make up a draft agenda fors this meeting and send the mail, ... or... you can write down on your @mail list "send confirmation" and continue making other phone calls.

                      Please do whatever you feel best with!

                      Myriam

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by tychinin View Post
                        Testeq, i meant i had to change focus every 2 miniutes for 2 minutes NAs, of course. Actually 70% of my NAs are 2-3 minutes actions that lead to meetings (call to setup a meeting). My psyche prefers to complete one project instead of doing lots of NAs and not completing any project.
                        Why have you got 2-3 minute actions on you're lists? That in itself is a cause of stress, (been there more than enough times!) By writing these down you are cluttering your lists and, dare I say it, procrastinating by deferring something that could be done there and then.

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                        • #13
                          Those 2-3 minutes actions appeared on my lists after Defining. I have only 1 hour daily to process all the inputs so I prefer not to do during this uninterrupted block of time not to loose the tempo. Otherwise I can remain with unprossesed stuff.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by tychinin View Post
                            Can we say that batching actions leads to more focused work?
                            We could, but it starts to become a bit tautological -- if you decide to do a whole batch of phone calls, then sure, you're focused on phone calls. If you decide to do a whole batch of work related to the Bloggins project, then sure, you're focused on the Bloggins project.

                            What's the best way to DO?
                            When it comes to your real-time, plow-through, get-it-done workday, how do you decide what to do at any given point? As I've said, my simple answer is, trust your heart. Or your spirit. Or, if you're allergic to those kinds of words, try these: your gut, the seat of your pants, your intuition.
                            -- Getting Things Done

                            Cheers,
                            Roger

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by tychinin View Post
                              Those 2-3 minutes actions appeared on my lists after Defining. I have only 1 hour daily to process all the inputs so I prefer not to do during this uninterrupted block of time not to loose the tempo. Otherwise I can remain with unprossesed stuff.
                              Your really going to have to find more time. It sounds like you have far to much on your plate and you'll end up giving yourself indiegestion!

                              By default your functioning in rapid change of focus just to cover what's coming in. Wether that is a good thing or not, only you can judge. To get the angle on both, you need to carve out time and give it a go uninterrupted and see which one works best for you.

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