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  • A River Runs Through It.

    I was sitting in the park yesterday lunch time, considering the large number of personal projects that I wish I could get moving. I realised that I am continually preoccupied with them, to the extent that if I was to try to give someone a description of myself, it would largely consist of all the things I am not getting done: the person I am is the person who is frustrated by not getting all these things moving.

    I know there have been a few recent posters (me included) saying that we should be happy with who we are. But when you keep stalling at all the things you want to do, it can accumulate a sense of frustration. It’s hard to argue with the fact that we feel better when we get the things we want to do done.

    I realised then that if I really had mastered the art of identifying the NA for all of these stalled projects, they would actually start to move. Instead of describing myself as being in a fairly bleak place surrounded by stalled projects, I could say that a whole bunch of things are actually underway, because I know the front edge of each, I know what to do next, and thanks to my lists, I can continually watch out for opportunities to move them along, no matter where I am. It will take a bit of work to properly work out the NAs, but that’s what GTD is all about.

    The whole river of stuff I want to do can be flowing through my life, instead of dammed up.

    (That’s what sitting out in the oxygen rich spring air can do to you!)

    Dave

  • #2
    Sounds good.

    To be honest, I think a lot of the problem is due to a slippage in discipline.

    However, there are some items that I really am blocked at. I think they are “decision” issues rather than NA issues – for example, should I reduce the number of CDs I have … or buy more storage? Can I realistically expect to enjoy all these CDs in the same way I enjoyed the six or seven albums I possessed as a teenager? If I go for reduction, what criteria should I use? If I go for storage, do I go for a cool cabinet that goes nicely with the décor, or do I stick a box-load in the attic?

    Is it ever possible as an adult to bond with a CD the way we did as teenagers? Am I on a wild goose chase buying all this music?

    My earlier post about sticking to one composer at a time is still right for me, but what happens to all the other CDs?

    Another project: find out exactly why I’m keeping all those TV programs I taped, especially when I only get to see about 30 minutes TV per day.

    If I can find a way to live without all this crap, I will have a rally attractive room for writing and reading.

    (It’s no wonder I’m blocked!)

    These questions, by the way, have seriously stalled the overhaul of our spare room. The spare room is the overall project, the outcome is clear in my mind, but the decisions are agony!

    I have a tendency to be what I call “holistic” – I expect everything to ultimately fit together in some way or other, and also I have a natural tendency to want to deal with a whole project at one go. Not the best mindset for working out NAs, but I need to work at it: the alternative is not very appealing.

    If I get these decisions worked out, I think the NA’s will follow.

    Coz, I am confident that you have encountered solutions to these questions in you reading!

    Dave

    Comment


    • #3
      Consider mind mapping

      Dave - if you haven't tried mind mapping as a brainstorming and visualization technique, I highly recommend it. Unlike the more structured and formalized activities of GTD, mind mapping opens you to the ability to free associate and find connections you might otherwise not discover. And, unlike musing on a park bench (also a valuable activity, don't get me wrong), you have a visual record to translate into GTD projects and NA's.

      Tony Buzan developed the technique and has a very nice (and small) book called How to Mind Map that I highly recommend.

      http://tinyurl.com/36gbt

      There are great sofware tools for mind mapping (ranging from freeware to professional tools like Mindjet MindManager) but you can use this technique with nothing more than a notebook and a pencil (I do recommend colored pencils or markers though - the color really brings the maps to life).

      HTH,
      Marc

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks Marc

        Will Mind mapping help with the decision process? Most of the stuff I have read on decisions up to now is business based, and therefore values all alteratives in cash terms.

        Thanks

        Dave

        Comment


        • #5
          It's what you make of it

          Originally posted by Busydave
          Thanks Marc

          Will Mind mapping help with the decision process? Most of the stuff I have read on decisions up to now is business based, and therefore values all alteratives in cash terms.

          Thanks

          Dave
          Dave: It really depends on what you are looking to get out of the exercise. Mind mapping, in and of itself, doesn't impose any real context to your brainstorming. As you link thoughts and structure the map (this is why I like the electronic version more - it's a lot easier), the flow tends to define your NA path(s). How you ultimately prioritize is outside of the mind mapping process and comes down (for me) to the Four Criteria Model that David Allen teaches (Context/Energy/Available Time/Priority).

          I have a pretty evolved model that incorporates MindManager (the Mindjet product), Outlook, and when appropriate, MS Project (which I tend to only use for long term projects with a lot of folks involved and a lot of dependencies). All three of these environments can be kept synchronized and, because of the Outlook piece, my PDA is also in the loop.

          I've been thinking about posting a process explanation of how I do this here. It would be a long post but a lot of people I've shared this method with swear by it.

          --Marc

          Comment


          • #6
            "should I reduce the number of CDs I have..."

            Dave,

            There is something very therapeutic about getting rid of as much unnecessary "stuff" in one's apt/house/life as possible. In working with professional organizers over a bunch of years I've noticed that in the beginning I was very resistant to getting rid of stuff, whereas now it is much easier (when in doubt, throw it out). So be patient with yourself, but do try e.g. taking one closet, room, etc and throw/give away as much unnecessary stuff as possible and see how you feel (doesn't it really feel nicer now that e.g. your living room, kitchen or whatever is really clean and uncluttered?) and see if you notice any changes in your life. Getting rid of clutter is basic feng shui principle (if that is not too wu wu for this board).

            Scott

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Busydave

              To be honest, I think a lot of the problem is due to a slippage in discipline.

              My earlier post about sticking to one composer at a time is still right for me, but what happens to all the other CDs?

              Another project: find out exactly why I’m keeping all those TV programs I taped, especially when I only get to see about 30 minutes TV per day.

              Dave
              About the CD's: I have a similar problem with books I want to read. Since there is no guarantee the book will be available when I want to read it, I have to contend with the overwhelming feeling of buying the book now and putting it aside for when I'm ready to read it. Several books have gone out of print that I didn't pick up when I should have.

              And get a TiVo instead of taping shows. I hated taping so much that I never did it. With TiVo, I could watch just what I had time for and bookmark a show for later viewing. And sometimes I had so many shows to watch, it was so easy to just delete the shows I never got around to watching.

              ~Cathy

              Comment


              • #8
                "Several books have gone out of print that I didn't pick up when I should have"

                Have you tried the net out of print book services e.g. www.abebooks.com?

                Comment


                • #9
                  BusyDave,

                  I know the feeling that you are talking about.

                  Being quite the perfectionist myself, sometimes you feel like you have to do something perfectly before you even start. So consequently, you sit around doing nothing.

                  A couple of thoughts:
                  - As I indicated in your media-related post, sometimes you just need to make a decision and restructure your self-imposed needs. For example, do I really need to watch this show? What's the worst that could happen if I don't? What could I do instead? Essentially, you need to renegotiate the agreement you made with yourself: "I will watch all these shows on my TiVo."

                  - A body in motion tends to stay in motion so just get started. This has been talk about in other posts as "I'll just do this..." So instead of mowing the lawn, I'll just go out to the garage and gas up the mower. Once you start along a path, it's easy to continue. That's why my best NA's are incredibly simple. They help make me move.

                  Hope that helps.

                  Adam

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    One-year rule

                    When deciding what to get rid of, a great trick is to use the "one-year rule." The rule is if you haven't used it in the last year, get rid of it unless it holds extreme sentimental value i.e. its the only memento that you have of your dear departed mother. You'll get rid of piles of stuff the first time you do it, and you are unlikely to ever miss any of it.

                    Another trick that I've heard of but never needed, is to put everything you think you should get rid of but can't make yourself throw out in a box. Tape the box closed, and write only the date on the outside. After a year, when you no longer even remember what is in the box, throw out or give away the box unopened.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I just want to say to Dave that it sounds like you have some cluttering issues. The roots of this problem are complex... often related to tendencies of perfectionism or anxiety/depression. You feel compelled to keep things that you are not enjoying and you worry about how to solve the problem. You may benefit from a book I've enjoyed called How to Stop Clutter From Stealing Your Life by Mike Nelson. Or check out his web site www.clutterless.com. Good Luck. Bonni

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thanks everyone. It’s Saturday morning, you’ve got me fired up, and I’m going in …

                        Dave

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Hi BusyDave,

                          Not sure if this will help or not...

                          If there are more people than just yourself involved in the decision making, here is what we do at work...

                          Brainstorm all ideas/options. Group all similair ones together. Divide number of ideas/options available by 3. This is how many votes each person has. Everyone then uses their votes for the options listed. Generally you will find that many people vote for similair items thus you arrive with about 2 or 3 clear winners to move ahead with.

                          Hope you can apply this to your situation to help.

                          Regards

                          GG

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Busydave
                            Sounds good.

                            To be honest, I think a lot of the problem is due to a slippage in discipline.

                            However, there are some items that I really am blocked at. I think they are “decision” issues rather than NA issues – for example, should I reduce the number of CDs I have … or buy more storage? Can I realistically expect to enjoy all these CDs in the same way I enjoyed the six or seven albums I possessed as a teenager? If I go for reduction, what criteria should I use? If I go for storage, do I go for a cool cabinet that goes nicely with the décor, or do I stick a box-load in the attic?

                            Is it ever possible as an adult to bond with a CD the way we did as teenagers? Am I on a wild goose chase buying all this music?

                            My earlier post about sticking to one composer at a time is still right for me, but what happens to all the other CDs?

                            Another project: find out exactly why I’m keeping all those TV programs I taped, especially when I only get to see about 30 minutes TV per day.

                            If I can find a way to live without all this crap, I will have a rally attractive room for writing and reading.

                            (It’s no wonder I’m blocked!)

                            These questions, by the way, have seriously stalled the overhaul of our spare room. The spare room is the overall project, the outcome is clear in my mind, but the decisions are agony!

                            I have a tendency to be what I call “holistic” – I expect everything to ultimately fit together in some way or other, and also I have a natural tendency to want to deal with a whole project at one go. Not the best mindset for working out NAs, but I need to work at it: the alternative is not very appealing.

                            If I get these decisions worked out, I think the NA’s will follow.

                            Coz, I am confident that you have encountered solutions to these questions in you reading!

                            Dave
                            Regarding CDs...

                            I have built a pretty good collection for myself. It took me about 7 years, but I have about 500 CDs that are worth keeping for as long as I live.

                            I don't intend to listen to them all repeatedly, but I have about 100 on heavy rotation right now. Every now and then I feel the need to listen to something I haven't heard in months. I even have a scheduled appointment with myself -- once a month I go through all my CDs and pick a few to definitely listen to in the next month. That way I can put my mind to rest until next month knowing that I will have something to listen to that I looked forward to hearing again.

                            Also, I am not purchasing CDs at the same rate I did in the past as I have all the essentials. Fairly recently I have completed building a 60s Jazz collection (about 100 CDs). I expect to now be buying 5-6 really good CDs a year in that genre (unless something earth-shattering comes along from the vaults at Verve or something like that).

                            You would ask why I have spent so much money and energy on CDs? Well, to each their own. I, for one, don't own any DVDs or movies on VHS (well, like 5-6 maybe). I usually never see a movie more than once (I am not a big fan of movies), so I cannot justify 19.99 plus tax for a DVD. If I really have to see a certain movie I will pay 2-3 dollars to rent it.

                            I also am about to leave cable TV behind as I find myself spending much more time on the internet these days; so paying $40 a month on something (cable TV) I am utilizing 10 times less than another $40 (internet) seems ridiculous.

                            That's it for now.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Alsa

                              Thanks for sharing.

                              I am amazed by the place that music has in my life. I feel I am on a constant quest for the perfect composition. It’s like a holy grail to me. I know I will never stop searching.

                              When I hear a piece of music that attracts me, I go out and buy it. The result of this is many CDs on which I only ever listen to about a five minute part.

                              These pieces do not show up very often, so I feel “justified” in buying them when they do.

                              Maybe I’m like a magpie, collecting shiny things, but the simple fact is that these pieces have a unique and profound place in my life. I feel that music is like another sense – it’s another way of perceiving situations, feelings, and hopes, and even the eternal. When I find the right piece, it is very like a divine revelation of order and a greater beauty.

                              I have an ongoing debate with myself – should I try to “manage” my moods with music – what piece would make me happy and relaxed right now? Or, should I try to manfully be the master of my own feelings and listen to music objectively for the beauty and the impressive performances? (Can you be objective about emotions?). Or should I even more manfully be constantly exploring new pastures …. the first listenings to new performers and composers are a labour of hope and low on immediate joy, but can often greatly reward the listener later.

                              My real issue with my CDs is not so much with the quantity – it is manageable with a little ingenuity - but with the fact that so many of them are there purely because of the short sections that I like. It just seems so wasteful/costly/suckered/DOH!

                              I see two alternatives to my storage dilemma: the “grown up” approach which would apply especially to classical music and jazz: let’s say I like the slow movement of an orchestral piece, but not, on first listen, the remaining movements. The grown-up approach would be to “work at” the rest of the piece until I have absorbed the full work and appreciate the part that the slow movement plays in the whole piece, and so extend my enjoyment to the remainder of the CD.

                              The other approach is, burn compilation CDs with the pieces I like and give the original CDs to the charity shop, and then find some site like Napster where I can buy the individual pieces instead of the full CDs.

                              At the moment, the grown-up approach attracts me because it is the more “worthy” option. But I will have to compromise on some of the one-hit-wonders that are in there as well.

                              I have also managed to turn reading, which was once one of my great pleasures,
                              Into a terrible burden also: I feel I must read a good handful of the classics if I am to consider myself well read (I do want to consider myself well-read, or at least I think I do …)

                              The struggle continues.

                              Dave

                              Comment

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