Forum

  • If you are new to these Forums, please take a moment to register using the fields above.

Announcement

Announcement Module
Collapse
No announcement yet.

How to improve longer term planning abilities

Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse
X
Conversation Detail Module
Collapse
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • How to improve longer term planning abilities

    Hello everyone,

    How can I improve the longer term planning abilities with GTD?

    I am reasonably good at planning when the time horizon is one or two days, but anything longer than a two weeks is a disaster. But since the most important things in a life fall into this "long term" category - my inability makes me really sad.

    Any suggestions on how can I develop my longer term planning skills are greatly appreciated.

    Thanks.

  • #2
    a few ideas

    I am no expert and I think the steps to getting better are incremental. When it works for me, here are some of the things that work for me.

    The most important is to have a calendar in a format that you re comfortable with, maybe even a two or three year calendar and fill in all of the important dates that can impact you, even if they are not appointments, your parents 50th anniversary in two years might impact you. The year your car turns 7 or 8 or gets 150000 miles might be significant if you doing some planning of your finances. If you see your dental hygienist every 6 months pencil that in and if you go to the barber every month, do that to on the calendar. Pencil is fine. I really dug using my Palm for repeating events, but that is ancient history and now I am back to paper. I have a desk size calendar for current year and page-a-month for next year that I printed from internet. There are also little fold out calendars for years ahead, one page per year but some people like to see a year in quarters..

    Another approach is called "backward chaining". Starting with the outcome you define in words and the date you are aiming for, write in the very last thing you need to do and then continue to work backward, either in a tight-linked sequence or with bench marks, identifying what you would need to do and when. The best ready-made example of this college graduation. You pretty much know when you start high school what year you will probably grauate, from college and you can work backwards to determine the sequence of actions of exams, etc.

    One other helpful steps is to really visualize and describe what you are aiming for. I have a hard time picturing some things in the future. I once did a collage from magazine pictures and that was helpful when I was trying to resolve what had the potential to become a long term crisis. I actually I used only a little from magazines and cut out a lot of shapes and arrows and pinned them to a bulletin board that then added some collaged materials. If I was doing that today, I might pick the images from the internet or from specialized magazines with photos of the kind of thing I am thinking of. Most magazines have advertisements as the main viisuals and these are not always what we really want, they are either scary or overly glamorized.

    I have never read it but a friend gave me a book and kit called "Blue Printing" and I think it has to do with this.She was totally into this.

    I think you will find a lot of suggestions to sort through here as people contribute. It is a funny skill or talent. I think about it, the long term planners seem pretty happy to keep things simple in the short run--they eat the same meals over and over, wear the same cloths week after week, subscribe to the same events...but they surprise you with the photos from their 3month canoe trip in a foreign country...the family reunion in a remote area with 200 people.

    I wold be curious to see what your own research turns up.

    Comment


    • #3
      I suspect that if we can plan in the short term then we can do the same in the long term, but the short-term clouds our ability to think. The GTD approach is to get the lower levels under control, so you can then think a level up.

      So I'd say that as you get better at the GTD workflow, your attention will automatically shift to the Areas of Focus. And once you are happy with those, you will naturally move up to Goals and therefore be thinking at the 3-25 month horizon. And so on.

      I reserve weekly review for keeping the workflow in shape and the monthly review for project-generation - based on the six horizons. I also clearly mark those projects that are reactive ( renew car insurance, submit tax return ) from those that have come from my monthly review. The reactives get the General Patton treatment * to get them out of the way for my real life's work, which get the Natural Planning Method instead.

      Planning in the longer term isn't technically different from planning in the short term. I think it's about clutter.

      * General Patton: A good plan violently executed right now is far better than a perfect plan executed next week.
      Last edited by pxt; 04-17-2011, 08:36 AM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Outcome at the bottom of the sheet.

        Originally posted by Jamie Elis View Post
        Another approach is called "backward chaining". Starting with the outcome you define in words and the date you are aiming for, write in the very last thing you need to do and then continue to work backward, either in a tight-linked sequence or with bench marks, identifying what you would need to do and when. The best ready-made example of this college graduation. You pretty much know when you start high school what year you will probably grauate, from college and you can work backwards to determine the sequence of actions of exams, etc.
        I do it literally by writing down the outcome at the bottom of the sheet and filling-in the previous steps upwards.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Jamie Elis View Post
          I am no expert and I think the steps to getting better are incremental. When it works for me, here are some of the things that work for me.
          Thank you Jamie for such a detailed response. I am going to re-start my GTD soon (spent last two days of the Easter break to get a deeper understanding of all the particulars of GTD and now I think I know where my mistakes were).

          The most important is to have a calendar in a format that you re comfortable with, maybe even a two or three year calendar and fill in all of the important dates that can impact you, even if they are not appointments, your parents 50th anniversary in two years might impact you. The year your car turns 7 or 8 or gets 150000 miles might be significant if you doing some planning of your finances. If you see your dental hygienist every 6 months pencil that in and if you go to the barber every month, do that to on the calendar. Pencil is fine. I really dug using my Palm for repeating events, but that is ancient history and now I am back to paper. I have a desk size calendar for current year and page-a-month for next year that I printed from internet. There are also little fold out calendars for years ahead, one page per year but some people like to see a year in quarters..
          Good advice - seems like something that I could implement pretty easily. I haven't been doing such planning (but I will in my forthcoming GTD restart) in the past, and I didn't have problems (almost) with "important dates" planing, but perhaps I just don't know how much important dates I have really missed...

          Another approach is called "backward chaining". Starting with the outcome you define in words and the date you are aiming for, write in the very last thing you need to do and then continue to work backward, either in a tight-linked sequence or with bench marks, identifying what you would need to do and when. The best ready-made example of this college graduation. You pretty much know when you start high school what year you will probably grauate, from college and you can work backwards to determine the sequence of actions of exams, etc.
          This is where I have the most of the problems. When I have a goal which say I plan to achieve in a one year
          time I break it into several projects, then into subprojects, then into sub tasks. The sub-projects usually is to read the whole book, where the task is to read the chapter and to write down my thoughs on what I have read. After that I start reading several books in a parrallel, writing down my progress in a .txt or Excel sheets and after a few chapters I usually stop writing down my results because either the .txt or Excel (or other reference materials) files with the results are lost on the vastness of my filesystem and this does discourages me to continue and/or the new projects are keep piling up and so I am urging myself to give them a bigger slice attention thus my old projects are being deprioritised and as a result are forgotten.

          One other helpful steps is to really visualize and describe what you are aiming for. I have a hard time picturing some things in the future. I once did a collage from magazine pictures and that was helpful when I was trying to resolve what had the potential to become a long term crisis. I actually I used only a little from magazines and cut out a lot of shapes and arrows and pinned them to a bulletin board that then added some collaged materials. If I was doing that today, I might pick the images from the internet or from specialized magazines with photos of the kind of thing I am thinking of. Most magazines have advertisements as the main viisuals and these are not always what we really want, they are either scary or overly glamorized.

          I have never read it but a friend gave me a book and kit called "Blue Printing" and I think it has to do with this.She was totally into this.
          Thank you, great advice, used to like to do such things when I was a kid (I also notice that I am advance
          with a task a much better if I fleah out a sketh of what to do first - I guess I am a "visual" person) - will
          give it a try - probably with a PowerPoint.

          I think you will find a lot of suggestions to sort through here as people contribute. It is a funny skill or talent. I think about it, the long term planners seem pretty happy to keep things simple in the short run--they eat the same meals over and over, wear the same cloths week after week, subscribe to the same events...but they surprise you with the photos from their 3month canoe trip in a foreign country...the family reunion in a remote area with 200 people.
          Well, my father was a that type of person - always very organized, keeping the records of everything... but people thought about him as a boring person. But he had always delivered on his promises, never missed anything and earned a lot of respect because of that... Want to become like him. Hope it is not a talent but I skill I can learn with some help.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by TerrySw View Post
            The sub-projects usually is to read the whole book, where the task is to read the chapter and to write down my thoughs on what I have read. After that I start reading several books in a parrallel, writing down my progress in a .txt or Excel sheets and after a few chapters I usually stop writing down my results because either the .txt or Excel (or other reference materials) files with the results are lost on the vastness of my filesystem and this does discourages me to continue and/or the new projects are keep piling up and so I am urging myself to give them a bigger slice attention thus my old projects are being deprioritised and as a result are forgotten.
            Why would you need to write down your thoughts? What's the aim of this action?

            When you'll connect your answer to your upper goal (read the whole book, achieve the bigger goal, etc), it would be easier to find a better way to capture and track your notes.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by akhavr View Post
              Why would you need to write down your thoughts? What's the aim of this action?

              When you'll connect your answer to your upper goal (read the whole book, achieve the bigger goal, etc), it would be easier to find a better way to capture and track your notes.
              Why... I am using this a a brain dump - I read a chapter or two and then write down a short brief of what I have read, the most important points what I have learnt. So after I have read the whole book (for the most technical books it could be as much as 30 chapters by 30 pages each) - I can review my "after a chapter" notes and so I can decide - have the project "read the book about X" I just completed really advanced me to my upper goal "learn how to use X" (and eventually to a more upper goal "use X to be more productive at work").

              Have I answered your question?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by TerrySw View Post
                So after I have read the whole book (for the most technical books it could be as much as 30 chapters by 30 pages each) - I can review my "after a chapter" notes and so I can decide - have the project "read the book about X" I just completed really advanced me to my upper goal "learn how to use X" (and eventually to a more upper goal "use X to be more productive at work").
                Then attach your notes to the task "decide if read the book about X really advanced me to learn how to use X". This way you won't miss them

                Comment

                Working...
                X