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Shortening 'doing' time or extending the day

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  • Shortening 'doing' time or extending the day

    I have heard that the average person should expect to spend 90 minutes a day 'defining' work. Add in the weekly review and that comes to about two hours daily 'not doing'.

    But 'doing' is important. It is where the rubber meets the road.

    And, I do not want to tack an additional two hours onto every workday.

    Do you have good arguments I can use when I wrestle with myself over the advisability of cutting into my 'doing' time?

    Thanks,
    Rob

  • #2
    There is definitely a balance between working on the system and doing.

    I find separating processing and organising from doing means I can focus for more of each day on doing. Processing & organising are more efficient when done in blocks.

    It also reduces the amount of wasted time in crisis or emergency scan mode.

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    • #3
      If you were not using GTD would you just dive into "doing"? If so, is your work already predefined by someone else, otherwise how do you know what to do? If you spend any time planning your day then you are already not spending time doing by your definition. So how much time do you spend doing that? Now, the other issue is how do you track things you are not working on at the moment but need to get to. For me, GTD provides a great system for letting me capture and track everything I need to do, BUT I have to maintain that system and I have to review it otherwise there is no point capturing it. But if I don't then things slip through the cracks without some system or other to hold it in place. The question is what system are you using, whether you have identified it as such or not.

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      • #4
        Thanks for your thoughts.

        Seems like my 'doing' lately is deadline driven. For example, prepare to teach a custom course two weeks from now -- how much time do I spend -- well, since the focus is new, not only do I have to create the materials -- I need to research. When is it done? When I run out of time -- when the students appear in the classroom.

        Such projects can steal all my spare time -- and, since in that two-week time frame, I am not going to be working on other projects, it is easy to put off the 'defining' work that comes in -- and then, once that project is delivered, I have a mountain of defining to do.

        Somehow, I need to be smarter with projects that do not have qualitative metrics -- that is, projects where the metric is simply 'do as well as you can in the insufficient time available' .

        So maybe I need two answers -- helping to define project outcomes, and preserving time for defining.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by ArcCaster View Post
          I have heard that the average person should expect to spend 90 minutes a day 'defining' work. Add in the weekly review and that comes to about two hours daily 'not doing'.

          But 'doing' is important. It is where the rubber meets the road.

          And, I do not want to tack an additional two hours onto every workday.

          Do you have good arguments I can use when I wrestle with myself over the advisability of cutting into my 'doing' time?

          Thanks,
          Rob
          Defining work is work. It is one of the most important things you can do to make sure you are working on the right stuff, not the stuff that is in your face at the moment.

          If your work is already predefineed for you and you never have to decide if an email is worth responding to then you are a lucky person.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by ArcCaster View Post
            Do you have good arguments I can use when I wrestle with myself over the advisability of cutting into my 'doing' time?
            For myself, there are two:
            1. I was still doing all of the "not doing" tasks, they were just scattered throughout my day, sometimes hiding in what I thought of as "doing" time. Before I dove (back) into GTD, I was still spending time deciding what to work on next, planning projects, recording ideas for the future, and so on, I just wasn't doing an hour or two of it all at once. If I totaled it up, I am quite certain it would be more than a couple of hours each day.

            Now that I am doing regular processing and reviews (combined with the rest of the GTD methodology), defining work is happening faster and better. I'm not losing track of things (which invariably end up coming back as the dreaded "unplanned work" when a forgotten deadline smacks me in the face) or having to scramble around hunting for a key piece of project support material. In the end, I actually have more time for "doing", not less.

            2. With a trusted system and regular reviews, there is a lot less mental clutter. This allows me to focus more completely on the task at hand when I am "doing". In addition, the quick & easy GTD capture techniques (scribble it down, toss it in an inbox -- paper or electronic -- to process later, and be able to trust that I will process it later) allow me to handle interruptions to my "doing" without breaking stride or losing focus. These two combined make my doing time far more productive than it used to be.

            So by taking that hour or two out of my day to define work, I am not only giving myself more "doing" time, but I am using that time more efficiently. Seems like a no-brainer when I look at it this way.

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            • #7
              What is the cost of doing the wrong work?

              GTD is based around the idea that we will all be inundated with infinite inputs.
              Additionally, it's clear that a lot of GTDers are naturally creative thinkers and therefore are quite capable of generating an infinite amount of input all by themselves.

              So you can count the cost of defining the work, but what is the cost of not defining the work and therefore not doing the right work? Potentially 100%.

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              • #8
                When my work is well defined, I feel better, less anxious, more confident, able to relax or to engage in what I'm doing. It makes me happier.

                My qulaity of life is not only about how many tasks I complete, but how I feel about it along the way.
                [Insert aphorisms about journeys and destinations here].

                Comment


                • #9
                  When working towards a deadline

                  Arcaster, maybe the way you're doing it is fine, or maybe you'd like to make changes.

                  You might like to think about whether you're happy about having put all your spare time into preparing for the forum. Would you have been better off doing less preparation, but doing some other work? Did other urgent stuff turn up that you didn't pay enough attention to? Or not?

                  Maybe while you're doing that work, you're able to do a quick filter of incoming work and you know what can be put off until after the forum. Or, maybe you have a feel that probably there's nothing more important you need to do, and you're right often enough.

                  Could you have started preparing for the forum at an earlier date instead? Can you prepare now for specific or general future activities of that kind?

                  If you're reasonably confident that what you're doing is the most important work, or is one of the several most important things and that you're not forgetting something that's a lot more important, then there's no problem, I think. (Just my opinion.) Unless you're unhappy about something in the situation, like not enjoying addressing the mountain of defining afterwards.

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