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  • Thinking up front/planning

    Minor light bulb today in the middle of a meeting – great place for getting some serious thinking done!

    GTD includes thinking up front about things as they arrive. OK, the outcome is obviously the lighthouse we are steering towards; but stage planning has to be one of the core components of thinking up front also.

    I was considering how I mentally deal with new stuff as it shows up. It goes straight onto a tasks list, and later I will nail down the NA. But what are the natural stages involved in getting the project done? I still default to the old instinctive thought pattern that “it will all get done in the end, probably close to the time when it is due”.

    But, this is a burdensome way of thinking. It’s like saying I have stored everything in a big bag in the attic, and before the year is out, I will have it all sorted. This way of thinking causes the project to cast a long shadow over my thinking.

    If I break down the task into natural stages from the beginning, then that big dark bag of the unknown will not exist, and instead I will have a collection of smaller, defined, “single scene” sections listed on my Palm.

    I realised that I had been implementing GTD in an incomplete manner, and that I was just shoving up heaps of future work like snow in front of a snow plough, thus creating a shadowy, uninviting, and uninspiring future.

    It has been said that most people resist planning their work. So, while developing the discipline of thinking up front, I must also deal with my resistance to planning if I am to get the maximum mental benefits from GTD.

    Dave

  • #2
    What I tried (and failed) to articulate in the above post was this: I find that identifying the NA is analogous to finding the end bit on a big ball of string that needs to be untangled. Once you have it, you have actually started.

    The outcome of a project can probably be identified and expressed with a few minutes thought.

    Ok.

    Now, what about all the stuff that needs to happen in between? My point was that in implementing GTD, a bunch of stuff that turns out to be a project now has two bright points on it: the very start and the very end. In between there is still all that foggy mushy undergrowth I have to get through some time or other before the deadline jumps up and bites me.

    DA says that when we are really implementing GTD properly, we will find that we have set up a whole series of wins for ourselves: everything is reduced to widgets that just need to be cranked.

    In other words, GTD is not just about the beginning and the end, nor even just about doing some natural planning – I feel that when I have fully implemented GTD, then I will be working in a completely different way to the way I do now, due mainly, I suppose, to a new habit of thinking before doing.

    Dave

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Busydave
      <snip>In other words, GTD is not just about the beginning and the end, nor even just about doing some natural planning – I feel that when I have fully implemented GTD, then I will be working in a completely different way to the way I do now, due mainly, I suppose, to a new habit of thinking before doing.

      Dave
      Dave: That's what a "mind like water" feels like to me. A natural state of repose where you're balanced and "ready for anything". DA's karate metaphor is perfect for this better way to approach work (and life).

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      • #4
        I agree Mochant.

        But my point is, if at any time in the day I let myself think about a Project which is ongoing (let’s say I’m not working on it at that point in time, but it crosses my mind) how will it look/feel in my head?

        Under my current way of thinking, it will be a heap of shadowy uncertainty that I have to get through sometime in order to reach the finish line. I think it would be humanly impossible to never let it cross my mind in this way – what I want to get rid off is the oppressive shadows that can surround a future project.

        DA says that ultimately everything can be reduced to widgets to be cranked. Maybe I will never reach a stage where I can visualise all the non-threatening widgets that make up a particular project that crosses my mind; but maybe I will get to have the confidence and the belief that all projects will never be more ominous than widgets.

        Dave

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        • #5
          Trust your system young Jedi

          Dave:

          I really try to keep stuff out of my head and in my system. If a random thought strays into my conscious mind (like you're describing), I just check my list (in Outlook if I'm at my desk or my PDA if I'm out and about). Poof! No shadows or clouds.

          If something comes up that's not in my system, I jot it down in my NoteTaker and toss it in my Inbox for processing when I get back to my desk.

          --Marc

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