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GTD for housework

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  • GTD for housework

    I've used GTD with success when I was working as a lawyer. Now that I'm "not working" and I stay home to take care of house, pets, and child, with the occasional art project, I am finding that it does not go quite so well. My lists are just... way too long. I have gone from having between a hundred to two hundred projects, to having so many that I never feel I've successfully listed them all. My review takes hours. Not two hours, ten hours. I am experimenting with modifications to GTD to see if I can get this to work, like leaving routine "always need doing" tasks like laundry out of the review. Any ideas for using GTD successfully in a home setting? For modifications in such a setting?
    Last edited by SolveigSingleton; 05-09-2012, 11:22 AM. Reason: I can't figure out how to delete my test

  • #2
    lots of ideas!

    Originally posted by SolveigSingleton View Post
    I've used GTD with success when I was working as a lawyer. Now that I'm "not working" and I stay home to take care of house, pets, and child, with the occasional art project, I am finding that it does not go quite so well. My lists are just... way too long. I have gone from having between a hundred to two hundred projects, to having so many that I never feel I've successfully listed them all. My review takes hours. Not two hours, ten hours. I am experimenting with modifications to GTD to see if I can get this to work, like leaving routine "always need doing" tasks like laundry out of the review. Any ideas for using GTD successfully in a home setting? For modifications in such a setting?
    I had a similar situation, and it felt like nothing was familiar and everything was overwhelming at times. I also have a home-based business to add to the mix. Here are my top few tips... let me know if you want me to elaborate.

    1) Take a fresh look at your Areas of Focus (areas of responsibility). I categorize all of my project lists by area of focus. ("Household" is always twice as long as every other list) Are all of them appropriate for you in your new role? Add/delete as necessary.

    2) Make sure all of your next actions really are next actions and not projects (need more than one action to complete). If not, off to the project list they go!

    3) Embrace "Someday/Maybe"! You do not have to do everything on your list now, or even soon. Having a robust Someday/Maybe list is a good thing!

    4) Keep your eyes on the prize. (i.e. what are you here for? If it's to pick up every single dirty gym sock, or nurture your relationships, be clear about it) Don't let what you think you should be doing take away from whatever you ultimately want to accomplish at this time of your life.

    5) It's OK to delegate. Do the things only you can do (play with your kids, walk the dog - it's good exercise, so don't delegate the healthy things!). See if you can delegate everything else (or a good chunk of it at least).

    That's it. Hope it helps! (by the way, Solveig is one of my favorite names... just lovely.)

    Dena

    Comment


    • #3
      I would definitely endorse Dena's ideas, particularly no. 3 about the Sd/Mb list. Quite a few people split the list into a Someday/Later and Someday/Maybe to make a distinction between those things that are perhaps pipe dreams and those that you really do want to do, just don't have the bandwidth now. Splitting the lists up also means that you can review Someday/Later each week, but may only need to look at Someday/Maybe once a month.

      Comment


      • #4
        I found my @House context was way too big as well. My solution was to split it up into @Chores, @DIY, @Garden, @Paperwork and @Home for the stuff that didn't fit into any of these. These are contexts I can work from pretty well. It makes sense to save up all my DIY for one day when I've got my tools out. @Garden can be ingored if it's raining, etc.

        Another think I do to help with long action lists is to start my actions with a limited set of verbs and sort alphabetically. The best example I have is @Internet where I currently have 7 Checks, 1 Download, 2 Gets, 14 Googles, 5 Reads, etc. I might decide there is something really important to look up and go down all my Googles while I'm in search mode.

        Hope you find my tips useful!

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by cfoley View Post
          Another think I do to help with long action lists is to start my actions with a limited set of verbs and sort alphabetically. The best example I have is @Internet where I currently have 7 Checks, 1 Download, 2 Gets, 14 Googles, 5 Reads, etc. I might decide there is something really important to look up and go down all my Googles while I'm in search mode.
          I LOVE this idea! If only I didn't have a paper-based system...! Doh!

          Dena

          Comment


          • #6
            For home the best thing has been having evening, morning, weekend and cleaning checklists. They store a ton of routine things to do, but I keep them in a separate app to my next actions lists so they don't clutter them up. I usually work in either routine work mode or action list mode, I devote separate time periods to both. Also make an office space so that is home base, where you do all your planning from

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            • #7
              Minimalism is the answer.

              Originally posted by SolveigSingleton View Post
              I've used GTD with success when I was working as a lawyer. Now that I'm "not working" and I stay home to take care of house, pets, and child, with the occasional art project, I am finding that it does not go quite so well. My lists are just... way too long. I have gone from having between a hundred to two hundred projects, to having so many that I never feel I've successfully listed them all. My review takes hours. Not two hours, ten hours. I am experimenting with modifications to GTD to see if I can get this to work, like leaving routine "always need doing" tasks like laundry out of the review. Any ideas for using GTD successfully in a home setting? For modifications in such a setting?
              My answer to long GTD lists is minimalism. I found out that I really don't need all this stuff.

              Too many house-related projects? Move to a smaller house and do not allow house to own you.

              Too many pet-related projects? Don't have pets and do not allow them to own you.

              Too many kid-related projects? One area where minimalism seems to not apply. But some routine improvements may be possible.

              Too much laundry? Do you really need all these cloths? Shouldn't every family member take care of his/her own laundry?

              "The things you own end up owning you." - Tyler Durden, Fight Club

              Comment


              • #8
                Flylady.com

                Check out flylady.com. It may help.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by SolveigSingleton View Post
                  Any ideas for using GTD successfully in a home setting? For modifications in such a setting?
                  I've set up some checklists for basic cleaning and stuff based a bit on FlyLady and a bit on the book Happily Organized Family and a bit on Julie Morgenstern's and a bit on the Sidetracked Home Executive stuff. The project I have in my GTD system is "Basic Housecleaning" under my AOF of "Keep a Comfortable House" and I have actions set to "Do monthly housecleaning checklist" or "Do weekly housecleaning list" and they repeat as necessary within the project.

                  That way basic stuff doesn't clutter up my GTD system but I am still getting reminders to do those tasks from within the GTD system and I review the checklists during reviews to be sure the items on them are correct.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    It would help me to understand your problem better if you could be more specific about what sorts of things are on your list.

                    I am a stay at home mom and home school my high school and middle school students. I also served on a couple of nonprofit boards, but am retired for the time being until I get children into college.

                    I've been mulling over where I was when I first had children and it seemed impossible to keep up compared to now where my list of projects and next actions seems shorter because many things are now routinized and I don't put them on any lists, I just do them (usually daily). Certainly there are work jobs like this as well where some things get done every day no matter what or once a week and as some point you would stop putting that item anywhere because it would be routine, but running a home is a job with many, many jobs you do over and over with no end in sight.

                    Since I only recently started GTD, I notice that I didn't even consider putting many of the jobs that 15 years ago seemed to engulf me on my lists because I just do them now.

                    So knowing what it is you need done and what if any thing is routine might help.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Some things are better managed by routines than action/project lists

                      I've found that things like housework and exercising regularly have to be built into a routine for them to work. In terms of GTD, I'd have a project "Set up housekeeping routine". This is done when the routine is implemented and on cruise control. Regular reviews are necessary to keep the routine intact. You might find after a while that you're taking on too much work yourself and need to delegate more. Or perhaps there's only so much housekeeping you can do in an area without decluttering and purging.

                      I'm on a mission to do just that so I can regularly and easily clean my house. Clutter becomes an insurmountable obstacle that will derail even the best intentioned housekeeping routine.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Constantly Tweaking...

                        I'm constantly tweaking things in the interest of making housework/home care as seamless (and seemingly unlike work!) as possible. Right now I'm working on re-vamping my routines (inspired by The Power of Habit) with checklists for Morning and Evening, and a weekly routine that is loosely based on the FlyLady weekly home cleaning list. I just entered each day's 10 minute task into my Intention Journal as a prompt, so I don't have to clutter up my tickler file, calendar, action lists, what-have-you...

                        Each weekday I'll receive an email from my wiser self (!) and I made sure it wasn't just a dry listing of whatever task I hope to accomplish that weekday. I tried to be kind of "cheerleadery" and address the resistance I KNOW I'll have on any given day! We'll see how that goes!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Here are some ideas. You can choose any that you like,
                          and ignore the rest.

                          -- Do two things at once much of the time: for example,
                          reciting nursery rhymes to your child while hanging up
                          laundry.

                          -- I agree: David Allen said in "Getting Things Done"
                          that some things, like "eat lunch", don't need to be
                          written in any system; you just do them. Stuff like
                          "Do a load of laundry" can be in this category.

                          -- Use physical things as reminders. For example, you can
                          store a bottle of vitamins beside, in front of or taped
                          onto a breakfast cereal box, to remind you to take it
                          every morning. No need to write anything in a paper or
                          computer system.

                          -- if you have many things of about the same importance,
                          you don't need to write them down; you can just start
                          doing one of them.

                          -- cut down on housework, e.g. 1 plate per person per meal;
                          put most dishes in basement

                          -- involve child in housework -- great to develop lifelong habits

                          -- delegate (friends, extended family, hired help,
                          volunteers, spouse, child, share housework with other parents
                          while your children play together)

                          -- I agree with Ellobogrande that the GTD projects would
                          have actions to set up your routines. So instead of "do laundry"
                          you could have an action like "move toy storage to near
                          washing machine" (so that you'll often be near there and
                          will naturally tend to take a moment to start up a load etc.)
                          That would be something you do once to help set up a routine
                          which is done many times; the routine itself doesn't need to
                          appear in your system.

                          -- You can create routines, which could be checklists of
                          things to do in a certain order which you might post on the
                          wall in the rooms where you do them. Routines are easier
                          for the human mind to grasp if they have about 2 to 5 steps;
                          any more steps than that and you can group some steps into
                          smaller routines, name these routines and list them in the bigger routine.
                          For example, "eat lunch" might appear as one item in one
                          routine, but then in the kitchen you could have another list
                          to do when you eat lunch, "wash hands ..."

                          When creating routines, you can group together actions that
                          are to be done equally often; take about the same length of time;
                          can be done in the same room; require similar moods or postures;
                          have similar purposes, or start with the same letter or otherwise
                          tend to get connected in your mind somehow. Think about how
                          you and your child will be feeling; for example, people are grumpier
                          before naptime or mealtime. You can design routines that work well,
                          post lists for them, memorize them and make them habitual.

                          -- I agree, 10 hours is too long for weekly review. You can
                          look at the main categories of things you do during weekly review
                          and see whether some of those can be skipped altogether, or
                          done less often (e.g. once a month), or done in a summarized
                          way, or done during another activity, for example just thinking
                          about something while cooking rather than writing anything down,
                          or only writing your summarized thoughts later.

                          "Project review" might not mean looking in detail at a
                          project but could be just going over a one-page list of the main steps in
                          the project and quickly checking off which ones are done yet, to give
                          you an idea of how far along you are.

                          Keep in mind your true priorities, e.g. "people before things".

                          Just suggestions; again, use any you like and set the rest aside.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Good idea!

                            Originally posted by CJSullivan View Post
                            I'm constantly tweaking things in the interest of making housework/home care as seamless (and seemingly unlike work!) as possible. Right now I'm working on re-vamping my routines (inspired by The Power of Habit) with checklists for Morning and Evening, and a weekly routine that is loosely based on the FlyLady weekly home cleaning list. I just entered each day's 10 minute task into my Intention Journal as a prompt, so I don't have to clutter up my tickler file, calendar, action lists, what-have-you...

                            Each weekday I'll receive an email from my wiser self (!) and I made sure it wasn't just a dry listing of whatever task I hope to accomplish that weekday. I tried to be kind of "cheerleadery" and address the resistance I KNOW I'll have on any given day! We'll see how that goes!
                            I have a playlist on my iPod just for cleaning...so I dance and clean. Totally wears me out, but it's kinda fun. God forbid anyone ever sees me doing it.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Barb View Post
                              I have a playlist on my iPod just for cleaning...so I dance and clean.
                              Care to share the music in that playlist?

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