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  • Big Picture

    Hi,

    I have been getting familiar to GTD and have managed to implement it with some success. I think I get how the system works and with some practicing certain elements of it are becoming second nature to me. What I struggle with though is the big picture, having some overview. As an example I am involved in the student politics of my university and have to organize events every now and then. That might include different smaller projects and single-action projects (buy X (project) and call Y regarding Z (single-action)). I try to keep everything I have to do related to the project as a whole in one note in Evernote and transfer next actions of projects to RTM. What I feel though is that I am just managing two task lists which seems time consuming. I have also tried having actions and general outlines of projects separated but then I feel like I dont have an overview of the project as a whole. Any thoughts on this?

    Thanks!

  • #2
    Originally posted by arnaregils View Post
    Hi,

    I have been getting familiar to GTD and have managed to implement it with some success. I think I get how the system works and with some practicing certain elements of it are becoming second nature to me. What I struggle with though is the big picture, having some overview. As an example I am involved in the student politics of my university and have to organize events every now and then. That might include different smaller projects and single-action projects (buy X (project) and call Y regarding Z (single-action)). I try to keep everything I have to do related to the project as a whole in one note in Evernote and transfer next actions of projects to RTM. What I feel though is that I am just managing two task lists which seems time consuming. I have also tried having actions and general outlines of projects separated but then I feel like I dont have an overview of the project as a whole. Any thoughts on this?

    Thanks!
    I'm not an RTM fan, because of the web interface. However, you could use tags to organize your projects and next actions so you get an overview of, say, your student politics area of focus or psych class. Another trick is to have an entry of the form "next action > project" and put information about future next actions in the note field. In this method, you don't check off, you just update the next action. This works well for small projects with a linear workflow or for subprojects, and some people adopt it for everything.

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    • #3
      Low-Tech Project Support

      This may just be my paper bias, but I think - especially with complex projects - it helps to have actual, physical files with mindmaps, lists of project steps, etc. You're not going to get away from having project support separate from your action lists. They're just two different beasts. So, your feeling of having "two lists" might be reframed as:

      1. I have my action lists that tell me what I can do in any context
      2. I have my project support material, which gives me the appropriate big picture view of any project on my list

      Even if your project support isn't low-tech, but is a notebook in Evernote, or whatever, it's important to make the distinction between action and action support...

      HTH?...

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      • #4
        Thank you both for the answers! Having put some more thought into this I think I will try to work mainly from my PSM lists and use next action as a gateway to those lists.

        mcogilvie: I agree regarding RTM web interface, its lacking to say the least. I use almost exclusively an iPad and an Android phone and the sync of the RTM service is the best in my experience. The Android widgets are also very good so I have a hard time parting from it. Having said that I am always open to new options so could you maybe shed light on what you use?

        CJSullivan: I think I was mixing those two elements to much. Thank you for pointing out the importance of the distinction.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by arnaregils View Post
          mcogilvie: I agree regarding RTM web interface, its lacking to say the least. I use almost exclusively an iPad and an Android phone and the sync of the RTM service is the best in my experience. The Android widgets are also very good so I have a hard time parting from it. Having said that I am always open to new options so could you maybe shed light on what you use?
          I currently use Omnifocus, but it's an all-apple solution. One thought: my personal experience is that a desktop overview is often much better than what you get from even an iPad. This might be a factor for you as well.

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          • #6
            It's possible you could just use Evernote without Remember the Milk. A little depends on whether you want a naggy app that will remind you when you have something to do. I found I don't like that and I become immune to the app's reminders.

            What you could do is instead of writing out you next actions in one Evernote note, write them out as next actions, use tags to tell you their context and indicate if they are a next action or waiting or someday/maybe. Use a tag to mark them as belonging to your project. Evernote is very powerful and you could simply search using the tags or keywords to turn up those notes.

            But if you like having an overall project note you can then create an overall note. Instead of retyping everything use the note link feature in Evernote to create a list of notelinks to each of the individual notes.

            If you, like you could also use the check boxes in your overall note so you could check off each item in the note as you complete it.

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            • #7
              Tracking your higher level areas of focus and your day to day next actions are very different things, so there's no reason that they have to be in the same kind of system, as long as they're still parts of one whole.

              I'm mostly digital, but my areas of focus (which i review every week or two) are in a moleskine journal.

              For me, reflecting on my areas of focus is about more than simply recalling a list. Checking that, say, my relationship with family members is on course, or that Im paying enough attention to my physical fitness; these are items that I need to think about in a different way to choosing what phone call to make next. So I sit in a cafe and write in my moleskine for an hour. Any projects or next actions that I generate then get transferred into my list manager (I use Tooldledo) to get caught up in the weekly review.

              It might be neat to have all your lists from 50K to next action in a single piece of software, but sometimes a specialist tool might suit you better.

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