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  • The art of stress-free productivity is no different from any other art

    Don't you ever feel frustrated having to follow so many principles and rules in the art of stress-free productivity?

    Are there some of you who have been practising for a long time you still don't really get it?

    I am currently in the progress of finishing a book written in the 40s by Mortimer Adler called 'How to Read a Book'. It is a practical book that proposes readers to adopt a set of behaviours if they wish to understand great challenging books above their intelligence level. The various acts in the skilled operations, including specific actions and rules one must take and follow, constitute the art of reading.

    When we speak of someone who is skilled in anything - in the art of stress-free productivity or in the art of music - we are pointing to the fact that they possess the habit of doing it, not simply knowing the rules of which the habit is founded upon.

    Anyways, I wanted to share a short passage from the book. I think it helps to frame the complexity of the art of stress-free productivity quite well.





  • #2


    -Calvin

    Comment


    • #3
      Standing at the top of the hill.

      Originally posted by ctklai View Post
      I am currently in the progress of finishing a book written in the 40s by Mortimer Adler called 'How to Read a Book'. It is a practical book that proposes readers to adopt a set of behaviours if they wish to understand great challenging books above their intelligence level. The various acts in the skilled operations, including specific actions and rules one must take and follow, constitute the art of reading.
      So you should read a book to learn how to read books above your intelligence level? Interesting idea!

      Originally posted by author of the book
      In order to forget them as separate acts, you have to learn them first as separate acts.
      It does not work this way. You cannot learn to properly bend knees or to look downhill while standing at the top of the hill. In GTD it is not possible to learn Collecting step without Processing and Organizing and Doing and Reviewing because you will end up with a big pile of unprocessed notes.

      I think the best way to improve an element of the process is to focus on it while performing the whole routine.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
        So you should read a book to learn how to read books above your intelligence level? Interesting idea!



        It does not work this way. You cannot learn to properly bend knees or to look downhill while standing at the top of the hill. In GTD it is not possible to learn Collecting step without Processing and Organizing and Doing and Reviewing because you will end up with a big pile of unprocessed notes.

        I think the best way to improve an element of the process is to focus on it while performing the whole routine.
        Just like skiing, being able to get things done with the least amount of effort and stress is a "skill" or an "art" (this is D.Allen's message to me in his book, and I can't speak for others).

        An art or skill is possessed by those who formed a habit of operating according to its rules. Bending your knees, weekly review, keeping your back straight, keeping a master projects list, learn forward, determine next actions for projects...these are all rules.

        It would be interesting to have responses from a variety of long time GTD practitioners about what's automatic for them.

        As far as your analogy goes about standing on top of the hill and receiving instructions but not having to gone down the hill yet, I would say this is the equivalent of attending seminars, watching webcasts or reading the book if one is to be congruent with Adler's terms and image.

        Comment


        • #5
          Instruction and feedback.

          Originally posted by ctklai View Post
          As far as your analogy goes about standing on top of the hill and receiving instructions but not having to gone down the hill yet, I would say this is the equivalent of attending seminars, watching webcasts or reading the book if one is to be congruent with Adler's terms and image.
          OK, but one should always do three things to learn a skill: practice, practice and practice. Attending seminars, watching webcasts or reading the book is useful for gaining a theoretical knowledge but not a practical skill.

          And yes - at the top of the hill the instructor gives preliminary instructions but then the whole teaching is done via feedback after a downhill ride. That's what I've learned when I was an assistant ski instructor.

          Comment


          • #6
            Automatic thinking

            Interesting topic. Had a question about, "It would be interesting to have responses from a variety of long time GTD practitioners about what's automatic for them."

            Can you clarify what you mean by automatic? Does that mean practicing GTD without having to actively think?

            Originally posted by ctklai View Post
            Just like skiing, being able to get things done with the least amount of effort and stress is a "skill" or an "art" (this is D.Allen's message to me in his book, and I can't speak for others).

            An art or skill is possessed by those who formed a habit of operating according to its rules. Bending your knees, weekly review, keeping your back straight, keeping a master projects list, learn forward, determine next actions for projects...these are all rules.

            It would be interesting to have responses from a variety of long time GTD practitioners about what's automatic for them.

            As far as your analogy goes about standing on top of the hill and receiving instructions but not having to gone down the hill yet, I would say this is the equivalent of attending seminars, watching webcasts or reading the book if one is to be congruent with Adler's terms and image.

            Comment


            • #7
              Building highways.

              Originally posted by pgarth View Post
              Can you clarify what you mean by automatic? Does that mean practicing GTD without having to actively think?
              I'm reading The Straight-A Conspiracy book (don't ask me why ).

              It contains great learning advice for students and contains one subchapter about "automaticity".

              When you encounter something new you learn it and create a weak neural path in you brain.

              You strenghten this path by training - the solution finding process becomes automatic - a neural path in your brain becomes a multi-lane highway.

              What was then difficult and new - now becomes obvious and serves as a building block for higher level skills learning process.

              For example you need to "feel" hex and binary math to easily "compute" subnet addresses and masks.

              Comment


              • #8
                To answer your question Paul...

                Great question, I love that you brought that up!

                I thought about it and an aspect of GTD that seems to be automatic at this point for me, is doing things that can be done based on where I am. For example, I find that immediately when on line at a Starbucks or anywhere else I have down time, I go right into my system to see what I can get done, based on my context. It has become second nature to me.

                Another is mindsweeping. I tend to do it very often (not just at Weekly Review) but several times throughout any given week.

                How about some other long time GTDers???

                Comment


                • #9
                  Exactly!

                  Sums up perfectly for me why it has taken so long to get GTD going. It took me ages to get and understand the organising of my next action list, then once going on that I focussed on a complete projects list, then on backlog, then focussed on organising my project support, then focussed on getting my paper inbox to zero, now focussing on getting my email inbox to zero... I've had to get each one going and memorised before able to focus on the next one. You need to be able to remember the earlier bits off by heart before moving on to the next challenge.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ctklai View Post

                    It would be interesting to have responses from a variety of long time GTD practitioners about what's automatic for them.
                    Are you asking if some of the principles were already automatic to us when we first started?

                    Or are you asking if after practicing for a long time we now find some things have become automatic?

                    If it is the first, then I will say that probably nothing was automatic, because it was all new to how I done things, and I had to put in effort to learn those new skills.

                    If you were hoping that you could read the GTD book and just automatically have GTD down pat, without effort, and without having to go through the learning process, then that is just not a realistic expectation.

                    However, if it is the second, then I have been practicing GTD for about 5 1/2 years now and what I find is automatic for me are, checking my calendar, then next actions lists at the beginning of the day, and my context lists throughout the day, the 2 minute rule (that was the easiest and quickest) and the weekly review.

                    For others things, I still have to remind myself, and am still working on are things like emptying my email inboxes (I don't always check my email everyday) using my tickler folder, and clarifying/managing/reviewing the perspective levels which you learn about in Making it all work.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      For me, perhaps each thing is somewhere along the scale from not-automatic to automatic.

                      In Effectiveness Training based on Thomas Gordon's material, we were taught that one tends to progress through these levels (though one also jumps around at times):

                      First, incompetent and unaware of it; then still incompetent, but aware of it; then competent, and aware of it; and finally, competent and unaware of it ... doing things right without even noticing that that's what you're doing.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The magic within the arrow

                        I can't take credit for the original question about "automatic" -- still waiting=for an answer from ctklai.

                        My additional thinking follows, and I see it aligns with what others have discussed.

                        We all know that GTD is a Systematic Approach to Getting Things Done. I see three things within here to expand/expound on.

                        1. To ctklai's point, there is a definite and clear system to learn GTD that has principles, rules, guidelines - whatever you want to call them. Based on understanding the system, it goes towards what Marci was mentioning about doing stuff while standing in line at Starbucks.

                        In my world, if I "have" to stand in line (eg Post Office) I love it because it gives me time to catch up on my @Anywhere list -- typically iPhone focused. By having the GTD methodology, these actions are possible and go towards being productive.

                        You could say that there is an "automatic" thought process to consider doing a GTD-type action when the opportunity arises -- this happens more from awareness of the GTD effect. After standing in line for 10 minutes I felt good about what I accomplished.

                        2. Within the word "Approach", I think there may be a golden nugget to uncover. There is nothing in my opinion randomly added to the Workflow Processing & Organizing map. I'm seeing an arrow between "Stuff" and "What is it?".

                        For me, this arrow is the Achilles Heel (no pun intended on the arrow allusion) of my path towards Personal Productivity. This could also go towards what ctklai was referring to about "Automatic". If I don't have a 100% belief in: myself, GTD, and so forth, then all of that could show up within this arrow as a question -- "What's in the way??". Why is it that I'm not asking "What is it?". Why am I wanting to fast-track the processing and have some magical computer automation do the thinking for me? What meaning is there in actually answering the question? And so on and so on.

                        As long as my human-ness has to answer the question "What is it?", then the experience of GTD being "automatic" will be restrained by any drag or resistance within the arrow.

                        3. Getting Things Done. I'm either working "in" my GTD system or I'm working "on" it. If I'm working "in" it, I'm asking questions specifically about projects and actions. If I"m working "on" it, I'm musing about how to automate it.

                        I could say that if I'm not effectively Getting Things Done in my life, then I'm not really authentically doing GTD as the system is designed - I've heard folk say, "Oh yeah -- I don't need to read the book, I already do parts of GTD". I know there's latitude allowed, but if my actual actions are outside of the GTD Systematic Approach, is there something to ask or uncover about why is that? Maybe something within the arrow?

                        Final question then is what part needs some attention within the arrow? Until that's answered, let's not fixate on the word "automatic".

                        Enjoying the discussion on this forum.

                        Paul

                        Originally posted by marciturk View Post
                        Great question, I love that you brought that up!

                        I thought about it and an aspect of GTD that seems to be automatic at this point for me, is doing things that can be done based on where I am. For example, I find that immediately when on line at a Starbucks or anywhere else I have down time, I go right into my system to see what I can get done, based on my context. It has become second nature to me.

                        Another is mindsweeping. I tend to do it very often (not just at Weekly Review) but several times throughout any given week.

                        How about some other long time GTDers???

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          That is something that I still need to work on. It's hard to be stress-free when I am working.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            the magic within the arrow

                            As long as my human-ness has to answer the question "What is it?", then the experience of GTD being "automatic" will be restrained by any drag or resistance within the arrow.

                            Is that a good thing?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by shane_k View Post
                              Are you asking if some of the principles were already automatic to us when we first started?

                              Or are you asking if after practicing for a long time we now find some things have become automatic?

                              If it is the first, then I will say that probably nothing was automatic, because it was all new to how I done things, and I had to put in effort to learn those new skills.

                              If you were hoping that you could read the GTD book and just automatically have GTD down pat, without effort, and without having to go through the learning process, then that is just not a realistic expectation.

                              However, if it is the second, then I have been practicing GTD for about 5 1/2 years now and what I find is automatic for me are, checking my calendar, then next actions lists at the beginning of the day, and my context lists throughout the day, the 2 minute rule (that was the easiest and quickest) and the weekly review.

                              For others things, I still have to remind myself, and am still working on are things like emptying my email inboxes (I don't always check my email everyday) using my tickler folder, and clarifying/managing/reviewing the perspective levels which you learn about in Making it all work.
                              I agree the view.
                              I have practiced GTD for more than 1 year, some actions are automatic, checking forecast calender in OmniFocus, finding actions in suitable context, reviewing ervery week. It is stress-free in work and in life.
                              I have already read "how to read a book(chinese edition)", the book is not relate to GTD.

                              Comment

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