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How do you handle creative work with GTD?

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  • How do you handle creative work with GTD?

    I would like describe some hypothetical scenario and ask how would you handle it in your system?

    Lets assume that is Sunday morning and you are doing your weekly review and
    • You have committed to finishing some piece of creative work by Friday and it is important to you to meet that commitment
    • You know from your experience that it should take about 4 hours of uninterrupted concentration to finish it
    • The concentration is relay required, you asses that with many interruptions work may take at twice that long (not counting interruptions, only time spent getting back in the zone)
    • Your next reek looks busy but you estimate that you should have time to do it with significant margin
    • You have made sure that this work is not blocked any external factors, you have all resources and external information needed

    How would you put this in your NA list, project list, calendar, ...?
    How would you emphasize the deadline and prevent it from being preempted by busywork?

  • #2
    Excellent question! As far as I'm aware, standard GTD methods don't actually handle this type of thing all that well, so I look forward to others' answers.

    I would probably do one or more of the following:
    • Put it on NA lists with an asterisk and a mention of the deadline, e.g. "for Friday"
    • Make one or more appointments with myself: e.g. two 4-hour time slots in case the first one doesn't work out, and move them rather than cancelling them if other things come up; and schedule time to eat just before etc. The idea of appointments with oneself is mentioned in the GTD books although it seems to me to run counter to the other GTD principles.
    • Keep remembering all week that this is important, with a feeling of determination and creative energy.
    I might approach my NA list thinking, "Let's see -- I really want to get that creative project done; let me just check whether there's anything more urgent than that that I need to worry about in the next couple of days."

    Comment


    • #3
      I would put a due date on the project. From my weekly review, I would know the project due date was coming up, and I would spend 1-2 hours a day in the early morning working on it until it was done. I could actually schedule time in my calendar for "meetings with myself", but I don't find that I need to do this. I might also spend other available time during the day on the project, depending on context, time available, and energy. Because I use software that supports flagging, I might use this feature to flag some of the next actions.

      I know this sounds like a textbook answer, where the GTD book is the textbook, but it really does work. This past week I had three such projects: high importance, firm deadline, each of around 6+ hours duration, all done by Friday. I worked steadily on all three during the week. I gave a talk to a local group Friday night, got home at midnight, then spent 12:30-4:30 AM at the ER due to a family emergency. I did miss my usual Saturday weekly review, so I need to do it today (Sunday). I don't think I'm a particularly organized person, and I'm also pretty sure I haven't reached the limits of what is possible.

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      • #4
        Calendar apt.

        Originally posted by AGrzes View Post
        I would like describe some hypothetical scenario and ask how would you handle it in your system?[*]You have committed to finishing some piece of creative work by Friday and it is important to you to meet that commitment[*]You know from your experience that it should take about 4 hours of uninterrupted concentration to finish it
        The key for me is the phrase you know it will take 4 uninterrupted hours. BY definition that makes it a calendar event for me with at least 4 hours blocked out as an appointment. Given that it's creative, and the muse may decide to visit someone else when I have time scheduled, I'd do what cwoodgold suggests and schedule at least 2 such times at different times of the day. Say a morning one and an evening one just to be sure I covered both of my typical high energy times of day. I assume you know when you are typically best able to do this sort of creative work. Your times might be different but I'd allow at least double the time jus tot be sure you had the problem covered.

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