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GTD as a comprehensive life strategy?

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  • GTD as a comprehensive life strategy?

    Although relatively new to this board and philosophy - it appears most apply these concepts, theories, and practices to the "work life" much more consistently than "personal life". In the beginning of GTD- DA points out how he considers everything in life to be "work" so he does not distinguish between the two. I find it is absolutely essential to make a distinction between work and personal life. I must maintain stong boundries there. I am curious how others implement GTD? Is it a global influence for you or applicable to your professional life exclusively?
    I am already spending too much time, too much energy on work life opposed to personal life now IMO- and I am uncertain how GTD can help me achieve and maintain a BALANCE. I most often put work related "next actions" at a higher priority level than personal life issues that really need the attention and focus. I need more hours in the day I suppose. I know I must also learn to detach more consistently from "work issues" so I can focus on personal life. Not sure if this makes any sense to anyone else.... but I am "stuck" here within GTD and not sure how to get beyond this.

    ______________________________________________
    kross1026@hotmail.com
    (my member account here (kross1026) is again not working - so I am posting as a guest)

  • #2
    I personally make a definite distinction between @home and @work. One of the reasons is that I work full time as a web developer and I also have a side business doing web development; I don't want there to be any conflicts of interest there.

    Everything is one system and uses a combined calendar, however my next action lists have separate contexts. My contexts are:
    @Work
    @WorkWaiting
    @WorkSomeday/Maybe
    @WorkProjects
    @Home
    @HomeWaiting
    @HomeProjects
    @HomeSomeday/Maybe
    @Errands

    My @Home... lists have items from my personal stuff, my two side businesses, my church, and everything else. Even though I am salaray and therefore "always on the clock" I still try to keep work as its own context. If and when I am full-time self employed I will likely do away with the separation but for now I need it.

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    • #3
      Re: GTD as a comprehensive life strategy?

      I've actually found GTD very helpful for finding more balance between my work and home life. In addition to a demanding science/research career, I've got three kids (teen to baby), a household, community obligations, and my own interests to manage.

      GTD has been such a help because I know what all of my obligations are and where I am with them all. I went through serious "project identification shock" while getting all of the projects at work and home out of my head and into a system but it has been well worth the effort.

      I know I get more done then I did pre-GTD but the biggest benefit for getting it all out of my head is that I am much more "present" with my kids and spouse at home. My NA lists scare me sometimes (especially after a night last night with a baby that was up every two hours!) but for me the thinking has already been done -- I just plug in with the energy and context and move things along. If I don't "plug in" to get the next thing done, then when I am ready to deal with my projects (work or home) it's all there! I don't have to keep track of everything (in my head) for all obligations all the time. That revelation has given me more creative freedom as a scientist, mom, and person then I every thought possible when I picked up the GTD book years ago.

      I really try to keep boundaries between work and home obligations and knowing exactly what I'm obligated/engaged to do in both spheres makes it even easier to stay focused (i.e. since one of my projects is meal planning and part of my weekly review is to make sure I'm covering my projects I know what's for dinner so I don't have to think about that during work time -- it's autopilot).

      To the original poster, what is it about GTD that doesn't seem as applicable to your personal life v. your work life?

      Meg

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      • #4
        Yes, both personal and professional

        I agree with Meg (nice post btw) that David Allen's method is applicable to both your personal and professional life. If you've ordered your professional life completely, you run the risk of having your personal life suffer imho.

        Another way to look at it: the aim is to get everything out of your head and onto paper or into your palmpilot. But, are those pesky personal details ("buy diapers", "fix creaking door") gone the moment you enter your office? No, they'll happily bother you during your workday. So that's a David Allen-like argument in favour of doing both the personal and the professional stuff the David Allen way.

        Just to give an idea I'll also post my todo categories:
        • @computer personal
        • @computer work
        • @home (cleaning etc.)
        • @work location 1
        • @work location 2
        • @city/errands
        • @study room (administration etc. at home)
        • @whiteboard (brainstorming etc.)
        • Waiting for
        • Someday/maybe
        • Projects work
        • Projects personal

        Reinout

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        • #5
          applicable to personal life?

          Thanks for all the input and advice.

          Meg - GTD applies to work life for me much easier at the strategies seem dry, logical and methodical. GTD doesn't however seem to apply to some aspects of personal life as it seems to lack any emotional component. Personal life issues I just cannot easily define as "work" or "stuff". I can definitely endeavor to achieve a "mind like water" while at work (detaching from the politics etc)....but having such an emotionless or empty mind set about personal matters seems counter-intuitive to me. I can see however the need to put some personal issues aside and not dwell on them in order to Get Things Done .....but I cannot void my myself of these issues entirely by simply dumping them into a collection bucket and processing them into next actions.

          Perhaps that is why I feel a need for more than GTD. Incorporating some of the Franklin Covey or Anthony Robbins strategies into the GTD framework will probably work for me. They seem to focus more "affectively" by incorporating ultimate mission, vision, and values.

          Getting things out of my head will indeed make me more "present" for personal matters---that is a great point, Meg.

          Thanks for guiding me along this journey

          Comment


          • #6
            Out of your head, onto a list

            "..but I cannot void my myself of these issues entirely by simply dumping them into a collection bucket and processing them into next actions."

            I don't think you should be trying to empty your head or be emotionless about this stuff. I think the idea is to not have them nagging at you insidiously all the time, to get them written down somewhere, and then take a look at them once in a while.

            Maybe you are worried about writing them down because somebody else might see them?

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: applicable to personal life?

              [quote="kaross1026"]I can see however the need to put some personal issues aside and not dwell on them in order to Get Things Done .....but I cannot void my myself of these issues entirely by simply dumping them into a collection bucket and processing them into next actions. /quote]

              When I first read GTD my response was like yours -- yep -- this will be great for work but my personal life isn't something that can be reduced to a sterile list of Projects and Next Actions. I started implementing GTD as a work-life-only strategy to try to get a grip on too many projects. Slowly it expanded to my personal life and I've never looked back. I thought it was all the projects at work that were making me feel overwhelmed but the real freedom came from realizing how many unfulfilled (but yet undefined) committments I had in my personal life. Once I really dumped all of those into my GTD system I felt a tremendous relief.

              I don't want to give the impression that my personal life is simply a string of collection buckets/projects/next actions. For example, much of what goes on with parenting for me isn't something that can be checked off a list. However, there is much of the day-to-day stuff that when not attended to can really get in the way of me getting to the things that matter the most to me as a parent.

              It's pretty easy to track getting medical forms filled out for scout camp or making sure all the kids have new summer sandals that fit. However, there's no checklist item for me for really communicating with my teenager or taking the time to cuddle or play with the baby. I deal with those in my own variation of the weekly review. For me, I process the buckets (inbox at home on Thursday night; inbox and email at work on Fridays) and then I go through a series of 90 to 100 questions about my life (work and personal). None of them are essay questions -- all yes/no or short answer but they help me to keep checking in on what's important.

              Some of the questions range from "How has my sleep been?" to "Have I been a good friend?" to "Am I developing intellectually at work?" to "Have I explored something that is important to one of my children (art, music, books, etc)?". For many of the questions, I may not have "done" anything in a given week, but knowing that I will go through it weekly gives me a great sense of freedom and progress.

              These questions are a great warm up to going through each project and evaluating what is going on. As a consequence I'm getting a more realistic project list (i.e. my Someday/Maybe list is now twice as long as my active Project list which is opposite of what it was a year ago).

              My work life and personal life influence each other and I don't see it being any other way. However, GTD helps me be very clear about what is or what is not happening in either sphere.

              My advice would be to just give it a try for your personal life -- spend a few weeks just collecting all the things on your mind for personal committments, dreams, ideas, needs, etc. Just keep a simple list of what pops into your mind and spend part of your Weekly Review reading through the list. I'm willing to bet that you will actually come up with many projects and ideas that you really need to take care of (housekeeping kind of things) or really want to do (interests, relationships etc).

              Meg

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              • #8
                Meg, I love your list of questions. I'd love to hear more of them if they aren't too personal to share.

                It seems like most people tend to start implementing GTD in one area first - either work first and then personal next or vice versa. I've been using GTD at work for about 2 years, but only in the recent months have gotten really serious about implmenting it at home. By that I mean making sure that my undone stuff in my personal life isn't rolling around in my brain. I had key things incoporating into GTD, but not EVERYTHING.

                The pivitol step for me was making sure I had enough collection tools at home because my process is differnet than at work. I got a digitial recorder to use in my car - this was a huge step forward for me. There was an amazing amount of "stuff" rolling around in my brain while driving - many of them things that have probably passed through my mind a hundred times and I've not written them down anywhere. Just recently, I starting keeping a notebook by my bed to catch stuff while reading before going to sleep. I keep a notepad in the bathroom, etc.

                It has been shocking to see what I was not catching. This stuff WILL inflitrate your brain while doing the work from your professional life. I'm realizing in a sense that if we don't apply this to both work and home, our brains will "steal" time from one area to deal with the one we aren't paying attention to. If we don't proactively work to tend to both areas, our brains will force a "balance" that will be chaotic and stressful.

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                • #9
                  glad to know...

                  I am not the only one who at first thought GTD easily applied to work and more challenging to apply to all aspects of personal life. It is a process and I am sure I will be able to utilize GTD with my personal life. I have no worries about keeping potentially "sensitive data" secure/confidential-I either would keep it locked in my Palm Pilot or on a secured floppy disk/password protected document.

                  Yes - I can see where I may need a few different tools at home too- I like the voice recorder for the car idea... and great questions, Meg.

                  Thanks everyone

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                  • #10
                    The secret about the lists

                    If I got it right, the sense of all that "list-making" in GTD is to have the time, creativity, energy and detachment that you want and need for all those activities that should never be written on your lists.
                    Please read THE BIG SECRET ABOUT MY LISTS .

                    Rainer

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