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  • #16
    Originally posted by supergtdman View Post
    Keeping track of your tasks is a matter of bookkeeping and I’ve moved from a double-entry to a single-entry system. It also cuts the review time in half trying to decide context assignment.

    This is, I think, part of the problem with GTD. It overloads us with silly analysis over what the next action is — “Move hand forward; Pick up pencil; Move pencil over paper; Lower tip towards paper …); or what “@Context” a given action belongs to. And so on.

    To each his own: If your larger life goals are to be the quickest email-processor, bill-payer, and errand-completer that your friends and family have ever known, then by all means make sure those tasks are organised and completed with the utmost efficiency.

    What GTD doesn’t acknowledge well is that the really important stuff gets done. Automatically.

    Contexts are poor discriminators for deciding what to do (too many things can be done in my office, online, etc.); far more importantly, CONTEXTS ARE PLACES I GO TO IN ORDER TO EXECUTE PRIORITY ACTIONS, not the reverse.
    I'm going to try to explain this as nicely as I can to you, and to mark1968. It's certainly true that a lot of people have made GTD very complicated. It's really not a complicated system, and I think the David Allen Company does a very good job of explaining and modeling universal best practices. Like you, I've done away with "double entry" lists where next actions are linked to contexts and projects. Unlike you, it's the explicit project connection that I've dumped. Every next action is associated with a context. I didn't dump the project connection lightly. I understand very well the natural human desire to plan and prioritize, and the emphasis that traditional time-management places on these activities. However, I found that I absolutely needed a system that was fast, where it was absolutely clear where new items went and what needed to be done. The system also had to be leakproof. It turns out that I am pretty good intuitive judge of urgency, importance and time required if I have a system that meets those requirements and use it faithfully.

    I do not want to put words in your mouth, but it seems to me that you are trying to extrapolate from your own experiences and attitudes to something universal. My experience is that really important stuff does not get done automatically. Sometimes it gets done in a panic, and other important things get neglected. I spent some time yesterday grocery shopping for my elderly parents and then spent an hour with them in their apartment visiting. If I don't shop for them, they don't have food for lunches. However, I have a lot of other things to do that are important and/or urgent, and they all have to be done too. I need to be an effective errand-runner precisely because I have other things to do besides run errands.

    Yours,
    Mike

    p.s. Maybe you should change your nom de plume if gtd isn't doing it for you?

    Comment


    • #17
      Originally posted by supergtdman View Post
      ...overloads us with silly analysis... If your larger life goals are to be the quickest email-processor

      Supergtdman - your thoughts are sound without the sarcasm and putdowns.

      Comment


      • #18
        Originally posted by supergtdman View Post
        Contexts are poor discriminators for deciding what to do (too many things can be done in my office, online, etc.)
        I'd put it a different way - contexts were designed to rule out the thing's you CAN'T do right now, freeing you up to concentrate on the things you can do.

        CONTEXTS ARE PLACES I GO TO IN ORDER TO EXECUTE PRIORITY ACTIONS
        If something's not important to you, GTD would suggest it shouldn't be on your lists in the first place. If it's on your lists, the assumption is you think it's important enough to do the next time you can.

        Comment


        • #19
          My experience is that really important stuff does not get done automatically. Sometimes it gets done in a panic, and other important things get neglected. I spent some time yesterday grocery shopping for my elderly parents and then spent an hour with them in their apartment visiting. If I don't shop for them, they don't have food for lunches. However, I have a lot of other things to do that are important and/or urgent, and they all have to be done too. I need to be an effective errand-runner precisely because I have other things to do besides run errands.
          This is an example of a shopping list as a context which is one really useful "context" though.

          One premise of GTD is that as far as your mind goes, all open loops are created equal. Now, is that really true? My experience and observation over the past several years has led me to believe that it's not. Big, nasty tasks take up way more mental and emotional energy than little ones. I simply do not stay up at night wondering whether I will remember to get the butter at the grocery store.
          And on the other hand if things are REALLY important to me then I will do them without any list.

          The Example of Steve Jobs, he wasn't just batch processing unrelated actions based on a certain context:

          Steve Jobs would set aside different days or parts of days for different focus areas. According to Isaacson’s biography, Monday morning Steve would meet with his top management team. Wednesday he would be meeting with marketing team. Friday (before he sold Pixar) he would drive up to Pixar’s headquarters and spend the day working on Pixar. And Sunday evening (according to Walt Mossberg’s accounts) he would frequently set aside to call up his contacts in the press.

          The end product of GTD could itself be a problem. Instead of spending time doing important stuff, you become a slave to your lists. It’s on the list, do it. Imagine Steve Jobs just doing random calls because they're all in @calls list, then doing some actions from @computer list, etc. It just doesn't make any sense at all whatsoever. Being able to focus on what matters isn’t going to be possible if you have a list that bosses you around.

          There’s a bit of irony here, though. For many folks, these unique and specialized systems for promoting productivity can actually become points of friction themselves. They end up holding people back more than they free them. And it isn’t because the methodology is flawed; it is because methodologies are stereotypes that pigeon-hole people into roles they weren’t meant to inhabit.

          Nowadays there is an increasing focus on creativity and thinking outside the box, as businesses struggle to stand out and innovate, and NOT on mindlessly doing next actions from a context.

          Yes, batch processing actions from a context could be more efficient than switching between contexts but not effective.

          Comment


          • #20
            Originally posted by supergtdman View Post
            Imagine Steve Jobs just doing random calls because they're all in @calls list, then doing some actions from @computer list, etc. .
            If Steve was following the GTD principles properly, he wouldn't have that problem, because he'd be doing his weekly review and the only phonecalls on his @calls list would be ones he really needed to do.

            Your weekly review puts you in charge of your lists. Without the weekly review, THEN you have lists that boss you around. GTD doesn't exempt you from making priority decisions - it just gets you to make them during a quiet reflection time instead of in the heat of the moment.

            Comment


            • #21
              Originally posted by supergtdman View Post
              The end product of GTD could itself be a problem.
              I think this is true for almost anything... exercise, religion, etc. Left to my own devices, I can whittle away the day on the internet reading about my beloved hockey team. GTD - and other productivity/life management systems - help stir me in the right direction... at least some of the time.

              In the spirit of your statement above, I think you'll enjoy Seth Godin's take on GTD and life hacking here

              Comment


              • #22
                If Steve was following the GTD principles properly, he wouldn't have that problem, because he'd be doing his weekly review and the only phonecalls on his @calls list would be ones he really needed to do.
                It doesn't matter. All phone calls would be important but also completely unrelated. It's not like he would be calling press and then the next thing he would be calling his wife and then somebody else, etc. just because he is in @phone mode. You see, this is surely efficient but ridiculous.
                He was not choosing available actions from contexts, he was focusing on the results and switching contexts whenever necessary. I think this makes a lot more sense, especially when all your contexts are always available.

                Comment


                • #23
                  Originally posted by supergtdman View Post
                  It doesn't matter. All phone calls would be important but also completely unrelated.
                  If you've thought them through during your weekly review, it doesn't matter if they're completely unrelated. You've already thought about the results you're focused on during your weekly review, and now the time's to get those things done in the most efficient and effective way possible.

                  You're not forced to stay in the same context. Contexts can be used for batching similar tasks, if you so choose, but the context lists purely present you with the options of things you can choose to do at this point in time.

                  I don't really get what your problem is. GTD is made up of principles, not rules. You adapt the principles to suit your own life. If you don't need multiple contexts, don't use them. The point is really simple - write stuff down so you can keep your head clear and focus on the things that are important, and step back from the 'busy work' during the weekly review to think things through properly. It's common sense.

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by vbampton View Post
                    You're not forced to stay in the same context. Contexts can be used for batching similar tasks, if you so choose, but the context lists purely present you with the options of things you can choose to do at this point in time.
                    Yes, Kelly has mentioned many times how she will "snack on her lists." David Allen has been even more clear: having lists can make it ok to do things that were never on any list. There's no mechanical algorithm, just striving to make clear choices.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      I like David's advice on what to do when being unclear about what to pick from the list:

                      Jump a horizon higher and get clarity there. If the project list isn't helpful in the moment, look and clarify your areas of focus. If that doesn't help, look at your goals, etc.

                      I'm pretty goal-driven, so I use my goals list a lot to help me stay focused.

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Interesting level of detail!

                        Originally posted by supergtdman View Post
                        This is, I think, part of the problem with GTD. It overloads us with silly analysis over what the next action is — “Move hand forward; Pick up pencil; Move pencil over paper; Lower tip towards paper …); or what “@Context” a given action belongs to. And so on.
                        Do you really have to operate at that level of detail? Interesting!

                        Originally posted by supergtdman View Post
                        What GTD doesn’t acknowledge well is that the really important stuff gets done. Automatically.
                        Not in my case.

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Overlooking things...

                          Originally posted by supergtdman View Post
                          Steve Jobs would set aside different days or parts of days for different focus areas. According to Isaacson’s biography, Monday morning Steve would meet with his top management team. Wednesday he would be meeting with marketing team. Friday (before he sold Pixar) he would drive up to Pixar’s headquarters and spend the day working on Pixar. And Sunday evening (according to Walt Mossberg’s accounts) he would frequently set aside to call up his contacts in the press.
                          I agree that GTD may be not applicable for visionary CEO who operates at the strategic level. As I see from your description Steve Jobs did not need to remember about an oil change in his car or a contract termination details of the Apple store manager in Bordeaux, France...

                          Originally posted by supergtdman View Post
                          The end product of GTD could itself be a problem. Instead of spending time doing important stuff, you become a slave to your lists. It’s on the list, do it.
                          I think you overlooked this part of the GTD book (The Four-Criteria Model for Choosing Actions in the Moment at the end of Chapter 2).

                          If something is on your list you use 4 criteria model to decide if you want to do this or not. These 4 criteria are:
                          • Context
                          • Time Available
                          • Energy Available
                          • Priority
                          As the saying goes: "If in doubt - read the GTD book again."
                          Last edited by TesTeq; 04-29-2013, 03:30 AM.

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            why would this be ridiculous?

                            Originally posted by supergtdman View Post
                            All phone calls would be important but also completely unrelated. It's not like he would be calling press and then the next thing he would be calling his wife and then somebody else, etc. just because he is in @phone mode. You see, this is surely efficient but ridiculous.
                            I honestly don't see why this is ridiculous? Working through phone calls because you are in @phone mode can be very efficient, especially of you don't like making phone calls and every (first) call is like overcoming a barrier. Doing one phone call related to 1 project and then continue working on that project because you're in that project-mode can also be very efficient.

                            One of the great values of GTD is exactly that. That everyone makes up his own system with those elements and approaches that are working for them. I don't see why the approach someone else is using should be labeled as ridiculous just because it's not working for you.

                            I always find this forum is a very powerful source of all sorts of gtd-approaches, and even if some of them don't seem to work for me (and maybe never will) just knowing that they do work for someone is a plus.

                            greetings,
                            Myriam

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              I don't really get what your problem is.
                              I don't have a problem.

                              As the saying goes: "If in doubt - read the GTD book again."
                              This is a FRESH look at contexts, no need to re-read gtd book like some sort of bible.

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                If something is on your list you use 4 criteria model to decide if you want to do this or not. These 4 criteria are:
                                Context
                                Time Available
                                Energy Available
                                Priority
                                When there are important, high priority, next actions that are key steps in achieving your 10,000, 20,000, 30,000, 40,000 ft and above goals, you simply cannot let the four criteria get in the way.

                                Get in the right context. Find the energy. Find time.

                                If you are constantly talking to colleagues and coworkers and checking off those agenda items, constantly driving around and checking off errands, constantly on the phone and checking off those items, but never at your desk to tackle the big action, you simply have to rework your allocation of time. Stop talking to other people, stop driving around making sure you pick up the nails from the hardware store and the butter at the grocery store in one trip, turn off the phone, and get to your desk.

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