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Priorities A B, not C. Lists and Focus: guidance safety?

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  • Priorities A B, not C. Lists and Focus: guidance safety?

    [sorry if it seems again the ABC thing, it's not, or it is, but in a different way (I think)]

    Focus is your productivity "power".
    Focus depends on how sure you are of your choice (the level of trust in your guidance).
    Many options (big lists) or continuous new inputs (unclosed lists) mean lower safety of choice*.
    So i guess marking priorities = less options each time you assess lists = better focus = better productivity.

    What I don't think is that you need 2 levels: YES or NO should suffice. The meaning is: "Do I want this on my next execution cycle or not?" (be it these next 3 hours or these next 3 days on my business trip). Each end of cycle, review all probably including new inputs (paused as possible during cycle). Reviewing requires reassessing higher level horizon guidance (which also should be prioritize bynarily, evenif most likely for a longer "execution" cycle).

    So I would say YES for getting rid of items in front of you (marking priorities). NO for maintaining more than 2 levels because of maintenance/review/decision effort and time-volatility-trustworthiness of the 3rd level. If it's not for soon, get it out of your lists until next big review.

    Goncalo Gil Mata
    www.WHATSTHETRICK.com

    *(see very interesting Paradox of Choice - Barry Schwartz google talk)

  • #2
    I like the advice below about having two levels of priority max. One of the problems I've had getting into GTD is not having priorities. My stuff and actions are better organized, but I still end up not focusing on what I should. I haven't followed the thread, but I'd add the following.

    1) Allow those priorities to change on a daily/weekly level as your "incentive structure" (e.g., boss's instructions or deadlines) change.

    2) Make sure they match with whatever long-term goals you have. For me that's academic publishing.

    Great advice.


    Originally posted by goncalomata View Post
    [sorry if it seems again the ABC thing, it's not, or it is, but in a different way (I think)]

    Focus is your productivity "power".
    Focus depends on how sure you are of your choice (the level of trust in your guidance).
    Many options (big lists) or continuous new inputs (unclosed lists) mean lower safety of choice*.
    So i guess marking priorities = less options each time you assess lists = better focus = better productivity.

    What I don't think is that you need 2 levels: YES or NO should suffice. The meaning is: "Do I want this on my next execution cycle or not?" (be it these next 3 hours or these next 3 days on my business trip). Each end of cycle, review all probably including new inputs (paused as possible during cycle). Reviewing requires reassessing higher level horizon guidance (which also should be prioritize bynarily, evenif most likely for a longer "execution" cycle).

    So I would say YES for getting rid of items in front of you (marking priorities). NO for maintaining more than 2 levels because of maintenance/review/decision effort and time-volatility-trustworthiness of the 3rd level. If it's not for soon, get it out of your lists until next big review.

    Goncalo Gil Mata
    www.WHATSTHETRICK.com

    *(see very interesting Paradox of Choice - Barry Schwartz google talk)

    Comment


    • #3
      thanks

      Originally posted by bcmyers2112
      Once I've made my choices about what to do for the time being I use my list manager to put a "star" next to those next actions. The software lets me filter on those so I can focus on what I need to.
      thanks for that. I believe your are saying exactly how I do it, I just may have expressed myself badly.

      Originally posted by bcmyers2112
      I don't need a static coding system to help me make that "YES" or "NO" decision.
      you are making it temporarily static when you put your star next to the chosen ones. and I think that's exactly what best works

      Originally posted by bcmyers2112
      When I review my GTD lists I filter out stuff in contexts that aren't available to me at the moment, stuff I don't have time to do, stuff I don't have energy to do, and then I make the priority decision.
      now this is a tricky one. I know that it's great to get rid of list items we can't do at all, but... if we keep waiting for the write context to make things happen, aren't we swaping the right order? I mean: we do what can be done within the context we have, or we create the right context to be able to do the things we want? reactive or proactive?


      Gonçalo Gil Mata
      www.WHATsTheTRICK.com

      Comment


      • #4
        Fixing a roof on a plane.

        Originally posted by goncalomata View Post
        I mean: we do what can be done within the context we have, or we create the right context to be able to do the things we want? reactive or proactive?
        I cannot proactively change my context when I'm on a plane from SF to NY. Even if my top priority is fixing a roof in my house I cannot do it - both reactively and proactively.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by bcmyers2112
          Once I've made my choices about what to do for the time being I use my list manager to put a "star" next to those next actions. The software lets me filter on those so I can focus on what I need to.
          That's a way of recording priorities and using them to choose which next actions to read lists of in the short term and which to leave to look at again later. That's similar to what I do. Nothing wrong with it.

          Comment


          • #6
            Four fold model

            Originally posted by bcmyers2112
            Priority is part of the four-fold model for deciding what to do in GTD.
            I agree that grouping tasks by context is clever. I use it quite a lot. It gets me to take advantage of the context to get some things done, no doubt.

            That being said, I believe the 4 fold model it's too reactive. And I think it is what most of my clients find difficult to implement, because it's difficult to trust. If you have your systems really complete with lots of tasks, when you browse it by context, you keep seeing things that are totally secondary, along with ultra-important things. You may have "make_50.000$_urgent_transfer" next to "browse_possible_web_sites_about_music", just because there are @computer+net. And they find that quite suspicious in terms of guidance.

            I recomend separating the global repository and the guidance_sheet. The first has everything, is complete and easily browsable, enabling trustful selections. The second, valid for a certain period of time, has only whats pertinent for that period. After constructing the guide, the rest of the repository should disappear for a while. That also enhances the feeling of completeness (if you make a shorter to-do-list you can hope to get it all done).

            Gonçalo Gil Mata
            www.WHATsTheTRICK.com

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by goncalomata View Post

              I recomend separating the global repository and the guidance_sheet. The first has everything, is complete and easily browsable, enabling trustful selections. The second, valid for a certain period of time, has only whats pertinent for that period. After constructing the guide, the rest of the repository should disappear for a while. That also enhances the feeling of completeness (if you make a shorter to-do-list you can hope to get it all done).
              Yes, some people find a hot list (or whatever nomenclature you like) helpful some or even all of the time. I do. Is it essential for everyone? Clearly some people do well without it. Can over-reliance on a hot list lead to problems? From my own experience, yes. Does the form of such a list depend on the tools used? Yes.

              I don't see a problem here.

              Comment


              • #8
                One way to implement a hotlist is to label the actions on the hotlist with "A" and leave everything else labelled as "B". These can be called "AB priority codes". (Some people use stars, flags etc.) David Allen says "The "ABC" priority codes don't work." It's not clear to me whether he means all systems of marking priorities with A, B and C. or some particular system that involves doing that and using them in a particular way. It seems to me that he means they don't work for anyone, though mcogilvie says "When David Allen says it doesn't work, he means it doesn't work for everybody, all the time."

                In any case, apparently there are a number of people (including, perhaps, David Allen) who find that AB priority codes or equivalent work for them, but not ABC priority codes. That's fine; but there are other people (including myself) who find that a larger number of gradations in recorded priorities of next actions is more effective for us.

                To bcmyers2112: Thanks for saying "Your mileage may vary." and "I think what we have here is a failure to communicate." I appreciate it. Yes, I think we're having trouble communicating. We can try to work through that and figure out what's going on; or we can drop it. It hasn't been my intention to criticize anyone, but to discuss ideas, opinions and reasons. I'm sorry if saying "straw man" very briefly came across as impolite; I'm not sure what's the best way to express that idea.

                Comment


                • #9
                  "C" haters?

                  Originally posted by cwoodgold View Post
                  In any case, apparently there are a number of people (including, perhaps, David Allen) who find that AB priority codes or equivalent work for them, but not ABC priority codes. That's fine; but there are other people (including myself) who find that a larger number of gradations in recorded priorities of next actions is more effective for us.
                  Maybe some people hate the letter "C"? In this context I hate "A" and "B" too... I don't need any priority gradation except for Active and Someday/Maybe.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    A SM system

                    Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
                    Maybe some people hate the letter "C"? In this context I hate "A" and "B" too... I don't need any priority gradation except for Active and Someday/Maybe.
                    liked that. I'm about to change my A/B system into a A/SM system...

                    but what I think is the issue here, is more the time cycle of the review than the gradation itself.
                    what I find critical is not "to have or not multiple gradations", but that it allows that, at a certain moment, after all the comparisons made, I can have a period of time (be it 20 minutes or my whole day) where I can trust some fixed guide without having to make any decisions for a little while... and that's when you don't want a lot of new inputs questioning your previous decisions. mental resources of decision and mental resources of execution are very different and avoiding shifting between them goes a long way in terms of efficient use of brain power.

                    (I must confess that though i'm really really new at this forum, I'm positively overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge, and value that I already got from these first dozen of discussions I've "attended" so far. Thank you forum and everyone!! Pure gold resides in here...)

                    Gonçalo Gil Mata
                    WHATsTheTRICK.com

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      What do you want to see when you have "doing time"?

                      I think the bottom line is what do you want to see on your list of choices when you have doing time. This is my understanding of the intent of contexts, time, energy level and priority. If priorities are a bigger factor than where you are or what resources are available to you, then priority coding is the most effective way to narrow your choices when you have doing time. Which, of course, is different for everyone and the beauty of GTD.
                      Maureen

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by mommoe436 View Post
                        I think the bottom line is what do you want to see on your list of choices when you have doing time. This is my understanding of the intent of contexts, time, energy level and priority. If priorities are a bigger factor than where you are or what resources are available to you, then priority coding is the most effective way to narrow your choices when you have doing time. Which, of course, is different for everyone and the beauty of GTD.
                        Maureen
                        I agree. Thanks for taking us back up to the "what do you want to see when?" question. It's really a master key to making gtd work for each person.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Sense of control

                          Originally posted by mommoe436 View Post
                          I think the bottom line is what do you want to see on your list of choices when you have doing time.
                          Totally agree. And I conclude from my clients experiences, that seing what they are NOT going to do is part of the reassuring feeling that their choice is ok, and they can focus on that.

                          If they blind themselves narrowing too much on contexts, they don't feel this safety. They will ask "how do I know if I want to change my context?". They may be at the office and decide they must get out.

                          It must be OK to "not be doing" whatever you are "not doing", and if you can't see what that is, to a certain degree, you may lose that assurance, and consequently your ability to focus a single choice.


                          Gonçalo Gil Mata
                          www.WHATsTheTRICK

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by mcogilvie View Post
                            I agree. Thanks for taking us back up to the "what do you want to see when?" question. It's really a master key to making gtd work for each person.
                            Yes, I agree that that's a key (the key?) concept in GTD.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Totally agree. "What do you want to see when?". That's it.

                              And in my own mind this coincides exactly (for all practical purposes, anyway) with my definition of priority. (If I want to see something very often, it is probably for a reason, right?)

                              Comment

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