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PDA users tip for motivation

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  • PDA users tip for motivation

    Just the other day I thought of something that has created an almost instant jolt and ongoing amount of motivation for me.

    I had been trying for a few months to keep up with maintaining all the usual GTD behaviors. I was off to a great start but in the last few weeks I felt that my motivation to complete things was not where I felt it should be.

    Then I got to thinking: I realized that Mr. Allen had been using the GTD principles for many years, even before PDAs came into being. I started GTD using a Palm because I just happen to have one. I wondered if there was something different about paper versus PDA that may be causing me to lack motivation?

    Then it hit me: On my Palm, I had it set to not show completed items (I also had a similar setting for Outlook, which is what I sync with). Whenever I would complete something, it would disappear from view, leaving only the stuff left to do. Paper lists don't work that way, so I decided to change my Palm settings.

    Once I had turned on the "show completed items" in my palm and on Outlook, I noticed an immediate boost in my productivity. I was a TON more motivated to look at my lists, knowing that I would not only see what remained, but also be able to relive the pride of completing some of my actions. Before turning on that feature, I was struggling to even look at my lists because all I saw was what I had left. Now, my completed next actions are like little trophies of accomplishment -- I am actually excited to go after them and see them checked off!

    Just wanted to pass on this tip in case any of you could benefit from it.

    Best,
    Phil

  • #2
    Phil,
    Do you then purge all of the completed items at the end of the day? If not, how do you keep from seeing not only the items you completed today, but also the items you have completed for the last 6 months?
    Frank

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    • #3
      Do you then purge all of the completed items at the end of the day? If not, how do you keep from seeing not only the items you completed today, but also the items you have completed for the last 6 months?
      Right now, I'm testing the idea of purging at my weekly review. After I review, I copy any completed items I want to remember (for status report purposes) to a separate file and then purge the rest. So far, that plan is working pretty well for me.

      Best,
      Phil

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      • #4
        Re: operant conditioning

        There is enormous psychological value in acknowledging those victories. Every time you look at them, you think something like, "hey, i am really cooking with gas here!", and you get a psychological reward.
        Its operant conditioning. "If you're good, you get a cookie".
        That's exactly right. And boy does it work!

        Best,
        Phil

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        • #5
          It seems to me that quite often any change in our system will increase our motivation simply because it makes our systems a little more fun and interesting to use. The nice thing about using digital systems is that we can make minor tweaks like this very quickly and easily and they may have a major impact on our productivity.

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          • #6
            I'm the opposite.

            When something is completed, I want it out of there. When I look at my 'to do' or Notes, I only want to see the most relevant 'stuff'.

            "We hold these truths to be self-evident"...if things are getting done, I generally don't need reminders of what I did. The thing is done. When things aren't getting done, it's usually because I'm getting bogged down in my 'system' or spinning my wheels in some fashion.

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            • #7
              Fascinating how we all are slightly different in this regard. I prefer to delete tasks permanently after they're done & see the list get smaller (so I can put more tasks on it). The psychological kick I get from pruning the actions lists is similar to the feeling I have when the last incoming item is dispatched from my e-mail in-box & voice mail.
              After 3 weeks of GTD, I'm getting more and more excited "working from zero" Can't say I'm totally there yet, but I have a clear vision of how it works & what it will feel like.

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              • #8
                I like to cross things off as I do them. It's good to see tasks keep getting crossed off (hopefully...) as the week progresses. During my weekly review, I look at the crossed off items and then remove them totally. It gives me a chance to review what I accomplished and then remove it to make the list get smaller. For me, it's the best of both worlds.

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                • #9
                  spectecGTD - If you delete tasks as you do them, how do you perform the "review" part of the weekly review? or do you just not find this important?

                  I delete all my completed tasks during the weekly review, after I've given myself one more chance to look at them and make sure that they haven't left an open loop. It's been a real lifesaver at times!

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                  • #10
                    stargazer: Being into my 4th week of GTD I'm still in the process of deciding what works best for me. At this point I'm findng that the more complex projects are best handled low-tech, by writing out the next actions on paper and then transferring selected actions to my Palm, if necessary. Some actions which are strictly limited to @office I just keep on paper - many of them don't show up anywhere else. I use the Palm primarily for tracking @anywhere, @calls, and @errands (a couple of separate categories), and some agendas. The items on the Palm are primarily the ones I'm discarding when done. In the long run, I might find that this split system isn't so effective but for now it's working well for me.

                    But your question has alerted me to a potential problem because it might be possible for something to get away from me if the completed action doesn't at least come up in the review. It's fairly innocuous to discard an errand such as "Buy file folders", but if I accidentally discard "Pay speeding ticket" without some cross-check, the results could be problematic.

                    I'm still not where I need to be in lots of areas, especially the weekly review, but I'm making progress. And just to clarify, I totally agree with you that the weekly review is essential to bring the vertical & horizontal aspects of GTD in sync. Thanks for the input.

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                    • #11
                      I seem to recall that the Time Design paper system recommended highlighting cinpleted tasks rather than erasing or crossing them off. The rational was to highlight accomplishments rather than the remaining burden.

                      Obviously wouldn't work for everyone.

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                      • #12
                        It seems to me that quite often any change in our system will increase our motivation simply because it makes our systems a little more fun and interesting to use.
                        Recently, I actually took a moment to celebrate all the work I have done thus far in developing my business. I never did this. It was fun. I bought a pair wacky looking puma sneakers. Every time I look at the sneakers, I smile and feel good.

                        Celebrating goals is VERY important. It brought back in some of the fun of what I was doing. I set a few more goals.

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