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Lifehack: Is GTD generally too difficult for people to use?

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  • #91
    Originally posted by Gardener View Post
    For what it's worth, OmniFocus will easily let me see that task--if I go to the appropriate context and switch from seeing "available" to seeing "remaining" tasks, the start-date-hidden tasks will pop up again.
    Yes, I can imagine Omnifocus is different. And it seems that every app I have used so far is different from any other other. You always seem to to have to tweak and work around it in some ways to make the app behave in a way that makes sense to you.

    FWIW, personally I am not entirely sure I would completely like the behavior you describe for Omnfocus. For one thing, I am not sure I would always want to have to go to a separate context view to see them, but I could probably live with that. More importantly, I would not want to have my "true/hard" ticklers mixed up with any "soft-tickled/prioritized" items that I might actually want to consider doing even before the date. The "true" ticklers ("definitely premature or impossible" before a certain date) I really would not want to see, but these "soft-tickled" "low priority" items I would want to see clearly in order to be able to consider doing them. (But maybe you could use a tag etc to distinguish soft and hard?)

    I definitely agree that tickling things can be useful even if the date is not carved in stone. The example you gave about bulbs sounds very plausible (even though I do not know anything about bulbs). Even if it is not strictly impossible to start now, there may be obvious advantages etc if you wait (for example, context-energy type synergies etc), and the unnecessary delay may not matter much. So I am not trying in any way to sway you out of using that method or claim that it is wrong. But it is not always the best.

    Let me give you a silly-simple example of where the soft tickler approach will not work well. Say you have a tarnished door handle. You find it a bit ugly, and although it is no super big deal, you are definitely prepared to pay the few bucks it will cost you to buy a new one. But the only place to buy them is in some very inconvenient place that you do not often go to, and you are not willing to take the time to go all that way just for the handle, so you will do it whenever you have something more important to do there, which could be tomorrow, next month, next year... If you soft-tickle that task for some later date, the location will still be equally inconvenient, and the chances that you will have any other business near that location on your Next list on the date when the tickler shows up are quite slim, so you will usually re-tickle it. The task will tend to never get done unless you make it a habit to scan these low priority Next actions in some more systematic fashion. In the app I am currently using, colored/sortable priorities is the most obvious way (in fact, it was one of the main reasons I changed apps).

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    • #92
      Originally posted by Folke View Post
      Let me give you a silly-simple example of where the soft tickler approach will not work well. Say you have a tarnished door handle. You find it a bit ugly, and although it is no super big deal, you are definitely prepared to pay the few bucks it will cost you to buy a new one. But the only place to buy them is in some very inconvenient place that you do not often go to, and you are not willing to take the time to go all that way just for the handle, so you will do it whenever you have something more important to do there, which could be tomorrow, next month, next year... If you soft-tickle that task for some later date, the location will still be equally inconvenient, and the chances that you will have any other business near that location on your Next list on the date when the tickler shows up are quite slim, so you will usually re-tickle it. The task will tend to never get done unless you make it a habit to scan these low priority Next actions in some more systematic fashion. In the app I am currently using, colored/sortable priorities is the most obvious way (in fact, it was one of the main reasons I changed apps).
      I think that we're back to comfort with list length--I absolutely don't want that action showing up unless it's actionable or I'm in review mode. The colored priorities won't make me any happier about seeing it.

      There are at least three ways that I could handle this situation in OmniFocus. In any of them, the "buy new door handle" task would have a Context of "InconvenientPlace". I would want that task to disappear under normal circumstances, to appear when I'm at InconvenientPlace, and to be seen once in a long while in case I decide that I want to accelerate it. The three ways are:

      1) I could give the task a start date in the distant future (say, six months) so that it disappears from my usual views. If I go to InconvenientPlace, I will check all tasks in its context, whether they're start-delayed or not. I'll see the task at some review interval as well, so if I get impatient I can change it and plan on going to InconvenientPlace.

      2) Another way to handle this would be with OmniFocus Perspectives. A Perspective can include tasks from one or many contexts and one or many projects, as well as various start/due date/availability characteristics. My everyday perspectives could exclude the InconvenientPlace context, and another perspective could include it.

      3) Another way to handle it could be by setting certain perspectives to be On Hold or not On Hold. For example, I used to frequently travel between two cities. I had a few contexts that were duplicated for each city--City A Errands, City B Errands, City A At Home, City B At Home. When I traveled from one city to another, I would set the other city's contexts to On Hold. I could, of course, accomplish the same thing with two sets of Perspectives, but this felt simpler.

      Methods 2) and 3) have the advantage of not corrupting the use of Start dates, but the disadvantage of being, to me, less simple.

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      • #93
        @Gardener

        I agree that methods 2 and 3 sound a bit cumbersome. They sound very much like what is usually called "saved searches" or "smart lists" etc in other apps.

        You mention contexts, and that's an area that could be further developed in most apps - quick ad hoc exclusion of unavailable contextual factors would be really great, but I won't get into that here - it has been discussed in other threads.

        Mind you, the colored priorities in Doit are not only, and not primarily, just colored. They are also sorting/grouping/filtering parameters, and I usually have the low priority stuff appear at the bottom of the Next list, so I do not really have to look at them (unless I scroll way down), but they will always show up if I filter for that particular context, contact etc, still at the bottom of that filtered result, but now more visible since the list is now shorter. I find this extremely convenient, but we are all different.

        And these low priority actions of mine are, in fact, actionable now - otherwise i would keep them in Someday/Maybe or as Ticklers.

        Anyway, it is always good to compare methods and setups.
        Last edited by Folke; 11-29-2013, 04:12 AM.

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        • #94
          The minutae

          Originally posted by AJS View Post
          Addressing the central topic, one of the reasons GTD can seem so complicated is that David Allen has been very specific on the minutiae of the productivity process. This is where other "simpler" systems tend to obfuscate, but that doesn't mean the problems go away. You still need to know how to file reference material. It's still nice to have some advice how to define projects and action items even if you don't need it.

          While there are other methods out there that have their own strengths, I really appreciate that GTD pretty much covers every level from small actions to life plans and there is advice available on how you might implement it. Which other productivity guru has provided so much specific information at such a low price entry level?
          This is so well said. I think this makes the book a great starting point for someone who is serious about becoming more productive.

          At the same time, the reality is that most people depart from the book's detailed prescriptions for any number of reasons: cultural differences, work loads, individual style, inability to follow so many new habits, change fatigue, etc. They "hack" GTD in their own way and end up with solutions that are better or worse.

          If this is in fact a reality, then the next level of advice that would be helpful is: "How do I depart from the book effectively?" Or at the very least, "On the way to perfect implementation of GTD, what do I need to focus on learning first, second, third, etc..."

          Great comment - lots more food for thought than I have addressed here.

          Francis

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