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Still overwhelmed until I finish the 6 phases of project

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  • Still overwhelmed until I finish the 6 phases of project

    Hi,

    Since I've started GTD, I notice that all my tasks are going to a project direction more than just do it.

    and by this, I can't move to next action until I go through 6 phases: purpose, principals, vision, brainstorming, organizing and next actions.

    so I do not execute, until it is completely for a clear purpose and all data collected, which still catches my attention.

    for more than 3 projects, I have to seat for 3 hours to have them in the last phases : executing next actions.

    any advise GTDs.

    Thanks

  • #2
    I'm confused. This doesn't sound like GTD to me.

    Can you offer a more specific example?

    Comment


    • #3
      your answers gives me hope that I might be taking it from wrong direction

      Well, at certain point, all my tasks are single actions to be done now, at a certain time or context or waiting for somebody to do it.

      but when it comes to more that a step action (named project as per GTD concept I guess), there are phases of defining the outcome and brainstorming the next actions.

      example: changing career
      when I collect this "Stuff" and put it as project, my first action will be obviously to define the purpose of this by fear of losing track of doing the right thing.
      for this first action (which is writing purpose) I'll try to do it for example in the next free 1 hour when I have full mental presence (morning for me).
      but still my mind is not release from this "stuff" until I finish brainstorming and getting first action which is may be updating CV or even start searching for a job.

      this means the more the fist next action is far from the end of the project, the more I'm overwhelmed.

      Comment


      • #4
        Relax, it's much easier than it sounds.

        Yes, for big projects, you might want to spend time thinking it through in detail. You'll feel much better about the project once the edges are defined and you know what you're doing.

        In the meantime though, dump everything else that's floating round your head onto a piece of paper and stick it in a file you make for the project. Just because you haven't defined the purpose yet, doesn't mean you have to keep other thoughts in your head. Your head will be quieter when you've written down everything that's floating around and you've decided your next action is to plan the project.

        But for smaller things, simplify it. It doesn't need to take an hour for every single project. For example, you decide you want a new photo printer. This project took about 3 minutes to think through...
        Why are you doing it (purpose)? Because you love your family and want to put their pictures up on the walls so you can see them.
        What will or won't be acceptable in getting that end result(principles)? You won't steal one (of course!) or borrow money to buy it.
        What would be a successful outcome (vision)? Printer purchased and set up, ready to start printing.
        What can you think of on the subject (brainstorming)? Brand names, types of printer, where you might look, budget, anything else that springs to mind. Does it need to be a printer - what if you printed using an online la
        What would you need to do to move it forward (may be multiple next actions)? Go online and google for photo printer reviews. Ask friends for recommendations. Look in an office supply store next time you're in there.
        Add those things to your next actions lists and perhaps create a folder to store any information that you find (organise)

        Comment


        • #5
          Very good points from @vbampton.

          And I may perhaps add to that:

          The awareness of a distinction between the concrete action (what you will do), the desired outcome (the desired state you will have attained), and the purpose of this in a larger perspective (higher goals etc), is something that applies in principle at all levels (horizons). It is not the case that you should be sloppy just because something is a single action, and meticulous just because it is a project. As @vbamption so correctly points out, the bigger and complicated and important something is, the more reason you have to think extra carefully. Always give everything the "right" amount of consideration.

          As you indirectly say yourself, in GTD a project is not necessarily a "project" in the normal sense. It can be any tiny "task" that you have split into "sub-tasks".

          As for your example, "changing career", I am not sure I would see this as a GTD project at all (i.e. 10 k level; those projects are often quite small). I would probably treat it as a higher GTD goal (30-40k, depending on how narrowly you define it) and I would think it through very carefully. It might later entail constituent projects (or tasks, whatever) as diverse as getting some complementary education, relocating, persuading your spouse, finding a temporary part-time job while you are studying, applying for scholarships etc etc)

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Kais View Post
            example: changing career
            when I collect this "Stuff" and put it as project, my first action will be obviously to define the purpose of this by fear of losing track of doing the right thing.
            for this first action (which is writing purpose) I'll try to do it for example in the next free 1 hour when I have full mental presence (morning for me).
            but still my mind is not release from this "stuff" until I finish brainstorming and getting first action which is may be updating CV or even start searching for a job.

            this means the more the fist next action is far from the end of the project, the more I'm overwhelmed.
            I think that you are very likely overthinking. Yes, if you don't think something through from every single angle, you might make a mistake and perform an action that isn't the perfet next action...

            And that's ok. In fact it's expected. It's normal. I would argue that if you're not making some mistakes, you're thinking too much. In particular, when the risk is low, it's fine to make mistakes.

            For example, on "change career". You probably do want to think long and hard and in detail before you actually quit your current job. But that doesn't mean that you need to think long and hard and in detail before you take actions to investigate other careers. Maybe you order a book about becoming a professional writer, and then learn that the odds of making enough to support your family in that profession are unacceptably low, and, oh, no, if you'd done the actions in the *right* order--checking average income first--you wouldn't have made the mistake of ordering a book you didn't need.

            And? So? Unless the price of that book kept you from paying the mortgage, that was an essentially harmless mistake. And taking that action quickly, without tearing your hair out over it, probably left you time to get other valuable things done.

            I don't think that the thinking and planning in GTD is intended to keep you from ever making a mistake. Instead, I think that it's intended to (1) get things out of your mind so that you can focus on the task at hand and (2) prevent you from putting a lot of effort into things that you haven't thought through *at all*.

            For example, imagine that you're spending four hours every weekend tending a manictured yard, and you're never finding time to pursue a hobby that you love. Occasionally thinking through your actions and priorities would probably lead you to see that as something to be corrected. That's the kind of big-picture value that you can get by thinking through your life.

            But fearing mistakes and thinking everything through to perfection is just going to keep you frozen and unable to live that life.

            If I were using GTD to drive a career change, I can imagine the following:

            - An action in my "single action" list that says, "Create a project about changing careers."

            - A few days or weeks later, I'd create the project. I wouldn't spend hours at it, I'd spend three minutes: I'd create a project called "Investigate changing careers." I'd give it a first action of: "Write the first action for this project."

            - Later, probably in the next review, I'd look at that project and give it a first task of, "Spend twenty minutes brainstorming careers." So far I've spent perhaps five minutes on this project.

            - Then I'd do that task--I'd spend the twenty minutes. So I've spent perhaps twenty-five minutes on the project.

            And so on. The next action, remember, doesn't have to be the very best next action you can come up with. It's just an action that makes the project progress. So my next action might be to buy a book about being a professional writer. Or to send off for brochures for continuing education classes from all the local colleges. Or to investigate what degree (associated, bachelor's, master's, etc.) and what sort of licensing is required to become a landscape architect.

            In other words, I just thrash around, trying this and that. That's entirely appropriate, IMO, for a research project like this.

            Again, mistakes are fine. Overthinking will paralyze you.

            Comment


            • #7
              Another scenario: What if the project is "cook at home more often" or, to do the goal-phrasing thig, "Cooking dinner at home at least five days a week"? You *could* sit down for a long time and evaluate why you want to cook more often, and what life goals it fulfills, etc.

              Or you could just write a project "Cooking dinner at home at least five days a week" and add a Next Action of "Buy ingredients for chicken and dumplings."

              Three minutes. It could be that simple. It's fine for it to be that simple.

              Sure, there are different reasons for cooking. But you probably know what triggered you to want to cook.

              If your reason was that the kids are eating too much unhealthy food, it's unlikely that you're going to look around the dinner table one day next year and realize that you've been cooking classic French cream sauces and the kids are actually fatter. Similarly, if your goal was saving money, it's unlikely that you're going to abruptly realize that you've been cooking foie gras and truffles for a year.

              If you *want* to write a list of your goals for cooking, that's fine. But unless those things are actively nagging at you, I don't see it as a prerequisite.
              Last edited by Gardener; 11-25-2013, 02:18 AM. Reason: Because I couldn't bear to leave my typos in place

              Comment


              • #8
                Very good and important points from @Gardener!

                And if we go full circle, this also demonstrates clearly why reviewing is so important in GTD. It is a constantly evolving plan we have in front of us, not a pre-programmed set of actions carved in stone with fixed dates and fixed definitions. Each time we review our lists we can improve, clarify, expand, contract what we had thought and written before.

                And I might also add that I personally often leave things in a state of deliberate vagueness even when I have a clearer mind, not only to keep the lists simple but also in order to not lock myself in. Here is a silly-simple example:

                Say you want to paint the wall green. This is an action or project (something you will physically do). The outcome will be for the wall to be green (a desired state). Now, if you think of this in terms of the desired outcome (to be green) you may notice alternative ways to accomplish this, not only paint it green but also other solutions such as tear down the phony mahogany veneer and expose the green wall that is already behind it, or hang up green drapes. Which of these three alternatives is best may in turn depend on the purpose at a higher level - for example, is this part of a permanent remodeling/refurbishing of the room or is it part of the ambience setting for a particular conference. Although I may be fully aware of all these aspects and options that I have just mentioned, I may well choose, at an early stage, to just write something simple and fluffy like "Turn wall into a forest-like backdrop" (and perhaps make some additional notes about the main options I have recognized so far). Then I can clarify this, and make exact choices, as I go - during my subsequent reviews.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Kais View Post
                  example: changing career

                  I would suggest that work on this project is time spent wisely.


                  This comes up every once in a while so it's probably worth mentioning on a general level: It's not GTD's fault that you don't have enough time to do everything you want to do. You may never have realized that fact of your life before GTD, but really it's just the messenger here. There's a deeper philosophical stance that GTD encourages, I think, around the relative merits of happy-and-deluded versus informed-and-depressed, but that's getting a bit more off-topic than even I'm comfortable with.




                  Cheers,
                  Roger

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thanks to all.

                    I think a got "a" message based on your experiences. this proves that GTD isn't a magical way to make everything fixed from the first review you do just after reading the book, but a way to release me from being distracted by everything while I'm doing the current task.

                    I think I'm too "planning" before jumping in to a "natural" first step. which I have to learn and enhance my review checklist and my tools.

                    Other thing, is that depends on the "Stuff" that is jumping into my life; if it is a ToDo it is much relaxing and GTD will put the reminder where it should, but if it is a problem or a risk that requires more than simple next actions, naturally it will capture my mind until I release this risk or see the light at the end of the tunnel.

                    Again thanks to all for spending sometime answering, I guess you have great purpose/vision of helping and networking

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Roger View Post
                      This comes up every once in a while so it's probably worth mentioning on a general level: It's not GTD's fault that you don't have enough time to do everything you want to do. You may never have realized that fact of your life before GTD, but really it's just the messenger here. There's a deeper philosophical stance that GTD encourages, I think, around the relative merits of happy-and-deluded versus informed-and-depressed, but that's getting a bit more off-topic than even I'm comfortable with.
                      These are issues I am dealing with at the moment. The most frustrating thing for me is the length of time it took for me to realise these things, meanwhile I get older and keep feeling that I am not really achieving things and my "real life" never gets started. I'd like my children to make these realisations as soon as possible in their lives but am not sure how I would teach such a vague thing to them. Other than just open and honestly explain my life experiences and conclusions to them, at age appropriate intervals and hope that they just "get it". Or just teach GTD, age appropriately again, so that as young adults they've got uncluttered minds free to discover their true will. I'm normally a big fan of learning by experience but these concepts just take too long to learn and life is too short!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by treelike View Post
                        I'd like my children to make these realisations as soon as possible in their lives but am not sure how I would teach such a vague thing to them.
                        Yes, isn't that thought a bit sad, and challenging. We know, of course, that this is how the world and evolution works. Each generation must find wisdom for itself, influenced in many ways by the inputs and examples of the previous generation, but ultimately controlled by them themselves. As a parent it is not easy to let go, or even to realize that these insights that we now have, that have taken us decades to build and are so precious to us, will one day be gone with the wind. Just like the inaccessible, perhaps valuable, insights of our now dead parents.

                        Maybe we should start a separate thread here about how we can better concentrate and present and demonstrate the most clear-cut and essential wisdoms for the benefit of our children?

                        Personally I have found myself struggling with my children, as my own father did with me, to see the difference between the "problem" and the "action", i.e. the age-old expressions "what is actually the problem", "what would you consider to be a satisfactory result", "what different approaches can you think of; which one seems best", "what's the first thing you then need to do", "have you actually done it yet or are you just whining?" etc. That seems to be a tough one for every generation, but once you get it, you almost cannot understand why others don't get it. What is it that makes this so unintuitive?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Folke View Post
                          Personally I have found myself struggling with my children, as my own father did with me, to see the difference between the "problem" and the "action", i.e. the age-old expressions "what is actually the problem", "what would you consider to be a satisfactory result", "what different approaches can you think of; which one seems best", "what's the first thing you then need to do", "have you actually done it yet or are you just whining?" etc. That seems to be a tough one for every generation, but once you get it, you almost cannot understand why others don't get it. What is it that makes this so unintuitive?
                          I thought these were intuitive but then again I'm at the start of a steep learning curve as my children can't talk yet (one isn't even born yet). From my own experience the resistance to answering those questions has maybe been due to a lack of honesty with myself about what the problem really is. Feeling that the real problem is so unpleasant that I don't want to face it and pretend that it's something else. I guess GTD has helped me in clearing my mind of the humdrum stuff (and maybe not so humdrum stuff) so that my mind could wander on to the stuff I was unconsciously trying to repress. That may be a good reason for teaching the GTD mindset as soon as possible.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by treelike View Post
                            I thought these were intuitive...
                            Then I am quite sure you are one of a fortunate few.

                            Most kids that I have met, or I myself when I was a kid, tend to stop at the problem stage (or dream stage) and just ruminate - "The teacher is unfair", "Everything is so boring", "I wish I had a million dollars", "We need a better team spirit" etc. And I have met many adults who have exactly those tendencies, too, despite their age. They have a difficulty moving on from the "problem" to a course of action. Or vice versa, they have gotten an intended action on their brain, and cannot explain what good it would do if they actually did that.

                            For me it was only gradually, in my upper teens and early twenties that these things started to dawn on me (until then I had just seen it as my old man's constant nagging). And it was only in my late twenties or early thirties that this had become second nature (acquired intuition), I think largely because I had a job that forced me to interact with other people and get things done by agreeing on next steps, a shared purpose/vision etc. It became necessary to think in these terms. I suppose for young kids, or for adults with jobs where they are expected to just "obey orders", there is a lesser need for this type of insight to develop.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Folke View Post
                              Maybe we should start a separate thread here about how we can better concentrate and present and demonstrate the most clear-cut and essential wisdoms for the benefit of our children?
                              There are a lot of examples of how to teach GTD concepts to kids in the GTD Connect forums. Ranging from how to start with pre-school kids up to college. You might want to join and check those out to get ideas.

                              Comment

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