Forum

  • If you are new to these Forums, please take a moment to register using the fields above.
Announcement Announcement Module
Collapse
No announcement yet.
Procrastination, Perfectionism and GTD Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse
X
Conversation Detail Module
Collapse
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Procrastination, Perfectionism and GTD

    I have always been a procrastinator and perfectionist and see the GTD should be helping me to beat these related twin evils on unproductive work. However, I still seem to be doing both despite having a pretty tight system set up.

    I tend to procrastinate on NA's that I really dont feel like doing, but also bigger projects such as writing business plans. In fact my major problem is that I can never see an end to writing such plans. Ive wanted to start a business for years but i never get past the planning stage.. I write copius amounts but never 'finish' the plan let alone start the business. I seem to have a mindset that says that there must be a 'perfect plan' in place before its even worth me getting started on implementing business ideas.

    Does anyone recognise this problem or have any methods (perhaps within GTD approach) that might move me from overplanning to action?

  • #2
    Re: Procrastination, Perfectionism and GTD

    Originally posted by neil0007
    I have always been a procrastinator and perfectionist and see the GTD should be helping me to beat these related twin evils on unproductive work. However, I still seem to be doing both despite having a pretty tight system set up.

    I tend to procrastinate on NA's that I really dont feel like doing, but also bigger projects such as writing business plans. In fact my major problem is that I can never see an end to writing such plans. Ive wanted to start a business for years but i never get past the planning stage.. I write copius amounts but never 'finish' the plan let alone start the business. I seem to have a mindset that says that there must be a 'perfect plan' in place before its even worth me getting started on implementing business ideas.

    Does anyone recognise this problem or have any methods (perhaps within GTD approach) that might move me from overplanning to action?
    I would humbly suggest focusing on the end result and literally getting a crystal clear vision of yourself successfully running a business. I would also suggest accepting the fact that things sometimes go wrong and that you WILL make mistakes, so you will never have the perfect plan. Finally, I would suggest thinking through the "What if..." question. I know that I used to procrastinate by asking myself questions like "What if this goes wrong?" and "What if this happens" and that would be enough to stop me from taking action. Now I "think through" these questions by answering these questions, rather than simply stopping myself with the question. For example, if I ask myself "What if this action doesn't work?", I answer the question with something like "I can then try options x,y,z".

    I do recognize what you're going though and I call it the "muddled middle" thinking. Your thinking is not at the level of your goal and not at the level of the next actions you could be taking. Your thinking is at the level of all the stuff in between and I was stuck at that level myself for years. I would suggest getting the book "Unleashing the Warrior Within" by Richard Machowicz because it has specific strategies for getting past the muddled middle thinking.

    Comment


    • #3
      re: gator ash

      Hi

      Thanks for this - the book you recommend seems ideal

      do the concepts he suggests integrate with GTD OK?

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: re: gator ash

        Originally posted by neil0007
        Hi

        Thanks for this - the book you recommend seems ideal

        do the concepts he suggests integrate with GTD OK?
        I think so. In one section, the author breaks actions leading up to goal into primary and secondary targets. The primary targets are the most immediate actions you can accomplish towards your goals. The secondary targets are harder/take longer to achieve. The author suggests focusing on the primary targets and I thnk this is similar to taking the next action.

        Comment


        • #5
          The answers posted by neil are right on target. I'd like to add one succinct quote from John Bogle (of mutual fund fame). He was referring to financial planning, but I believe it applies equally to all planning.

          Bogle says, "The greatest enemy of a good plan is (the dream of ) the perfect plan."

          Comment


          • #6
            great quote

            i will put that in a checklist!

            Ironically the reason I love GTD is that it is a complete system - appealing to the perfectionist in me

            Comment


            • #7
              I did a quick re-check on the source and in the interest of clarity I noticed that Bogle attributes that quote to Carl van Clausewitz - the Prussian military tactician.

              Comment


              • #8
                Does anyone recognise this problem or have any methods (perhaps within GTD approach) that might move me from overplanning to action?
                Neil - I am by no means perfect in this respect but I have found a couple tricks that help me a great deal (Afterall, as David says, "It's all about tricks!")

                During my weekly review I ask myself the following questions:
                - What would you really like to be free of? What discipline is needed where, to accomplish that?
                As I look over my projects list (and yes, eveyone needs a projects list!) this brings to light anything on which I've been really procrastinating. Last week I realized that I had 4 books that I have been reading for the last three months or so. This past week I decided to spend my evening focusing on finishing those books. I worked down my "read and review" pile completely and also finished 3 of the 4 books.

                I carry a Palm Tungsten T2. I also have a 45-minute commute each morning and afternoon. Sometimes I will just dump ideas about a project into my voice recorder. When I get home or back to the office I will transcribe those notes into my project support materials. I find that I get really energized about a project when I'm brainstorming while driving. When I review those same notes after writing them down, that same energy comes back to me and I feel all motivated to work on it.

                Finally, I try to make sure that I have a well defined next action. This is something that will require no thought whatosever -- something that I can just do. If it has been on my list for very long I will sometimes identify a new next action even more simple than the one before. For example if "Design XYZ web site template" is too overwhelming I will change this to "Play with design for XYZ web site in Fireworks". If this is still too overwhelming I might change it to "Position Logo and tagline for XYZ web site design". This last one is something that I could do no matter how tired or overwhelmed I might be. It does get me to open up the program and position a couple of necessary elements on the canvas. Once I get started I'm usually OK to continue, I just need to get started.

                Concerning the perfectionist piece, I've wrestled with this myself. I've always hated the phrase "good enough" because I feel that it carries a negative element to it. I prefer to say that something is either good or it isn't. I'm learning that good doesn't mean perfect. It means "good". It is actually OK, most of the time, to stop at good. Sometimes I feel like I'm lowering my standardsby doing this but the truth is that I am still doing good work and it's doubtful that anyone except myself will ever know that it isn't "perfect". This can be a challenge, especially for the more brilliant people among us, that tend to see the overall picture, including possibilities, too easily. This is one area where I feel it is helpful to just try to "dumb down".

                I hope these help and good luck in finding tricks that work for you!

                Comment


                • #9
                  John Bogle Reference

                  I saw that excellent quote from John Bogle and googled it. Turns out it was in a newsletter I never read, that I drag into my email Read & Review folder once a week. It is even stronger in the fuller context. Here it is:

                  "The Prussian General Clausewitz has said, ‘The greatest enemy of a good plan is the dream of a perfect plan.' And I believe that an index strategy is a good strategy. But many of you … seek a better plan, if not a perfect plan, no matter how great the challenge, no matter how overpowering the odds against implementing it with extraordinary success." [John Bogle]

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    About perfectionism.

                    I can say I was a perfectionist until I understood that it is all the matter of attitude. If you believe that you are right in 95% of your activity you are right. Even if sometimes you are wrong you can treat your mistakes as steps in the right direction.
                    There is no success without some risk. There is no possibility that you will be able to create a perfect plan. Can you forsee the lottery win, tornado, Osama terrorists attack or car crash? NO! So ACT NOW! You can't avoid the uncertainty.
                    TesTeq

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      We can expand this whole notion of perfectionism/planning into the area David discusses on the FAST CD. He talks about planning and how, by definition, planning involves STEPPING INTO THE UNKNOWN. If everything about a project was already known, there would really be no need to plan - you could just do it.

                      So once we accept the need to plan, we implicitly accept the idea that there are unknowns, and therfore at the outset we give up any notion that a perfect plan can be devised.

                      Or, to recite a Donald Rumsfeld statement (which I've heard some very shallow-minded people pretend not to understand),
                      "As we know, there are known knowns.
                      There are things we know we know.
                      We also know there are known unknowns.
                      That is to say we know there are some things we do not know.
                      But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don't know we don't know".

                      For me, that last category sometimes has the capaciity to keep me awake at night.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Planning

                        I accept all of thi stuff at an intellectual level BUT i know that any new business needs some planning to make it work. Anyone got an idea on how I can see when planning is complete - mine just never ends!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Planning

                          I accept all of thi stuff at an intellectual level BUT i know that any new business needs some planning to make it work. Anyone got an idea on how I can see when planning is complete - mine just never ends!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Planning

                            Originally posted by neil0007
                            Anyone got an idea on how I can see when planning is complete ...
                            Did you ever evaluate your plans, e.g. Planning Evaluation ?

                            Rainer

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Small Minded Person Alert

                              ehem. Remember, you started it.

                              For you small minded history buffs, get your googles started, The Mr. Donald H. Rumsfeld quote on perfectionism was from a Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing (before the fun started - ed.)

                              I actually like the quote from D.H. Rumsfeld, being a Donald, it is always nice to see other Donald's get quoted.

                              Using the proposed 'Rumsfeld Decoder Ring for Knowledge Workers®' and the 'Power of Perfectionism®' we can tell that in his case he had this situation when he was making his plan:

                              Known Knowns - We have a bigger military and better stuff (Resources)
                              Known Unknowns - What will happen after we win? (successful outcome undefined)
                              Unknown Unknowns - Unknown

                              With the Power of the Ring we can see that even though our heroes had a strong fellowship, and better armaments, because their successful outcome was undefined, their success could never be achieved.

                              This is exactly what the quote by Mr. John Bogle and that Funky Prussian General Clausewitz was referring to: If you plan a perfect business (or war) plan scenario, you will fail. Period. Precisely because of the 'unknown unknowns' the Ring shows us. Damn that thing is POWERFUL.

                              Being both small minded and defensive, I feel the need to speak out on behalf of my People. The reason us Small Minded People disagreed with Mr. Donald H. Rumsfeld's statement, is not because we don't understand his poetry, it is because he assumed that not only were we small minded, but that we were idiots as well. Because only an idiot would start a war under those conditions. If you don't believe me, just ask any Prussian General.

                              Remember the Football and War metaphors only go so far together, in football, you don't lie to your fans and kill the other teams spectators....

                              Ok, so maybe I am wrong.

                              But you Mr. spectecGTD, you are right, the ring works, but not even the wisest among us have the power to see all ends.

                              So sleep well my friend, knowing that all we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X