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  • Quickly 'projectize' your todos

    Hey all --

    Was playing with Ecco Pro (great tool!!) and something obvious hit me. I had a lot of 'stale' tasks in my to-do lists and they were causing me stress everytime I looked at them. What I did was to create a "Effort" field and attempt to quantify how much effort each task takes, from Low, Medium, or High.

    The key insight for me was the realization that all the "High effort" tasks should become their own projects! (Maybe even the "Medium" effort ones, too.) Ideally, everything on your list should be broken down into the "low" category so that looking at this list doesn't stress you out, and that everything seems manageable.

    I know that an item shouldn't go on your to-do list as a single item if it consists of more than one task -- but for some things, the fact that they SHOULD be broken down into more than one task is not obvious. Identifying these stress-causers by analyzing how much effort is required was the key for me.

    Apologies if this is an old concept, but it struck me as a rather useful attempt to de-stress your to-do lists
    -John

  • #2
    projectizing

    Excellent post! That's the wonderful essence of this forum! A new take. Reminds me of learning to ski -- hearing the same instruction a zillion times, feeling frustrated; then someone slips in a new "ski thought" -- "Imagine there's a $100 bill in the front of your boot" -- and bingo! You're bending your knees. Thanks for a good idea to start a Friday.

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    • #3
      Re: Quickly 'projectize' your todos

      Originally posted by jddqr
      . . . I had a lot of 'stale' tasks in my to-do lists and they were causing me stress everytime I looked at them.
      . . . The key insight for me was the realization that all the "High effort" tasks should become their own projects!

      . . . Ideally, everything on your list should be broken down into the "low" category so that looking at this list doesn't stress you out, and that everything seems manageable. . . .

      -John

      Your posting reminds me of a similar experience. Way far in back of my house, in my container garder, were a half dozen different salad greens -- which like cool weather, so they are the last 'crops' of the season.

      This year I never got around to emptying the containers, putting all the soil and roots in the composter . . . indeed, the weather has been extremely cold --- so, in order to clean out the pots necessitates bringing them inside and disposing of the dead greens.

      I've NO idea why I "wouldn't" do this task, and since I don't really like 'psycho-babble' I didn't try to analyze my "resistance."

      Anyway, it took me over a week to finally get around to the NA of "Bring Salad Pots to basement."

      I was going to delay the actual task of cleaning the pots til after the holidays.

      About ten days later, I happened to walk past the place I stored those "frozen" plants ----- unbelievably, they are all now very very very much ALIVE and thriving.

      I've watered them, and got them under lights for 7-10 hours a day.

      I have NO idea how dead-looking, brown, appeared frozen Salad Greens came back to live, but they sure did --- and I'd have NO idea that I could have an "inside" salad garden for the Holidays if I'd simply done that gardening chore in early November as I usually do.

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      • #4
        Re: projectizing

        Originally posted by bets
        Reminds me of learning to ski -- hearing the same instruction a zillion times, feeling frustrated; then someone slips in a new "ski thought" -- "Imagine there's a $100 bill in the front of your boot" -- and bingo! You're bending your knees.
        bets, you've hit on a great idea for a new thread: One Sentence Advice that Led to a Breakthrough.

        Another example: When towing a trailer for the first time and you get nervous, pretend you're driving a Volkswagen.

        splat

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        • #5
          Wow... breakthrough indeed

          ... this idea just made me realize how many 'big things' I've been putting off / avoiding because I'm afraid of getting started on one, then getting caught with my (so-called) next action unfinished.

          I felt like "Scan wedding pictures into computer" was a single task, in a single context, so it should be the NA. Now where in a real life am I going to get the 6 hour block that might just take?

          Now I'm going to ensure that my NAs are drilled down so that what's listed takes roughly 20 minutes or less... I feel like I can almost always give myself that much time, no matter what else is going on.

          Very powerful thought! Thanks, John!

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          • #6
            Re: Wow... breakthrough indeed

            Originally posted by zen_tiggr
            ... this idea just made me realize how many 'big things' I've been putting off / avoiding because I'm afraid of getting started on one, then getting caught with my (so-called) next action unfinished.

            I felt like "Scan wedding pictures into computer" was a single task, in a single context, so it should be the NA. Now where in a real life am I going to get the 6 hour block that might just take?

            Now I'm going to ensure that my NAs are drilled down so that what's listed takes roughly 20 minutes or less... I feel like I can almost always give myself that much time, no matter what else is going on.
            What I do with iterative NAs is to revise the starting point to keep them current. In the case of "Scan wedding pictures into computer," it really is a next action since it has no dependencies (assuming you have the scanner, prints, and everything else you need). So you can define the next action as "Start scanning wedding pictures into computer"; and when you've done even 1, you get to mark the item off. The next actions would be revised to "Scan wedding pictures 2 onward into computer," then "Scan pictures 127 onward," etc. -- wherever you left off last. The idea is to turn an amorphous blob into a concrete, current starting point that reflects your progress and reminds you that you are making progress.

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            • #7
              Since I'm still a newbie with GTD I am a little hesitant adding my approach here, but here it is:

              I process my NAs randomly (next index card picked with closed eyes) - I understand that this is not always practicable (taking lesson 3 of your fingerpainting class in your office...) and not the most effective way to go, but it helps me argueing with myself and sometimes its great fun. Whenever I feel myself resisting too much (does not happen often) I leave it out. When I'm done I extract a 2 minute (let it be 10) action for some less ambitious outcome and do it right then (so I don't have a bad feeling for not doing sth.) and break down the rest for the next iteration.

              This is no way to go in the long run, but it really helps me getting a feeling for the maximum size of some atomic next action.

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