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Best Time Management

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  • Best Time Management

    Although I've listened to "Getting Things Done" and "Ready for Anything" several times on tape, I still find the Covey books "Seven Habits" and "First Things First" to be the core of my life and time management philosophy. I find myself wishing that David Allen and Stephen Covey were working for the same company. I find Allen's "Ready for Anything" to be a great book of insights on how to better implement Covey's "First Things First." Many of Allen's insights are things that Covey himself is not that good at expressing, for example the Psychic RAM concept.

    I have also learned a lot from Allen's book GTD. But where I part ways with Allen is in Chapter 9 when it comes time to make the decision on what to actually do at any moment. After 8 chapters of meticulous preparation in task organizing, I can't believe that Allen then just says "trust your heart" to make the decision. To me, this is exactly why I and others tend to manage time badly. I think that Covey's "perspective of the week" is where it's really at. If I were to just "trust my heart", I would spend all my time doing trivial things, and the truly important tasks would rarely get done.

    The other book I've found helpful is Rita Emmett's "Procrastinator's Handbook."

  • #2
    But if you truly have everything down in the right context then you should be able to trust yourself to do the right thing. In Covey terms I see that as "integrity in the moment of choice". Trust your lists, and do what's on your list. If it really needs to be on your "hard landscape" than put it there.

    Comment


    • #3
      I understand the problem you express, but I believe you are oversimplyfying the process by which the tasks get onto the lists (the first 8 chapters). You can really "trust your heart" when you have done all the thinking at the front end. Before an item even gets onto a list you have already

      1) Defined a successful outcome;
      2) Decided the very next thing (N/A) that needs to be done to move you toward that outcome;
      3) Placed that N/A on its appropriate context list; and
      4) Included the overall project in a leak-proof comprehensive regular review (weekly or more).

      Incidentally, the weekly review is where your "heart" is being tuned in order for you to be able to trust it.
      Last edited by spectecGTD; 07-01-2005, 12:56 PM.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by serotta
        But if you truly have everything down in the right context then you should be able to trust yourself to do the right thing. In Covey terms I see that as "integrity in the moment of choice". Trust your lists, and do what's on your list. If it really needs to be on your "hard landscape" than put it there.
        That's how I see it as well. I think that Covey's methods work great, if you work in a vaccum. I can't tell you how many times I sat down on Sunday and "planned my week", down to the ABC's & 123's, only to come into work on Monday and find that none of it was relevant anymore - My boss's priorities had shifted, fires had to be put out, etc. My weekly plan was toast in a matter of 10 minutes...

        And I also found that when I WAS able to work according to my pre-planned priorities, "C" stuff never got done - which was a problem. They weren't necessarily "important" or "urgent", but needed to be done none the less.

        Personally, I am MUCH more productive with GTD than I ever was with Covey. Just my $.02.

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        • #5
          Best Time Management

          I have "read them all"...from Lakein's classic all the way through to current best-sellers. After reading all of the classic time management books my desk was still a mess, piles were everywhere, and it was disheartening to look at an ever-growing dog-eared "to-do" list which cluttered up an already junked up desk.

          Then David's book Getting Things Done came along. Miracles do happen...the desk is now clean...file cabinets are orderly....the in-box is empty and collecting dust....the "to-do" list is a thing of the past, and my powerful engine "the tickler file" is hidden away in a drawer inside my executive desk and roaring to go.

          To make a long story short, David's "system" is simply the best.

          Danny Hardesty

          www.dannyhardesty.com

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by spectecGTD
            Before an item even gets onto a list you have already [done a lot of planning.]
            And then, this planning helps you winnow down your commitments to a list you really can do in the next week. So if you're fully committed to all your Next Actions, it shouldn't matter what order you do them in.

            That's my theory, anyway.

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            • #7
              I have "read them all" as well and I have actually come to a very nicely balanced blend of both Covey and Allen. I won't go too much into the detail of my implementation, but I do sort out all my projects by role and then break the actions down into contexts. I use Covey's compassing to plan my hard landscape (but not every second of the day) each week and then I use GTD to fill in the gaps as I go through the week. So in simple terms, I use Covey for my calendar and Allen for my tasks/projects and I find they work beautifully together.

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              • #8
                Wow, I just posted my query about exact same thing in another post here! Glad I saw this -- this is resolving some of the issues for me.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by jkgrossi
                  That's how I see it as well. I think that Covey's methods work great, if you work in a vaccum. I can't tell you how many times I sat down on Sunday and "planned my week", down to the ABC's & 123's, only to come into work on Monday and find that none of it was relevant anymore - My boss's priorities had shifted, fires had to be put out, etc. My weekly plan was toast in a matter of 10 minutes...

                  And I also found that when I WAS able to work according to my pre-planned priorities, "C" stuff never got done - which was a problem. They weren't necessarily "important" or "urgent", but needed to be done none the less.

                  Personally, I am MUCH more productive with GTD than I ever was with Covey. Just my $.02.
                  Hear, Hear!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Desultory
                    And then, this planning helps you winnow down your commitments to a list you really can do in the next week. So if you're fully committed to all your Next Actions, it shouldn't matter what order you do them in.

                    That's my theory, anyway.

                    Wow! That's a great point!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Covey's method is a better system for time management that Allen's because it is a system for time management. GTD is a different paradigm. It's a system for managing focus from moment to moment within a complete inventory of projects and actions.

                      Time management models are only effective to the extent that they minimize the number of activies they track. Hence the recurring advice to concentrate on the top three things, or to codify tasks by ABC, 1-2-3 or quadrant assignments. These systems lack the bandwidth to sustain a complete list of open loops. So prioritization is used to reduce one's conscious awareness of all the open loops that would overload the systems (try putting your 200 next actions on your calendar). But every open loop, little or big, is a piece of conscious awareness diverted.

                      By contrast, the GTD system tracks everything that holds sway on our attention, from writing the novel to feeding the cat. The real rigor of the system is in capturing everything as soon as it enters your head and processing it soon after. So there's no free lunch. But unless you intend to become a full-time productivity geek, you can't maintain the discipline of ubiquitous capture and micromanage it all in a priority matrix with no modifiers for time, energy and context.

                      Time management is best suited for defining work or doing predefined work. But these systems are too ossified to adapt to work that suddenly shows up, or for seizing windows of opportunity when appointments are delayed or cancelled.

                      To trust your intuition, you need to free your intuition by emptying your head, making decisions what to do about everything that came out of your head, and place those results where you'll see them when you can actually do something about them. Once this becomes a reliable habit, then trusting your heart to decide what to do next becomes an informed decision.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I think that every other system fits inside GTD. Whatever your method for deciding what to do – be it “trust your heart”, Brain Tracy style prioritization, Covey role related etc –your decision will be made so much easier if you have all of your stuff nailed down in a fully up to date GTD system.

                        “Trust your heart” isn’t such a bad model: we all have a pretty good idea of what we really should be doing, and GTD gives you the energy and freedom to go for the right task when the context is right and when you know that EVERYTHING else is not forgotten but is listed for later execution.

                        GTD is a way for managing all of the stuff that is coming at you all of the time. You need the focused part of your brain, your psychic Ram, to be at its best to deal with all of this stuff… You do not want to use you psychic ram as a storage area.

                        We are already born with a set of needs that are looking for fulfilment: family, social, civic, spiritual, creative etc. Covey guides us towards making sure our week's plans are based around those areas so that we can feel more fulfilled as human beings. But he has not invented those roles; he is just reminding us that we will feel better if we fulfill those roles. (Tony Robbins is more direct about this in RPM – he reminds us that in life all we want to do is feel good, and we will feel good if we identify our roles in life and plan our week around them).

                        What David Allen recognizes is that our life is all about our project lists. What goes so your project lists? All the things that are rattling around in your head crying out to be done. And here is the link – all of those nagging open loops in your head are incongruities between how you want your life to be (in line with your basics human needs – family, creative, etc) and how your life actually is. It is very unlikely that any of these open loops come from anything else but your basic human needs.

                        Now, how do I decide what projects should go on my active project list? I only need to be reminded once that I should keep projects on the go that cover a range of human needs – father, husband, creative – after that, it’s as obvious as remembering to bring an umbrella on a rainy day.
                        Last edited by Busydave; 07-02-2005, 04:05 AM.

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                        • #13
                          This BB contains many useful, informative threads and is a great resource for ideas about numerous aspects of GTD. However, without detracting from any of the other discussions, I would like to say that from the standpoint of doing an overview (i.e. backing off & looking at the whole game) this is one of the most interesting threads I've seen on this BB in a long time.

                          I hope others will continue to add their thoughts.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Moving to the next level...

                            I am a basic guy...I like to keep things simple and explain them the same way. I am also a big Flanklin Covey fan. When I had GTD referred to me, I read it relunctantly until about the middle of the book. I even debated my friend about it a lot. He kindly said "Just keep reading". So, I shut up, and kept reading. Then it clicked. So, I now liken all this stuff as follows:

                            I liken the Franklin Covey stuff to having a Bachelors degree. It is a great base on what to build a great future education.

                            I liken GTD to a Doctorate, not only theory, but LOTS of practical. Now, I truly understand workflow. I don't even "A,B,C" anymore because I DO trust my instincts.

                            Franklin Covey is amazing stuff and I will never shoot it down. But GTD was and is my continued graduate program.

                            I hope that helps a little.

                            Bob

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                            • #15
                              Get your Doctorate first!

                              Bob, I liked your analogy, but then I would have to say "Get your Doctorate first!" I too was someone who "read them all." What I found was that it didn't matter what my goals were, or my roles for that matter, it all boiled down to next actions in the end if I wanted to "Get it Done." In addition, if I didn't get a handle on what was on my plate now, I had liitle room to think about or implement the higher altitude stuff.

                              GTD changed everything for me. I was able to get my head into a space where I was peaceful enough to think clearly about my goals. Then, I was able to efficiently move forward on what I really wanted, as well as put the rest of life "in its place." Add to this the other benefits such as knowing your limits so you don't take on more than you are able etc.

                              I think you can "add" to GTD if you want coaching at higher altitudes, but you cannot substitute it with something else. As David says, it is not "a system" it is "the system" because it teaches what is most fundamental to getting *anything* done that you are truly committed to.

                              Best Wishes,
                              Gordon

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