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Home vs. work

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  • Home vs. work

    I've been using GTD for over a month now and it has really helped tremendously. But there is one area where I'm having problems. I use the system all the time at work and I'm very happy with it there, but at home, it isn't working as well.

    I'm at work 9-10 hours a day our more. When I get home, I play with my son, do chores, etc. By the time everything is done, I have 1 maybe 2 hours of free time before I go to bed. At this point I'm tired and I don't feel like doing anything requiring concentration or planning. I usually just watch TV or read a book and then go to bed. My lists go unnoticed for days. I often don't do anything all week and then try to catch up on the weekend.

    I'm not really happy with this situation, because I would really like to get some things done during the week. I often look through my lists on the weekend and realize something didn't get done on time. There is also just a really big pile of next action items and I never get everything done. Does anyone else have this problem? How can I avoid letting everything slide until the weekend?

  • #2
    Well, there are two things that come to my mind. It sounds like either your energy level never matches what is required of you to complete the tasks when you have the opportunity to complete them OR you haven't defined your tasks specifically enough (aka "do laundry" vs. wash a load of whites). The latter I could do even on a low energy level and I would feel more energetic having done it. The former is something I would put off until the weekend because I would feel overwhelmed just at the thought of it.

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    • #3
      This is the beauty of the tickler system....not enough time or too tired...just advance the next action to the next day...

      Danny Hardesty

      www.dannyhardesty.com

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      • #4
        Home vs Work

        I can relate. I'm a single Mom, working full-time and I have ADD. When I get home at night I'm exhausted so my @home list gets the least attention of any, but I'm getting better...

        I do have a miniature routines in both the morning and evening that keep me on top of the things I'm most scared of falling through the cracks. I religiously check my Tickler file at home (and work) each morning, and my PDA is set up to scan for things like bills that need to be paid, upcoming deadlines, etc. I date more personal things than most people probably do, so it will show up on my daily calendar, as I know my @home list may not get checked for a while. I used to "tag" actions with <15 to indicate that they're less than 15 minutes - that was good for knocking things off when my energy is low. I've also tried having an @Weekday and @Weekend lists, but at this point I'm not doing that - though I should probably try that again sometime. At night my focus is on my daughter so the things I do religiously are process the things I brought home from work, the mail, the dishes, etc. During schooltime I also kept my daughter's homework assignments on my PDA so I could make sure we were on top of those (with ADD I need all the help I can get!) At times, I've also coded things @TV for things I could do in front of the TV.

        Well, those are some ideas. If I think of any more I'll let you know!

        Good luck!

        Janice

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        • #5
          That's why my house is messy.

          Hire a maid if you can afford it (they work for near minimum wage), or relax a bit on the routines, or both. I've blogged a bit about the differences between home & work here:

          http://www.marktaw.com/blog/GettingThingsDone.html

          The most relevant paragraph is probably this one:
          When I have to do any work from home - laundry, cleaning, paying bills, etc. it's a chore. Sure by keeping organized this stuff gets easier, but it's never fun because I can always be doing something more interesting. I have no motivation to do any of these things now because there's always something better to do now, and I can always do it later.
          Last edited by MarkTAW; 07-10-2005, 12:12 PM.

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          • #6
            Home time is so full...

            I have my own version of this... I split my week up for work, college classes & homework, plus a couple of other time-sucking- but-I-know- I've-chosen-to- for-compelling-reasons projects,
            and by the time I'm done, I have maybe an hour at the end of Mon through Thursday before bedtime, and weekends. I'm left trying to find time to spend with my wife, our pets (all 6 , and maybe even with myself, oh, yeah, and maybe some laundry, and maybe some dishes, hmm, forgot the yardwork, and eventually maybe even my _Projects_ list. Whew.

            What I've been forced to realize over this semester is that no matter how much I may have emotional reactions to the things that don't get done, the things that DO get done are the ones that I chose to do, because they meant the most to me.

            If the dishes get put off for a while, so be it. We'll rinse them well, and clean them when we choose to. If the laundry stacks up, ditto.

            I am my own worst critic when it comes to these 'maintenance' things - I catch myself thinking that if I can't make time for them, that I must not really care about our house or our life - then I try to remind myself that I chose to take these classes to better myself, that I work my job to provide for our mortgage, etc. I am choosing the things that I want most to do, and that's the way life works when you can imagine so much more than you can accomplish...

            But - to try and comment on what you said initially, gnugrep - if you have spent an evening doing the things that you really want to, then maybe it's time to tell yourself it's ok to let everything else wait.

            If you ignore, for a moment, the guilt or frustration, or whatever negative you feel about the rest of your stuff... and ask yourself, would you really have been happier if you chose to do those things instead? Would you have had to give up time with your son? With your spouse? Or maybe give up sleep instead? Once you have answered that kind of question, then you can decide whether it is _really_ worth it to try and reshape your schedule.

            For me, with my life as it is right now, the housework, and almost all of my longer term projects, go on hold quite often. And right now, anyway, I'm as ok with that as I can be.

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            • #7
              I'm enjoying people's take on this particular topic, as it's near & dear to my heart! (READ: Misery loves company!) I have a full-time job and my husband & I are working on a long-term, time-consuming creative project. I've tried all different strategies with regards to housework (hiring help, installing routines, etc. ad nauseum...). For various reasons, no strategy has worked, until...

              I remembered something David Allen has said about having everything captured on his lists and, upon reviewing them, choosing to go out to dinner instead! A lot of the power of these lists is in getting things off your mind, not as capturing "shoulds" that we then use to make ourselves feel inadequate.

              So now I just break it all down to the most granular actions I can (a lot of the time they don't make it to my lists, because the crumbs on the counter or the laundry in the dryer are their own reminders), and I try to make housework more of a "dance" that I can weave into the rest of my life in the odd spaces of downtime I have. I'll empty the dishwasher while waiting for the kettle to boil, or let myself just sweep the kitchen floor while something's in the microwave -- it's amazing how many times I'm actually "standing around" for 5 minute increments in the course of my home life. As long as I let myself just do a 5 minute item and don't feel that "if I can't finish it and do it perfectly I can't start it," then I actually get more done.

              HTH!

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              • #8
                A little at a time

                I want to thank everyone for their suggestions. I noticed that some of my next actions were too fuzzy. I had things like "plan vacation," which was just too daunting. I changed this to "look up cape cod rentals on google," which I was able to do without a sweat.

                I also decided to try and get my lists down to a more manageable size over the weekend, it's amazing how a list of 50 next actions can make you feel like not doing any. I spent a few hours on Sunday and it is much better now. I also decided to try and spend just 5 – 10 minutes a night going through my lists and getting a few things done. I did this last night and I was able to accomplish 3 small actions. I then sat down and read my book for the rest of the night. I didn't feel guilty that I wasn't getting anything done and I enjoyed the book without distraction. I'll see how well this goes and post another follow up.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by gnugrep
                  I want to thank everyone for their suggestions. I noticed that some of my next actions were too fuzzy. I had things like "plan vacation," which was just too daunting. I changed this to "look up cape cod rentals on google," which I was able to do without a sweat.

                  I also decided to try and get my lists down to a more manageable size over the weekend, it's amazing how a list of 50 next actions can make you feel like not doing any. I spent a few hours on Sunday and it is much better now. I also decided to try and spend just 5 – 10 minutes a night going through my lists and getting a few things done. I did this last night and I was able to accomplish 3 small actions. I then sat down and read my book for the rest of the night. I didn't feel guilty that I wasn't getting anything done and I enjoyed the book without distraction. I'll see how well this goes and post another follow up.
                  That's awesome that you realized the power of granularity... it will go a long way toward making this more manageable for you. Another thing that has helped me in dealing with the size of my lists has been emotionally disconnecting NA's with Todo's, and thinking of them more as "reminders" of things that need to get done. This has helped me deal with the size of my lists, in the sense that I don't look for my lists to ever "shrink".

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