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Beware - the danger of "lists"

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  • Beware - the danger of "lists"

    Wanted to share this as it constitutes a bit of an "aha" for me...

    As part of my GTD implementation I have a number of lists. One list in particular is quite long - over 30 entries. The list is called "Tasks - Weekly" and contains all the things I want to do every week. These are mostly household chores such as Clean Bedroom, Clean Kitchen, Check Tyres on Car, Calculate Expenses etc.

    As you can see, in reality, these are all Projects with a number of Next Actions - yep - over 30 projects per week!

    Every week I busted a gut to try and get them all done. Sometimes I succeeded but most of the time a number of things just didn't get done and I would berate myself to try harder next week...

    Then "Aha" - I realised what I'd done. I had made a commitment with myself to perform all these Projects every week - no wonder I was feeling deflated!

    I still have this list but it is no longer a weekly task list. It is now a "Weekly Task Checklist". Every week I use it to see if any areas need attention. In other words, I'm OK with not cleaning the bedroom each week. Instead I'll decide whether I'm prepared to let Clean Bedroom onto my radar (dependant on the current state of the bedroom and the other commitments I have for that week). If I am then I'll set up a Project and a Next Action. If I don't then I am safe in the knowledge that I will review my decision again in a weeks time (at the Weekly Review).

    There are still things that I really do want to do weekly - to meet my hygiene standards - but there are only a few of these and these now get set up as Projects with Next Actions at the Weekly Review.

  • #2
    Interesting ah-ha moment.

    I keep checklist for routine tasks. I have routines set up for many of them. For example, when I "clean the house," that includes certain items on the list. I usually don't routine things like this on my next action list unless they somehow got missed in the routine or the routine didn't get done. So if I got all the cleaning done except for the mirrors and I still want to do them, I put that on my list. Dishes or laundry never make the list unless there's a pile-up somehow, which doesn't happen very often. I guess you could say I put routine items on my list only when I need an extra kick to get them done.

    On a side note, and perhaps this will sound really lame, but I put routine cleaning chores like vacuuming on my "Waiting For List" because it is something that I hope to delegate to someone else someday (when I'm rich enough to afford a house cleaning lady). So all of the mundane chores that don't have to be done by me get put over there. Then when I finally can afford help, I'll know exactly what I want them to do. I'm simply trying to develop an awareness of the things I might delegate.


    • #3
      I should comment to my wife that "cleaning the house" is on her "someday maybe list" but then I dont want to sleep on the couch

      Seriously, one could sit down and "mind-map" everything we think we need to do (from polishing shoes to income taxes) and have a HUGE list. I do put mundane next actions in my tickler file, but they are often postponed due to other time constraints or simple exhaustion. Occasionally I will actually schedule those next actions on my hardscape calendar. However, one has to be careful as a packed hardscape schedule of next actions (ala Taylor and Covey) can create unwanted stress and anxiety as you try to "keep up" and not fall behind "schedule".

      Danny Hardesty


      • #4
        "Leting go" of the household routine

        I've recently gotten to some of the same realization:that I can't
        work a 40-hour week,
        take 12 credit-hours of classes,
        life a full life with my wife,
        take care of our six pets,
        keep the house clean enough to not be a pestering nuisance in the back of my head

        all at the same time. Only the truly key things are going to get done between now and the end of the semester. So I'm shifting a lot of my calendared floating items off of my main calendar and NA lists. I have a way of making lists of 'potential' things to do, that I can review as appropriate. Now only the things that I truly want to do will get highlighted and show up on my new 'routine items' list. When I check them off, they go back into the pool of 'maybe's.

        I think this will relieve the stress of trying to recognize my true NAs where they've been buried in lots of little 'remember to do this sometime' items.