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Is GTD More "Relaxed" and "Loose" than I think

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  • Is GTD More "Relaxed" and "Loose" than I think

    Like many of the people who post to these kind of web lists, I've spent all this time coming up with ways to link projects to next actions, organize brainstorms of next actions so they can be turned into next action tasks, etc.

    Yet when I re-read GTD, I don't hear ANY of that! I'm guessing (someone could correct me if I'm wrong) that many devotees who never post to these lists (or DA himself) don't bother with "well, what if I have a project without a NA for 2 days until my weekly review" etc. DA seems perfectly comfortable with doing a 1-time mindmap on a paper, then using it sort of as a guide as he picks tasks for the next week. There's no section in GTD about "How to keep your mindmaps in sync with your next actions."

    This is not intended as a critique of anybody who'se managed to make these kinds of things work with tools - good for you! I'm just checking to see if these are things I really need to worry about. I'm guessing DA doesn't care if he:
    has the occasional NA that isn't connected to a project
    has a project that is really a subproject of another project but isn't perfectly link
    has a mindmap that doesn't match all his next actions
    etc.

  • #2
    Next actions can stand alone - they don't necessarily have to be linked to a project. I would say at least half of my next actions stand alone.

    It is important to have a next action for a project if you want to be making progress on that project. If it's okay to let the project rest for a couple days, great. Once you decide you need to get moving on the project again, come up with a next action for the project and it's back on track.

    Mindmaps are great, but you can't necessarily be working on all facets of a project at once. Really, the bottom line is that you are moving forward on the things that matter most. Getting a rental car scheduled for your next vacation might be something you could do now, but if there are more important things to be done, simply having it on your mindmap (and not having it as a next action) may be all you need at this point.

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    • #3
      But I'm guessing there are people out there who don't spend $ and time trying to magically ensure everything stays in synch. They just do the steps (weekly review, organizing, etc.) and then rely on intution to fill the gaps. Is this true? It's the feeling I get from re-reading GTD.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by furashgf
        But I'm guessing there are people out there who don't spend $ and time trying to magically ensure everything stays in synch. They just do the steps (weekly review, organizing, etc.) and then rely on intution to fill the gaps. Is this true? It's the feeling I get from re-reading GTD.
        Yes, that's true.

        The nature of this forum is that people talk about ways to improve their systems. That doesn't mean that GTD requires perfection, or even that the "perfect system" can be defined. It just means that the relatively small subset of GTD users who post here have decided that improving their systems is important to them.

        It's also the nature of forums in general that people talk about what doesn't work. So, even though most people who post here are probably GTD users, they are more likely to post about their problems than their successes.

        Returning to your original question, the correct system is the one that works for you. If things are getting lost or being left undone, you might need to rethink your system. If everything is purring along, don't worry about it.

        Katherine
        Last edited by kewms; 10-23-2005, 02:45 PM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by furashgf
          But I'm guessing there are people out there who don't spend $ and time trying to magically ensure everything stays in synch. They just do the steps (weekly review, organizing, etc.) and then rely on intution to fill the gaps. Is this true? It's the feeling I get from re-reading GTD.
          I don't worry about having everything linked together. I try to keep it simple. I use a paper/PDA combo. My ongoing lists (Someday/Maybe, groceries, places I would like to visit, restaurants I like, books I own, books I want to read, ditto music, packing for a trip, etc.) are on the PDA. Current projects and next actions are on paper. If the deadline is this week, I already know it and won't be dropping the ball on next actions. The Weekly Review is important to me because it keeps me up to date on everything else. I am not into high-tech and linking like some who post here, but I am a believer in doing what works best for you no matter whether it is simple or complex.

          Carolyn

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          • #6
            Van Halen

            Originally posted by furashgf
            I'm guessing DA doesn't care if he:
            has the occasional NA that isn't connected to a project
            has a project that is really a subproject of another project but isn't perfectly link
            has a mindmap that doesn't match all his next actions
            etc.
            I also guess the always relaxed and loose Eddie Van Halen doesn't really think about all scales and arpeggios when soloing. Perhaps he may even skip or slip into a "wrong" note every now and then... He probably realizes by now that it is all about creating music, not being perfect!

            However, I would never understimate the years of patient and systematic discipline necessary to get to his level. And yes, there must have been a moment when even he needed to have all those crazy harmonic relationships cleared on his study book.

            Guitar players' forums may discuss subjects that are completely irrelevant to Eddie now. But not for the future Eddies...

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            • #7
              Can you feel GTD?

              Originally posted by Zatara
              And yes, there must have been a moment when even he needed to have all those crazy harmonic relationships cleared on his study book.
              Not necessarily. He can simply hear and feel it.

              So maybe only some people can feel GTD.

              The subtitle of David's book is "The Art of Stress-Free Productivity".

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              • #8
                Mozart et al.

                Originally posted by TesTeq
                Not necessarily. He can simply hear and feel it.

                So maybe only some people can feel GTD.

                The subtitle of David's book is "The Art of Stress-Free Productivity".
                I don't know Eddie, so maybe you're right and this was a bad example.

                But then consider Mozart, or Einstein, or even yourself when a learning a new language or skill. My point is that the structure and pseudo-rules created during a learning process are not necessarily vital to achieve something, but they are surely vital to the learning process itself.

                Raw talent may only bring you so far in certain areas, and it is a misconception that just because GTD is an art, it doesn't require discipline and hard work. I guess people underestimate the years of perspiration that Mozart, Einstein or David Allen had to put in so they could excel on their craft.

                Remember Michael Jordan? Making it look easy is part of the genius...

                PS: If you know Alexandre Dumas and just pay attention to my nick, you will understand how strong I feel about this!

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by TesTeq
                  Not necessarily. He can simply hear and feel it.

                  So maybe only some people can feel GTD.

                  The subtitle of David's book is "The Art of Stress-Free Productivity".
                  Nonsense.

                  I'm not a musician or a GTD black belt, but I am a martial arts (aikido) black belt. And I can tell you that talent helps, but consistent practice matters more. Music, martial arts, and productivity are all learnable skills.

                  Katherine

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                  • #10
                    What is best?

                    Originally posted by ceehjay
                    I am a believer in doing what works best for you no matter whether it is simple or complex.
                    This is a common saying in these forums and I perfectly agree with it.

                    Nevertheless, one should be very careful about what "best" means, because adapting to a new way of doing things may seem "worse" at first. If you are on the path of mastery, you should accept that drawbacks are inevitable, and actually desirable so that you can achieve new levels of productivity.

                    A black belt in any martial art will easily confirm this point.

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                    • #11
                      Perhaps the reason why it seems everyone is so "up tight" about connecting next actions to projects, etc. is that this is the area where either you have to figure out how to make the software you're using work for you. It's fairly straightforward to just enter a simple task or project in the average software, but how to connect them may not be immediately apparent and thus that is what everyone seems to be discussing all of the time. They may all be practicing a more "relaxed" and "loose" version of GTD - you're just hearing about the little glitches they're trying to solve. In other words, they're "walking" with GTD but you don't hear about that because what they're talking about is the stone in their shoe. Just a thought...

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                      • #12
                        Absolutely not.

                        Originally posted by TesTeq
                        Not necessarily. He can simply hear and feel it.
                        Nope. Absolutely not. Every highly skilled musician has practiced and practiced and practiced and practiced and practiced. Those who have reached a level of international recognition of their skill typically have at least 10,000 hours of directed practice behind them. Behind every "amazing talent" is a lifetime of honing the skill. No exceptions.

                        There is just no such thing as "simply hear and feel." You cannot "simply hear and feel" until you have learned how, through hundreds or thousands of hours of experience.

                        I can hear a new song on the radio and "simply" go play it on the piano. But if you look closely at my history, you'll see thousands of hours of hearing music played in my family, playing the piano myself, taking lessons, trying to play music I had heard, studying music theory, composing music, teaching all kinds of music -- etc. There is no magic. Past experience accounts for skill. Period.

                        To assume there must be a special gene for guitar-playing "talent" encoded in Eddie van Halen's DNA seems ridiculous.

                        The closest phenomenon to "simply hear and feel" is the performance of idiot savants, but even they have many hours of perceptual learning of the music they can play. They cannot play music with different underlying structure (such as twelve-tone).

                        As Mark Twain said, "It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech."

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                        • #13
                          Can the blind person see the colors?

                          Originally posted by kewms
                          Nonsense.

                          I'm not a musician or a GTD black belt, but I am a martial arts (aikido) black belt. And I can tell you that talent helps, but consistent practice matters more. Music, martial arts, and productivity are all learnable skills.

                          Katherine
                          Nonsense???

                          Most of the people hear pleasant sounds (or interesting words) only - not the music! They do not recognize the sequence of chords in the song and are not interested why C - Am sequence is so pleasant. And that it shoud be followed by F or Dm or Em in some cases. And that F followed by Fm is a very romantic sequence. If you cannot hear it you will never know what I am talking about.

                          You can teach the blind person what color pairs look good together but she/he will never see it (in other words she/he will never feel it). The consistent practice won't help.

                          By the way what you mean by learning music? Learning the dates of Mozart's birth and death? Or where to put the note G on the musical staff?

                          And martial arts are not learnable too for those who cannot control their emotions and focus their minds.

                          You can tell me that talent helps, but consistent practice matters more.
                          I can tell you that consistent practice helps, but talent matters more.

                          It's a tie (1:1).

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                          • #14
                            Period.

                            Originally posted by andersons
                            There is no magic. Past experience accounts for skill. Period.
                            There are skills that are or aren't learnable for some people. For example there is a rule of thumb that if your third start on water-skis is successful you will enjoy this sport and learn it very quickly. But some people do not give up even after 20th failure. Maybe they will succeed after 25 attempts but they will never be winners and they will never enjoy it.

                            Everybody has a built-in set of potential skills that he should develop.

                            Period.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by TesTeq
                              Most of the people hear pleasant sounds (or interesting words) only - not the music! They do not recognize the sequence of chords in the song and are not interested why C - Am sequence is so pleasant. And that it shoud be followed by F or Dm or Em in some cases. And that F followed by Fm is a very romantic sequence. If you cannot hear it you will never know what I am talking about.
                              Music theory is taught by just about every music instructor on the planet. It is demonstrably a teachable skill.

                              Originally posted by TesTeq
                              By the way what you mean by learning music? Learning the dates of Mozart's birth and death? Or where to put the note G on the musical staff?
                              Learning when note G is the best choice, and how to play this particular note G.

                              Originally posted by TesTeq
                              And martial arts are not learnable too for those who cannot control their emotions and focus their minds.
                              Very few people can control their emotions and focus their minds on their first day on the mat. Most people can do so after a year or so of practicing martial arts, yoga, meditation, and similar disciplines. Mental focus is very teachable.

                              Katherine

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