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My biggest failing with GTD

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  • My biggest failing with GTD

    I've read the book, I read a very large chunk of the postings on this forum, and I read lots of pages on the Internet (blogs etc.) where GTD is discussed. I maintain all the necessary Next Action lists, Project lists, support documents and Someday/Maybes and the rest of the system quite well. The data covers both work and private life tasks and projects. I don't maintain a tickler file, but I don't think that this is a serious problem for me.

    After implementing the system for about three weeks, I see that I'm failing in one particular aspect:

    I notice that most Next Actions that I do are those about my work. Once I come home, the planner that I use gets discarded until the following morning. This is probably due to my being tired after work, combined with certain lack of commitment regarding completing my private life tasks.

    Has anyone else had this experience, and if so, how did you overcome it? How did the GTD system help?

  • #2
    Some ideas...maybe review your home items right before you leave work so you can think about what to do (even if just subconsciously) on your way home.

    DA says procrastination is either not breaking tasks down into specific actions or not being enthused enough about the outcome. I find that when I'm tired, I have to break tasks down into much smaller pieces. Then I often can "jumpstart" my ability to get things done. So say I needed to clean the bathrooms - writing "change towels" on my next action list instead of "clean bathrooms" might be enough to get me started and ultimately get the bathrooms clean.

    The longer I do GTD, the more I learn about what tasks I like and what tasks I don't like. Certain things just stay on my lists forever. I imagine this happens to other GTDers as well. So as time goes on, you figure out what you dislike doing and figure out alternate ways to get it done (delegate, delete, or transform it somehow into something you do like to do such as a race, a game, a way to unwind).


    • #3

      I don't necessarily see this as a failing with GTD. Despite the title "Getting Things Done," GTD is largely about deciding specific actions to accomplish things you want to do, and organizing reminders so you don't forget. GTD cannot solve all problems such as lack of physical energy.

      A lack of commitment can sort of be addressed in your GTD system, by refining your reminders either to help increase your level of commitment or to reflect it more accurately, or both. For example, you could take another look at all your Home projects and NAs, and if you are not fully, 100% committed to any of them, get them off the list. Put them on a Someday/Maybe list if you are reluctant to abandon them altogether. Reserve your projects and NA lists for things you are 100% committed to.

      One GTDer classifies actions into at least 3 categories: "must do," "should do," and "could do." This is a priority categorization that reflects different levels of commitment. It's possible that if you break your NA lists down into these further categories, and then look at just the "must do" list for Home just before you leave work, you could feel more motivated to do those things when you get home, since you are not distracted or overwhelmed by the less important commitments. If you get all the "must do" things done, then you can look at the "should do" list.

      Lack of physical energy can almost always be improved by paying attention to your health. Get plenty of sleep, and go to bed and get up the same time every day. Exercise vigorously 4-5 times a week. Take a mid-afternoon or after-work walk to increase energy during the evening. Never skip meals; include a good serving of protein at each meal; reduce any processed carbs; and eat more vegetables. Include a couple snacks as well so that you are eating 5-6 times per day to keep insulin and blood sugar levels steady. 95% of the time, good sleep, exercise, and nutrition will greatly increase people's energy. If good sleep, exercise, and nutrition does not improve your energy after 3 months or so, a doctor should evaluate you for any number of medical conditions or medication side effects that can reduce energy.


      • #4
        Thank you. I like your advice and I think I should try and implement some or all of it as soon as possible.


        • #5
          I've actually made a project on my GTD system to use more work time for my personal use! For example much can be done in terms of planning (shopping lists, weekly review, think of home business ideas) while waiting for other people to turn up late to meetings, etc. Maybe that's being bad, but at the end of the day they get a lot more productivity out of me because I am using GTD. At the 30,000 feet level I want to start my own business anyway, where my home GTD and work GTD would become one.

          Embarrasingy, I've just checked and don't currently have a Next Action for the project!


          • #6
            No need to be embarrased - it sounds like it's on your Someday/Maybe list at the moment, so it wouldn't necessarily have a N/A.