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  • GTMD (Getting Too Much Done)

    Hello all,

    First post to the forums, and rather new to GTD. I have been working my way through the book for sometime now, and have already reaped some of the benefits. I have to admit I am not full into the into the process as of yet, however I have noticed a disturbing trend...

    The more I get done, the more I have to do.

    I work in an environment in which there is never enough time, or resources, and we are driven by deadlines. This results in a priorty system in which only the most critical of projects receive attention, and the rest are put in the organizations "Someday/Maybe" file.

    Since I am already getting more done, I find myself having more free time, which I immediately fill with these other projects (which are important, despite the reduced priority). As far as I can tell, there is no light at the end of this tunnel.

    Does anyone have any words of wisdom, or similar experiences?

    Thanks,
    ~M

  • #2
    By "free time" do you mean uncommitted time at work, or personal time?

    If you are getting more done during time that you would be spending at work anyway, that's a good thing. If your company has a brain, it should shower you with praise, cash, and promotions. If your company is successful, there will always be more work to do, but presumably your amazing productivity will allow you to partake of the company's success, leading to more responsibility (and more money).

    If you find that this "extra" stuff is eating into your personal time, then it's up to you to draw the line. Maybe you want to split the difference, giving half of your newly free time to the company and half to yourself. Maybe there are personal projects that you've been ignoring, and you want to use your newly free time to tackle them. That's a discussion to have with your boss, not us. Although it will probably be a more productive discussion if you're able to point out (tactfully, of course) how you are getting so much more done than anyone else, and how you think you should be rewarded with more free time and/or more cash.

    Generally speaking, though, you've discovered the great pitfall of productivity. If you handle responsibilities well, people give you more of them. The old saying about how if you want a job to get done, give it to a busy person most definitely applies. Again, greater responsibility should be accompanied by greater rewards. If it isn't, then you may want to use your newly free time to explore other options.

    Katherine

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    • #3
      Originally posted by kewms
      Generally speaking, though, you've discovered the great pitfall of productivity. If you handle responsibilities well, people give you more of them. The old saying about how if you want a job to get done, give it to a busy person most definitely applies.
      Or as David puts it, "The better you get, the better you better get."

      Comment


      • #4
        Don't let yourself burn out

        Originally posted by MilWill
        Since I am already getting more done, I find myself having more free time, which I immediately fill with these other projects (which are important, despite the reduced priority). As far as I can tell, there is no light at the end of this tunnel.
        If there is no light at the end of that tunnel, don't go racing down there too quickly.

        It's great that you've improved your productivity, and that you are able to get more done than you used to. You should be rewarded for this improvement, either by your company or by yourself. Don't forget to take the opportunity to give yourself some sort of rewards when you get things finished, even if you just take a break to walk down the hall.

        Knowing that there is always more to do and feeling like you're the only one who has to do it is a nasty trap that can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Do the work that's yours, but make sure you allow time to recharge and renew yourself, too.

        Comment


        • #5
          Maybe try and use some of that freed-up time to take more breaks--go have a walk around the block or something.

          And if your job isn't showering you with love for being so brilliant and productive, you could use the time to work on your resume!

          Comment


          • #6
            If increased productivity is creating more work for you then, if you enjoy the work, then that's good.

            If you don't enjoy the work, assuming you have set hours, then I would say that it's still good. (I have found that keeping busy makes the time go faster so it doesn't seem so long until time to go home!)

            If it's causing you to lose time from your personal life, and you're unhappy about that, then that's bad. Create a project which deal with this issue (maybe by speaking to boss, looking for other work, even ways to appear less productive to colleagues?! or whatever)

            As far as "no light at the end of the tunnel", well I guess that's life. Last time I went through a tunnel it was exciting and great fun (an actual tunnel underground). Maybe you should see it as lots of tunnels rather than one big one.

            Everyone has too much to do and that's the whole point. When you're in control of what you're doing and what you're not doing- that's as good as it gets.

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanks everyone for your insightful responses, they have been helpful and given me some things to think about. I have actually been rewarded very well over the course of the year, a total of over 20% in three different raises, two of them, "out of cycle". To give you a frame of reference, many good employees have received a single raise of 2-5% in the past year.

              The recognition and financial rewards are very nice, and I reflect on this when I am feeling overwhelmed or stressed out.

              My question came more from a place of... does it ever end? ...the work waiting to be done. Maybe it doesn't, I especially appreciated this response.

              Originally posted by treelike
              Everyone has too much to do and that's the whole point. When you're in control of what you're doing and what you're not doing- that's as good as it gets.
              Maybe this is an attitude I need to try in work in there...

              Comment


              • #8
                Most companies are more than willing to keep loading work on you indefinitely. If that isn't what you want, then you have to be the one to draw the line.

                Are the rewards worth it? What, if anything, are you leaving undone in your personal life? If you would like some amount of personal time back, what's the next action to achieve that goal?

                For a lot of people, it's learning how to say no.

                Katherine

                Comment


                • #9
                  They are not loading the work onto me as much as I am finding more time to take on more...

                  However there is always that expectation that once I start to take on more, I will continue with increasing levels of productivity, at work we love to call it "raising the bar", the problem is some also believe that; no matter how high you set it, that you can always move it up a little higher, even if others are struggling at the lower levels.

                  This is something I need keep a close eye on, and better manage in the future.

                  You mentioned a phrase that I heard once before "a personal life"
                  I exaggerate a bit, but yes, there is room for improvement there as well.

                  I have no problem with saying "No" even though this was not always the case, in fact I enjoy my work, but a balancing act is definitely in order, as it is not unusual for me to work until 12:00AM (at home) or on the weekends (also at home). Not because I have to, but because I have an overactive brain, have trouble sleeping, and like to keep myself mentally stimulated.
                  Last edited by MilWill; 02-03-2006, 04:50 PM.

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                  • #10
                    On another note

                    The feeling that keeps me up until 12:00 a night doing "work", or for that matter, thinking about how to better manage it on a Friday night, is one compliments GTD very well.

                    It is best described in a book called "Flow:The Psychology of Optimal Experience"

                    From the description on Amazon

                    "You have heard about how a musician loses herself in her music, how a painter becomes one with the process of painting. In work, sport, conversation or hobby, you have experienced, yourself, the suspension of time, the freedom of complete absorption in activity. This is "flow," an experience that is at once demanding and rewarding--an experience that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi demonstrates is one of the most enjoyable and valuable experiences a person can have.

                    I just need to manage a bit more flow in the personal life, as I mentioned earlier.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      What do you want?

                      Originally posted by MilWill
                      They are not loading the work onto me as much as I am finding more time to take on more...

                      However there is always that expectation that once I start to take on more, I will continue with increasing levels of productivity, at work we love to call it "raising the bar", the problem is some also believe that; no matter how high you set it, that you can always move it up a little higher, even if others are struggling at the lower levels.
                      Decide what you want to do. Do you want to "raise the bar" or just to sit quietly and safely as an average employee? Are you really interested in your work? Do you like your company or is it just a safe cave where you want to hide?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Losing the buzz

                        Originally posted by CosmoGTD
                        PS: don't worry, once the intital "buzz" of GTD wears off, its pretty easy to become a lazy, procrastinating slug again. It can be done.
                        Actually, that's exactly what led me to concentrate on trying to get over my procrastination. When knocking things off lists was new and exciting, I was truly Getting Things Done. When it became just the way I do things, some things started to stay on my lists, and far too many things were not getting done.

                        Now if only "overcome procrastination" were well-defined enough to be a project that could be broken down into next actions...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Overcome Procrastination

                          Why not set up a project "overcome procrastination"?

                          Just decide:
                          What's the successful outcome?
                          What's the next action?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Procrastinating when overcoming procrastination.

                            Originally posted by Brenda
                            Why not set up a project "overcome procrastination"?

                            Just decide:
                            What's the successful outcome?
                            What's the next action?
                            It's classic catch-22 situation because you can procrastinate even when "overcome procrastination" project is defined.

                            As many other problems - procrastination can be overcome only from the outside of the problem area - you must find the real cause of the procrastination (in most cases some kind of fear).

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Stop getting so much done -- WLH

                              I think the problem that you have (as do I ) is that you've combined the GTD methodology with the old task methodology known as WLH "Work like hell"

                              I suggest using the time to do stuff for yourself. I know i should do the same

                              Combining WLH to any methodology is dangerous because it will alway leave you very stressed. Go to the gym, or out with your wife or your friend's wife whatever floats your boat.

                              It may seem counterintuitive but resting will make you more productive.

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