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  • Gtd 2.0

    GTD will always be the brightest star in my task-management firmament. Pre-GTD I made occasional to-do lists and got frustrated with seeing them carried forward day after day.

    GTD taught me to get my commitments in their totality out of my head and into a system external to my mind.

    GTD’s bottom-up strategy worked for me. All the previous top-down methods I had tried failed me.

    But now that I have been GTDing for a few years I am a different person. As David Allen has said, I can now do the top-down thinking that eluded me when I couldn’t ever clear my runway.

    And now that I have been GTDing for a few years I have been finding that my lists are large and often contain items that languish for more than a year. Then, a couple of months ago, I read the following post:

    http://www.davidco.com/forum/showpos...24&postcount=2

    Here are a couple of tips that were given to me by Meg Edwards during some tele coaching.

    Projects lists should only contain those things that you need to deliever on in the next 9 months.
    Deliverables beyond that belong on your 'Someday / Maybe' list and can be turned into Projects when they fall into the 9 month window.
    If you make sure you include a review of your Someday / Maybes in your weekly review you wont miss the projects and you can get them off your mind.

    Next Actions Lists should only contain NA's that you plan to complete in the next 2-3 weeks. Other actions that I think of during my weekly review are written and stored with Project Support Material and I can turn them into NA's when I need to.

    These two simple things have helped keep my NA's and Project lists under control
    This post by w_i_t_n_a took my breath away. It represented a fundamental change to the GTD method. The method had been to keep those lists no matter what. If they were huge it was because I had committed myself to a huge amount of tasks. Someday/maybe represented those tasks to which I had not yet committed myself. The description “someday/maybe” was slightly deceptive. In effect, all NAs were “somedays.” Life is fast-paced and unpredictable. The reason I kept NA lists and did not schedule my tasks on the calendar was because my time commitments were in a state of constant flux. So, NAs did not have times associated with them. The key thing was that I had decided to do them sometime, someday.

    “Maybes” were just that: items to which I might commit myself but to which I was not committed now. They were items about which I was agnostic: maybe I’ll do them and maybe I won’t. I kept my maybes on the list as a reminder to decide later whether to add them to my list of NAs or to delete them.

    So, NAs were items I had decided to do at sometime, someday. Maybes were items that I had not decided about.

    I, like many GTDers, felt a gnawing sense of lack. I, like many GTDers, made some adjustments. My decision was to create a “weekly goals” list. I would select some projects and NAs from my lists and put them at the top of my calendar for the week. These were goals that I hoped to accomplish that week. I didn’t always complete the goals on my weekly goals list. But it did help me stay more focused. I still reviewed my NA list frequently throughout the week. But I didn’t spend as much time going through it trying to figure out which NA to work on next. I looked to my weekly goals list for that.

    Then I read the post by w_i_t_n_a. This represented a conceptual shift. NAs were no longer atemporal. A new dimension has been added to my NA list: time.

    In GTD 1.0, the trusted system’s list was three-dimensional: there was a description of the action, a context for the action, and commitment level for the action. Note well, there was no timeframe attached to the action. Time was a dimension restricted to the calendar, the hard landscape (where the spatial metaphor of “landscape” is used to capture the temporality of actions).

    In GTD 1.0 actions to which I had committed myself went in the list as NAs. And actions and projects to which I had not committed myself went in the list as someday/maybes.

    In GTD 2.0 as presented to us by w_i_t_n_a, the trusted system’s list is four-dimensional. There are the three dimension of GTD 1.0—action, context, and commitment—and the fourth dimension of time. In GTD 2.0, actions to be taken in the next 3 weeks go in the NA list and those to be worked on later in time will go on the someday/maybe list.

    The problem with this is that the someday/maybe list is now confused. It segregates items both by temporality and by commitment. The solution is to break apart someday from maybe. Maybe represents absence of commitment. Put the items that still require a commitment decision in the maybes. Someday represents time. Put the items that will be done some time later than 3 weeks in the somedays.

    For many GTDers, the recommendations given above will be enough. But I do have a suggestion for those of us who use digital systems for our GTD lists. Most of us are using systems that have a “priority” field. Now, before anyone proposes to ban me from the board, please understand, I am not suggesting that we give our tasks priorities. I am suggesting that we use the priority field in, for example Outlook, to capture the temporal element of our actions.

    The digital system I use allows A, B, C, and D priorities. So, I use A for this week. B is for the next 3 weeks. C is for the next 3 months. And D is beyond 3 months. If you only had 3 values, you could follow have 1 week, 3 weeks, and more than 3 weeks (or some other configuration more congruent with your life situation).

    Again, A items are not higher priority items than C items. Rather, I designate with “A” those items I aim to work on this week and I designate with “C” those items I will only work on after I have completed the As and Bs.

    The last point I would like to bring up for consideration is the degree to which GTD 2.0 revolutionizes GTD 1.0

    I had always found there to be a disconnect between the temporal basis of the altitude goals (50,000 feet, 40,000 feet, etc.) and the timelessness of the project and action lists. 30,000 feet are 1-2 year goals. 40,000 feet are 3-5 year goals. 50,000 feet are life goals. These are time-defined. If the higher level outcomes are time-defined, why not add the temporal dimension to the runway and project-level outcomes?

    In the GTD book, David does present a kind of argument against defining actions/projects temporally. He states that the world changes and we need to be flexible and resilient. This is true. But he does suggest we commit ourselves to outcomes two years, five years, and many years in the future. The unpredictability of the world increases exponentially as we move farther into the future. If we can define outcomes temporally five years hence, we could do so five days hence.

    One could retort that there is actually much more volatility in most of our lives in the short-term than there is in the long-term. Furthermore, there is great uncertainty regarding the actual duration required to complete any given action. So, it is inefficient to microplan when we are going to do every little action because all it takes is one phone call, one crashing of the server, one ill key employee and the whole schedule needs to be rewritten.

    I think that the points made in the previous paragraph are good ones. That is why Meg Edwards advised w_i_t_n_a to schedule her actions not with great specificity but with great latitude. Meg Edwards did not tell her to schedule action X for day Y at hour Z. Rather she is to schedule action X to be done either in week A or week B or week C.

    In conclusion, GTD 1.0 advised us to put time-specific actions on the calendar and to keep our other actions and projects on atemporal lists. GTD 2.0 advises us to put on the calendar actions that are highly time-specific. And the other actions and projects that are less time-specific will have their soft times loosely specified on the actions and projects lists.

    I have found GTD 2.0 to be an improvement over GTD 1.0. I have found that the GTD 2.0 system, going from 50,000 feet to the runway, is better integrated and more consistent than the GTD 1.0 which specified time at some levels but not at others. And lastly, I have found it useful to use the priority field of my digital expression of my GTD system to represent the temporal dimension of my actions and projects.

  • #2
    GTD - The Art of Lists Cleaning.

    GTD is not The Art of (@context) Lists Filling. For me it is The Art of Lists Cleaning - i.e. removing items from @context lists by conscious renegotiation with myself.

    Comment


    • #3
      Gtd 2.0

      Originally posted by moises
      I am suggesting that we use the priority field in, for example Outlook, to capture the temporal element of our actions.
      The digital system I use allows A, B, C, and D priorities. So, I use A for this week. B is for the next 3 weeks. C is for the next 3 months. And D is beyond 3 months. If you only had 3 values, you could follow have 1 week, 3 weeks, and more than 3 weeks (or some other configuration more congruent with your life situation).
      Again, A items are not higher priority items than C items. Rather, I designate with “A” those items I aim to work on this week and I designate with “C” those items I will only work on after I have completed the As and Bs.
      So you use the priority field for different levels of urgency, and not for different levels of importance?

      Rainer

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Rainer Burmeister
        So you use the priority field for different levels of urgency, and not for different levels of importance?

        Rainer
        Exactly. I don't want to use the date fields because the date fields are too specific; they force me to enter a particular day.

        I use the priority field to discriminate among the different time constraints that Meg Edwards gave to w_i_t_n_a: 2-3 weeks, etc.

        In my system "priority" does not mean "importance."

        Comment


        • #5
          Yeah - crossed my mind too...

          It's just a happy coincidence I suppose but I've been thinking the same recently.

          My someday/maybe list became a list of things to do in another life time - you know like dream achievements to make years from now. Then my current projects list was strictly any projects I thought I could do now, and it soon filled up.

          Before long I had a current projects list filled with projects which had no real order to them, and yet some were plainly more important than others. I began to get swamped.

          Then I realised I could dump some of these current projects onto my someday/maybe list and come back to them later - after all, they were projects that would keep. This would benefit me in two ways.

          1) I could give fuller attention to those projects which were most important at this time.
          2) I could free my mind from the swamp and concentrate on practicing GTD using just a couple of projects at a time - sort of walk before I run routine.

          Anyhow - that has made a big difference to me, really helped clear my current projects list and clear my head whilst knowing those projects are still there to be reviewed later.

          Now of course my next action list is much clearer and appears achievable, I could get the majority of it done this week - if not all. Then I can review and reflect on this progress and develop as I move along.


          One question did spring to mind though about your prioritising by urgency.

          You set a priority 'Three weeks from when today?' Ok, but then you add other items/projects to the same list and give them a 3 week priority, pretty soon it's just a list all mixed up of some items being 3 wks priorities from 3 weeks ago, and some being 3 wks priorities set yesterday. I appreciate this is probably hard to understand, it's difficult for me to explain!

          Week 1 you set a priority for project A for 3 wks
          Week 2 you set a priority for project B for 3 wks
          Week 3 you set a priority for project C for 3 wks but project A hasn't been started yet... So now you have two projects with a 3 week priority but one is six weeks old and..

          Ugh, now I'm confusing myself...

          Never mind!

          But anyway - I see your point of view.

          Comment


          • #6
            One question did spring to mind though about your prioritising by urgency.

            You set a priority 'Three weeks from when today?' Ok, but then you add other items/projects to the same list and give them a 3 week priority, pretty soon it's just a list all mixed up of some items being 3 wks priorities from 3 weeks ago, and some being 3 wks priorities set yesterday. I appreciate this is probably hard to understand, it's difficult for me to explain!

            Week 1 you set a priority for project A for 3 wks
            Week 2 you set a priority for project B for 3 wks
            Week 3 you set a priority for project C for 3 wks but project A hasn't been started yet... So now you have two projects with a 3 week priority but one is six weeks old and..

            Ugh, now I'm confusing myself...

            Never mind!

            But anyway - I see your point of view.
            This is a valid concern. There is no getting past a weekly review. What GTD 2.0 does is help me avoid going through long lists throughout the week. I do my weekly review weekly. I look at my A-list daily.

            During the weekly review I look at last week's Cs and determine if they need to be promoted to Bs. I will need to see if I completed all of last week's As. If I persistently do not, I might examine why not. Maybe I am procratinating or maybe I am persistently misjudging how much I can accomplish in a week.

            It's like "The Six-Level Model for Reviewing Your Own Work" (pages 51-53 in Getting Things Done). In 2004 I put "convert dross to gold" as a 40,000 foot vision of what I would accomplish between 2007 and 2009. Now, in 2006, I need to move this goal to the 30,000 foot level of what I want to accomplish in the next two years.

            In the weekly review I must look at each item and examine both my level of commitment and the broad timeframe in which I hope to work on it.

            Comment


            • #7
              Nice system!

              Hi Moises,

              I am very impressed with your description of GTD 2.0. It embodies many of the issues that I too have dealt with in GTD. I will embark on trying out your ideas. I will let you know how I adopt this to my curent GTD system using Outlook 2003.

              Take care,
              Longstreet@Home

              Comment


              • #8
                A classic thread in the making

                moises,
                Your insight, analysis, and solutions are so elegant, that I predict that your post will become a classic and will influence the evolution of GTD.

                Julian

                Comment


                • #9
                  Nice approach

                  Good post Moises. I've done my GtD in similar way but haven't been so couragous to spell it out here

                  Here's an example:

                  suppose tomorrow I have to send my article but I know I need to propose some article topics for other magazine. All my tasks in palm have the priority 1 (coz I don't make any use of them as DA suggested). And since article writing is more time consuming and more important than brainstorming the article topics I decide to focus on writing. This way I set the priority of brainstorming to 2. the deadline is tomorrow and this task usually doesn't take longer than 1 hour, so no. 2 means: "you could do this today if you were done with writing - or tomorrow morning". So priority no. 2 suggest me that I've got (more or less) 2 days to accomplish that task.

                  However, my "time planning" isn't streched in time as your. My is bounded in 2 weeks at most (sometimes it's longer). but i don't see any problem to apply your idea and this way it'll open my eyes wider.


                  Originally posted by moises
                  In my system "priority" does not mean "importance."
                  I think in some way it's prioritizing. But one can call it as one wants.

                  Good job,

                  greetings
                  maciek

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    separate someday and maybe categories?

                    Why not just divide someday/maybe into 2 categories? Items that need to be done but not in the next 3 wks go into someday. Items you are still considering go into maybe. If that is not enough for you, then you can have three categories "someday soon", "someday later", and maybe.

                    Personally I would rather do this than have to tweak with priorities all the time.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Better tweaking than changing

                      Originally posted by cellmatrix
                      Personally I would rather do this than have to tweak with priorities all the time.
                      well, changing categories directly in palm takes longer than tweaking priorities. so it's easier to do the latter. otherwise, when is it that "someday soon" - tomorrow, this week?

                      For me it wouldn't be working. i've got to have set a clear day when i need to accomplish something. someday it's too fuzzy for me. but i guess it's good for procrastinating self

                      maciek

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        modification to GTD 2.0

                        Mackubat, I think it is easier just to work with categories instead of both categories and priorities. Someday soon and someday later can be whenever you decide.

                        an example
                        Projects: to act on this coming week
                        Someday soon: not this week, but within a month
                        Someday later: not for at least a month
                        Maybe: still deciding whether to do

                        Dont forget you can also put a deadline date in the project title or project notes for inspection during your weekly review if you need to work by exact dates.

                        Hope this helps.
                        Last edited by cellmatrix; 03-19-2006, 07:33 PM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          A's B's and C's

                          This is an example to me of something I wouldnt put on myself because I know I'd never keep up with all the A's B's and C's.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Avoiding Time Tactics and Staying Situational

                            I disagree with quite a lot in this thread (but not everything). Instead of commenting on specific points that people have made here, I will set out a few principles of my own that I think represent what I would say would be the "true meaning" of "GTD 2.0" for me:

                            In general I do not believe in soft scheduling or time limits and other "artificial" time constraints. But I do believe in a much improved level of sophistication and simplicity in how lists can be filtered and displayed for the purpose of selecting tasks, and I do believe that structural arrangements, such as subprojects and causal dependencies within/between projects and tasks, can accomplish a lot for the purpose of simplifying the reviews.

                            But as for the type of aspects discussed in this thread so far, here is a summary of my thoughts:

                            - No soft scheduled actions (I stick with that proven principle, and it works for me)
                            - No time limits for what can be on the Next list
                            - Definition of Someday = Maybe (i.e. not defined in terms of time)
                            - Definition of Next = Definitely, anytime from now on (uncapped; can even be "someday" - but there is not a trace of "maybe" about it)
                            - Differentiated review cycles for each list - this is the key to keeping the lists manageable, and this is what this whole thread is ultimately all about.

                            For the implementation of three different review cycles there may be a Priority field in your app (which I prefer, especially if it is in color), or tags, or some other field. The use of it is the following, taking the Next list as an example:

                            Next list High = Review every single time I look at the Next list, perhaps hourly
                            Next list Normal = Review daily (if your app permits, set this up as the default)
                            Next list Low = Review weekly (make sure these tasks are properly tagged for situational filtering anytime, though)

                            What this means, in practice is:

                            - I cut down daily review time by at least half, without missing anything (the Low tasks are no hurry, and I will find them eventually when I filter for errands etc, or when I review them all again next week
                            - I never ever miss anything important (I see the High tasks clearly all the time)

                            Among all the other things I go through during my regular reviews I also check and adjust the Review cycle setting (the "Priority"). For example I will set it to High if a task has been left unattended and things are beginning to look dangerous, or down, if I realize that this task is not as urgent or important as I had initially thought - then I ensure it is tagged very carefully for esay retrieval and "hide" it in Low.

                            For Waiting For I use exactly the same review cycles as for Next.

                            For Someday I use Normal = weekly, Low = quarterly, High = as often as I want, preferably several times a week or daily. This allows me to reconsider some really exciting possibilities (high-potential, high-uncertainty stuff) very often, even daily if I have the time, while having to inspect my half-dead "garbage" only quarterly.

                            In my mind the terms Review Cycle and Priority, fuse into one and the same thing in practice (so I see no need to use both). If something is very important or urgent, then I really need to consider more often whether right now might be a good time. So "it" is High, regardless of what we call "it". But Priority is not a bad word. I like it. Review frequency is fine, too.

                            But I am aware that some people take the word Priority to mean "fixed sequence" - that one thing MUST be done before the other regardless of context, energy etc, just because it is a bit more important or urgent. I disagree with that interpretation. And I also disagree with the other common "mis"-interpretation of Priority that it is so fickle that you cannot determine it even roughly until the very last moment. The way I use it, Priority is quite stable.

                            For a GTD 2.0 app, I would like to see the following kinds of features supporting the above:

                            - quick adjustment of "priority depth" of the list, with user defined defaults, such as show High only when I step into the list, then click a button to expand to High + Normal etc
                            - always retrieve tasks from all three levels when filtering (regardless of whether the list was hiding the lower levels)

                            For a GTD 2.0 app, I would also like a whole lot more sophistication in the capabilities for characterizing tasks (tagging them etc) and both be able to filter for various combinations (include, exclude etc) straight in the list, and to see the characterization markers (colors etc) for "ocular direct spotting" (reducing the need to even filter). And I would like full hierarchical capabilites and interdependencies between projects.

                            All these measures combined could contribute very strongly to our being able to totally avoid all manner of soft scheduling of tasks, target dates, time limits and time scopes etc.
                            Last edited by Folke; 09-13-2013, 04:39 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I'm only about a year into implementing GTD as an honest effort, but I try to be much simpler with the Next Actions, and this is helping me solve that same issue of NA lists getting out of control.

                              1. Avoid artificial deadlines. I know they aren't real so I don't honor them
                              2. Next Actions are 100% "teed up" tasks, these are ready to be attacked as soon as context and time allow.
                              3. Project support materials are where a lot of things go that eventually will be reflected in NA, but I haven't broken the thing I captured down into a bite sized NA yet. If it's really more of a sub-project level outcome visioning keeping it out of NA is the right move for now. Out of "in", into my project info, which I will review.
                              4. Being better about this helps me be more effective at delegation. Once I truly define it in NA format, the right person is often obvious right away.

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