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My version of GTD 2.0: Integration with Power Scheduling

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  • My version of GTD 2.0: Integration with Power Scheduling

    I have embraced the changes described by Moises in the great piece on GTD 2.0. I do not use the priority field to sector out next actions for this week. Instead, I assign target due dates when I am doing my weekly review.

    One thing in GTD that I have always had trouble with, as many others have too, is the physical context categories. I have tried many types, but none seem to fit me overall. Oh, of course the categories of @Errands, @ Agendas, and @Waiting For work well, but the other physical contexts -- @computer, @Office, @Work, etc. just never have worked well for me. The computer category is a good example – I have a computer in my office, two at home, one which is on cable internet, and I have a new laptop. I can easily transfer files between the home and work, so the strict physical context is lost. I can be in contact with my research staff by phone and email practically 24/7 no matter where I am, so the @Office only category does not work real well either for me. Oh sure, there are some obvious things that can only be done at the office, but in this unbelievably connected world we are in, these are becoming more of the exception than the rule.

    I came across a book written by Dave DeSousa entitled “Power Scheduling”. I was intrigued by it and read it easily and carefully in one evening. I think a major light bulb went off for me! There are numerous similarities in what he says to GTD. The way he suggests in grouping tasks together is by the type of task – writing, reading, spreadsheets, etc. Then one can schedule different times during the day to concentrate on all of your tasks (next actions) in that particular category.

    I am finding that this works well for me. I am the type of person that needs weekly planning and structure during the week. One of the issues that I have always had is reviewing long lists of next actions in all of the categories and trying to decide which one to do next. This process simplifies it well for me. For example, my most creative writing time is in the morning. So, I power schedule a block of time in the morning and work from my writing category of next actions. I stay focused on this category only. Of course, I am interrupted and he discusses that in his book. No, he is not old school and does not try to have you stop interruptions. He realizes that this too is part of our work-life situation and that we have to simply deal with the interruption and then move on. The power schedule is not hard-coded on my calendar as busy – I use Outlook and I simply identify block times during the week when I want to focus on different categories.

    I suggest people that like more structure look at this book. I am using a nice blend of GTD and Power Scheduling that works for me.

    Best wishes to all,
    Longstreet

  • #2
    Please tell me more!

    Originally posted by Longstreet
    The way he suggests in grouping tasks together is by the type of task – writing, reading, spreadsheets, etc. Then one can schedule different times during the day to concentrate on all of your tasks (next actions) in that particular category.
    In my pre-GTD times I used to work this way. My problem was that I had piles of papers stuffed into hanging file folders labelled "writing", "reading", "phone calls", etc. Reading your post makes me reconsider my former practice (lack of discipline?). The piles vanished with the implementation of GTD.

    Would you please give me more details on this?

    Rainer

    Comment


    • #3
      Sounds like Julie Morgenstern's Time Maps approach...

      Regards,

      Eugene.

      Comment


      • #4
        Similar...but more GTD!

        Hi Folks,

        Yes...there is some similarity to Julie Morgenstern's time mapping approach. But this IS different and really a form of GTD! I don't hard-schedule individual next actions; I simply create blocks of time for dedicated focus on a particular type of work. As I said, my most creative writing time is in the morning, so based on what I have in my @Writing context folder (in Outlook), I work on these things only. I love the focus and I am amazed at how much I get done this way. Yes, I do embrace all other aspects of GTD. I have an @Errands, @Home, @Waiting For, @Agendas folder. To be honest, I am now experimenting with a combination of physical contexts -- @Computer, @Office -- and then sort the next actions within these more standard GTD contexts by the type of work that I do -- writing, read/review, study design & analysis, etc.

        In his book, Dave DeSousa gives the example of two electricians working in different buildings hanging light fixtures. The young man started off fast and started hanging lights because he wanted to show the older, experienced man what he could accomplish. He hung a light, then started on the next, and kept going. At the end of the day, he had hung 15 lights. He was proud and ready to boast to the older guy -- and then he found out he had hung 27!! How in the world did he accomplish so much more? The older man told him. You need to preplan and set things up first. Decide on how many lights you can hang and lay them all out on the ground. Now go through and do as many common things to all of them. Keep chipping away at this -- more of an assembly line approach -- and soon you will be ready for the last step -- hanging all of your lights.

        So...when I plan my week, I look at the amount of work I have in each of my types -- say I have three reports, a grant to write, letters, etc. I also have to grade some exams, read/review a lot of articles...I then decide on when I would like to focus on these different activities. As I said, writing goes in the morning, so I block a number of hours off each morning just for writing.

        So far, so good. But as with everyone else, I am still tweaking things...

        Longstreet

        Comment


        • #5
          I don't thought it was a bad approach But I still thought it was Julia's approach She recommeded to block out the time for different activities like you did. I.e. you blocked out time for reading and then took what to read from your NA's list or day-specific NA's. This approach allows to balance activities becase as I think GTD doesn't allow for this as it's dependent on the Context and Time available. And Julia's approach guarantees context and time available for some of NAs at the convinient time for you and in balance with your other activities.

          I use this appoach as well. Here's my daily schedule:

          9-10 Reading

          11-17 Meetings and Tasks (oK,Ok - NAs

          18-22 Family Time

          22-23 Inboxes Check Time

          Regards,

          Eugene.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Longstreet
            I have embraced the changes described by Moises in the great piece on GTD 2.0. I do not use the priority field to sector out next actions for this week. Instead, I assign target due dates when I am doing my weekly review.

            One thing in GTD that I have always had trouble with, as many others have too, is the physical context categories. I have tried many types, but none seem to fit me overall.
            I'm sure that you are aware that this isn't techinically a part of GTD. Its the way DA handles these categories but its stated pretty explicitly multiple times that people need to do it however they feel comfortable. I, for instance, find a much more "free form" style fits me best and rarely categorize things by actual physical context. As you suggest, physical location means less and less now a days. I think it all comes down to how you segment your life. Though I don't break it down the same way that you do, I'd say the best way to describe it might be "mental" context.

            As far as scheduling blocks of time, I see your point and I see how this could be done flexibly. But I, personally, think I still might end up spending too much time pushing those blocks around. I think I still prefer the "hard edges" approach recommended in the book.

            Nice post.

            Tom S.

            Comment


            • #7
              Compare:

              "It's 9:00. Here's a list of everything that I have to do; let me pick the one that's best for me at this very moment."

              "It's 9:00. Time to read."

              Which is more flexible?



              This is one of my favorite aspects of GTD. Life has a way of disrupting schedules. If, in your system, you rely on scheduling, then as soon as your schedule is interrupted, you're at a loss. With GTD, I'm never at a loss (assuming that I maintain my system).

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Brent
                Compare:

                "It's 9:00. Here's a list of everything that I have to do; let me pick the one that's best for me at this very moment."

                "It's 9:00. Time to read."

                Which is more flexible?
                It's 9:00. Let's check and see if there's anything else I have to do before I settle down to read.

                In my experience, without some sort of schedule the things requiring large blocks of focused attention simply don't get done. The number of smaller tasks, from client followup calls to web page updates, is essentially infinite. Until, of course, the clients stop taking your calls because you aren't actually delivering the work.

                Katherine

                Comment


                • #9
                  Balance of time

                  Brent,

                  I think I agree with Katherine that there's always more important NAs then reading that always push reading to some other time. Let's take another example. You are a sales and a father at the same time. And you want to have a balance that allows you to earn money (and you like it as a process) and spend time with your child. In this case it's difficult to say what's more important at 9-00: to call a customer or play with the child (let be true with ourselves and accept our workaholism ) That's where shedule can help to make a balance. You just can set it to 40:50 or 50:50 or whatever balance you like. Anyway as Katherine mentioned you can always "unschedule" the time if there's something more important in your lists or on the hard landscape.

                  Do you think GTD has a balance tool that allows for comfort time balancing?

                  Regards,

                  Eugene.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Flexibility...

                    Hi Brent,

                    I understand where you are coming from here. "It is 9:00....with my next actions lists that come into play where I am, what is the best thing for me to do now?" I still do that most of the time. I don't block off every minute of the day. I just designate loosely time blocks where I wish to only focus on certain types of work, and regardless what other things I COULD do, I will focus only on that specific type of work...like writing, or reading/review, or study design. I have found otherwise, like Katherine and Boris said, one can find themselves doing too many small things -- getting a lot done off of our next action lists....but not working on the larger, more important items.

                    At any rate, this seems to work for me -- a person that thrives better with some self-imposed structure.

                    Best to all,
                    Longstreet

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Borisoff
                      Brent, I think I agree with Katherine that there's always more important NAs then reading that always push reading to some other time.
                      I don't agree, actually. If I put Reading down as a NA, I will be able to judge that along with everything else, and the reading will get done.

                      I fully appreciate that this other people aren't like me in this regard, though.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Brent
                        I don't agree, actually. If I put Reading down as a NA, I will be able to judge that along with everything else, and the reading will get done.

                        I fully appreciate that this other people aren't like me in this regard, though.
                        Brent,

                        When would you come to a reading NA in the case your reading is put in NA list?

                        What do you recommend if someone needs to make a permanent progress daily (i.e. in a language learning)?

                        Regards,

                        Eugene Borisoff.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I have a category, "Home/Desk". If I put "Read more of History book" on there, then when I'm home I'd skim through my "Home/Desk" list and judge which ones are most important. If I have a number of significant things on there, but I haven't read in a while and I really want to, I'll choose to read.

                          About daily items...I actually have a little card next to my computer, with daily tasks written on that. (Blog, process receipts, check forums, etc.)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Brent
                            About daily items...I actually have a little card next to my computer, with daily tasks written on that. (Blog, process receipts, check forums, etc.)
                            Brent, do you have a specific time shceduled to process this daily items?

                            What would happen if you don't have time to do them?

                            E.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I don't have a specific time, but I generally aim to do them just after dinner.

                              If they don't get done, then they don't get done. A big hammer doesn't fall out of the sky to hit me. I can always do them some other time. How could it be otherwise?

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