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  • GTD - Priorities - Culture Clash

    I hope I express this well - forgive me if I don't - but sometimes I wonder if people have a problem with the seeming lack of day-to-day structure or prioritization in GTD because of cultural influences.

    When I read or listen to DA, his approach seems to be more Eastern, while many of us were surrounded by and continue to be influenced by Western thought - which says you must always have a plan, an outline, a schedule, a map, a hierarchy.

    Not that GTD is totally stream-of-consciousness, there is a lot of organization there (particularly in becoming aware of all the commitments - "agreements" - you have out there), but it seems like, at a point, DA is telling us to "use the Force", trust our intuition - deep down we all know what's important and what's possible right now. And though setting it down "in stone" (or at least clay) for a day or a week at a time may make us feel better when we make the plan - it ignores the fact that, though "the plan" is completely under our control, Reality is not, and events will almost always force us to alter those plans (or scrap them completely).

    I am trying to become more comfortable with what (it seems to me) DA recommends - if it must be done on a particular day - then it goes on the hard landscape. If not, it goes on an unscheduled, unprioritized, contextual list. My comfort with this method fluctuates from day-to-day, but I suspect it's that clash of cultural differences from my upbringing that creates much of the discomfort.

    Max

  • #2
    Combination of East and West

    I have read several versions of what you have elegantly stated here. I too had the same issues, but since I have modified my system to include a more systematic weekly planning and daily planning mode. This happens as part of the weekly review -- actually, it immediately follows! I am a professor and scientist and have found that I must carefully plan my weeks and days. Of course, I realize that things can change, but I still require a plan upfront of what I wish/need to accomplish any given week. So, I separate my next actions lists by my roles -- scientist, teacher, mentor, service, personal, family, etc. This way, it is easier for me to maintain a reasonable balance of all of my life's priorities. After the weekly review and what needs to be done to move my projects forward, I estimate the amoount of time available for the week and plan my tasks accordingly on a weekly planning template. For each day, I use the Time Trap Approach in determining the high-priority things (yes, I do prioritize -- I think one must do this!) that must be done on that day. These go in a separate category in Outlook (yes, I do have the wonderful Add-in) that I call AI/T - Today! (Action Items/Tasks).

    This is an overview of my system. It involves most of GTD, but I have found I must have more structure in terms of weekly and daily planning. I also have a strong system for making monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals.

    I would be glad to share my Word documents on how I have set this up. It works for me!

    Regards to all,
    Longstreet

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    • #3
      I too have applied a slight modification, though one that DA admits he does occassionally. Each week during the weekly review, I create a list of tasks that really need to get done during the upcoming week. I try to limit this to a manageable size (maybe 5 or 6). When I get time to work on next actions, I choose from this list first. It is only after this list is exhausted that I delve into my other next action lists.

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      • #4
        Re: GTD - Priorities - Culture Clash

        [quote="maxsmith"]When I read or listen to DA, his approach seems to be more Eastern, while many of us were surrounded by and continue to be influenced by Western thought - which says you must always have a plan, an outline, a schedule, a map, a hierarchy.

        Seems to me that the Western cultural reality that GTD is trying to deal with is the fact that it's other people who have the plans and time demands for you, and GTD recognizes that you may not have control of your schedule but you can make the best of the amount of time that you can control or becomes available to you. Intuitive decisions could result from knowing why things are on your lists and applying decision criteria that become second-nature with practice.

        The resistance that I feel is an unwillingness to cede control of my schedule to other people - so I try to save some sense of control over my life by doing some limited schedulling of NA's - at least those things that I think are more important than what other people could try to impose on me.

        Andrew

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        • #5
          Eastern v Western

          Gee, I hope I get the the point, one day, where I am concerned about whether GTD is an "Eastern" or a "Western" system, and whether by nature my approach is more "Eastern" or "Western." From my current perspective, the dichotomy is not "East" v "West," but rather "Lazy half-assed procrastinator" v "productive and responsible." I've been using GTD (with Palm/Life Balance) for about a week, and so far so good!

          Comment


          • #6
            Paul,

            I got productive *because* I was so lazy. Way back when I first started my business, I discovered quickly that nothing was going anywhere -- personal or professional -- if I didn't keep track of my own tail

            I actually wrote an article back in 96 or 97 which had to do with time management, and writing everything down... including giving the kids a bath, cooking supper, etc.

            Have fun getting it together
            Kathy
            --
            http://www.electronicperceptions.com

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Eastern v Western

              Originally posted by PaulC
              Gee, I hope I get the the point, one day, where I am concerned about whether GTD is an "Eastern" or a "Western" system, and whether by nature my approach is more "Eastern" or "Western." From my current perspective, the dichotomy is not "East" v "West," but rather "Lazy half-assed procrastinator" v "productive and responsible." I've been using GTD (with Palm/Life Balance) for about a week, and so far so good!
              Ha-ha - that's funny, I'm experiencing that dichotomy, too - every day!

              I didn't mean to present what I said (East vs. West) as solving any practical problem, really, just an observation concerning what I've seen as a common issue - how to choose from dozens (or hundreds) of possible next actions where the rubber meets the road, without making some kind of daily or weekly plan (with priorities), something I don't find a lot of specific information on in GTD literature or CDs.

              I would hope that a certain amount of idle speculation is welcome here, and that we don't have to restrict ourselves solely to "nuts and bolts" in this forum.

              I'm glad to hear you're finding success with GTD - it's also worked for me better than any other personal organization/productivity system I've ever tried, and I've tried a few.

              Max

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              • #8
                Longstreet

                Longstreet

                I'd like to see your word docs.

                Thanks
                DM

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                • #9
                  I'd like to see them, too.

                  Max

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    My setup for weekly & daily planning

                    Hi DM,

                    Sure, I would be glad to send you my Word documents describing my setup. As I stated earlier, I use the GTD approach with Outlook (and the Add-In), but have added a strong weekly & daily planning component. I also set up monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals. Send me your email address and I will email them to you.

                    Regards,
                    Longstreet

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                    • #11
                      My setup

                      And you too, maxsmith! Send me your email address!

                      Regards,
                      David

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                      • #12
                        word docs

                        Hello - thank you so much for all your helpful posts - I've enjoyed reading them. I lurk a lot and don't post much as I'm still struggling w/GTD. I've recently given up on trying to implement it using Outlook and have gone back to Word docs, so I'd love to see how you have set yours up.

                        Thank you in advance and let me know if there's anything I can do for you.

                        Jenny

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