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  • Doing: how much time it takes you to make the best action chioce?

    I organized my system and put everything in lists (@Home, @Office, @Call, @Agenda, @Waiting). When working from the lists I catched myself doing everything starting with the first item in the list thus skipping DA proposed methodology. I mean I skip "making the best action choices". I found out why. The reason was it takes too much time to make the best action, about 6-7 minutes! for the list of 8 items only. Let me give you an example. I have a list @Home that consists of the following positions:

    - Change batteries in the termo-fork
    - Wife: update passport info
    - Wife: pass application
    - Wife: update status on web payment
    - Draw up my GTD workflow chart
    - Read through the ... contract and make notes
    - Sort digital photos of the last holiday
    - Make a contract with ...

    So 8 of them. My usual way is to start with the first in the list. But DA suggest the following: Context, Time, Energy, Priority. Let's go and calculate:

    1. Context: 1 sec to open the appropriate list. Not too much here
    2. Time available: I have 2 hours till I go to bed. Let's go through all of the 8 items and guess the time, make some assamptions so we can take the best choice here. BTW should I memorize the time while doing that or put it down against each item in the list (this time I put it in lines)?

    - Change batteries in the termo-fork - 5 min
    - Wife: update passport info - 1 min
    - Wife: pass application - 1 min
    - Wife: update status on web payment - 1 min
    - Draw up my GTD workflow chart - 30 min
    - Read through the ... contract and make notes - 30 min
    - Sort digital photos of the last holiday - 20 min
    - Make a contract with ... - 60 min

    Totally it took me 3 minutes to make the assumptions.

    3. Energy available. Oh... My energy after work is not to high Should I put energy required for each of the actions? Again in lines? Ok, let's go...

    - Change batteries in the termo-fork - low
    - Wife: update passport info - mid (I should look as a good husband
    - Wife: pass application - mid
    - Wife: update status on web payment - mid
    - Draw up my GTD workflow chart - low-mid
    - Read through the ... contract and make notes - mid-high
    - Sort digital photos of the last holiday - low
    - Make a contract with ... - mid-high

    It took me 2 minutes to make assumptions.

    4. And the last priorities.

    - Change batteries in the termo-fork - low
    - Wife: update passport info - mid
    - Wife: pass application - low
    - Wife: update status on web payment - mid
    - Draw up my GTD workflow chart - low
    - Read through the ... contract and make notes - high
    - Sort digital photos of the last holiday - low
    - Make a contract with ... - high

    it took me 1 min to make priority assumptions.

    So what I have. I spent 6 minutes to find out what should I do but still not sure I had to spent that time to figure out that I have to do the most important (priority) item. Do you use the same procedure and how much time it takes you to make the best choice? And what happens if you have the list with 20 items?

    Regards,

    Eugene.

  • #2
    I think you're overanalyzing. Trust your intuition. If the important items don't jump out at you, then it probably doesn't matter that much which you do first. Don't let trying to identify The Perfect Action become a form of procrastination.

    In your position, I would first go ahead and change the batteries: that takes so little time it's faster to do than to think about. If my husband were available I would tackle the Wife/Husband items next. Otherwise, I would either sort through the photos or read through the contract, depending on my energy level (photos need less) and urgency (contract probably has deadline).

    I would also note that "make a contract with" doesn't really look like a next action, and I would take a few seconds to figure out and write down the true NA. (Find contract template form? Develop work plan for client? Whatever.) I might also remember that I saw a GTD workflow chart somewhere on the web and either spend a few minutes searching for it or post a note here asking the forum for help.

    Deciding this took about 30 seconds, and it isn't even my list.

    Katherine

    Comment


    • #3
      Katherine, other's list are always easier

      You suggest using intuition but that doesn't correspond to DA method that I wanted to understand (I think I also use intuition while making choices). I know we are not 100% GTDers So I just wanted an answer from a "real true GTDer" how they lived with this method and was it Ok for them to spend so much time on what could be done in seconds using intuition method. By the way DA suggests to make the choice after each compleated Next Action because situation changes after each so the one should put 6-7 minutes on action choice each time not once per day?

      Regards,

      Eugene.

      PS1 My workflow chart would be different as I want to include a know-how on how to differ the actions.

      PS2 Make the contract is make the contract - I have a template already. I just need to sit down and type in some specific terms and conditions
      Last edited by Borisoff; 08-16-2006, 09:10 AM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Borisoff
        So what I have. I spent 6 minutes to find out what should I do but still not sure I had to spent that time to figure out that I have to do the most important (priority) item. Do you use the same procedure and how much time it takes you to make the best choice? And what happens if you have the list with 20 items?
        I'm inclined to agree with Katherine about over-analyzing. This was a trap I fell into when I was first starting with GTD, and I consider it to be just another form of Monkey Mind. I think that David's statements about looking at context, urgency, effort, etc. are not an exhortation to make a list and write those quantities down every single time you're trying to find something to do. Rather, they're guidelines to help direct the thirty seconds of thinking it might take to decide the next action.

        Try looking at it this way: If you're spending 8 minutes trying to pick the BEST next action, that's 8 minutes you're not doing ANY action. Why not spend 30 seconds picking a GOOD ENOUGH action and the rest of that 8 minutes moving an open loop closer to completion? Good enough is good enough, here as in many places in life. And honestly, it really doesn't matter if you pick the BEST action at any given point in time, as long as you're doing something, because eventually all your open loops need to be closed anyway. If there's something obviously in need of critical attention, you'll see it; if not, just pick something and take a step toward completion.

        -- Tammy

        Comment


        • #5
          GTD Chapter 9 begins as follows:

          "When it comes to your real-time, plow-through, get-it-done workday, how do you decide what to do at any given point?

          "As I've said, my simple answer is, trust your heart. Or your spirit. Or, if you're allergic to those kinds of words, try these: your gut, the seat of your pants, your intuition."

          The rest of the chapter seems to me to be about to (a) structuring your system to help your intuition, for example by using contexts to group items, and (b) educating your intuition so that it can make better decisions, for example by reminding it to consider higher level goals. But I see the chapter as a collection of tools to use to augment intuition, not to substitute for it.

          It doesn't make sense to spend 8 minutes prioritizing a list of mostly five minute items. But a longer list of more complex items might require a more formal planning process. Adapt your tools to the situation, don't follow them blindly.

          Katherine

          Comment


          • #6
            Need to Simplify

            I agree, this method is overly complex. You should bee able to pick a next action in less than a minute. But, if you do want use this very analytical way of picking the "best" next action, then you need to make at least one modification to your process. Instead of evaluating every item at each step, you need to do eliminate items at each step so you list is getting smaller and small.

            Personally, if I had that list and situation, I would have made my decision at step 2. Here how: 'Do I want to do that (a)hour long task or (b)a bunch of quick items?' If (b) do the first four in any order in the next ten minutes, then come back and choose one of the three mid length items.

            Comment


            • #7
              My order.

              Originally posted by Borisoff
              - Change batteries in the termo-fork - 5 min
              - Wife: update passport info - 1 min
              - Wife: pass application - 1 min
              - Wife: update status on web payment - 1 min
              - Draw up my GTD workflow chart - 30 min
              - Read through the ... contract and make notes - 30 min
              - Sort digital photos of the last holiday - 20 min
              - Make a contract with ... - 60 min
              I would do it in the following order:
              1) Change batteries in the termo-fork - 5 min
              2) Wife: update passport info - 1 min
              3) Wife: pass application - 1 min
              4) Wife: update status on web payment - 1 min
              5) Read through the ... contract and make notes - 30 min
              6) Make a contract with ... - 60 min
              7) If there is still any time left do "Draw up my GTD workflow chart" or "Sort digital photos of the last holiday" (decide after step 6).

              Comment


              • #8
                I agree with TesTeq...

                If energy levels are high, get the cheap winds 1-4 and then make the others things happen...

                By the time you get to 6 or 7 you will be flying...

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Borisoff

                  - Change batteries in the termo-fork - 5 min
                  - Wife: update passport info - 1 min
                  - Wife: pass application - 1 min
                  - Wife: update status on web payment - 1 min
                  Really these should not be on a list anywhere!!

                  Under 2 minutes...DO IT! (I really think that you can change batteries in less than 2 minutes.) That knocks out more than half of your list.

                  I agree that you are overanalyzing these decisions. NO ONE here practices GTD 'by the book' (except maybe DA). GTD is about you being able to be more productive...[to quote Malcom X] by any means neccessary.

                  GTD is a framework for more productive working & living...not a holy grail of right and wrong ways to practice it.

                  Michael

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by mramm
                    Really these should not be on a list anywhere!!

                    Under 2 minutes...DO IT!
                    Michael
                    Three of them were probably added to the list because the wife was not present at the time.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Max
                      Three of them were probably added to the list because the wife was not present at the time.
                      "Wife" appeared when at my office so couldn't be done in 2 min

                      I know GTD is not a holy grail and I don't use this scheme (at least I don't know how to use it) and the question still unanswered: How real GTDers use this scheme (or there's only one real GTDer and he's busy so can't answer?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Borisoff
                        I know GTD is not a holy grail and I don't use this scheme (at least I don't know how to use it) and the question still unanswered: How real GTDers use this scheme (or there's only one real GTDer and he's busy so can't answer?
                        They don't.

                        First of all, by my reading of DA's book, strict application of his four-part framework is *not* part of "real GTD." The framework is there when needed, but DA appears to believe that most decisions can and should be made by intuition.

                        Second of all, strict application of the framework would consume a huge amount of time for relatively small benefits. "Real GTDers" are more interested in getting things done than in wasting time with procedures that don't actually help them.

                        Katherine

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by kewms
                          They don't.

                          First of all, by my reading of DA's book, strict application of his four-part framework is *not* part of "real GTD." The framework is there when needed, but DA appears to believe that most decisions can and should be made by intuition.

                          Second of all, strict application of the framework would consume a huge amount of time for relatively small benefits. "Real GTDers" are more interested in getting things done than in wasting time with procedures that don't actually help them.

                          Katherine
                          That clears everything. Thanks!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Then they probably need to go to @Agenda: Wife. I use it for all of the things that I need to talk to my wife, friends, boss about.

                            Michael

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