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  • Collect...then what?

    A while back on the 43folders board I put up two surveys asking people to rate what part of GTD workflow proces they were best at and where they were weakest.

    Many believed that they were great at collecting and then their performance slid. The big self assessment *I Suck* flag was awarded to the review and do phases.

    Why?

    Why are there so many threads about the internicine wars touting the merits of analog vs digital and vice versa? - Is it because there are no shiny electronic tools or smooth leather deivces to accomplish a REVIEW?

    Is your MyDocuments folder as organized as your Filing Cabinet?

    Why do so many people take the time to label 43 folders only to leave them empty?

    How does one EXCLUSIVELY PROCESS on paper or digital in a world that uses both modes?

    WHO is doing a WEEKLY REVIEW?

    After reading GTD and We all here acknowledge that *the David's* +25 years of experience and wisdom has saved our lives. Yet why do we still fight the sage advice and ORGANIZE our actions by projects rather than context?

    Has anyone here ever surrendered their desires and submitted to a pure practice of GTD - developing the habits of the process?

    If you have, I'd love to hear how you did it and how it has changed your work and attitudes to work.

  • #2
    To answer your question look no further than the search for the holly grail!

    The problem does not lie with DA (who is the latest in a long line of individuals that put forward 'a' truth) but we who read and interpret the message. DA's message must move out and into the needs of each individual ... my needs are different from the next persons and so on.

    So I don't believe that you will ever find a individual that has implemented DA's system as written. At best we take those parts of the system that meets our needs and add them to what we already know and do. Thus creating our own system.

    Comment


    • #3
      Are You an ESFP?

      It's my impression that the GTD workflow has been designed for ESFP type personalities (in terms of MBTI).

      An ESFP looks and notices what's there around her and starts to act according to her emotional judgements. It's easy for an ESFP to act after having collected her stuff (Extraverted Sensing) and having made judgements (Introverted Feeling) about it (aka "Processing").

      The third function of an ESFP is Extraverted Thinking and everything that is its prey gets organized, scheduled, catalogued, and compartmentalized.

      The fourth function is Introverted Intuition that puts together seemingly contradictory pieces (contexts, time, energy, and priorities) and tells you what the future will look like.

      Then the ESFP goes back to her preferred function (Extraverted Sensing) and starts to act.

      After going through this cycle several times the ESFP reviews what she's done by judging it (Introverted Feeling), organizing the results (Extraverted Thinking) and taking notes on intentions and future actions (Introverted Intuition).

      And then the whole thing starts all over again with Collecting or Acting (Extraverted Sensing).

      That's, so far, my personal impression (IMHO).

      If you're not an ESFP and still want to use the GTD workflow or a somewhat altered form of it , then you need to either change (tweak) it or add something additional that you need. And that's what most of this forum's discussions are about.

      Rainer
      Last edited by Rainer Burmeister; 09-30-2006, 03:50 AM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Instigase
        A while back on the 43folders board I put up two surveys asking people to rate what part of GTD workflow proces they were best at and where they were weakest.

        Many believed that they were great at collecting and then their performance slid. The big self assessment *I Suck* flag was awarded to the review and do phases.

        Why?
        Simple. They're grading each phase on a curve, so naturally something has to suffer. If you're asked which part of GTD workflow you're strongest, and which part you're weakest, identifying one part as a weakness is inevitable.

        Why are there so many threads about the internicine wars touting the merits of analog vs digital and vice versa? - Is it because there are no shiny electronic tools or smooth leather deivces to accomplish a REVIEW?
        There's a wide range of opinion on the best media for capturing, planning and organizing, but no one debates the need to review. It would be like a thread debating the need to eat less food in order to lose weight. It's just harder for some people to accomplish regularly than others.

        Is your MyDocuments folder as organized as your Filing Cabinet?
        The problem with this? An A-to-Z filing system is an A-to-Z filing system, whether it's in a My Documents folder or a physical filing cabinet. Granted, I would never use a PC desktop as a filing system, since my world has plenty of paper to manage. But in principle there shouldn't be a problem for those whose work environment is primary digital.

        Why do so many people take the time to label 43 folders only to leave them empty?
        When I first created a tickler file I had no idea what to put in it. After a few weeks, I started putting too much in it (information would "disappear" if I suddenly needed it before the date in which I filed it). After a while I got a better sense of what to put on the calendar and what to put in the tickler file.

        Much of GTD, as with anything so systematic, is counterintuitive, so a full year or two might go by between understanding it intellectually and implementing the whole model experientially. We're human beings, not robots.

        How does one EXCLUSIVELY PROCESS on paper or digital in a world that uses both modes?
        A more nuanced reading of the average forum post would show that while people have a predilection for analog or digital, in practice people use a mixture of both.

        WHO is doing a WEEKLY REVIEW?
        Most people on this forum seem to be doing it. I wouldn't make the claim for the likes of 43 Folders, which caters more to "solutions" than methodology: PDAs, hPDAs, wikis, WebDAVs, Dashboard widgets and sundry software for productivity geeks. I doubt your poll reached a representative cross section of GTD practitioners.

        After reading GTD and We all here acknowledge that *the David's* +25 years of experience and wisdom has saved our lives. Yet why do we still fight the sage advice and ORGANIZE our actions by projects rather than context?
        Few very forum members here belong to this royal We of yours. Contextualizing by project rather than location can work if your resources are more or less centralized, but that's hardly the norm. If you work at home, and you have a computer, a phone, a filing system, and other resources at hand, it's easy to get by without an @Computer list. I put the phone calls I can only make from work on my @Office list, using a lower priority code on the Palm Desktop to group all of the calls I need to make at the bottom of that list. If works fine, GTD canon or not.

        Beethoven: "Does Albrechtsberger forbid parallel fourths? Well, I allow them!"

        Has anyone here ever surrendered their desires and submitted to a pure practice of GTD - developing the habits of the process?
        If DA would hire me as a coach, I'd promise to use nothing but pure GTD. I generally defer to his experience as long as it meshes with my reality. But if you're conscious, you're going to have some individuation of process. No two people are alike, and while His Daveness has created a method that handles 95% of people's needs, there's always that other 5%.

        Comment


        • #5
          Fascinating. One thread castigating us all for our blind faith in the Cult of GTD, and another castigating us for our failure to drink sufficient amounts of Kool-Aid.

          Guess we must be doing something right, huh?

          I've discussed my implementation of GTD at great length elsewhere, so I won't bore everyone by repeating it here. Let's just say that I care more about what works for me than what is (or is not) dictated by the Canon. The David has some great ideas, but he's not in my office dealing with my projects.

          Katherine

          Comment


          • #6
            Castigating? - Sorry Katherine! I do like your posts and I learn much from your posts about how one implementation of GTD is working.

            As a practioner of the Art of GTD for several years, I too know my weaknesses. Despite that, I feel that I am can focus more clearly at a given task at hand - and switch from one to another as the day unfolds with a bit more aplomb than before.

            Is it truly a holy grail or is there a *disciplined* way to better learn and implement GTD? Would learning the system the Basic (the David's) way allow one to customize it to your way more efficiently?

            My lamentation was due to some dis-ease I still have in not being able to fully develop the phases as habits. To use the martial arts metaphor: How does one become the black belt and acheive the *Mind like water* state? Is it possible to become a proficient practicioner without the aid of a coach / sensei?

            Perhaps I'm asking too much or overextending the metaphor.

            Thanks for the responses - more food for thought...

            -Lou

            Comment


            • #7
              Infj

              I tried to make sense of this thread but couldn't. Probably because I'm an E/INFJ. Must be all those feelings I have that prevent me from thinking. Or perhaps my intuition got in the way.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by kewms
                Fascinating. One thread castigating us all for our blind faith in the Cult of GTD, and another castigating us for our failure to drink sufficient amounts of Kool-Aid.

                You can lead a GTDer to Kool-Aid, but you can't make them drink.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Instigase
                  Has anyone here ever surrendered their desires and submitted to a pure practice of GTD - developing the habits of the process?

                  If you have, I'd love to hear how you did it and how it has changed your work and attitudes to work.
                  I think that I'm getting pretty close to "Black Belt" for whatever that means, and something happened recently that has led me to believe that I'm getting close to "getting it".

                  I was recently in my boss' office and we were talking about fires... she said, "all of your peers spend their days putting out fires, and here you come into my office with a list of projects to improve your processes..."

                  Me: "well, to tell you the truth I don't have any fires"

                  She: "You're right... and that's good!"

                  I had one of those "ah ha" moments... often, it's hard for one to see the fruits of their labor from the perspective of *I*. It's hard for us to recognize change and/or growth, because well... we're with ourselves all of the time.

                  It's in the moments like the above where you realize the progress you've made and the extent of the impact that your improvements have had.

                  So, that's what's changed regarding my work as a result of my "GTD implementation"....

                  How did I do it? Years of practice (literally) and the fine distinctions that I've made along the way regarding what works and what doesn't.

                  Jim

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hard Edges and getting a Sensei

                    Rainer -

                    I've not participated in a full MBTI inventory. So I dont know what I am...

                    I do understand the logic - One tweaks canonnical GTD to suit their personality and work habits.

                    Yet I also understand, and am more sympathetic to the opposite approach which is much like the practice of a marital art. One submits to the learning of the basics of the program and practices diligently to develop workprocessing habits. These habits become second nature to the way one acts and reacts to the flow of daily work.

                    The problem I've had with doing GTD "my way" is that I believe that I may have ignored or misinterpreted some of the important nuances of GTD. For example once I started to put hard edges to the five phases of workflow activities. I started to feel that I had more time to act, reflect about areas of focus, and review at the various levels. Wheras previously without those edges, reviews, processing and organizing became a very time consuming job with neat lists of uncompleted next actions.

                    Perhaps if I had a Sensei to keep me on the "straight and narrow" in the early days of my GTD implementation I would have had spun my wheels much less. Coaches/sensei are pretty dear so I will continue to read and learn from the forum's black belts and practice...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Then again...

                      ...as someone wrote in another thread:

                      As David himself says "there's no wrong way to do GTD".

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Instigase
                        Yet I also understand, and am more sympathetic to the opposite approach which is much like the practice of a marital art. One submits to the learning of the basics of the program and practices diligently to develop workprocessing habits. These habits become second nature to the way one acts and reacts to the flow of daily work.
                        With all due respect to DA, though, GTD is not a martial art. One can only take a metaphor so far, and the consequences of failing to get work done are far different from the consequences of failing to perfect sword kata.

                        More generally, the martial arts are an end in themselves: you practice karate to get good at karate. Unless you are DA or one of his employees, you practice GTD to be more effective in your chosen profession. "Correct" implementation of GTD is useless unless it helps you achieve another goal.

                        The martial arts don't change much over time because people don't change. A medieval Japanese samurai had exactly the same number of arms and legs as any of us. There are only so many ways to contort or damage a human (without weapons), and most of those have been explored at some point in the last few thousand years. The martial arts are mature technology. Modern work is not. It's changed radically over the time that most of us have been in the work force, and will change even more radically before most of us retire. Even without technological change, modern work encompasses literally all human endeavors. It's ludicrous to believe a single approach will work for all people in all work situations. A system like GTD must be able to adapt to this reality. (Which is why "canonical" GTD is tool-agnostic.)

                        Frankly, I think all the posts debating tools and the "right" way to do GTD, all the people looking for a "Sensei" to follow, are looking for certainty that simply doesn't exist. The book is valuable, certainly, but it can't address all the possibilities of everyone's individual situations. Suggestions and tips and reading about other people's implementations are a valuable source of ideas, but ideas is all they are. The only "right" way to do GTD is the way that helps you Get Things Done.

                        Katherine

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by kewms
                          With all due respect to DA, though, GTD is not a martial art.
                          I agree, but that does not negate the idea that developing reactions and habits that respond to work flow cannot be developed though a disciplined approach.

                          One can only take a metaphor so far, and the consequences of failing to get work done are far different from the consequences of failing to perfect sword kata.
                          I do not intend on taking the metaphor that far either. Yes there is quite a difference if your reactions fail you in the workplace vs. the battlefield. In the latter you die. However in both examples you cite, there is a failure - in how one reacts to changes.

                          More generally, the martial arts are an end in themselves: you practice karate to get good at karate.
                          I think we have different approaches to how we practice martial arts. I've practiced Tae Kwon Do as a way to discipline my mind and learn control of my body. Perfection of a form is not an desireable end at all - at least for me.

                          Unless you are DA or one of his employees, you practice GTD to be more effective in your chosen profession. "Correct" implementation of GTD is useless unless it helps you achieve another goal.
                          What I find good about the metaphor is that like a marital art once mastered, creativity and ability to learn more modes of adapatbility are encouraged and required. Once the basics are mastered the nuances are more readily recognized and can be exploited to any number of situations. I could not develop my very own 2nd Dan form or had picked up Tai Chi as quickly had I not mastered control of my body by submitting to learning the basic techniques of a single martial art.

                          I don't practice GTD to get more done, I have practiced GTD to work more stress free and therefore more effectively.

                          The martial arts don't change much over time because people don't change. A medieval Japanese samurai had exactly the same number of arms and legs as any of us. There are only so many ways to contort or damage a human (without weapons), and most of those have been explored at some point in the last few thousand years. The martial arts are mature technology.
                          Again we have different philosophies of the martial arts. There are a myriad ways of reacting to a situation. Each Master has his own school and there are as many ways of defending a single attack as there are masters. Learning the many techniques to responding takes the disciplined mind to precisely control ones actions.

                          Modern work is not. It's changed radically over the time that most of us have been in the work force, and will change even more radically before most of us retire. Even without technological change, modern work encompasses literally all human endeavors.
                          I agree with you completely. Drucker has called this knowledge work. Which demands far more from us intellectually than our agrarian-based grandmothers and grandfathers were ever tasked with doing.

                          It's ludicrous to believe a single approach will work for all people in all work situations. A system like GTD must be able to adapt to this reality. (Which is why "canonical" GTD is tool-agnostic.)
                          I agree again, which is why I've lamented over threads touting the 8 reasons why digital sucks or 10 reasons why paper is ineffective. I have not commented there and I suspect I never will. Truth be told - I use both a PDA and a planner. And yes, I've toyed with all sorts of productivity pr0n as I do like shiny electronic things and the feel of a good pen on good paper. I have also wasted time reconfiguring systems only to fall back on what I started with 5 years ago. This wheel spinning got me to thinking of learning GTD in a orthodox vs organic manner. Hence the lament which started this thread.

                          Frankly, I think all the posts debating tools and the "right" way to do GTD, all the people looking for a "Sensei" to follow, are looking for certainty that simply doesn't exist. The book is valuable, certainly, but it can't address all the possibilities of everyone's individual situations. Suggestions and tips and reading about other people's implementations are a valuable source of ideas, but ideas is all they are. The only "right" way to do GTD is the way that helps you Get Things Done.
                          Frankly I don't understand why my quereies for seeking out persons who've taken an orthodox path to learning the habits of GTD and their methods are being met with some hostility. If the following responses are in any way due to the tone of my initial post - I apologize.

                          As you can tell from my posting rate (15 posts in 4 years) I've done more reading and listening than contributing. I have found much gold in these mines with respect to specific methods, tools and practices. Some which I've incorporated into the way I use GTD. Now I am trying to learn more practices to develop the habits to develop the mind like water. In this case I am asking this community if anyone has taken an orthodox approach to learning GTD habits. This is opposed to using cannonical tools and methods.

                          Apparently those persons either exist as coaches (which I cannot afford) or don't exist - at least in this forum.

                          Anyway thanks for answering my queries and helping me to clarify the intent of my query. I'll leave the last word in this thread to others.

                          -Lou

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Instigase
                            I think we have different approaches to how we practice martial arts. I've practiced Tae Kwon Do as a way to discipline my mind and learn control of my body. Perfection of a form is not an desireable end at all - at least for me.
                            I'm sorry, I oversimplified for the non-martial artists in the audience. Perfection of a form does not imply (to me) that one is good at a martial art. It simply implies that one understands the tools needed to study the art. The art itself includes the intangibles you mentioned, not just the forms.

                            But my underlying point stands, which is that the practice is directly relevant to the goal.

                            What I find good about the metaphor is that like a marital art once mastered, creativity and ability to learn more modes of adapatbility are encouraged and required. Once the basics are mastered the nuances are more readily recognized and can be exploited to any number of situations. I could not develop my very own 2nd Dan form or had picked up Tai Chi as quickly had I not mastered control of my body by submitting to learning the basic techniques of a single martial art.
                            My art is more traditional than yours. My teacher would laugh at the idea of a 2nd dan being qualified to develop a new form, and would say that mastery is a lifelong effort. But I agree with your underlying point, that creativity in the martial arts is made possible by understanding of the basic forms.

                            I don't practice GTD to get more done, I have practiced GTD to work more stress free and therefore more effectively.
                            Didn't I say that?

                            Again we have different philosophies of the martial arts. There are a myriad ways of reacting to a situation. Each Master has his own school and there are as many ways of defending a single attack as there are masters. Learning the many techniques to responding takes the disciplined mind to precisely control ones actions.
                            No argument there, but I've found that different schools have more similarities than differences. You can string together whatever series of movements you want, but the basic "vocabulary" of movements is still limited by human anatomy.

                            Frankly I don't understand why my quereies for seeking out persons who've taken an orthodox path to learning the habits of GTD and their methods are being met with some hostility. If the following responses are in any way due to the tone of my initial post - I apologize.
                            I'm not being intentionally hostile. I hope I don't come across that way. However, I don't see "orthodoxy" as necessarily a good thing, particularly for something as personal as a time management system. I, and probably many of the people here, have tried more structured systems and found them severely lacking. For me, the flexibility of GTD is its greatest strength.

                            To the extent that "orthodox approach" is even meaningful in the context of GTD, I would say it involves reading the book and following the directions. Once you've done that, as most of us have, the rest is a matter of practice, discipline, and personal fine-tuning: exactly the subject matter of most threads.

                            Katherine

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Instigase
                              I do understand the logic - One tweaks canonnical GTD to suit their personality and work habits.

                              Yet I also understand, and am more sympathetic to the opposite approach which is much like the practice of a marital art. One submits to the learning of the basics of the program and practices diligently to develop workprocessing habits. These habits become second nature to the way one acts and reacts to the flow of daily work.

                              The problem I've had with doing GTD "my way" is that I believe that I may have ignored or misinterpreted some of the important nuances of GTD. For example once I started to put hard edges to the five phases of workflow activities. I started to feel that I had more time to act, reflect about areas of focus, and review at the various levels. Wheras previously without those edges, reviews, processing and organizing became a very time consuming job with neat lists of uncompleted next actions.

                              Perhaps if I had a Sensei to keep me on the "straight and narrow" in the early days of my GTD implementation I would have had spun my wheels much less. Coaches/sensei are pretty dear so I will continue to read and learn from the forum's black belts and practice...
                              The general thrust of the martial arts metaphor regards the art of calm in the midst of conflict. How do we maintain equilibrium when external forces militate against it? The metaphor breaks down, I think, in the training aspect. Karate is practiced in deliberately artificial settings: kata (choreographed forms) and kumite (sparring) are designed to teach control within chaos, shedding light on more general life skills vis-a-vis these particular exercises.

                              The dojo of the modern office is anything but an artificial setting. GTD practitioners are constantly learning and using the system while dealing with new inputs throughout the day. Few have the luxury of taking an academic approach to productivity. Just holding back work long enough to complete a weekly review can be a challenge. If you're busy enough to have been attracted to GTD or a similar system, you'll probably have to chip away at your skills incrementally. If DA is, say, a 10th Dan, it's because productivity is his metier. He gets to spend his work time studying workflow, its bottlenecks and its best practices.

                              The rest of us have to optimize our work within other fields of endeavor, so the art of work is a constant negotiation between theoretical frameworks and the feedback from our own experience. I guarantee you that no matter how much DA advocates handing off work by email, that would never fly in my office, where email and voicemail are checked haphazardly, and the exception of my own behavior is regarded as a personal organizing fetish instead of a set of learned habits. Like the Time/Design system DA reengineered into his own, GTD has an implicit "knowledge worker" focus that doesn't apply to all situations.

                              Perhaps the reason you see so much discussion of personalized, "my way" GTD is that there's not much content to work from otherwise. There's the main book, a slim supplementary volume (Ready for Anything), and an out-of-print seminar recording (fortunately, a new 2-day seminar recording is in production). The best way to guard against possible misinterpretation is to reread the books, listen to GTDF or, if they're affordable options, attend a seminar, hire a coach or subscribe to GTD Connect.

                              If optimizing GTD matters enough to be something you're willing to dedicate time to working on it exclusively, make it a project, figure out what aspects of your system need improvement and get next actions on them.

                              Comment

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