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Is anyone else like me?

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  • Is anyone else like me?

    I have just recently started getting into the GTD system and I think it's great! It has helped me tremendously. However, I still have some issues that I need to take care of to completely emerge myself in productivity.

    The problem that I have is that I LOVE information. I especially love information and learning new things. I'm the type of person that goes to the bookstore and tries to find all the books I can on something that I am interested in at the time and buy them all. I then go back home, read a few pages of each book, get bored of them and go back and do it again the next week! It's insane. I do this with blogs, podcasts, my RSS feeds, whatever. I love to get as much information as possible about something and try to learn it, but it bores me VERY fast and I am always in constant pursuit of something new to find.

    Is anyone else like me? What strategies would help me follow through? Even if I would spend a little more time on something, it doesn't last long because I have all that other information that I had gathered beforehand.

  • #2
    *raises hand*

    Yep, that's me. In a big big way.

    You may never completely get over that tendency, nor should you try. The more information you collect, the more you're able to make connections among various fields, and the more you're able to think "outside the box" of any single discipline. That's good.

    However, you really do need to focus in order to actually accomplish anything. The difference between "Renaissance Man" and "dilettante" is that the Renaissance Man puts his vast collection of knowledge to work in the service of some larger goal.

    So, what do you want to accomplish? Be specific. Define outcomes. Set deadlines. Recognize that any worthwhile goal will require a substantial investment of time and effort. When and if you decide to shift focus to a new area, make sure you know what you are giving up and what is being pushed to the back burner.

    I've found that I need to compromise: I need to give my natural curiousity time and space to wander, but I also need to devote regular chunks of time to the long term projects that really matter to me.

    You might also find that you learn more from humans, rather than books. If nothing else, talking to humans will show you what true expertise in your field of the moment looks like, and what problems people actually working in the field are trying to solve. (As opposed to books, which offer knowledge in a vacuum, for its own sake.) Then you can decide whether those problems are likely to keep you interested for the long term.

    Good luck!

    Katherine

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    • #3
      Thanks Katherine. I appreciate the reply. Do you have any examples of anything that you that helps you with this?

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      • #4
        I know someone like that! ME

        One of the things that I have done to compensate for that it is setup a time for research in my hard landscape, I spend 1-3 hours a week in BN, in wich I get coffee, collect the books and read them there.

        That way I do not buy an excesive amount of books, but also I am in Focus mode for learning. And ofcourse if I can not finish a book, I maybe get it.

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        • #5
          Books As Medication

          Originally posted by AdamB
          I'm the type of person that goes to the bookstore and tries to find all the books I can on something that I am interested in at the time and buy them all. I then go back home, read a few pages of each book, get bored of them and go back and do it again the next week! It's insane.
          AdamB,

          People who love information don't get bored and give up after reading a couple of pages of a couple of books.

          A useful question to consider might be what is going on in your life when these binge buying episodes happen. Are you facing the need to do things you are afraid of, confused by, or just detest? Are you depressed, anxious, or bored? You might also want to consider exploring those questions with a therapist.

          I'm not trying to be a smart alec or put you down by suggesting these things. I had a similar problem, and on reflection, I realized that buying books seemed to offer the chance to remake (or at least escape) a life that I hated. Once I started to address the real problems, my compulsive book buying dropped sharply. I still love books, but I buy less of them, and I now read most of the ones I buy.
          Last edited by Scott_L_Lewis; 10-17-2006, 07:17 AM. Reason: Fixed problem with quote

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          • #6
            It helps to be absolutely rigorous about weekly, monthly, and annual reviews. Make sure that I know what my goals are, and it's easier to see if I'm making progress towards them.

            A good library can also help keep the information sampling from getting financially out of control. Check and see if your local college or university has borrowing privileges for people who are not students.

            Katherine

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            • #7
              That sounds an awful lot like me, too -- I love learning a little bit about as many things as possible, and the concerted study of a single field for too terribly long drives me nuts. I think that's why I'm enjoying the career I'm transitioning into (freelance writer and novelist) appeals to me so much more than the one I'm slowly getting out of (computer consulting).

              A friend of mine, also a writer, is similar in temperament, and he once took a personality test from the Johnson O'Connor Research Foundation, which described him as a "many-aptituded person". Though I've not been formally tested, I suspect I'd test the same way.

              The advantage of being like that, of course, is the ability to gather that vast information and synthesize it in new and different ways. The trap, as Katherine pointed out, is falling into a mode where you gather information endlessly and never do anything with it. For me, rigorous use of Someday/Maybe items, as well as goal-setting at a variety of altitudes, helps to corral the negative aspects of that personality trait.

              -- Tammy

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              • #8
                Thanks for all of the informative replies!

                As far as the reply about seeing a therapist. I never expected a reply like that. You are definately looking in a deeper sentiment than I had anticipated. Frankly, I don't see any problems with my life. I'm happy, love my job other than the fact that it's boring most times, have a great wife, house and dog.

                I've seen a doctor about the possibility of having ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), but currently, I am not on any medication. When I said that I buy all of the books, I don't buy ALL of them in a literal sense. I would probably buy 2 or 3 books with the business credit card and never finish any of them.

                I guess it is my personality because I always have a strong desire to learn new information and I get off on tangents all the time when I am interested in something. I never go half way when a subject starts to interest me. I go all the way.

                I'll have to see about really cutting down on the information. For example, I could subscribe to 70 podcasts and never catch up with them, however, I have now told myself that if I want to listen to more podcasts, I can't go over a screenful in Itunes. I think little barriers like this may help along with setting goals about actually finishing things!

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by wordsofwonder
                  For me, rigorous use of Someday/Maybe items, as well as goal-setting at a variety of altitudes, helps to corral the negative aspects of that personality trait.

                  -- Tammy
                  I've already got about 20 of these items and I haven't even been doing GTD for more than a week! I have an iPAQ and I am constantly recording memos to myself to put into the someday/maybe group. I'm excited about the first weekly review as I can then try to pick one of them out and proceed with it.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by AdamB
                    I guess it is my personality because I always have a strong desire to learn new information and I get off on tangents all the time when I am interested in something. I never go half way when a subject starts to interest me. I go all the way.
                    Actually, you don't. That's the point. Actually learning about a subject requires that you read the books, not just buy them.

                    Katherine

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by kewms
                      Actually, you don't. That's the point. Actually learning about a subject requires that you read the books, not just buy them.

                      Katherine
                      I guess I didn't phrase that very well, huh?

                      I meant that I get really engaged in my interest, but not in any particular physical thing.

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