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Do you "intuitively decide"?

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  • Do you "intuitively decide"?

    One of the big selling points of the Getting Things Done methodolody is the ability to free your mind so that you can "intuitively decide" what the best choices are for "doing" day to day, minute to minute.

    Have you picked this methodology up well enough that you are intuitively deciding your most important next actions from your lists, or do you still find yourself looking at a big list of "stuff"?

    Is this level of intuition a pipe dream or is it really achievable? Have you been there, or is it simply a way for David Allen to gloss over the priority decision without admitting there is no "silver bullet"?

    I'd like to know you're experiences on attaining this state.

    Thanks,
    Brian

  • #2
    Intuitively Deciding

    Is this level of intuition a pipe dream or is it really achievable? Have you been there, or is it simply a way for David Allen to gloss over the priority decision without admitting there is no "silver bullet"?

    I'd like to know you're experiences on attaining this state.
    Brian,

    I think you may be making more out of this than there really is. I "intuitively decide" all the time. That doesn't mean I don't decide what's important and what isn't. What that really means is that I don't use a formal prioritizing system for deciding what to do next.

    I think the point David tries to make in the book is that the decision as to what I should do next is not based solely on some a priori decision about the relative importance of all of my next actions. It is also influenced by a number of other factors. The most important factor is where you happen to be at the moment, but there are others, such as your energy level, as well.

    Let's take an example. Putting down fertilizer on the lawn might be the most important thing you have to do. So you go to the hardware store to buy fertilizer. You also have a couple of other things to pick up at the hardware store for some other, less important projects. Are you really going go home, apply the fertilizer, and then go back to the hardware store to pick up the other items? Of course not. You are going to get everything you need at the hardware store. When you get home and find that you are so tired that you are ready to fall over, are you going to put down the fertilizer? Unless you are really disciplined, probably not. You will probably do something else that demands less energy. And so it goes.

    The key point is that the decision as to what to do next is based (legitimately) on a number of factors, many of which change over time. A formal prioritization system would require you to completely reprioritize everything on your action list just about every time you went to do a next action. From a practical standpoint, that is impossible.

    It has been my observation that most people are already intuitively deciding what they will do next. If they use prioritizing systems at all, they usually violate them like crazy. I know I did. That is why I was so happy to give up the whole charade and use a more intelligent process.

    There is also one other aspect to this. It is more of a personal aesthetic than anything else. I like to decide what I'm going to do next. I don't want to be told what to do, even by a prioritizing scheme of my own devising.

    Comment


    • #3
      I agree with Scott

      You have to consider the GTD "priority" discussion in the context of the other time/life-management systems which DA is setting GTD against.

      I struggled for a long time with Covey's ABC/123 Daily Task Lists, and spent the last 30 minutes of each work day copying over the undone Daily Tasks (most of them) to the next day.

      Generally what would happen is that I'd avoid the B (should be done as soon as possible) tasks until they became A (HAVE to be done today) tasks, and fall into the C ("low-priority") tasks because they were the most fun.

      Even the most thoughtful ABC/123 pre-planning didn't help me get this stuff done. Why? Obviously there were other factors, like time, resources and energy. But under the ABC/123 system, these factors were not explicitly acknowledged. I was just left with the sense of failure at not completing the tasks that my pre-prioritizing said I should be doing.

      My biggest Aha! with GTD was reading the acknowledgment that we all have HUNDRED of to-do's, and that the best plan can be shot to h*ll with one drop-by by our boss.

      Now that I've transitioned from Covey to GTD, the things that used to be
      "A tasks" are on my calendar, and I've weeded out the B's and C's that were really Someday/Maybe. I'm left with a full overview. And when the things that seems best to do is a silly, mindless (previously "C task") I don't feel bad that I'm doing it before getting my "B's" done.

      Comment

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