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  • same mess again

    This is an email I just wrote to my new GTD friend Claudia since she so relates to my issues, and then I decided to post it. Not too cheerful, but here it is.

    Claudia,
    The worst has happened. I am as big a wreck as ever. I can't stick to any one system---I go numb to them no matter what they are. Then I hop. How are you doing? At least we aren't alone. Sometimes I even wonder if I should ever have started this David Allen stuff in the first place.

    Palm on Treo: Can't plan. Go numb to the lists. But love the portability and think I should be able to live with it. On Ical, i go numb to my lists. They are synced by the way.

    Franklin Planner: so frigging big and I am out and don't have it and don't know when I am available or have my lists or anything. But it does kind of cover all the bases.

    Tried Katherine's Levenger paper for lists, but I like to hve them with me and the thing is weird in my purse and the pages are fragile and come loose.

    Little Filofax: Like the looks, a lot to like, but the pages for notes aren't big enough to really keep a file of stuff like in the bigger Filofaxes or Franklins.

    Why don't i love anything? Why do I go numb to it all? I get inspired with the new. I want to steamline but end up jumping or adding another notebook and pretty soon my bag is full of stuff and that's not the idea.

    I think I have lacked a project planning thing---so I can make really clear what my outcomes will be. Paper works best for that.

    I should post this on the site. Not that there will be any help. I think they have helped me all they can.

    Trish

  • #2
    Trish,

    in Words of David Allen:
    "If you don't know what you're doing, any gadget will do."

    and I will complete and say "or neither gadget will do"

    Once in a while I start thinking on how I need to add this tool or change this or add that...

    The reality in my own case is that every time I start with this ideas is more problems in my process than in my system, I am not saying that the systems cannot change, they should change as you evolve...

    My advice will be to review your process, look at the 5 stages and see which ones you have problem and based on that get the tool based on the process and the successful outcome of each...

    I hope this helps

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Trish View Post
      The worst has happened. I am as big a wreck as ever. I can't stick to any one system---I go numb to them no matter what they are. Then I hop. How are you doing? At least we aren't alone. Sometimes I even wonder if I should ever have started this David Allen stuff in the first place.
      ..
      Why don't i love anything? Why do I go numb to it all? I get inspired with the new. I want to steamline but end up jumping or adding another notebook and pretty soon my bag is full of stuff and that's not the idea.
      ..
      I should post this on the site. Not that there will be any help. I think they have helped me all they can.
      I had a revelation recently: I don't love my next action and project list tool, I never have, and maybe I never will. A lot of people have to use Outlook, and God knows I will never love that. I don't love my screwdriver, either. There's no reason why you should love your tool either, but you do need one. Say to yourself "Just for this week, I am going to try using just one tool. When I do my next weekly review, I can pick something else." Dump your brain (paper works best, I think), populate your lists, and do something- anything. Then do something else. If you come to something you don't want to do, or don't know how to do, ask yourself what the real next action is that you are willing to do. Write it down, and keep on going. Don't switch between tools. AFTER you do your next weekly review, ask yourself if you want to switch. If you do, go ahead and switch. Just keep going, doing one next action and then another.

      Comment


      • #4
        Don't give up!

        Originally posted by Trish View Post
        The worst has happened. I am as big a wreck as ever. I can't stick to any one system---I go numb to them no matter what they are. Then I hop.
        Oh, Trish, this is heartbreaking! For starters, you have to stop beating yourself up about this. You are not a wreck, okay? I've been where you are, and it's not your fault. Really. You'll have to trust me on this, at least for a bit.

        I'll have a go at some of the issues here, if you'll permit me. First up, I think that there's more going on than just your acceptance of the system. Again, this is just from my experience, but if you're like me there's some procrastination issues happening as well which get in the way.

        With the "go numb to the lists", which seems to crop up quite a bit, this could be because you're overwhelmed by either the size of the lists or the content of the lists. For the first, it helps to use a paper or index card system with one page per thingie, and for the second, you might find my "Nice/Nasty" idea helps, which I discuss on another thread.

        One page/card works because it allows you to focus on one thing at a time: if you've got a wide visual field or equivalent, the whole list hits you in the face. Unpleasant.

        Palm on Treo: When you say "Can't plan", what exactly does this mean? I'm not sure that any planning should be happening on a Palm, although I may be wrong. I finally decided against geek toys for my system because, although I love geeky stuff dearly, I needed something absolutely simple to use. Plus it's always on.

        What I use is:
        - one small diary/planner thing, 3 * 5 size, which carries all my diary/calendar info and references like phone stuff;
        - a set of 6 trays for the guts of the system (Intray, Actions, Waiting, etc).

        And I'm thinking of investing in a Hipster PDA, for catching ideas when I'm out. The cards are robust enough that they don't get damaged easily, and I'm a total geek so I'm kind of tickled by this idea.

        Whatever's happening, there is a way out of it: it's just a matter of finding it. And you don't have to get the system all in one glorious epiphany (although it would be nice): you can sneak up on it.

        Cheers,
        Alison

        Comment


        • #5
          You know the strangest thing would happen when I deliberately stay away from this forum: Iíd get more productive.

          Now Iím not saying this forum is bad. But what Iíve noticed is I tend to ask for help for even the simplest things. Either Iíd post a question, or search the archives. Staying away for a while somehow made me trust myself more. I may not have the best solution for a certain GTD glitch, but at least I donít waste too much time and energy for a simple tweaking of my system. Maybe you should give it a try. Stop comparing notes for a while and just do what you think you need to do. Try it and if it doesnít work out, weíre still here.

          Comment


          • #6
            In Julie Morgenstern's book "Organizing from the Inside Out," one of the very first steps is an exercise: write down what is working and what isn't, what parts of your system you like and which ones you don't. (She actually asks more specific questions than that, but I'm too lazy to look them up.) Her point is that almost everyone gets *something* right. You have artists whose studios are spotless but whose finances are a complete disaster, parents who keep their children's lives humming along while their own collapse, and so forth.

            Parts of your system probably work, too. What are they? What do you consistently get done? What do you not need to worry about?

            That's the place to start. Instead of flitting from tool to tool, figure out which of your current tools actually work, and build from there.

            Good luck!

            Katherine

            Comment


            • #7
              Some people enjoy thinking about and doing systematic changes much more than elemental changes. You are probably that type. Would you rather paint your room or just sweep the floor and add a vase of fowers? You may be working against a natural proclivity toward systematic change, but you may have to adjust your timing and your method.

              You are probably someone who wants to see the whole system, your time, your resources, constraints, etc. laid out and would prefer to work through one project until it is all done rather than hope around. People like this did great science fiar projects but didn't keep up with the homework! If so, do you have a choice right now? Maybe only to some extent.

              Make useing one tool effectively a project outcome with a limited time and be willing to do this n/a by n/a because you cannot spend all your time rebuilding your tool box.

              In order to use it effectively, what small things do I need to do? By small, I mean 5 minutes or less. Over a nice cup of coffee or tea, list ten little things that could make it work better. For example, you could keep the notebook in a zippered plastic bag so the pages don't get crushed. For me, I need to set an alarm to look at my lists on the Palm. When I used a paper lists in a planner, it was automatic.

              What larger things do I need to do? Remove outdated items? I need to print out my n/a lists and go through with a high lighter. Twentyfive to 30 minutes, but pain free if I don't try to do anything more than weed and review. Put things that are not active in a sdmb or a deferred until 3 days from now?

              Pick the easiest of these actions.

              Take a half hour and write out the rules of your system so simply that another person could learn how to play your game by these rules.

              Make a checklist that includes routines that go with these rules, including a summation of what worked and what did not for three days.

              Good luck-- Think about progress, not perfection. Most people will gladly show you the cake that cacme out of the pan and they frosted, but don't show you the burned one, the lop sided one, or the one that they forgot a key ingredient.

              Comment


              • #8
                Here's a possible solution for the Franklin planner (which I use and love) - when I'm out and about, I leave it in the car and take with me only the pages I need. Like my errands list. My shopping list. Stuff like that. If I have an idea, I can write it down when I'm in the car. If I need to take notes (if I'm going to an appointment or something), I can take it in with me. I have a briefcase with an outer pocket (more like a bag) and when I leave the house, I take out the pages I know I'll need when I'm out and about.

                Ultimately, I agree with what Kewms said. My sections in the back of my planner continue to evolve as I find better ways to use them. For instance, I now have a "problem solving" section where I take a page, write down the problem and define it as clearly as possible, and then let it sit for a few days. When I come back to it, usually I have at least a partial if not complete solution and I can take the page out and throw it away. Sometimes I have to break down my problems into smaller segments (like projects and next actions). So my suggestion would be that every time you have a problem with your system - it isn't working correctly, write down on a piece of paper what just went wrong and describe the problem with as much detail as possible. Then come back to it in a couple of days and see if you haven't come up with a better idea in the mean time.

                Comment


                • #9
                  such a good plan and thought

                  Originally posted by mcogilvie View Post
                  I had a revelation recently: I don't love my next action and project list tool, I never have, and maybe I never will. A lot of people have to use Outlook, and God knows I will never love that. I don't love my screwdriver, either. There's no reason why you should love your tool either, but you do need one. Say to yourself "Just for this week, I am going to try using just one tool. When I do my next weekly review, I can pick something else." Dump your brain (paper works best, I think), populate your lists, and do something- anything. Then do something else. If you come to something you don't want to do, or don't know how to do, ask yourself what the real next action is that you are willing to do. Write it down, and keep on going. Don't switch between tools. AFTER you do your next weekly review, ask yourself if you want to switch. If you do, go ahead and switch. Just keep going, doing one next action and then another.
                  I have had such great and thoughtful responses from all of you. Thank you. The Franklin Planner is what I started with, and keep coming back to, but I want to be light, fast, quick, speedy, techie, hip--awwwwww, enough. How about just lightening my load and getting a few jobs done. BTW, I do get my work done and still manage to switch all over the place with my tools. I think David threw me when he says in his book, find tools you love to play with, like to have and are attracted too---remember that? I don't think he ever thought anyone would take it to the degree that I have---unless it's my best girl, Claudia (you know who you are..), and a few other of you out there. I am a writer so I already have a total fetish for paper, pens, desks, computers, leather binders, how the pen flows on the paper, bags to carry notebooks in, yeah, and what about the bags?!! Oh! I could go on. I would really love to design this stuff. FORGET THIS!! Now, I will aim to just get to system off the ground--focus on the system and not the tools. And realize any/many tools can do the job but the job is the deal.
                  Thanks to all of you who have responded. Genius. Totally great. Trish

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Why all in one?

                    Hi Trish, from what I glean from your post, you want to have it all in one "tool," and none you have tried fit well. What I found was that having one "system" is not the same as having one "tool" (which didn't work for me either.) Let me tell you what I did....

                    I loved the idea of having everything portable, so I started with a Palm. But over a few years, I found my brain getting kind of "digitalized" robotic or mechanical. I love paper as well, and so I bought a Moleskine planner, which contains my calendar, as well as my @Actions lists, and a list of Key phone numbers. It also has a list of my Projects, but that is only for quick reference while mobile.

                    What I separated out of the "system" was my Project support notes and my comprehensive phone list. I keep my these in a tabbed binder (and a few file folders), along with my someday list. I pull it out and "sync" my Moleskine as often as I need to (at least once per week), at my quiet desk where I can think things through. I guess the turning point for me was realizing that I could have a Trusted System without carrying it all with me in one tool, just as long as my habits were well established. This allowed me to lighten my load, go with paper as well as have portability.

                    The old Covey/Franklin/DayRunner model depends on one tool, because it is primarily tool based. GTD is system agnostic and primarily habits/system based. If you apply discipline to working out your System, I think perhaps you will have the fun of tuning pieces of it (the tools), without revamping or quitting the entire thing. For example, I have gone through several Inbox ideas until I found one I like working with that also worked well for me; it was the same with my ubiquitous collection tools. Adjusting the tools doesn't mean you're junking the system, just keep the habits at the heart of what you are doing.

                    Perhaps you could go through the five stages, and review which tools you want to work with at each stage, and how each might work best within the system. Think your tools through separately (Inboxes, Project List, Project support, Addresses, etc.) using the GTD process as a guide for your thinking, then use your GTD habits to combine/keep them together as a System.

                    I hope this helps,
                    Gordon
                    Last edited by BigStory; 01-13-2007, 12:49 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Trish,

                      To me, it seems that your problems are less about the tool you choose and more about your perceptions as to what GTD should be doing for you. I don't mean to be rude at all and I could totally be wrong. Let me explain what I mean. Perhaps if you are becoming numb to your lists, it's because you aren't excited about the activities/projects on the lists. Perhaps you are taking on too much in your life and are overwhelmed? For instance, if you put something on your lists that you really, really want to do and can't wait to do... then you have more of an incentive to look at your lists. If you are only filling up your lists with drudgery and boring stuff, then you will become numb to it. Perhaps you need to add some projects to your list that get you excited again.... a new hobby, plan a fun event with friends, travel...

                      GTD is just a system. It's not the end all, be all to get you excited about your work. It can help clear your mind so you are open to new possibilities and projects, etc. In other words, look for the excitement in your projects and ideas, not in the GTD system itself.

                      Hope that helps. Please let us know how you proceed and do.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        You are right..

                        You are right Darla, there is a greater issue here...I was the kid who jumped from notebook to notebook in school and got a rush out of the newness, not just plugging along with the just fine one. I am going to really think about this and get back to you all. It's the project that's going to get me someplace, not the tool necessarily.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Three things I had to learn before I finally stuck with a system that works for me:

                          1) Do not use the coolest, niftiest system you can find. It will be too complicated. Learn about the cool nifty system if you want, "in case" you need something that complicated "someday", but actually use something more booring.

                          2) If it starts feeling like the system you are using is more trouble than it's worth to keep up with every day, you do not need better self discipline. You need a simpler system. If a system feels like more trouble than it's worth, it probably is.

                          3) Your life isn't as complicated as you think it is. And that's a good thing (not a sign of having a less interesting life than you hoped you did.)

                          OK, I guess that's just a verbose way of saying "K.I.S.S.", but there it is.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            But groovy tools are still groovy

                            Originally posted by Trish View Post
                            You are right Darla, there is a greater issue here...I was the kid who jumped from notebook to notebook in school and got a rush out of the newness, not just plugging along with the just fine one. I am going to really think about this and get back to you all. It's the project that's going to get me someplace, not the tool necessarily.
                            Perhaps that's true, but you don't have to deny yourself the pleasure of quality tools, such as the Space Pen that Merlin Mann from 43 Folders keeps enthusing about. If you've gotta use something, might as well use something funky.

                            And while I've been throwing myself at GTD for about a year now, I've still gone through various incarnations of tools. Some don't work for me immediately, so they're out. Some work for a while, but once I get things humming along it becomes clear that they're not optimal, so they get replaced.

                            And some just aren't funky enough to last the distance.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by unstuffed View Post
                              Perhaps that's true, but you don't have to deny yourself the pleasure of quality tools... If you've gotta use something, might as well use something funky.
                              Absolutely agreed. I had to let go of things that I just-really-liked intellectually, because they made my system too complicated. But pysical artifacts that I just-really-like viscerally are part of what make the system worthwhile.

                              ....

                              Editing my last post, so that I don't double post myself:
                              When I mentioned "not using the coolest most interesting system" and "Investigating interesting systems 'in case' I need them"... I think some people just have an interest in figuring out complicated systems and also in discovering new time management systems, and organizational systems, and systems in general. This interest has caused me, in the past, to shift systems far too often. I'll see a shiney new system over there that I just have to explore...

                              I've learned to seperate my just-because interest in time management systems from my actual-practical need for a time management system. Thus, I still allow myself to explore new systems, software, planners, etc when the mood strikes me, but I let a more practical part of my brain make the decision about what I do or do not adopt changes.
                              Last edited by LJM; 01-13-2007, 07:37 PM.

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