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Someday/Maybe v Altitude Lists

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  • Someday/Maybe v Altitude Lists

    I am only very new to GTD and am taking baby steps in my implementation of the full process. One area that I am having a bit of trouble getting my head around is the distinction between the someday/maybe list and the various altitude lists (20,000 - 50,000 feet). I have never been very good at setting down my 20,000 - 50,000 ft "goals" so when I did my initial mind sweep to start myself on the GTD path I essentially dumped all of my goals (regardless of what altitude level) on my someday/maybe list together with some of the more mundane someday/maybe items like "clean out hall cupboard". The idea was just to get it all out of my mind at first instance.

    I guess my question is, is this the "correct" use of the someday/maybe list? Obviously there will be some items that will stay there for a long while but others that will move to the project list possibly in the next couple of months.

    Also what do people do with goals like "Be present", "Thank others", and those other positive "life" reminders that I guess are 50,000 feet items but things you need to be reminded of every day.

    Thanks

    Kim

  • #2
    Hi Kim, Nice to see another Aussie on the board.

    Originally posted by akr95 View Post
    I essentially dumped all of my goals (regardless of what altitude level) on my someday/maybe list together with some of the more mundane someday/maybe items like "clean out hall cupboard". The idea was just to get it all out of my mind at first instance.
    And that's almost exactly the right thing to do. Anything that's on your mind is something you need to get out of your mind and into your system. If you're not sure how to work on it, stick it on your S/M for now, I'd say.

    I'll expand on this, because I know that some folks out there are already heading for the "Quote this" button to argue the point.

    One thing I've found, and many of my clients have found, is that it takes time to 'ramp up' to a fully working GTD system. That is, learning the processes means changing habits, including thinking habits, which are the hardest to change. You're also learning a new way of looking at the world and your place in it, so taken all together that's a big task.

    So I generally recommend that, when people are starting up, they don't try to assemble the whole orchestra at once. I remember when I first learnt to swim butterfly (centuries ago ), my coach first had me master the kick, then taught me the arms, and only when I could do both did he get me to work on putting it all together. Oh, did I mention breathing? Often the hardest bit: you can get the arms and legs going together and forget to breathe.

    Like any relatively complex action we perform, the whole GTD system really has to be built up in stages. In addition, some of the parts, like the higher-altitude goals, really need you to be free to think clearly at that level, and in order to do that, most people need to have the lower altitudes sorted first. I know David mentions this idea a couple of times in his books.

    Originally posted by akr95 View Post
    I guess my question is, is this the "correct" use of the someday/maybe list? Obviously there will be some items that will stay there for a long while but others that will move to the project list possibly in the next couple of months.
    The answer is, it's correct if it works for you. Give yourself some time to get the mechanics working, then, once you're clear at the runway and 10,000 foot level, you might like to rethink how you handle this. You may even spontaneously think of a way that will work for you while you're doing something else.

    In general, the S/M list should, once you're up and sailing, contain things that you're not fully committed to doing. If you're sure you should be doing them, then they need to move elsewhere in your system: either as a currently active project, or into the pending tray (Yes, I have one. It's a refinement of the system that works for me, so I do it). If you're committed to it, have a project sheet or folder or whatever for your support materials, and either put Next Actions on your Action lists or schedule it for later (in the Tickler file, usually).

    It also helps if you have a list of these goals at their altitudes, so that when you do the monthly/ 6 monthly/yearly/ 5 yearly review, you can assess and re-evaluate. You just need to collect them together in a folder or something, so they're there when you need to be reminded of them.

    Originally posted by akr95 View Post
    Also what do people do with goals like "Be present", "Thank others", and those other positive "life" reminders that I guess are 50,000 feet items but things you need to be reminded of every day.
    Checklists. Checklists are your friends. They help for those repetitive tasks you need to do regularly, things you need to remind yourself of daily, and other assorted routine stuff.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by akr95 View Post
      Also what do people do with goals like "Be present", "Thank others", and those other positive "life" reminders that I guess are 50,000 feet items but things you need to be reminded of every day.
      I've found it important to first capture ideas like this in whatever form they come to mind first, then find appropriate spots for them within GTD as you alluded to earlier.

      I also find it helpful to change goals from verbs to nouns. I've found this helps goals become more concrete. (That whole notion of "physical" about having clean edges is what gave me this idea. So did looking for them in the library and the online catalog telling me books are categorized by "SUBJECT.")

      One particular one I've wanted to develop forever is "think on your feet." It's something I really want to get better at. So I changed that to "spontaneity." I have within my set of Project folders one called "Spontaneity." Its Next Action is "Name 3 things to do Saturday to be more spontaneous." An action could be "Start a 5-minute conversation by complimenting someone on their shirt." Actions are where those earlier verbs reappear, and are especially effective with measurable components.

      In the case of your "Be present" and "Thank others" (which sound like actions I'd benefit in undertaking), I'd convert those to projects named "Concentration" and "Gratitude." Then what actions can we take to do each?

      Okay, my weekly review is tomorrow so those 2 will go in my "In" basket, and I thank you!

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by QuestorTheElf View Post
        In the case of your "Be present" and "Thank others" (which sound like actions I'd benefit in undertaking), I'd convert those to projects named "Concentration" and "Gratitude." Then what actions can we take to do each?
        A tiny nit. I would use "Awareness" rather than "Concentration." Concentration often means focus on a single task to the exclusion of all else, which isn't what "Be present" means to me.

        Katherine

        Comment


        • #5
          The 20,000-30,000 foot view is the context for what you're doing. "Buy soil" may be your Next Action, and "Fill in vegetable plot" the Project, while the 30,000-foot view might be "Live in a beautiful house and garden."

          In other words, yes it's fantastic to get all this tactical, day-to-day stuff organized. But where is it all going? Why are you writing, buying, selling, cleaning, or what-have-you?

          Comment


          • #6
            re: Life Reminders & GTD

            One very difficult thing to figure out with GTD is what to do with life reminders or daily reminders -- things that have the following properties:

            • not date-specific
            • general goal you want to be reminded of periodically
            • not a project - but a reminder
            • not an action per se

            Examples for me include:
            - Eat lunch at noon everyday
            - Be the husband your wife loves & respects - turn computer off by 7pm
            - Eat more low-glycemic carbohydrates to keep blood sugar levels steady
            - Call family members to see how they're doing

            What I've found works the best for these kinds of *reminders* which don't seem to go easily into a Next Actions list, Projects, etc. is to just use my Calendar for them. A digital calendar is often better because you can make "recurring reminders" to beep at you or send you an email, etc. to remind you. I use the iCal Calendar program for OS X on the mac, and I have one calendar with my "Hard Lines" (e.g. everything date-specific I'm committed to doing) and another calendar called "Reminders" which is where I put these kinds of things and set the alarms to remind me at various intervals.

            That's what's working for me.

            Todd V

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by akr95 View Post
              I guess my question is, is this the "correct" use of the someday/maybe list?
              Yes, it is. Using the S/M list is one of the incredibly freeing parts of GTD.

              Originally posted by unstuffed View Post
              One thing I've found, and many of my clients have found, is that it takes time to 'ramp up' to a fully working GTD system. That is, learning the processes means changing habits, including thinking habits, which are the hardest to change. You're also learning a new way of looking at the world and your place in it, so taken all together that's a big task.
              I second this. I first read GTD two years ago this spring, and due to my personal circumstances (or an unusually high level of falling down and getting up again), it's taken me this long to get runway and 10,000 feet under control.

              Now that I'm consistently working from zero, I find that I'm looking around to see what's next. What's next seems to be addressing those higher altitudes.

              Originally posted by unstuffed View Post
              Checklists. Checklists are your friends. They help for those repetitive tasks you need to do regularly, things you need to remind yourself of daily, and other assorted routine stuff.
              I second this, too. A lot of people seem to have trouble with using checklists in GTD, but because I practiced Flylady before I got to GTD, I already had routines and checklists set up. In my practice, these are as important as my project list and next actions.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Todd V View Post
                Examples for me include:
                - Eat lunch at noon everyday
                - Be the husband your wife loves & respects - turn computer off by 7pm
                - Eat more low-glycemic carbohydrates to keep blood sugar levels steady
                - Call family members to see how they're doing

                Sounds like the right approach to me:
                "Eat Lunch at noon everyday" is a daily time sensitive item and belongs on the calendar. The calendar item could contain a reminder about low-glycemic carbs.

                "Turn computer off by 7 pm" may not do you any good on a calendar, but a computerized alarm works. If you're not ON the computer to get it, then even better.

                Where to put "Eat more low-glycemic carbohydrates" depends on who's planning meals and whether they're being home-prepared or eaten out. If you or your spouse are planning meals, you may want to do some brainstorming of meals with low-glycemic carbs and include that within your family's meal planning process. You may want to include some standard low-glycemis snacks on your basic shopping list. If you do a lot of eating out, you may want reminder alarms to go off 15 -30 minutes before you're likely to have a meal. Or if you need your car to go to a restaurant, put something on your keychain that will remind you.

                "Call family members" could be a card in your manual tickler system or an electronic reminder with names and phone numbers.

                Sounds like you've already come up with good solutions.

                Comment

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