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Just Do It

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  • Just Do It

    Okay... I am going to go out on a limb here and admit that my system is far from perfect...

    I believe that I do a great job at Collecting, Processing, and Organizing my system... where I get stuck is in the review and DO phase... I keep struggling getting the list in front of my face and reviewing what to do... does anyone else struggle with this in the "back end" of the GTD equation? Does anyone have any tricks to make sure that you review your options when they are available? Or even some hints in the doing?

    -Erik

  • #2
    Help us with more details

    Originally posted by gtderik View Post
    I keep struggling getting the list in front of my face and reviewing what to do... does anyone else struggle with this in the "back end" of the GTD equation? Does anyone have any tricks to make sure that you review your options when they are available? Or even some hints in the doing?
    Can you tell us more about your system as it is now? The method I use to keep my lists "in my face" is simple -- I have a copystand -- but it depends on the lists being on paper. With more info about the way you've implemented your system, people should be able to provide good advice about list visibility. Basically, what are you doing, and why is it not working?

    I think a lot of people have problems with the "back end" of GTD -- writing stuff down, processing it, and organizing those results are external actions that don't cause much anxiety. They're even the kinds of things people have used to procrastinate by "getting organized" for years and years.

    For me, my "back end" failures really highlighted my underlying problem with procrastination. GTD helped me make the decisions on the front end about what to do, but it didn't get me to make the decisions about when to actually do the things on my lists. So those lists just got longer and longer...

    After some work on my procrastination, I'm much more productive than I used to be. That doesn't mean I'm a "next action hero" powerhouse or anything like that, but things actually do get done now.

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    • #3
      Where are your lists?

      Comment


      • #4
        Sorry...

        Sorry about not including more information...
        I run most everything through Palm Desktop. I sync daily as I leave work to my Palm. I meant the question to the forum to be more general and not so specific to my system...

        I have tried printing out my lists; which Palm Desktop makes very easy... I think that the Palm would be just fine if I remember to grab the darned thing... Part of the problem may be that GTD has helped with my ADD, but sometimes when I am in the context I sometimes forget to grab the list. I really have no better way to explain it... What complicates things is that when you rarely have a daily routine like me (everyday is an adventure) you cant carve in a "work off the list time". I should also mention that the two lists that give me the most difficulty are @HOME and @COMP-HOME. For some reason my home is worthless for working off my lists.... I usually have stuff with my spouse to do that the lists often lose out to.

        Boy, as I read over what I just wrote, I realize that it sounds kind of whiney.... sorry if it seems that way....

        -Erik

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        • #5
          It sounds like there's a couple of things going on here...

          First, it sounds as if your "collect" phase is perhaps incomplete. I say this because you mention that you have stuff to do with your spouse that the lists lose out to. I can't help but wonder why this stuff isn't on your list? Is this all new stuff that your spouse is introducing "on-the-fly"? If so, then maybe it's OK that you're not actively working from your lists, but at some point you're going to have to sit down and renegotiate all the things you've promised yourself or your spouse that you're going to do.

          Second, (and I know this is heresy to some, but bear with me here) your lists really aren't all that important -- it's the doing that's important. Your lists are just an organization mechanism. As long as nothing is being forgotten or permitted to languish beyond its deadline, it doesn't really matter much if you are or aren't 'plowing through your lists'. Of course, if you've truly collected everything, you will be working through your lists whether you're looking at them or not. The three most useful things about the lists are (1) They help move a project forward by identifying the very next physical action you can take; (2) they give you an idea of all the things you could be doing instead of the thing you're actually doing -- this empowers you to make intelligent decisions about how you spend your time; and (3) they help keep you from forgetting your commitments. So, if you're certain that what you're doing with your spouse each evening is more important than anything else you could be doing, don't sweat the fact that you aren't actively looking at your lists. All of that said, there are plenty of times that I decide to work on something even though I know it isn't captured in my system -- but I also know it's OK to work on this new thing, because everything else I need to do is already captured and will be waiting for me when I'm ready to come back to it.

          Third, I'm not sure whether you're doing a weekly review, but if you're not, you should. You should also be doing a daily review. I review every single item on my @context and project lists at least daily; sometimes even more often. The end result is that by the time I get home, I already have a pretty a good idea of what's on the @home list that needs my attention tonight.

          Finally, I wonder what you do with your Palm when you get home. Does it sit in the other room, or is it with you all the time? Maybe try setting up some reminders to keep your Palm with you - it can be as simple as setting an alarm on your cell phone for 7:30 in the evening to remind you to look at it. Set it to recur every day for a month. After that, it should be a habit that you don't even need to think about anymore.

          Hope something in this is helpful for you.
          Last edited by jknecht; 04-20-2007, 02:59 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            getting to "do"

            I too find days in which I'm not doing. I can happily collect and process into system, but actually doing is hard to get to. Couple of things that are helping me at the moment, at least a little -
            • Checklist of steps to do first thing in the morning (and on Mondays) - like, print calendar, check tickler file, any ticking emails. This really helps to make GTD my modus operandi first thing.
            • Print out my lists - usually twice a week, and put in notebook right in front of me. Of course next actions are coming in much more quickly than that, so it is hard to completely trust my paper lists. I put electronic reminders on my electronic NAs, that helps.
            • Weekly Review - I'm working to really clean up my lists, especially (i) my projects, which have been a mix of projects and reminders and (ii) someday/maybe. The S/M should allow me to keep my project list and NAs within a reasonable number and that I can do within a reasonable amount of time -- at least for those things that I myself tend to generate.

            But, having said that, I still need to work on looking at my lists more. If I have a few minutes here or there, I usually choose to process my Inbox or emails. Perhaps, doing emails fewer times a day would be better. And I'm going to try the tip of doing a "Daily Review" of @contexts.

            Thanks. Caroline

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            • #7
              Originally posted by jknecht View Post

              Maybe try setting up some reminders to keep your Palm with you - it can be as simple as setting an alarm on your cell phone for 7:30 in the evening to remind you to look at it. Set it to recur every day for a month. After that, it should be a habit that you don't even need to think about anymore.
              This is a great idea.

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              • #8
                Sounds like you're not reading your lists. You need to find ways to remind yourself to check your current context's list.

                The alarm reminder strikes me as a good idea.

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                • #9
                  I have a similar issue; my thoughts are captured and processed, so I have my list(s), but I have a hard time to think about it whenever I'm 'iddle'

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                  • #10
                    As another GTD'er with the attention span of a six-year-old (actually, my six-year-old has a better attention span than I do so I may have to revise that figure)...oh...where was I?

                    Yeah...short attention span. I also have the same challenges where I can make great lists but am not so hot on the execution.

                    For me, it's all about building the habit.
                    1. Build the habit of COLLECTING & PROCESSING
                    2. Build the habit of REVIEWING everything I've processed
                    3. Build the habit of DOING items on NA lists
                    4. Build the habit of UPDATING my NAs and projects so I can...
                    5. TRUST my system.

                    hak

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by webhak View Post
                      For me, it's all about building the habit.
                      You wouldn't happen to be a fan of the Zen Habits blog, now would you?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thank you all for the comments

                        Wow, I was away from the forum for a little while and was pleasantly surprised at the responses that I have gotten! Thanks. I am officially 2 weeks in to using a paper GTD system. It has really changed the ways that I relate to my lists. I guess that at first I was some kind of snob when it came to paper tools, I also was much too lazy to do the rewriting that I thought I had to do... I now use a paper binder set up the way that DA sets his up and for the most part I really enjoy the speed and portability that I didnt get in my Palm (yes I said that...) Perhaps its just the physical pages and quickly tabbing over to my calender or to my projects page... the binder has become second nature so that I am really used to it. I am learning more about the process of GTD in this little experiment that it will greatly benefit me if I ever move back to my Palm.

                        Ok- all of that to say that I am spending more time doing, and less time putzing around with Palm Desktop. I just do now...

                        @flexiblefine- long lists and procrastination became problems for me. You never really notice your procrastination until you put all the things on a list! paper has really caused me to think twice... either in the moment or it can also get evalutated during the weekly review.

                        @jknecht Thanks. Yes.. the spouse thing... its me needing to learn to communicate. I have had problems with this and I am starting to learn that its not GTD's fault. I need to realize that in the moment- the lists are not the most important thing... it goes well with the 3 mode of work.... if you want to extend it to that.... as I said before, the WR has helped me trim lists to more manageable chunks.. the digital pron allowed me to build massive lists of crap I didnt seriously intend to do....

                        @carolinec - I have started to implement more checklists... I read through the flylady website and checked out her routines that have made night and morning routines easier... I have to admit that I am curious about your lists and how you print them out... pretty much what your "system" looks like... I currently am writing them by hand... but might switch over to Palm desktop for processing and just printing those out.... any thoughts to share?

                        @Brent - Alarms have helped my life more than I care to admit... I think it might frighten my wife but alarms let the good aspects of my ADD shine... while giving me more structure for the bad parts of ADD.

                        Thanks everyone.

                        -Erik
                        Minneapolis, MN

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