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  • Still struggling with implementing GTD

    Hi!

    It is so disappointing, GTD is a simple methodology but I think I am to stupid
    to implement it the right way.

    I started with a simple paper based system consisting of a Moleskine 2 pages
    per week calendar and a cheap moleskine-like notebook for my lists. But I have
    trouble to use the lists because I have to flip pages, at least this is the reason
    I came up with.
    And after that I tried to use Evolution, an Outlook-like pim, as suggested in the
    GTD-Outlook-Whitepaper.
    After that I used indexcards for my lists - not really working.

    I think think the main problem I have is, that I don't like to work with my lists
    because I do not like the look and feel of them. But lists are lists whether they
    are analog or digital. Has anybody experienced the same thing and found a
    solution?

    My lists are: (NA = Next Action; WF = Waiting For)
    * Projects
    * NA@Anywhere
    * NA@Calls
    * NA@Computer
    * NA@Errands
    * NA@Home
    * NA@Office
    * WF@Home
    * WF@Office
    * Someday/Maybe

    Lately I saw the OmniFocus video and now I think this must be the
    Holy Grail for lists managing. But there are 2 problems with this
    1st I don't have a Mac
    2nd I think if I can not set up a normal list system why should I be able
    to do it with such a software.

    Please help me I want to find my inner GTD-peace and have a system which
    works for me and is fun and easy to use.

    wbc

  • #2
    Hi wbc,

    Thanks for being honest! A couple of questions:

    1) Is anything better than it was before? (e.g. a bit more focus, getting some things out of your head...)
    2) What isn't working for you? (e.g. you forget to check the lists, the lists are too long...)

    Just wondering - are you on Linux? Last time I used Evolution was on Linux.

    Richard

    Comment


    • #3
      Actually, it isn't true that "lists are lists." Your comfort (or lack of it) with your tools can make a huge difference. If you're using a paper system, it's worth investing in good paper, a comfortable pen, and a nice notebook (however you define those things). If you're using software, any irritating details about the user interface will become very annoying in a file -- like your lists -- that you visit many times in a day.

      That's why forums like this one have so many discussions about tools.

      The trap of course is that you can spend so much time trying to find the perfect tools that you never actually get anything done.

      Some tweaking is probably inevitable, but you might save yourself some stress if you took a few minutes to figure out what the perfect system (for you) might look like. Then some of the folks here might be able to suggest tools with those attributes.

      Good luck!

      Katherine

      Comment


      • #4
        No GTD implementation will motivate you to do Next Actions.

        Sometimes the problem is that you really do not want to do the actions listed on your context lists. No GTD implementation will motivate you to do Next Actions.

        Comment


        • #5
          Very wise words from Katherine I think, which echoed with me. If you enjoy the interface with your lists it can make all the difference, so keep trying.

          If you're using Evolution does that mean you're using Linux? I think there are other tools out there for Linux but I'm not sure how good they are. Others have mentioned they use jpilot.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by richard.watson
            1) Is anything better than it was before? (e.g. a bit more focus, getting some things out of your head...)

            2) What isn't working for you? (e.g. you forget to check the lists, the lists are too long...)

            Just wondering - are you on Linux? Last time I used Evolution was on Linux.
            @richard.watson
            1) Yes, at least when I initially made the lists I had more focus on the things I
            had to do
            2) I have problems to maintain the lists (e.g forgot to put new NAs on
            them) because I sometimes lost the overview of my lists and projects -
            maybe because they are on different lists.
            3) Yes I am on Linux.

            Originally posted by kewms
            Your comfort (or lack of it) with your tools can make a huge difference.
            @kewms
            I think this is one of my biggest problems I am still not comfotable with the
            tools I use and therefore will not use them consistentliy.

            Originally posted by TesTeq
            Sometimes the problem is that you really do not want to do the actions listed on your context lists.
            @TesTeq
            That maybe the reason for many, but if I have actions on my lists I really like
            to finish them because most of them are very interesting (very interesting
            research projects)

            @ALL
            It would be great to hear more tips or advices because it is very disappointing
            to know that there is a better way to manage tasks and how it works and don't
            get it set-up for oneself.


            -wbc

            Comment


            • #7
              Next Action lists can be treated as bookmarks or starting points.

              Here you can find an excellent David Allen's free podcast How to Organize Project Actions. He suggests that it is not necessary to write down all actions for each project. Next Action lists can be treated as bookmarks or starting points for a project in a given context.

              In this way you can decrease the amount of items you are obliged to put on your context lists.

              Comment


              • #8
                I use a crazy database which I set up myself on a very old palmtop to keep my lists. I wouldn't expect anyone else in their right mind to use the same system as me. The good thing about GTD is that it's entirely personal, if you want it to be, so you can set up your own thing without worrying about other people having to use it.

                The point I'm trying to make is that I like to use my system because I have a nerdy fascination with databases. Maybe there's something similar which you have an interest in which you could tailor to put GTD lists on and thus keep the enthusiasm for using it. As has been said, it's important not to get lost in the enthusiasm for using and setting up the system so that things don't actually get done!

                Comment


                • #9
                  @TesTeq
                  Thank you for the links...

                  Originally posted by treelike
                  ... The good thing about GTD is that it's entirely personal, if you want it to be, so you can set up your own thing without worrying about other people having to use it....
                  @treelike
                  I think that is my problem... there is no single system and that is confusing.

                  @all
                  Has anybody tried a system with only one page with all lists on it. And if so
                  is there a template or a pdf file with the layout?

                  -wbc

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Just a couple of general comments about your initial post:

                    1) You may find it easier to have just one @Waiting For list, rather than two, at least if you only do one weekly review (and not one @Home and one @Work.

                    2) I was in your situation of forgetting to keep up the system, and one thing I've found helpful is to do a brief mini-review nightly. The regularity helps build a habit, and the frequent exposure to your lists makes you much more familiar with them. All you need to do is go through your active projects list and make sure that you've got an NA for each, cross off NAs you've done, and that's about it. Takes a few minutes only, and it helps.

                    3) Despite being a total geek, I use paper for my system: it's simplest to maintain, and there's no learning curve. I use loose leaf paper, rather than bound, because I like to spread my lists out so I can get perspective.

                    4) One thing that might be clogging up your system is if you have squillions of active projects, and therefore squillions of NAs. I had this problem, and my first attempt to solve it was to create an Ignoring tray to hold projects that I wouldn't work on this week. That thins out my lists, sharpens my focus, and means I get more done. If you're interested in my second attempt, which has been more successful but is more complicated, let me know.


                    Originally posted by wbc View Post
                    I have problems to maintain the lists (e.g forgot to put new NAs on them) because I sometimes lost the overview of my lists and projects - maybe because they are on different lists.
                    Doing a regular daily mini-review, whether it's morning or evening, will help this. Habits are your friends: if you can develop a habit to do something, it's happening regularly without you thinking about it. There are also other tricks you can use, but I'd need to know more about your situation to know which ones might be useful.


                    Originally posted by wbc View Post
                    I think this is one of my biggest problems I am still not comfotable with the tools I use and therefore will not use them consistentliy.
                    Yes, that's always a problem. That's why I gave up the software option: too much faffing about. Plus writing something down helps you to remember it better than typing.


                    Originally posted by wbc View Post
                    That maybe the reason for many, but if I have actions on my lists I really like to finish them because most of them are very interesting (very interesting research projects)
                    The fact that you have no problems actually doing the things on your lists is great, and means that you don't have to worry about one of the major blockages. Provided that you also do the things you don't like, of course.


                    Originally posted by wbc View Post
                    It would be great to hear more tips or advices because it is very disappointing to know that there is a better way to manage tasks and how it works and don't get it set-up for oneself.
                    Yes, very true. Some people do find the right tools first go, but a lot of us faff around with blockages at various stages of the process. But remember that you're actually learning a lot about yourself as a result, and these issues that are coming up now as a result of you trying to implement GTD are probably issues you've had forever, but you haven't had the chance to recognise them and find a workaround. So this is all good: self-knowledge and self-improvement, all in one lovely package.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Try a week with only one gigantic context-free paper NA list, and only one WF list. That's what I did to ease into it for a couple of weeks and teach myself the habits of trusting the list. Also, at home, I add no new NAs directly to my daily notebook unless it's the follow-up to a just-completed NA. Otherwise ideas get scribbled onto post-it notepads in three places around the house (office, kitchen, bedroom), and full post-its got shuttled down to where I put my keys.

                      I did my first big weekly review over breakfast yesterday. I recopied the remaining WFs onto a clean sheet of paper and make sure I had "by" dates for the relevant ones. Then I copied NAs into new contexts, and they were not the contexts I would have used on Day 1. This was the revelation: the way I thought about organizing contexts "a priori" was not how I actually got things done. This might be part of your issue (or of course, it may not!)

                      The other revelation of going context-free for a week and then analyzing over 100 completed NAs was: I don't have to keep the same contexts forever, or for that matter from week to week. If I want to split out a "Nashville Client" context from my work context for a couple of weeks before a planned client visit, I can do that, and it's no big deal if I then rip the page out of my notebook when the trip is over (as long as I remember to put nothing on the back...).

                      As I was doing that, I started my second notebook (I use 70-sheet $0.79 college-ruled notebooks) for weekly items such as project lists and NA triggers, and resolved only to look at it once every 5-7 days. Then I processed the intake from my notebook (items identified at work and when eating out), and then the post-it notes.

                      I still haven't gotten to some of the paper intake such as mail, as the weekly review took me almost two hours. I'm going to need an entire evening for that part of it, so I've blocked off Wednesday night this week.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        2) I have problems to maintain the lists (e.g forgot to put new NAs on
                        them) because I sometimes lost the overview of my lists and projects -
                        maybe because they are on different lists.
                        Hi, from what I'm hearing, I think that part of the problem might stem from the way that you're using your lists. What I mean by that is, are you using your lists as your capture point (i.e. when you think of a new NA, is your first point of capture to put it on one of your lists?)

                        If that's true, I think that you may be circumventing an important point in the process - capture - and going right to organize. If this is true, the reason that it's a problem is essentially you're organizing all of the time.

                        For example, something comes into your plane of work flow and you're immediately processing it and trying to organize it into your system.... something else comes into your plane and you do it again, etc... eventually, this becomes too much work, the system gets bogged down, and you end up deciding that it's easier just not to do it.

                        However, if you treat 'capture' differently this may help to solve the problem. What you do differently is this - when something comes into your plane of work flow, make note of it (don't overly think about it though) and toss it into your inbox. That's it... move on and continue what you were doing. If you reach a stopping point in a project, jot down your NA (i.e. where you left off) and toss it into your inbox... and move forward.

                        Then, at some predetermined point in time, process your inbox. While you're doing so, pick up each item and ask yourself the two fundamental questions:

                        - What's the outcome?
                        - What's the next action?

                        Then, and only then, do you organize it into your lists. Big difference...

                        Now, I may have read your situation wrong and the above truly may not apply... but if it does, give it a try.... it might help.

                        Jim

                        ps - are you doing a weekly (or semi-weekly) review?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Chicagoan
                          Try a week with only one gigantic context-free paper NA list, and only one WF list. That's what I did to ease into it for a couple of weeks and teach myself the habits of trusting the list. ...
                          @Chicagoan
                          That is a good advice I think I will use this idea for just getting back on doing my
                          next actions

                          Originally posted by jkgrossi
                          Hi, from what I'm hearing, I think that part of the problem might stem from the way that you're using your lists. What I mean by that is, are you using your lists as your capture point (i.e. when you think of a new NA, is your first point of capture to put it on one of your lists?)
                          @jkgrossi
                          Sometimes I put next actions on my lists as soon as they come into my mind.
                          I do this because I say to my self: I know that I have to do this taks in order to move project X forward and I think this is a @Computer action.
                          Maybe this is one of the reasons why I feel uncomfortable with my lists?!
                          I do a weekly review by the way.

                          @all
                          After listening to this podcast I think I found another reason what buggs me about my lists.
                          One thing is, that I'd love to know which NA is for which project. I think that
                          is why I am so attracted by the OmniFocus software where you can enter NAs
                          either in the project-list view or in the context-list view.
                          Isn't it natural or easier to create NAs in the context of a project and just assign
                          a context to this action where it has to happen? I know this behavior (jumping from view to view) can only be achieved by using software. Has anybody felt the same and is now happy with paper-based lists?

                          -wbc

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            One thing is, that I'd love to know which NA is for which project. [...] Has anybody felt the same and is now happy with paper-based lists?
                            Not using paper (anymore) but why not jot it down then?

                            "Email John re. contract for Project X"

                            "[Project X] Email John re. contract"

                            etc.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by unstuffed
                              I had this problem, and my first attempt to solve it was to create an Ignoring tray to hold projects that I wouldn't work on this week. That thins out my lists, sharpens my focus, and means I get more done. If you're interested in my second attempt, which has been more successful but is more complicated, let me know.
                              @unstuffed
                              I really would like to hear your second attempt, even if it is more complicated.

                              Originally posted by Ruud
                              Not using paper (anymore) but why not jot it down then?
                              "Email John re. contract for Project X"
                              "[Project X] Email John re. contract"
                              @Ruud
                              This is a simple but good idea. I think I will try if it works for me.

                              Comment

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