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Discouraged by undone projects

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  • Discouraged by undone projects

    My system has been working quite well for a year now. My weekly reviews often bring me to a mind like water state, I trust my system, and my mind is producing more creative ideas than I can keep up with. I have disciplined myself to put on my current projects list only the projects I'm actually planning to do that week (rather than everything that's on my mind). I have a large "Later Projects" and an even larger "Someday Maybe" list.

    The problem I'm having is that I am dreading weekly review because I'm discouraged when every week I read over and over the lists of projects I haven't done yet. Telling myself that I don't have to do them all at once, that they're "safe" on the lists, isn't helping. Has anyone else had this problem? I guess it's partly just needing to get more things done (I'm spending a lot of time on a health problem my partner is having). Ideas for talking myself out of this discouragement and back into enthusiastic weekly review welcome.

    Thanks!

    Do Mi

  • #2
    Originally posted by DStaub11 View Post
    The problem I'm having is that I am dreading weekly review because I'm discouraged when every week I read over and over the lists of projects I haven't done yet. Telling myself that I don't have to do them all at once, that they're "safe" on the lists, isn't helping. Has anyone else had this problem? I guess it's partly just needing to get more things done (I'm spending a lot of time on a health problem my partner is having). Ideas for talking myself out of this discouragement and back into enthusiastic weekly review welcome.
    Do Mi,

    some ideas to reduce frustration:

    - check the potential results of candidate projects. If they don't contribute considerably to your success and that of your company, timestamp them on your lists. Projects that didn't get done within a year or so aren't probably that important.

    - you're talking about problems your partner is having and I assume that you're compensating for them. Consider whether these problems are likely to persist for a long time. If so, talk openly to your partner (that's what partners are for, IMHO) and figure out a solution, especially if you currently shy away from even mentioning the long-term perspective. I've found two podcasts at the "Manager Tools" website very helpful here: http://www.manager-tools.com/2007/06...is-part-1-of-2, http://www.manager-tools.com/2007/06...is-part-2-of-2

    - consider outsourcing of repetitive tasks that aren't energizing you; with a moderate investment, you can try out whether this works by employing the services of market places like http://www.elance.com or http://www.guru.com. I've also read recommendations to employ students of a local college as personal assistants, don't know whether that works. In any case, delegate only tasks that can be described in a brain dead step-by-step list and don't take a lot of time to monitor. As assistants, choose small companies over individuals, so you have backup options.

    - check the characteristics your "projects". Do they really have start & end dates? Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely (SMART) goals? You may have been mistaking recurring tasks for projects.

    - can you say NO to project requests? After all, you're just one person, so you'll maybe do a disservice to existing customers if you accept more and more projects that you cannot handle.

    - can you (your company) grow? Can you afford a part-time employee?


    Good luck!
    Rolf

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    • #3
      Thanks for the good ideas, Rolf!

      My situation is a bit different than you're assuming, though. My partner is my life partner. I'm a freelancer (indexer/artist/art teacher) with multiple income streams and lots of creative work. So the projects are mostly coming to me from inside my own head or the needs of my ongoing work.

      Examples: Find firewood for the winter, figure out FTP software so that updating my websites goes more smoothly, design my next colored pencil piece, submit an image to Wildlife Art magazine, experiment with solvents so that I can introduce them to my students, plan the presentation I've been asked to give at an art society meeting, solicit recommendations from professors using my book so that I can market it to the universities, review my indexing dollar per hour to see if I should raise prices after winning an award this year, bug Amazon Advantage about their delay in listing my book, approach the health insurance company about reimbursement for medical supplies...

      I do have a lot going on! And that's okay. It's working to keep all of these things safe on my lists and not expecting myself to do them all this week. I just need some kind of psychological boost to get myself to do the reviews.

      Thanks!

      Do Mi

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      • #4
        Try starting your weekly review by listing the things that *did* get done in the past week, rather than beating yourself up over the things that didn't get done.

        Besides creating a more positive atmosphere around the weekly review, that might help you decide what to do about the problem.

        If you are happy with what you are accomplishing--or if you feel like you are accomplishing a reasonable amount given other circumstances--but still your lists don't seem to be moving, that probably means you've managed to accumulate too much stuff, and some ruthless pruning is in order. It just isn't possible to get much done if you are moving, spending time at a sick person's hospital bed, or otherwise going through a major personal upheaval. Acknowledge that, renegotiate your other commitments, and allow yourself to let the personal side take priority.

        (I'll also share the best tip for freelancers that I've ever heard: if you have more business than you can handle, raise your rates. If no potential client ever gets sticker shock, you probably aren't charging enough.)

        If you sincerely feel that you aren't getting enough done, then it may be time to think about procrastination, hidden time leaks, and other problems with how you are using your time. (As opposed to simply not having enough of it.)

        Hope this helps,

        Katherine

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        • #5
          Originally posted by DStaub11 View Post
          ...I'm discouraged when every week I read over and over the lists of projects I haven't done yet.
          A few thoughts:

          o Are you using your Someday/Maybe folder effectively? One way to look at it is as a way to temporarily "deactivate" projects you don't have time for or can't get started on for some reason. Given your health concerns, it might be time to move some to S/M. As you're reviewing regularly, they're not in a black hole - you can always re-activate if desired.

          o Basic GTD: Every project should have at least one action "active" on your actions list(s). Is that true? If not, that's straightforward to address. If not, then you're not choosing to do certain actions - the ones related to those projects. I'd want to look at why you're not doing those projects' actions. Are they "should" do projects? Is there something psychological about the actions? Are the actions good ones - small, possible, independent? Do you have everything you need to do them? Etc.

          o If it's a matter of too many actions, and you're disappointed because you're not getting to some of them, it might be time to re-evaluate what's realistic for you to do in your life right now. Expectations might need adjusting...

          Finally, I heartily second Katherine's excellent comment about focusing on what you did accomplish. A little W/R ritual might be in order?

          Comment


          • #6
            re: Getting Re-Excited about Your Weekly Reviews

            I've been doing GTD for a little over 3 years and can relate to times when I experienced the same disappointment with my projects. Why aren't more of them getting done?

            In my case, it had to do with further things I hadn't yet realized I needed to do to kickstart those projects into noticable progress. These more *subtle* aspects of making progress on my projects consisted of:

            (1) Not clarifying the Primary Purpose, Standards, and Outcome Vision on every one of them.
            (2) Not reviewing these every week in addition to the next actions on each of my projects.

            I can't tell you how much of a difference describing wild success on all of my projects -- and reviewing these descriptions each week -- has made to my actually getting more of them done. So for some projects it's really a matter of motivation leading to action than it is action alone.

            A little while ago I also wrote up some of my own thoughts on why things in my system seem to not get done as well as ways to prune my system when it seems to be getting overgrown.

            Why It's Not Getting Done
            10 Reasons Why Actionables Linger
            Prune Your GTD System

            Here they are in case you're interested.

            I would also encourage you with the health situation to just accept that you are not going to get as much done as you maybe were before, but do get done what you can, when you can. Sudden changes in life circumstances can be a great time to pull out your Next Actions list or Read-Review folder and just start cranking away during those in-between moments that present themselves sometimes.
            Last edited by Todd V; 07-01-2011, 11:00 PM.

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            • #7
              Oh, good help, thank you. I just had a peaceful, enthusiastic Weekly Review. Here's what I did:

              I started by reviewing my accomplishments list (very detailed). I'm going to add this to the beginning of my WR checklist. Thanks for reminding me!

              I set aside a clear amount of time and really focused. I think sometimes I come and go from it, which makes it surprisingly harder.

              When I started reading my Someday/Maybe list, I reminded myself that this was dream time and to get into dreamy, expansive mode. That helped!

              When the discouraged voice appeared, I reminded myself that I DO have lots of time in my life when I look at the big picture. I also reminded myself that time is a bit tight right now and to give myself a break.

              All of these things helped. Thank you!

              Do Mi

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              • #8
                Originally posted by DStaub11 View Post
                . . . I'm discouraged when every week I read over and over the lists of projects I haven't done yet.
                Late chiming in. Just wanted to make sure you're distinguishing between making progress and completing projects. Some projects have a lot of tasks that need to be completed. Some tasks are very large. If you're completing task(s) on your project(s) OR working on large tasks, you need to give yourself credit for making progress. Some projects are going to appear on your list week after week even though work on them is moving forward. This is different than having tasks on your list that you skip over week after week.

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                • #9
                  There are times in life when people don't get much done.

                  And that's okay.

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