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  • For low-energy states

    I've been using Getting Things Done for a couple or years now, but there is one thing that I still don't know how to deal with.

    David Allen recommends "keeping an inventory of things that need to be done that require very little mental or creative horsepower."

    I use OmniFocus for managing my action lists but I have a really tough time when it comes to deciding what to do when I have low-energy.

    I've tried using a @low-energy context, but that didn't work for me, I might still be @work or @home and OmniFocus is pretty strict at only allowing a task to exist in one context.

    I'd love to find some way of dealing with this, especially because when I have no energy I have a tough time deciding what to do.

    Thanks,
    Leanda

  • #2
    Low Energy NA's

    Hi - this sounds interesting... I've not tried it before but I think it would help me during times when I might otherwise give up on getting anything done. I'm interested in hearing others' strategies!

    I don't know OmniFocus, but if you're looking for a way to keep the NA's in their contexts but still flag them, maybe you could start them with a symbol so they would be grouped together and you would see them as flagged for low engergy times? I do that with my lists sometimes just to force a grouping without adding another layer. I sort a-z and the "flagged" items show up together at the top but are still in their original context.

    HTH... good luck! I'm going to give it a try too.

    Julia

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    • #3
      Hi Julia

      OmniFocus allows me to flag items, but I use that function to highlight tasks that are urgent.

      However, you might be on to something with the symbol idea, I could add a simple dash to the beginning of an action and sort those in the context list. Just relies on me remembering to add either at the time I create the action or during a review!

      I still find this aspect of GTD difficult, I'm good at capture and reviews, but I'm really awful at deciding what to do and doing it, especially when I'm tired!

      Thanks,
      Leanda

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      • #4
        Don't make a no-energy context

        I think making a @no-energy context is the wrong way to go about it.

        Not every mood is consistent. One afternoon I might feel sluggish but be willing to read some magazine articles in my To Consume stack. The next afternoon I might also be sluggish, but find reading requires too much concentration and clean the kitchen, instead.

        I find my Next Action list freeing because I can scan it and do pretty much whatever I feel like doing from the list. (Caveat: I divide deadline-based projects into chunks and schedule them on Daily Action cards.) I'd suggest just trusting your feelings at the time and choosing from there. (There are also the options to go through your To Consume items or to just do nothing!)

        My guess is that you're not fully capturing enough. Does your next action list have "change lightbulb" and "re-thread yoga pants" on it? Do you have "Brainstorm ideas for X Project" listed? I always have *something* on my list I can knock off no matter how low my energy level.

        Marina

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        • #5
          I keep a stack of business cards (they are always piling up) in my laptop bag pocket and input those in when I am feeling low energy.

          Like Marina, I also just scan my next action list for stuff i feel like doing (there is always something that I can knock out - ex. review a website sent on by a friend or read article sent by friend. I put it in my someday/maybe folder in my inbox or put it in the next action task itself.

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          • #6
            "No energy" items for me simply means having up-to-date action lists. If I find myself in a slump in terms of energy, I simply scan my list of items that need done though a lot of the low-energy tasks honestly never make it onto my lists. The idea, for me at least, is to simply get something done and ride the increase in energy from there.

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            • #7
              Does OmniFocus let contexts be "part of" other contexts?

              MLO lets a task be in multiple contexts, but I never use that. Instead, I assign the task the context it "really" belongs to: at the computer, or on the phone, or whatever.

              Then I create a set of additive contexts. My @Home has a @phone, as does my @office.

              I usually end up setting up a few different contexts:

              @Home- contains *only* the things that *really* have @Home as the context. That way, if I'm somewhere for a short period of time, I can focus on things that I can only do in that place. (Doesn't really apply to @Home, but when I was in @School, sometimes I'd only have a few minutes before class, and sometimes I had a few hours.

              @Home contains the typical setup I have at home.

              @Home+ contains absolutely anything I might possibly be able to do when at home. This includes @Day Calls, which (when I was going to school in the day) I wouldn't normally be home to do; it also includes @Anywhere tasks, which (for me) are also usually someday-ish tasks.

              This may be too complex for some people, but I like the fine-grained control.

              If OF lets you do that, you could put the no-energy tasks in @No Energy. Then you could include that in @Home, so that when you do have energy, you can still do those tasks.
              Last edited by Jay Levitt; 01-04-2008, 05:01 PM. Reason: forgot the point

              Comment


              • #8
                attack/prevent the low-energy

                I think you can go through your context lists and see if anything fits your ability at the moment or review your calendar to see what has a horrible deadline that will make you find your energy but I think the real problem is to find ways to counter or better yet, prevent, low energy, or go with the flow and rest when you need to (as long this is not a "professional" avoidance tactic).

                Just some ideas: track the energy level (degree, physical or mental, when, where, possible reason).

                Look for causes, search out possiblities whether they be common, idiosyncratic, good reasons, silly reasons, poor nutrition, engaging with people that use up your energy, too many open loops (that's me), certain work days are in a noisy and annoying environment, etc.

                Look for antidotes that you can apply or prevention tactics.

                Find uncommon solutions. A yoga teacher I knw proposed that if more people watched TV in various yoga postures they would gradually want to move about more and gradually disconnect from TV.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I wonder if low-energy more often than not means low-enthusiasm. Low-energy suggests that you have expended a lot of physical or mental effort and it's time to go have a rest and not do anything on any list!

                  I think we can spend too much effort in trying to assess what mood we're in and what the optimum next action is, for this particular mood. In reality of course, the human mind is capable of an infinite variety of moods and thoughts and you won't really know what you'd be best doing at any one point in time until you actually start doing it (assuming you're in the right basic physical context).

                  Maybe the best solution is that when you're low on enthusiasm, just try each next action for 5 minutes and if it feels right then do it to completion. If not try the next one.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    treelike makes a great point. And looking back at your post, you say that "low energy" means you can't decide what to do.

                    You shouldn't have to. One of the keys of processing is that you do all the decision-making then. Most of your actions - or at least getting started on them - should require little to no thinking anyway. Sometimes that means breaking them down into smaller-than-normal pieces.

                    I'm not a morning person by any means, but I had somehow trained myself to start getting up early (7am) last week, even though I had no pressing time to be anywhere. Friday, though, I slept poorly with a sore throat, shut off my alarm after two hours of counterproductive snoozing, and finally looked at the clock around 10:20, having missed my one appointment for the week. Oops.

                    Naturally, my groggy instinct was to just roll over, but since my throat was hurting, I decided to take some Advil first. While I was up taking Advil, I decided to take my morning vitamins. Once I did that, I had a little more water to help my throat, at which point I started feeling a little hungry, so I made some coffee and poured some cereal...

                    In 20 minutes I was no longer low-energy. I had "I'll just get the folder"ed my way out of bed and into the morning news.

                    So in addition to the task-building idea below, see if you can figure out what "low energy" really means. Is it "I don't want to make decisions?" You shouldn't have to. Is it "I don't want to think?" You could wipe down some counters, fold some laundry, do some stretches, slit open and unfold the mail without dealing with it yet. Or let yourself watch something funny (but short) on YouTube and then do something that takes just a little thinking with that laugh energy.

                    What sort of "no energy" tasks do you accumulate?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Jay Levitt View Post
                      In 20 minutes I was no longer low-energy. I had "I'll just get the folder"ed my way out of bed and into the morning news.
                      I love this phrase. I'll have to remember next time this happens, that I've "just get the folder"ed.

                      On a more serious note, I think what the original poster wanted was a way to flag or tag all the "just get the folder"-type NAs into one list. I call them @Brain and @NoBrain: when I'm feeling worn or wan or bewildered, I can cast my eyes over @NoBrain and drag myself around sufficiently to get something done. If that's the only thing that gets done, it's an achievement. If it bootstraps me up into doing more things, it's a much bigger achievement.

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