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  • Incremental start of GTD

    Hi there!

    I have a question about the incremental start of a GTD system:

    What is more important to get as a habit, maintaining the project list or the
    next actions lists?

    To explain it a little, I had a little discussion with a friend and he had the
    opinion that it is better to facilitate the habit of maintaining NA/ToDo-Lists
    first. I think it is better to have the habit of maintaining project lists first
    because you have at least all you projects gathered in one place.

    What is your opinion? Would you agree that having a project list is the first
    step and having todos or next actions tied to the projects is the second step
    in an incremental approach of starting GTD?

    Hope to receive interesting insights...
    -wbc

  • #2
    I don't see how you short cut it. It seems to me people have traditional to do lists, which according to GTD don't really work. I think to really do a jump start of GTD like the book says you need lists of projects, next actions and waiting for as a beginning point.

    Comment


    • #3
      I would say the habit to get into would be doing a regular Weekly Review. The first (possibly most important) step of getting everything out of your head and onto paper will drive the Projects list and NA lists. The Weekly Review will tie your NAs to Projects (or vice versa). Keep in mind that a Weekly Review may need be done more often when you are getting into GTD.

      Comment


      • #4
        Which is better, eating right or exercising? Should I first stop eating junk food, or should I get into an exercise program?

        Seriously, both are important. What does it matter which is more important? We need to do them both anyway.

        Comment


        • #5
          When you create a project list, right away list the next action for each project. I don't see how you can create one without the other. At that time you will list your waiting fors and your someday/maybes. It is impossible to say which to focus on first.

          Comment


          • #6
            I agree with other posters: it's not a terribly meaningful question, since until you have both you aren't really doing GTD.

            However, the NA list is the one I carry with me and review most often, and the one that would take the most time to recreate if it were lost. That says to me that the NA list takes the most load off my brain, and therefore gives the biggest boost for the effort expended.

            The Project list, in contrast, usually only gets reviewed once a week or so. The big, high priority projects tend to capture substantial mind share whether I review the list or not, and I could recapture most of the lower priority projects by simply walking around my house and office for a few minutes.

            Put another way, I'm unlikely to forget that I have a 20,000 word report due in a few weeks. I could easily forget that the NA for that report is to review my outline to check the status of the key components. Hence, the NA list is more critical.

            Katherine

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Brent View Post
              Which is better, eating right or exercising? Should I first stop eating junk food, or should I get into an exercise program?

              Seriously, both are important. What does it matter which is more important? We need to do them both anyway.
              Because radically changing your diet and your lifestyle at the same time is extremely difficult. Incremental changes are easier to implement, and incremental success provides motivation for further changes. Also, a given individual might have dietary (or exercise) habits that are either particularly awful or particularly easy to fix.

              Similarly in the productivity context, small steps are better than no steps. Minor improvements are still better than the status quo.

              Katherine

              Comment


              • #8
                Easy Does It

                I agree with Katerine; you have to have small victories in order to keep moving forward with lots of things, be it weight loss or GTD.

                Do * something * (one or the other) to get started; get it in place; make it a habit, then grow it. If you go overboard up front, you will get frustrated and quit.

                sdann has another point; kind of a "double bonus" -- if you do make your Project List, ponder the Next Action right then and there and put that on your Next Action list.

                However, again, K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple {what * is * the last "S" for .... I always forget) is the best bet.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Start processing

                  I would like to differ a bit here. But trust your intuition and heed this only if it sounds good to you.

                  Unless you process something, you won't know whether it's a project or an action or an actionable at all. And probably action lists and project lists are incomplete without each other. Having an action list consistent with the project list which does not reflect all the projects (for the time being) is IMHO better than one ambitious list without the other.

                  So my suggestion would be to set up an inbox, and start collecting "stuff". (I hope you know what DA calls "stuff"; if not, please write back!) Start developing the habit to write down anything that may be important to you, whether actionable or not, and put it in the inbox.

                  Allot some time (may be half an hour to begin with) every day for processing if you don't get unscheduled free time. Go through the processing of items in your inbox(es). Let it generate whatever it generates: projects and associated next actions, standalone next actions, waiting-for's, reference material, appointments, and so on.

                  Since we are doing it incrementally, for a couple of weeks (or months), it won't reflect the complete inventory of commitments and other things that you have. But eventually it will. Also allocate some time at least every week to process items in your current system in the GTD way so that they are appropriately classified as above.

                  That will be some athletics working from these new action lists and your current system, but it will reduce with time.

                  Hope I make sense,

                  Abhay
                  Last edited by abhay; 02-19-2008, 08:49 PM. Reason: Title correction

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    No, I would not agree. Period.

                    Originally posted by wbc View Post
                    Would you agree that having a project list is the first step and having todos or next actions tied to the projects is the second step in an incremental approach of starting GTD?
                    No, I would not agree. Period. It does not make any sense to have Projects without Next Actions (except for Someday/Maybe projects) and there is no way to have Next Actions if you have not defined Projects with their successful outcomes.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Hello,

                      More important? NA or project? Neither. I do not believe that even the most basic system can function without both. They go hand-in-hand. How could you possibly know what should go on your NA context lists if you don’t even know what projects you have going? Ok, maybe the non-project, single action items, but who only has those?

                      I would have to say the only thing incremental about GTD is reading the book. Unless of course you are a speed reader and get though it in one go.

                      I guess there is one more thing that could be “incremental” about GTD, and that is the evolution from simply implementing the system, understanding the system, putting together “your” system, and mastering your system.

                      Regards,
                      Scott STEPHEN

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        First of all thank you for the posts so far.

                        Kathrin you wrote:
                        Originally posted by kewms View Post
                        I agree with other posters: it's not a terribly meaningful question, since until you have both you aren't really doing GTD.
                        ...
                        To explain it a little more in detail, I totally agree with you, in order to have a
                        GTD system you need both NAs and project lists. But my standpoint was, if
                        you put the GTD methodology aside, it is more important to have a project
                        list. Why? Because if you maintain a complete project list you actually see all
                        your commitments in one place and have a feeling about the volume and time
                        you have to commit to more projects. Or am I totally wrong?

                        If you then add NAs lists after having all projects in one place gives you the
                        power of GTD.

                        But in the step of learning GTD it is very important to identify and clarify the
                        projects (as GTD defines a project) first - right? Or do you think that you can
                        not untie the project list from NA lists and the other way round? So to start
                        maintaining the lists it is better to have an incomplete project list and a set
                        of NA lists and adding more and more projects to the system over time?

                        By the way the discussion with my friend started after we both listened to the
                        GTD connect audio file "Getting started - projects" (I think this was the title).
                        If you are a connect member you could listen to this audio file and tell me if
                        I understood it completely wrong.

                        -wbc

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by MrProactive View Post
                          K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple {what * is * the last "S" for .... I always forget)...
                          Either "Stupid" or "Sweetie" according to your preference.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by kewms View Post
                            Because radically changing your diet and your lifestyle at the same time is extremely difficult. Incremental changes are easier to implement, and incremental success provides motivation for further changes.
                            Where in my post did I say otherwise?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by wbc View Post
                              Hi there!

                              I have a question about the incremental start of a GTD system:

                              What is more important to get as a habit, maintaining the project list or the
                              next actions lists?
                              WBC,

                              There is an entire chapter in the book about how to get started with GTD. Basically you throw everything into a basket before you even decide what a project or action even is.

                              Too many people try to shortcut this step. I, personally, think that this is a great way to guarantee failure. Take a day and do it the way its described and you will get off on the right foot. Do it another way at your own peril.

                              Tom S.

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