Forum

  • If you are new to these Forums, please take a moment to register using the fields above.
Announcement Announcement Module
Collapse
No announcement yet.
GTD for the not so busy? Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse
X
Conversation Detail Module
Collapse
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • GTD for the not so busy?

    Hello, I'm new to GTD and find it fascinating. It really seems geared to the ultra-busy people which I am not. Having said that, I do like to be organised and on top of things, even at the 50,000ft level. I've pretty much gone through the whole book and need some advice if anyone is able to help please?

    First off, is GTD a bit OTT for the not-so-very-busy? I only have around 5-6 projects on the go.

    Second, After having created my projects list, what do I do? This doesn't seem very well explained. Am I supposed to think about all or just one of the next action steps for each project and add them to my next actions lists?

    Third, sometimes I get really long emails sent to me, they go way over the 2minute rule just to determine what to do with them - so the question is, which actions list should this be assigned to? Does it make sense to have a @UnreadEmails?

    Many thanks
    NoobIT

  • #2
    If you only have five or six projects, you may need to make sure that you've really captured *everything,* and that you've followed the GTD definition of a project. While you know your workload better than I do, that's a very very small number. If you're only including, say, your currently assigned work deliverables, then you're probably missing the majority of the things that are actually going on in your life.

    Second, After having created my projects list, what do I do? This doesn't seem very well explained. Am I supposed to think about all or just one of the next action steps for each project and add them to my next actions lists?
    To move a project forward, all you need is the very next physical action. That goes on your NA list. Now, you may find that you'd rather plan things out in much more detail. That's fine, but those additional plans are project support, not Next Actions (unless they are immediately doable with no dependencies).

    As a practical matter, I find that I build my NA lists and my project list in parallel. For instance, today I received an email assigning me to write an article about purple widgets (not the actual topic) by June 1. So "write purple widget article" goes on my project list, and the next actions are "@call usual contacts to set up purple widget interviews" and "@read abstracts from December's widget conference." Since this one has a deadline, it also goes in my calendar and on my whiteboard.

    Third, sometimes I get really long emails sent to me, they go way over the 2minute rule just to determine what to do with them - so the question is, which actions list should this be assigned to? Does it make sense to have a @UnreadEmails?
    Technically it's possible, but I wouldn't advise it. If you can't figure out what to do with an email right away, answering it is probably a project. (Part of why you might have more projects than you think.) The very next action, then, would be to figure out what to do next. That might mean calling the sender for clarification, looking up some numbers, or pulling a case file. Or it might mean setting aside some time to review the 20-page attachment. If you use an Unread Email file, you've just delayed the actual decision. You haven't emptied your inbox, you've just moved it.

    Hope this helps,

    Katherine

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks for you clear response and practical example, this really does help convey your message.

      Perhaps you are right, my understanding of a 'project' is slightly flawed. I have 7 items on my projects list and 127 on next actions lists. I never realised that reading through large emails are actually considered projects and that the next action could be, figure out what to do. I've just lumped these into @Computer and/or @Read categories. I'll move all of these out into my projects list and create corresponding next actions. If I do this however, how do I maintain a link between the next action and the multi-step project its associated with? I don't recall if this was covered in the book, so is this even advisable? Personally I manage everything using Outlook Tasks without any additional software tools/plugins.

      Any experienced GTD members that are reading this, do you have any practical examples like Katherine kindly explained in her widget analogy? Such real-world examples really help crystallize the theory covered in the book.

      Many thanks, NoobIT

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by NoobIT View Post
        I'll move all of these out into my projects list and create corresponding next actions. If I do this however, how do I maintain a link between the next action and the multi-step project its associated with? I don't recall if this was covered in the book, so is this even advisable?
        How do you now who you are?

        You just know it, right?

        You look into the mirror and think "Hey, it's me! Cool."

        You recognize yourself. You have consciousness.

        GTD does not enable you to live without consciousness.

        Now, the link between a NA and it's corresponding project works the same as the link between your self and your image in a mirror.

        You just see the NA on a list and you instantly know which project it belongs to.

        So for example you have a project "going to vote for the lesser evil at the final elections". Your NA is "check out local website to find out where they put the ballots this time and where I can park my car" and it sits on your @computer or @webbrowser list or whatever context you have for these.

        Now, when you read this next action, don't you instantly see what the project is here? You don't have to immediately recall every nitty detail of a given project (that's where the project support material comes into play), but if you consider the NA as a jump point to further advance towards the completion of the project, you don't need to. Just get going and consciousness will help you. DA calls those NAs "action reminders", not "walking blueprint" os so.

        You may want to check out this podcasts with DA and MM from 43.folders. They discuss this topic in one of their talks.

        Comment


        • #5
          Great, well written, I like this forum. Thanks for the clarity and example, it really helps. I agree, I know in a glance exactly which project each action is associated with. Was just unsure whether you ought to create some kind of association for later tracking perhaps - not that I do this mind. Thanks again, and thanks for the website links too, I'll check 'em out.

          Many thanks,

          NoobIT.

          Comment


          • #6
            Well, the tracking does not make sense on the NA level because you don't write down every Action you perform for a project. You just write down the NA once you stopped working on the project. Think of a NA as a bookmark for a project.

            Tracking completion dates of projects can make sense, though. Or time-logging. And then you still have the project plans, these can be used as a progress tracking device.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by NoobIT View Post
              Perhaps you are right, my understanding of a 'project' is slightly flawed. I have 7 items on my projects list and 127 on next actions lists. I never realised that reading through large emails are actually considered projects and that the next action could be, figure out what to do. I've just lumped these into @Computer and/or @Read categories.
              Remember, a GTD project is any outcome requiring more than one action to complete. And a next action is an immediately doable physical activity that moves the project forward. So I'd say it's highly likely that many of those 127 next actions have projects associated with them. Possibly the *same* project, in some cases.

              The clear definition of a next action is one of the key ideas of GTD. It's the difference between a Next Action list and a To Do list. Especially in the beginning, it's a good idea to be pretty rigorous about making sure you've broken actions down far enough.

              Katherine

              Comment


              • #8
                Hmm, thats interesting. So you can work on a project, ie doing the next action, and continue without tracking or recording any subsequent next actions until you've stopped working on it, at which point you update the next actions list.

                Blimey, somehow I didn't understand this when going through the book, clearly I need to re-read it, do you know what specific section covers this area? Thanks for the clarification, I appreciate your experienced advice for a noobie!

                Thanks NoobIT.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Yes, I think you're right Katherine, the distinction between a todo list and next actions list hits the nail on the head of my specific issue. Thanks very much for taking the time to educate a newbie with clarity and helpful suggestions. When I'm back in the office I can see I need to be much more rigid when determining next actions and defining projects.
                  Many thanks, NoobIT.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I would also like to say thank you to all who contributed to this thread. I learned a ton from it.

                    Michele

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Nontechnical recommendation

                      Be sure to give yourself plenty of slack. It can take time and practice to re-groove your thinking.

                      One way I surface projects is to look back and ask myself what I've been thinking about. It could be a thought that whizzes by for a split second, or something I dwell on for minutes at a time. Often when I ask myself what has my attention, I become aware (do I sound like Hal or Skynet?) in an expanded way. Thanks to CPU_Modern for getting me onto the 'consciousness' track today.

                      Two examples from my life today. 1) I put on my belt this morning and for an instant I note that it's more snug than it was a year ago. That instant is fast, but it also has room for a jolt of self-criticism about neglecting health as an area of focus. 2) I daydream for five whole minutes about how I would structure a review of a book I began reading.

                      The first one is quick, but still has an intensity of attention that tells me that my project and action lists better have items that help me get a handle on my love handles. The second one tells me I need to add that new book to my list of potentials for review, and start capturing notes about it.

                      -- John

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thanks John. LOL@Love handles , great example, its stuff like that which really help cement these ideas in a clear way. Thanks for taking the time to explain these more subtle techniques. I can see now that even thoughts which flash through your mind in a fleeting moment can be critically important when breaking down a project to its ultimate next action step. Good stuff.

                        Trying to re-groove my thinking is pretty tough, sheesh! I seem to be in constant battle with myself when emptying my inbox to zero, worried I'll lose visibility of a critical email in there, even though I know I have the right lists/reminders to highlight that very email! I'm thinking I ought to rename my inbox to something like, DOORMAT! I actually tried to rename it in Outlook today but it wouldn't let me...confounded thing!

                        Thanks again and glad others are finding this thread helpful.

                        Thanks, NoobIT.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Hi NoobIT,

                          Wonderful to see someone so engaged. Keep it up and you'll learn quickly.

                          GTD is very much a journey, as John Forrister suggests. Many go through rounds of learning and understanding. For me it has been a system where you need to get Part A in place to understand Part B.

                          Your first comment suggests GTD is only for busy people. Perhaps they are busy, rather effective, because they use GTD.

                          Keep in mind the definition of "Project = anything that takes more than one action to complete". And that an action is a physical thing. Sure you may have to do some thinking but the physical thing is "List my ideas" or "Create a mindmap about...". Those two definitions, plus a regular weekly review, keeping to the 2-minute rule and working the collect-process-organise-review-do cycle will keep you in excellent shape.

                          In 2-3 months come back and see what you've learnt.

                          David

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            You took the words right out of my mouth . . .

                            Hi Noobit,

                            I too am new to GTD and I came on this forum to ask the exact same question about projects and next actions. I didn't want to ask a question that had already been asked, so I was going to do a search, but your Thread Title caught my eye and I decided to click on it before doing my search. . . to my surprise, there was my question!!!

                            The answers really do help, so thanks to everyone who contributed.

                            I do have one small criticism for the great Mr. Allen, but before I give that, let me say that I am very grateful for his book. Just the part on brainstorming is worth the price of the book; and there are many gems (the tickler file, distinguishing between hard calendar-type actions and as-soon-as-possible-type actions, and so on) that are also EACH worth the price of the book. I've (tactfully) recommended the book to many people so far. That said, I take issue with the technical language of the book; it is full of jargon and very difficult to comprehend without reading the same section several times through. And I have above-average reading comprehension and IQ. I think an overhaul of it could make it a much more easy, enjoyable read, not to mention being more accessible. I can personally think of a half-dozen people that would greatly benefit from the book, but will probably never have the patience to get through the whole thing.

                            If someone (who has a say in the matter) would like some concrete examples of what I mean, I would be happy to provide those. Thanks again and God Bless.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Jargon?

                              Originally posted by fapapa View Post
                              I take issue with the technical language of the book; it is full of jargon and very difficult to comprehend without reading the same section several times through. And I have above-average reading comprehension and IQ.
                              I would be interested to see some examples of the overly technical and jargon-y language you cite. I know from an audio interview with David Allen, that great efforts were made to remove as many time-sensitive "buzzwords" as possible, in order to make the content of the book as "evergreen" as possible, and outlive any current technological trends as much as possible.

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X