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  • Big Rocks, Procrastination, Etc.

    I seem to be taking advantage of the fact that GTD allows you to easily procrastinate the "big rocks" - that is, during any given period (week/month), there are several projects/tasks that are really the high priorities - that I really should be working on. However, their tasks just end up being one among many in my lists, and don't stand out in any special way. So, once i'm pulling from my list in "do" mode, there's nothing to prevent/encourage me to pick those tasks rather than any other task. So, I'm "productive" in that I'm doing something, but not necessarily picking those tasks that are rolling up on me.

    Is there a GTD method for handling this? Have people come up with their own way of handling this? I was going to try to come up with some way of doing it during the weekly review - kind of a punch list with high-priorities or calendaring it, but that sounds a bit like the way Covey suggests.

  • #2
    During the Weekly Review I mark one project the MIP - most important project. I start each working day working on the MIP for as long as it suits me - minimum 15 minutes. This helps me for months now very well. Experiments with multiple MIPs failed.

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    • #3
      A couple of things:

      1) are you actively avoiding the big rocks? You might want to spend some time exploring why.

      2) the makers of ToDOMatrix have a great white paper on integrating GTD and FTF. I plan on trying to follow that when I get my BB next week. One suggestion would be to hard schedule some time for the big rocks. That is the only true way to ensure working in Quadrant II. Or you could add a "QII" or "big rock" identifier to the appropriate NAs in order to visually set them apart.

      3) another suggestion they have is to journal about the progress you are making on the big rocks. This will help keep them at the forefront.

      hope this helps.

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      • #4
        Looks like GTD is doing its job--you're more aware of the big, important work than you were before.

        I think most everyone goes through this stage, myself very much included. I eventually re-focused how I approach my Next Actions list. I used to ask myself what I wanted to work on next. Now I really think about what's most important. I don't always do it--sometimes I want to do something easier--but I think deeply about it first.

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        • #5
          It's not really a GTD issue - GTD says something aobut how you have to pick by :

          1. energy
          2. priority
          3. something else I never remember

          energy is obvious - if you're burned out you're not writing a client proposal -
          2 should come from the weekly review - I probably just need some kind of memory jogger to help me remember which projects are hot that week - since I'm intentionally avoiding them.

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          • #6
            Put the big rocks on your calendar

            ... but only if you are truly committed to achieving them that day. GTD makes a distinction about what goes on your calendar and what doesn't.

            What GTD says about calendar items is it is only for those actions that must be done on a certain day or at a certain time.

            If you are completely committed to a project outcome and want to ensure that there is time to work on it, put some block time on you calendar to work on that project.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Cpu_Modern View Post
              During the Weekly Review I mark one project the MIP - most important project. I start each working day working on the MIP for as long as it suits me - minimum 15 minutes. This helps me for months now very well. Experiments with multiple MIPs failed.
              Sounds like Mark Forster's "Current Initiative" from "Do It Tomorrow".
              Have tried this for several private projects for some weeks. It works great.
              You work on a project the first thing in the morning for about 5 to 15 minutes and thus make progress every day on that project that otherwise never would get done.

              Because you can only do one action first thing in the morning there can only be one current initiative at a time.

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              • #8
                Use the Someday / Maybe LIST !!

                AFTER playing around with almost all the above suggestions ... I found the "someday / maybe" list to be the BEST way to dela with this problem.

                When I do my Weekly Review, I review all my MOST IMPORTANT Projects...minor projects, calendered comitments etc. THIS GIVES me a ROUGH idea about how much BANDWIDTH I Have. If I feel my list Contains too MUCH to do in a week or even a MONTh...then I move the non-important items / projects to the someday /maybe list (FULLY trusting that I will have a look @ them next week to evaluate whether I should move them back or not).


                Let me ask u, do u trust ur Someday/Maybe List? If u dont than MAYBE thats why U resist "moving" PROJECTS & NAs from ur "active" NA & Projects List.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by furashgf View Post
                  Is there a GTD method for handling this? Have people come up with their own way of handling this? I was going to try to come up with some way of doing it during the weekly review - kind of a punch list with high-priorities or calendaring it, but that sounds a bit like the way Covey suggests.
                  My suggestion would be to make sure you are spending time each day to define your work (from the three-fold nature of work concept). As you know this is where you have the opportunity to determine those things that, everything being equal, you want or need to focus on today. Use the weekly review review to frame up the week ahead but don't rely on it totally to cue you as too much changes from day to day.

                  Hope this helps.

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                  • #10
                    IMO it's all about finding what will work for you, as you get better organized you find issues and better ways of doing things. Little tricks and reminders help. Star the items on a weekly review, keep a daily journal and account for the big rock items each day, make a commitment to do something with each of these big items each and every day even if it's only to open the folder and page through it.

                    The last one is a pretty good trick as it keeps priorities straight, eliminates anxiety as you always know where you are, you get random creativity when doing just a quick overview, and stuff has a way of happening on its own the more contact you have with it. Priority = more contact which is akin to less avoidance.

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                    • #11
                      I struggle with this same problem sometimes. Two things that work for me:

                      - large & important projects get two 90-minute blocks per week on my calendar. This works for projects that require a lot of reading/writing that I can't complete in short bursts.

                      - I check to make sure I have a next action for each project that is relatively small. For me, a next action like "Write report" is overwhelming. If I make it "Find & skim last year's report," or "Spend 30 minutes writing report" as the very next action, that helps quite a bit for me.

                      Good luck!

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by rthibode View Post
                        I check to make sure I have a next action for each project that is relatively small. For me, a next action like "Write report" is overwhelming. If I make it "Find & skim last year's report," or "Spend 30 minutes writing report" as the very next action, that helps quite a bit for me.
                        Tip: None of the above examples are Next Actions.

                        "Find last year's report" and "Spend 5 minutes writing report" are Next Actions.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Brent View Post
                          Tip: None of the above examples are Next Actions.

                          "Find last year's report" and "Spend 5 minutes writing report" are Next Actions.
                          Umm... how is "Spend 30 minutes writing report" not a next action, but "Spend 5 minutes writing report" is? Seems like splitting hairs, no?

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                          • #14
                            I'm with jknecht. For a major writing project, five minutes is barely enough time to open the draft and remind myself where I am. 30 minutes would be the bare minimum to make useful progress.

                            If a task doesn't actually move the project forward, it's not a Next Action.

                            Katherine

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Brent View Post
                              Tip: None of the above examples are Next Actions.

                              "Find last year's report" and "Spend 5 minutes writing report" are Next Actions.
                              Neither of these are Next Actions either, at least to my mind.

                              For starters, "Find report" is a goal, not an action. If you know where the report is, for example in the filing cabinet, then the NA would be "Get report from filing cabinet". If you don't know where it is, then "Look in filing cabinet under 2007 for report" would be a Next Action - if you don't find it, then you look somewhere else, but at least you know you've moved the project along, however slightly. And if that's the case, I'd be recording every spot I'd looked, and noting that it wasn't there, so I wouldn't have to look again.

                              "Spend 5 (or 30) minutes writing report" would lead to me sitting slack-jawed in front of my computer: writing is a difficult one at best, and leaving it this vague would make it even worse. Try something like "Copy last year's report for formatting and delete content", or "Enter data into table" or "Brain dump Section 3 for 30 minutes" or something like that - give yourself more direction/focus/information to work with.

                              I try to remember that a good NA should be so specific that I can do it without my brain.

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