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  • putting non-projects on my radar screen

    Hi

    GTD focuses me on projects and next actions.

    The question is, when is it 'ok' to turn away from these projects that I have decided are important enough to track and to schedule and to create next actions for, and do things that are unimportant enough that they are not on my project list: things such as reading a book just for the pleasure of it, or having a rambling conversation with my neighbor?

    Seems like making something a project puts it on my 'radar screen' -- and, it also seems as though my 'radar screen' should include things that are not projects.

    Thanks,
    Rob

  • #2
    Originally posted by ArcCaster View Post
    The question is, when is it 'ok' to turn away from these projects that I have decided are important enough to track and to schedule and to create next actions for, and do things that are unimportant enough that they are not on my project list: things such as reading a book just for the pleasure of it, or having a rambling conversation with my neighbor?
    Whenever you feel like it.

    Or, more precisely, whenever--in full awareness of your commitments--you decide that off-list stuff is what you should be doing.

    The point of GTD is not to chain you to an inflexible list. It's to give you enough information to decide for yourself, on the fly, what your priorities should be.

    Katherine

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by kewms View Post
      Whenever you feel like it.
      Katherine
      Thanks Katherine,

      I agree with the intent.

      But it seems like there an two forces driving my actions:
      my projects and my next actions, which are explicitly examined on a regular basis
      what I 'feel like', which happens when the stuff that I don't explicitly examine becomes buoyant enough that it pokes its head above the surface to be compared with my explicit list.

      I feel that the explicitly-examined material has an unfair advantage.

      But I do not believe that I want to put the two sides on even ground by making projects of reading for pleasure or of being neighborly.

      Regards,
      Rob

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by ArcCaster View Post
        But I do not believe that I want to put the two sides on even ground by making projects of reading for pleasure or of being neighborly.
        Why not? Are you saying that your "projects" are more important than reading for pleasure or being neighborly?

        During your next weekly review, you may consider reviewing what is really important to you. Of course, you will list things like: "I am a valuable employee", "I am a good husband", "I value a clean home", "I keep my car well maintained", etc.

        But don't forget the other stuff too: "I eat right and exercise regularly", "I value reading good books", "I am a good neighbor", etc.

        Once you've made this list, you can review your "projects" in context of your values to ensure that you are making time for ALL of the things that are important to you.

        I see no reason to keep "Read 'War and Peace'" or "Invite neighbor over to watch the game and share a couple beers" off of your projects list. In many ways, these things are probably even more important than "Sharpen the kitchen knives".
        Last edited by jknecht; 09-17-2008, 01:25 PM. Reason: grammar

        Comment


        • #5
          JKnecht,

          Sounds like you saying that I need to do some more work at a higher level than projects (values and roles are somewhere above projects, right?) and maybe my project list will become less one-sided.

          Rob

          Comment


          • #6
            I have a number of non-work, non-practical pleasure actions on my lists. They tend to be the ones where I need a little planning or a little push or a reminder, to ensure that the activity is available for doing when I feel like doing it.

            So some current examples from my system are:

            - "Check NetFlix queue."
            - "Update library Hold list.", with an associated list of titles of interest.
            - "Invite someone to dinner.", as a monthly repeater.
            - "Prep for (season) in garden." (A list of tickler reminders to buy seeds, buy bulbs, divide irises, etc., at the right time.)
            - "Sniff Goutal Charlotte." I want to smell this perfume. This action needs to be on my In The City context, or I'll never remember to do so.

            If I _did_ have trouble getting myself to do something just for fun, I might have a repeating "Have timewasting fun" action with a supporting list of possible activities.

            I wouldn't really consider this to be putting leisure activities "on even ground" with work activities, because I don't feel that my system means that any action is necessarily on even ground with any other action. It's just _everything_ that I want to remember. I do separate Work from Personal because I, personally, have trouble with being sidetracked by personal activities. But they're still both in there.

            Gardener

            Comment


            • #7
              Y'know, as I look at my own post and my sample actions, I sort of see higher-level personal projects that they belong in:

              - "Maintain sources of low-cost entertainment." (NetFlix, library.)

              - "Expand personal horizons." (Another aspect of the library, and the perfume. Explaining the premise that relates these would take far too long, but it makes sense to me. )

              - "Get a social life." (The dinner item. We're isolated nerds, and we're working on changing that.)

              Hm. Interesting. Individual apparently unrelated items point the way to larger goals. Is this that whole bottom-up thing?

              Gardener.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by ArcCaster View Post
                But it seems like there an two forces driving my actions:
                my projects and my next actions, which are explicitly examined on a regular basis
                what I 'feel like', which happens when the stuff that I don't explicitly examine becomes buoyant enough that it pokes its head above the surface to be compared with my explicit list.

                I feel that the explicitly-examined material has an unfair advantage.

                But I do not believe that I want to put the two sides on even ground by making projects of reading for pleasure or of being neighborly.
                That's not a GTD issue, it's a personal priorities issue. "Read War and Peace" and "read Wall Street Journal" are equally valid to GTD. So are "have lunch with boss" and "have beer with neighbor."

                As jknecht said, you might want to think about it at your next weekly review. Do the things on your project list advance your personal goals? Align with your values?

                If the problem is that you don't want to set hard goals for your free time, perhaps you could start by making sure you *have* free time. Block out some time when Real Work is Not Allowed, and suddenly chatting with your neighbor looks much more attractive than cleaning the gutters or hauling a load to the dump. (Or if not, you could decide that household tasks are Not Allowed either.)

                Katherine

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Gardener View Post
                  Hm. Interesting. Individual apparently unrelated items point the way to larger goals. Is this that whole bottom-up thing?
                  Yes.

                  Katherine

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ArcCaster View Post
                    do things that are unimportant enough that they are not on my project list: things such as reading a book just for the pleasure of it, or having a rambling conversation with my neighbor?
                    Why isn't that an important project? I see projects very broadly and many are pleasure or just for me but that doesn't make them any less important than stuff for work.

                    Actually I have a hard time separating work and pleasure and personal projects, probably because I live at my work site, my work is fun and what I want to be doing and pleasure tasks may also turn out to be work related. (Weaving for fun may turn into samples I use to sell fleeces for example.) So I track everything in one big system.

                    About the only projects that are absolutely critical are ones relating to the care and feeding of the various animals that depend on me. Those always take priority over anything else. We feed the sheep before we feed ourselves but then the sheep feed us eventually too

                    I have a project to read more for fun and one current next action is to read all the samples I sent to my kindle (from the last time I was on the computer browsing books) and see if the books go on my save for later list or get trashed. And I have a next action this week to finish reading at least 2 books that I've started.

                    It's all part of using GTD to balance all my areas of focus and keep my projects and actions in line with my long term life goals.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ArcCaster View Post
                      Hi

                      GTD focuses me on projects and next actions.

                      The question is, when is it 'ok' to turn away from these projects that I have decided are important enough to track and to schedule and to create next actions for, and do things that are unimportant enough that they are not on my project list: things such as reading a book just for the pleasure of it, or having a rambling conversation with my neighbor?

                      Seems like making something a project puts it on my 'radar screen' -- and, it also seems as though my 'radar screen' should include things that are not projects.

                      Thanks,
                      Rob
                      In GTD there's also the concept of Areas of Interest.
                      For example Work, Personal, etc. They can be divided further.

                      So the non-project oriented tasks could be directly assigned to these top or second level areas of interest. Not sure if you really need an order and Next Actions here, it will probably spoil the pleasure of doing them.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        In addition to following your intuitive hunches, I suggest you actually build big rocks* (time to focus on values and renewal) into your calendar. Important but not urgent things that need to be done routinely are most likely to happen when you schedule them.

                        For example, physical exercise for me is not a project (unless I'm setting up a new exercise program), it's an activity that supports higher-level focus areas (health, vitality, fitness). If I don't schedule exercise sessions and just wait for my intuitive hunches to tell me it's time to stop and exercise, I'd never do it. The same thing applies for other Q2* and "Sharpen the Saw"* activities like leisure reading, journaling, etc.

                        * These are FrankinCovey concepts.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by DanGTD View Post
                          Not sure if you really need an order and Next Actions here, it will probably spoil the pleasure of doing them.
                          I agree.

                          Seems like there is a side of GTD that I have lost touch with -- simply being in touch with my everyday on-going environment and responding appropriately to the opportunities it presents to me. The next-action list and weekly review let me know how I stand and if I can afford to leap at an opportunity -- and somewhere else, perhaps at the higher levels we don't talk about too much, I need to do some thinking so that opportunities that align with (roles, goals, interests?) leap out at me and identify themselves as worth leaping at, worth putting away my list for a while.

                          Regards,
                          Rob

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            It's so easy to get caught up in everything that is commanding your attention, that your forget things like "hey, didn't I want to read that book" or "hey, maybe I should catch up with neighbor Bob". That happens to me quite a bit and I am really glad to see this thread and posts. Maybe if I was more aware of this when I'm doing my weekly review, I would have a more balance life.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Gardener View Post
                              Hm. Interesting. Individual apparently unrelated items point the way to larger goals. Is this that whole bottom-up thing?
                              Gardener.
                              I think you have put your finger on it. GTD uses a bottom-up approach to handle the 'stuff' that comes at you. Stuff that takes more than one next action becomes a project. This is good, it is effective, it is a fine way to start. But the things that are important often don't come at you -- it is up to you to initiate them and look for them. So, if you are just reactively identifying, sorting, and prioritizing what is presented to you, your list can be incomplete. As Gardener points out, at some time it might be useful to look at the apparently unrelated items in our lives and look for patterns. And, at some time, it might be useful to complement the bottom-up approach with a top-down approach. I hear 'top-down' mentioned sometimes, but it is so overshadowed by the nitty-gritty next actions that I can't put my finger on it. In the past, I have used the Covey approach, which is top-down, and which I liked, but which I found too vague, undetailed, and undefined (non-nitty-gritty) for my liking. Sounds like some people cobble the two approaches together. Would love to hear more.

                              Regards,
                              Rob

                              Comment

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