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  • What about those C items?

    Hi
    I'm new to GTD but really want to try to use it to get control of my life and work at least to some extent. I've listened to the podcasts, the seminars, bought the books but here is my question. I understand GTD tells you not to use the A B C priority labels and I agree with the concept. However, ultimately all those projects and next actions still have to be evaluated for what is the best choice with the time. context etc. I have at the moment correct? Then how can I make sure that I ever GET to - buy catfood or do filing? If I'm making the best choice each time I may NEVER get to the filing etc. My biggest problem is remembering to do the low priority tasks.

    Any suggestions?

  • #2
    Originally posted by michaela View Post
    Hi
    I understand GTD tells you not to use the A B C priority labels and I agree with the concept. However, ultimately all those projects and next actions still have to be evaluated for what is the best choice with the time. context etc. I have at the moment correct? Then how can I make sure that I ever GET to - buy catfood or do filing? If I'm making the best choice each time I may NEVER get to the filing etc. My biggest problem is remembering to do the low priority tasks.

    Any suggestions?
    If you really put the big and small next actions on your context lists, the small ones will get done. Everyone has their own rhythm of work, but most of us have small windows of time, or the need for a quick task as a break between bigger tasks. However, if you are not really addressing your larger projects with concrete next actions, there is the danger you will spend unproductive hours "working" on big projects while neglecting smaller things. It's guilt, overwhelm, and inattention to our own natural balance that does this. We learn to make better choices by making more choices faster, not by fretting over what the best choice is. I've been there, done that, lost many days over whether to get the t-shirt.

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    • #3
      If necessary, you can set a calendar appointment for low (or high) priority tasks.

      In my experience, though, it's not actually that hard. It's pretty nearly impossible to keep the mental focus needed to work on high priority tasks *all* the time. I need mental and physical breaks. Tasks like filing are a great way to let my head clear and my back and shoulders rest while still being "productive."

      Katherine

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      • #4
        and the weekly review it's a must

        ...and during your weekly review you can choose, which are the C priority you 'd like to face and when!

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        • #5
          Wow thanks so much for the suggestions. I can see I've come to the right place. One more question then, So I understand- You list all your projects with next actions then take the next actions and put them into appropriate context on next action lists. So would I reference the project they are part of next to the next action or am I supposed to assume that's intuitive? And once you do the 'next action' in a project do you just take off from there or should you list the 'next' next action after one has been completed. I'm sorry if this is addressed elsewhere in the forum. I just want to start right.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by michaela View Post
            So would I reference the project they are part of next to the next action or am I supposed to assume that's intuitive?
            The force is strong in this one

            Make it intuitive. If you intuitively can't remember the project from seeing the NA, it is an indicator either your successful outcome or your NA are not as fleshed out as they could be. Alternatively, getting alienated to your list items is a sign of a poor Weekly Review discipline.

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            • #7
              I think I'm almost afraid of a weekly review- I need to collect everything first but there are so many different little projects that need to be done continuously I always seem to focus on what I think were the most important and the less important don't get done until someone asks where it is.
              I guess for me a checklist of the projects that are always going to be there would be helpful. For instance I am responsible for keeping track of our training seminars which means logging in new registrations each day, verifying hotel contracts for the function, sending out email confirms. This is a daily project. I think what I'm not sure how to apply GTD to is ONGOING projects like this. Stuff that you keep having to update constantly so it's never really 'done. It's just part of my job.

              Am I making any sense?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by michaela View Post
                I think I'm almost afraid of a weekly review- I need to collect everything first but there are so many different little projects that need to be done continuously I always seem to focus on what I think were the most important and the less important don't get done until someone asks where it is.
                I guess for me a checklist of the projects that are always going to be there would be helpful. For instance I am responsible for keeping track of our training seminars which means logging in new registrations each day, verifying hotel contracts for the function, sending out email confirms. This is a daily project. I think what I'm not sure how to apply GTD to is ONGOING projects like this. Stuff that you keep having to update constantly so it's never really 'done. It's just part of my job.

                Am I making any sense?
                Yes, you are making sense.

                Yes, a checklist of projects is used also. Every project goes on the Projects List, until it is completed. You can review your Projects List each day or each week (whatever is right for you) to capture a Next Action. You can capture more than one action from a single project if they can be done concurrently.

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                • #9
                  The more self-conscious people are about their productivity, the more self-conscious they are about doing C items. If that's a problem, you can leverage that self-consciousness by "rewarding" yourself for doing an A task by doing some C tasks.

                  Getting Things Done advocates managing projects and next actions on separate flat lists, which many people find counterintuitive. Newcomers to GTD invariably ask about linking actions to projects using nested lists.

                  This is an ongoing debate (forum veterans are probably thinking, "Here we go again!"). Some long-time GTD users insist, despite canon, that the hierarchical approach is a more logical way to structure lists. I prefer flat lists, since I've never had the experience of looking at a next action and wondering or forgetting which project it carries forward. Once I complete that action, I replace it with the updated next action I determine when deleting the old one.

                  You're not necessarily limited to doing one next action per project at a time. There might be a project with two more more parallel next actions that have no dependencies -- an email to send, two calls to make, and a Waiting For, for instance -- but if you come up with actions that depend on other tasks to be completed first, the standard practice is to drop those on a page of notes for a project support folder, or to put them in the notes field of an electronic project or next action listing. The main principle is to avoid looking at actions you can't actually do when you're reviewing your next actions list.

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                  • #10
                    "Buy cat food" strikes me as an almost perfect example of an action that is very high priority, but normally low urgency. If it's ignored, it can suddenly become the very highest priority. (Or one can feed the cat "something else" and come home to find that an indigested cat has deposited a high priority action on the carpet.)

                    So I'd say that even if the urgency is low, one can quite logically put this kind of action above higher urgency, but lower priority, actions, because it absolutely has to be done, and better to get it done when one has some control over the timing than when it becomes an emergency.

                    I don't know if the same is true of the filing. If you regularly find yourself doing a twenty-minute search through stacks of paper for information that absolutely must be in hand for a meeting that's five minutes from now, then I'd say that it's also a high priority action, because preventing a repeat of that situation is a high priority.

                    In my case, for high priority but low urgency stuff like this, I make repeating "tickler" type actions that tell me to do a small bite of the work, and I try to really do those actions when they float to the top. So you could have "do fifteen minutes of filing", set to come up every Tuesday and Thursday, and pretend that it's a high priority.

                    On the other hand, if the files generally contain fairly stale information that you might be rarely asked for, with plenty of notice, then I'd say that it's low priority as well as low urgency. It still needs doing, but you might put it in a "brainless" list of tasks to do when you're just not up to anything requiring thought.

                    On the other other hand, if the stacks of filing are reducing your ability to use your work space, then I'd call them high priority again.

                    Gardener

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                    • #11
                      I get it, so it can be low urgency but still high priority- that's where the intuitive part comes in. I think that's an excellent idea to schedule 15 minutes of some of these things each day or every few days and consider it high priority. The other problem though is how to track the ongoing projects that really aren't ever DONE because they are just part of the day to day job. The seminar registrations, email confirms, etc. It's not really a project OR a next action.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by michaela View Post
                        The other problem though is how to track the ongoing projects that really aren't ever DONE because they are just part of the day to day job. The seminar registrations, email confirms, etc. It's not really a project OR a next action.
                        The project might be "keep seminars on cruise control".

                        and one next action might be "send email confirmations" on your @computer.

                        If you are using a PC based list manager that allows recurring tasks, the "send email confirmations" might be set to recur daily.

                        - Don

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                        • #13
                          I have a "Repeaters" single-action list that has a bunch of repeating tasks, with repeating trigger dates to make them automatically float to the top when I need to see them. Some are daily, some weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc. Some automatically come up on a specific date no matter when I did them last time, some come up a certain number of days after I completed that task last time.

                          So things like "Check on weekly Widget upload" or "Back up laptop" or "Touch base with Widget customers" or "Do monthly Widget server restart" or "Pay Amex" live there.

                          I also have Miscellaneous (I used to call it Administrative; I may call it something else next week) for similar tasks that don't live in a project, many of which need to trigger on a certain date, but don't repeat. I don't know why I separate these two lists, but for some reason I prefer it that way. (All of this is in software. If I were hand-writing these, or hand-filing them in folders, I might combine the lists for simplicity.)

                          I don't know if this is GTD-correct or not, since these tasks aren't inside a project, and should they be? But it seems to work for me.

                          Gardener

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by michaela View Post
                            The other problem though is how to track the ongoing projects that really aren't ever DONE because they are just part of the day to day job. The seminar registrations, email confirms, etc. It's not really a project OR a next action.
                            Exactly, according to GTD those are neither projects nor next actions, those are Areas of Responsibility. (Check out pages 52 and 179 in the book)

                            However, as you noticed, those AoR create a bunch of NAs nonetheless. How to deal with those? Some forum-members have daily check-lists of recurring tasks that they work through each day. Others combine them with weekly and monthly check-lists. Those come in many formats: diaries (not the thing GTD calls calendar), daily action cards, dry eraser boards and so on.

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                            • #15
                              Yes I think checklists may be what I need to consider. The thing is a lot of these things are in folders- i.e. the seminar registrations to log folder so I SEE my next action but there are some that are not daily, just things I'm supposed to keep up so that's where I think your idea of checklists would work, I could combine those with my weekly review. Now I just have to find the time in between all the ongoing projects to actually do the BIG collection and get started with my GTD.

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