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  • Too playful for GTD

    Hi again folks,

    I've found that one of the basic assumptions of GTD, that the best work comes from being relaxed, presents a problem for me. I want to be relaxed, being relaxed is nice and essential for any real concentration but I find when I am relaxed I often become playful.

    For instance after having breakfast this morning I felt nice and relaxed so when I saw that the bin was full of trash I decided that I would see how highly I could stack the trash to get more trash in. I didn't do this because I hate emptying the bin -- I'm happy to do that. I did this just because it was fun. Once I was bored of that I started trying to psych out my cat who likes to follow me around my apartment. I go to a door he expects me to open and don't -- I just stare at him. He stares back at me and meows lots. Then I chase him around for a while and give him cuddles to make up for all the torment I just caused him.

    Total time wasted: 40 minutes.

    If I remain in my playful relaxed mood my productivity could be interrupted with play 5 to 8 times each time taking as long as I allow it to.

    It's not that I don't want to be playful. I think it makes me more interesting. It's an asset in creative tasks and allows me to be experimental when I'd otherwise be a very by-the-book kinda guy. What I'd like to do is store up my play for times when I'm bored and genuinely on top of things. Those times just don't seem to happen often enough. Being too playful in social situations often leads to me annoying people so I limit that but sometimes I can't help myself. I've really pissed people off before. And then I'm sad, it's like I can't be myself.

    I think there's a close relationship with being relaxed and being happy. Too much happiness and I start to muck around.

    This isn't really a GTD thing at all but you guys are smart and I don't know anywhere better to go. Any thoughts are much appreciated.

  • #2
    Laughing!

    Originally posted by olliesaunders View Post
    Hi again folks,

    I've found that one of the basic assumptions of GTD, that the best work comes from being relaxed, presents a problem for me. I want to be relaxed, being relaxed is nice and essential for any real concentration but I find when I am relaxed I often become playful.

    For instance after having breakfast this morning I felt nice and relaxed so when I saw that the bin was full of trash I decided that I would see how highly I could stack the trash to get more trash in. I didn't do this because I hate emptying the bin -- I'm happy to do that. I did this just because it was fun. Once I was bored of that I started trying to psych out my cat who likes to follow me around my apartment. I go to a door he expects me to open and don't -- I just stare at him. He stares back at me and meows lots. Then I chase him around for a while and give him cuddles to make up for all the torment I just caused him.

    Total time wasted: 40 minutes.

    If I remain in my playful relaxed mood my productivity could be interrupted with play 5 to 8 times each time taking as long as I allow it to.

    It's not that I don't want to be playful. I think it makes me more interesting. It's an asset in creative tasks and allows me to be experimental when I'd otherwise be a very by-the-book kinda guy. What I'd like to do is store up my play for times when I'm bored and genuinely on top of things. Those times just don't seem to happen often enough. Being too playful in social situations often leads to me annoying people so I limit that but sometimes I can't help myself. I've really pissed people off before. And then I'm sad, it's like I can't be myself.

    I think there's a close relationship with being relaxed and being happy. Too much happiness and I start to muck around.

    This isn't really a GTD thing at all but you guys are smart and I don't know anywhere better to go. Any thoughts are much appreciated.
    I got a HUGE kick out of your post! I saw myself in many of your words--but I have TWO cats and they are just out of kittenhood--DOUBLE TROUBLE!

    In all seriousness, though, this is but another form of procrastination and I bet you already know that. If it doesn't MATTER that you waste time (your words, not mine) then have some fun and don't feel guilty! But sometimes, at least for me, it really DOES matter that I buckle down and get to work. When I'm feeling like you described--or find myself procrastinating for ANY reason--I look first to see why I don't find what I have to do compelling to me. If I can make it more compelling, I start with that. For instance, if I'm trying to clean the house and find myself chasing the kittens around instead, I'll put on my IPOD and dance my way through the housework. The trick is to START! That's true for any project. Another way I trick myself is to set a stopwatch for 20 minutes and force myself to work like a fiend. Then I take a 10 minute break and do whatever floats my boat at the moment. After the break, I force myself to do 20 minutes more of work, as fast as I can. Usually, after a couple of cycles of this, I'll either get engaged or decide (consciously) that I just am not in the right frame of mind to do whatever it is I'm trying to accomplish.

    If you really want to change, I have two books to suggest:

    The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield and
    Find Your Focus Zone by Lucy Jo Palladino

    Both books helped me a lot.

    With that, I think I'll wake up my kittens (kind of dumb--like waking a sleeping baby). I feel like PLAYING!!

    Comment


    • #3
      I don't think too much happiness is possible, actually.

      If things that are "fun" cause problems for you, you've got two choices. (1) Hang around with different people, or (2) find more acceptable fun things.

      I'm a little puzzled by the correlation you make between play and boredom, though. Not to be judgmental here, but if you regularly achieve a level of boredom where overstacking a trash bin seems like fun, there's a good chance that you need more challenges in your life.

      Which potentially provides a way out of the dilemma, as well. Sure, you can stack a trash bin (for instance), but can you juggle? Well enough to impress other jugglers? Find an interesting way to entertain yourself, find a group of people who also enjoy that thing, and you're all set.

      Katherine

      Comment


      • #4
        I got a HUGE kick out of your post! I saw myself in many of your words--but I have TWO cats and they are just out of kittenhood--DOUBLE TROUBLE!
        Aww I'm so pleased!

        I like a lot of your advice. I might give some of those things a go.

        Come to think of it, I find music useful. I like to listen to atmospheric drum and bass because the rhythms deceive me into thinking it is respective of my energetic mood but the harmonies calm me down within 10 minutes or so.

        But sometimes, at least for me, it really DOES matter that I buckle down and get to work.
        Emotionally it doesn't matter. No one is going to yell at me, nothing immediately bad is going to happen, but I am hampering myself from achieving my goals. Of course if I play for this one particular instance I'm not going to fail at life but the routine habit of playing around will have a significant effect. It's hard to listen to that kind of subtle logic.

        When I'm feeling like you described--or find myself procrastinating for ANY reason--I look first to see why I don't find what I have to do compelling to me. If I can make it more compelling, I start with that. For instance, if I'm trying to clean the house and find myself chasing the kittens around instead, I'll put on my IPOD and dance my way through the housework.
        That's a good idea but so many of the things I need to do involve just sitting at a computer and often a lot of concentration.

        The trick is to START! That's true for any project. Another way I trick myself is to set a stopwatch for 20 minutes and force myself to work like a fiend. Then I take a 10 minute break and do whatever floats my boat at the moment. After the break, I force myself to do 20 minutes more of work, as fast as I can. Usually, after a couple of cycles of this, I'll either get engaged or decide (consciously) that I just am not in the right frame of mind to do whatever it is I'm trying to accomplish.
        Awesome. I think I've actually done a similar (although not quite as good) thing before and found it to work. I'm going to try doing this. Thanks!

        I've put your book suggestions on a list.

        With that, I think I'll wake up my kittens (kind of dumb--like waking a sleeping baby). I feel like PLAYING!!
        Ah it is good to be human sometimes.

        I don't think too much happiness is possible, actually.
        Perhaps. Maybe happiness isn't the right word. It's like excitement. A feeling of wanting to commit mischief but there's nothing vindictive about it.

        If things that are "fun" cause problems for you, you've got two choices. (1) Hang around with different people, or (2) find more acceptable fun things.
        The thing is, I like a lot of the people who don't like my playful attitude. In fact when it's really bad I don't think anyone would appreciate it, it's just the wrong kind of mischief. I'm giggling to myself right now about how I really annoyed the crap outta someone by playing Rick Astley a couple of times. If I'd played it once more he probably would have unplugged the speakers and things go all sour. I put plastic dolls arms in the cupboards once and my roommate hated it. She was freaked out. No fun! I want to be considerate. When people get angry it's upsetting it makes me hate myself but I still need to express it.

        All my life I've always thought less of adults because they don't play. They're boring. As I've grown up I've softened it but it's still there and now I have to hang out with all these boring people all the time.

        I'm a little puzzled by the correlation you make between play and boredom, though. Not to be judgmental here, but if you regularly achieve a level of boredom where overstacking a trash bin seems like fun, there's a good chance that you need more challenges in your life.
        Do you think I'm living a easy life or something? I have a lot of problems. More than most I'd say. The difference is I don't let them get me down. Is it somehow socially unacceptable to be untroubled? I should point out that I'm not playful all the time. But when things are right it happens.

        Perhaps I could work with children.

        Which potentially provides a way out of the dilemma, as well. Sure, you can stack a trash bin (for instance), but can you juggle? Well enough to impress other jugglers? Find an interesting way to entertain yourself, find a group of people who also enjoy that thing, and you're all set.
        Juggling doesn't excite me at all. Find a group you say? Perhaps I should found a group instead: Success is being barred from establishments!

        Comment


        • #5
          Still laughing

          OK, the doll arms in a cabinet is a bit much. I once knew a woman who divorced her husband because he was constantly sneaking up on her and scaring her! Maybe they should have tried kittens, huh?

          Seriously again, though: If you find your friend's don't appreciate your genuine little self, find new friends. Life is too short to hang out with people that suck all the light out of your soul! It doesn't mean you have to stop liking them (nice if you can find something to like in everyone) but find at least some people you can relax around.

          I wore the kittens out playing. I did hide one little toy under the blanket, though. I can only hope they don't discover it at 4 a.m.! Something tells me I'll dream of juggling cats tonight (smile)

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by olliesaunders View Post
            All my life I've always thought less of adults because they don't play. They're boring. As I've grown up I've softened it but it's still there and now I have to hang out with all these boring people all the time.
            Why? If the people you know are boring, meet new people. If you think all adults are boring, you don't know enough adults.

            Do you think I'm living a easy life or something? I have a lot of problems. More than most I'd say. The difference is I don't let them get me down. Is it somehow socially unacceptable to be untroubled? I should point out that I'm not playful all the time. But when things are right it happens.
            I think you're reading something that I didn't actually say. I meant "challenges" in the personal growth sense, not the pain and suffering sense. You clearly have lots of mental and physical energy. That's great! But it sounds like you have more energy than you have useful outlets (by your definition of useful). So find other outlets.

            Katherine

            Comment


            • #7
              OK, the doll arms in a cabinet is a bit much. I once knew a woman who divorced her husband because he was constantly sneaking up on her and scaring her! Maybe they should have tried kittens, huh?
              Really? Is that true? Wow. That's funny. But no I can see how it drives people mad and then I don't do it to them again.

              Seriously again, though: If you find your friend's don't appreciate your genuine little self, find new friends. Life is too short to hang out with people that suck all the light out of your soul! It doesn't mean you have to stop liking them (nice if you can find something to like in everyone) but find at least some people you can relax around.
              Why? If the people you know are boring, meet new people. If you think all adults are boring, you don't know enough adults.
              I think you're reading something that I didn't actually say. I meant "challenges" in the personal growth sense, not the pain and suffering sense. You clearly have lots of mental and physical energy. That's great! But it sounds like you have more energy than you have useful outlets (by your definition of useful). So find other outlets.
              I have probably painted a worse picture of the situation than is actually the case. I don't always have the energy to be playful. I have some friends that are pretty good fun.

              But you guys are right, I know what I need to do more of now. For now I think I'll just tire myself out with push-ups or try that switching for 20 minutes idea until I have enough money to do cool things with people on a regular basis.

              Comment


              • #8
                Ollie

                Hey!

                I'm playful too! My girlfriend loves that about me! I put her white jogging tights on my head as a "hat" and she thought that was hilarious.

                Maybe you should work with children. I'm a elementary special education teacher. I mean...it is not all fun and games. Education is serious business, but there is a bit of time for being playful, and having a party. On another note, I'm thinking of helping the kids do a simplified version of GTD. Wow...that would be fun!!!

                Me...I've always struggled with organization. I never really knew what to do...especially with paper. And teachers deal with a lot of paperwork. I could never find anything and that caused a lot of stress and this was not fun, and I was definitely not playful. Until....GTD. I am actually staring at an in box with nothing in it!!! No papers laying around, no stacks of papers anywhere. GTD has definitely increased my level of playfulness. If I can find things, I'm more playful. If I'm more productive, there is more time for fun. GTD has set me free...truly. David, I thank you so much.

                Anyway, Ollie, rock on...with a Rebel Yell.

                John

                Comment


                • #9
                  Ollie

                  Hey!

                  I was rereading some of the other posts in this thread. And I have to agree with you....most adults don't know how to have fun anymore. Let's play tennis...I can't..my back hurts. Let's go camping...I don't want to get dirty. Let's play basketball....I don't want to get sweaty. Let's paint....I don't want to get messy.

                  Sometimes I think that when we grow up, we lose some of that sense of wonderment and fun that we had as a kid. What caused this? Responsibility. But I certainly believe that you can have both. I have not lost my sense of fun and passion....and a lot of adults don't understand me.

                  I have done these fun things that most adults would not care about:

                  1)When I was 17, I got really really good at the video game Asteroids. I found one in a 24 hour 7-11. I played for 26 hours straight. The Big Gulp Coke was my drink of choice. I had ships lined up across the entire screen. I took a bathroom break about every 3 hours which cost me about 10 ships per trip. I recalculated my score and it put my score at about number 5 in the world. The record holder played for 7 days straight.

                  2)I have won several tennis tournaments. I love, love, love tennis.

                  3)I have done several mountain bike races. Fun....but brutal.

                  4)I will take a 3 day weekend just because I felt like it.

                  5)I teach tennis to kids at school.

                  6)I started up with magic, and now show children magic at school.

                  7)I have ridden a bicycle 140 miles.

                  I ride the fastest production bicycle in the world. Check it out at http://lightningbikes.com/f40.htm

                  But...yes...there are times when I (yes, and you) have to buckle down and get work done. I get it done in the fastest way possible to get back to the fun. You might want to try reading The Four Hour Work Week. Tim sure knows how to have fun. I combine GTD with 4HWW to have a fun life.

                  Work hard and have fun Ollie.

                  John

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Maybe I just hang out with unusual people? I don't know for sure whether I know people who've done *everything* on your list, but I wouldn't be surprised if I do. I definitely know people who view sweating, getting dirty, and making messes as things to be sought out, not avoided.

                    Yeah, being an adult means you have to balance fun with responsibility. But if you manage that balance well, it also means you can afford *way* better toys.

                    Katherine

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I'm playful too! My girlfriend loves that about me! I put her white jogging tights on my head as a "hat" and she thought that was hilarious.
                      Wow, hang on to her -- metaphorically, as well as physically. If I did that most people I hang around would smile briefly and then, after a few seconds, the smile would drain from their face. Some people would ask why I was doing it and openly criticize it indicating I was embarrassing them.

                      Me...I've always struggled with organization. I never really knew what to do...especially with paper. And teachers deal with a lot of paperwork. I could never find anything and that caused a lot of stress and this was not fun, and I was definitely not playful. Until....GTD. I am actually staring at an in box with nothing in it!!! No papers laying around, no stacks of papers anywhere. GTD has definitely increased my level of playfulness. If I can find things, I'm more playful. If I'm more productive, there is more time for fun. GTD has set me free...truly. David, I thank you so much.
                      Yes absolutely. And I think GTD for, or with, children is something that should be explored. They stand to benefit the most and they'll learn it in a quarter of the time.

                      I have to agree with you....most adults don't know how to have fun anymore. [...] Sometimes I think that when we grow up, we lose some of that sense of wonderment and fun that we had as a kid. What caused this? Responsibility. But I certainly believe that you can have both. I have not lost my sense of fun and passion....and a lot of adults don't understand me.
                      Yes responsibility. Some people have so much responsibility they have to be on all the time. After a while they forget how to switch off and be themselves. Of course most people fill their time and their lives with things that prevent them from being themselves. What does the person who only cares about "socializing," "getting drunk," and "hangin' out wiv mi buddies," do for a job? If they have no real passions they can't do something that they care about for a living. They get used to compromising themselves.

                      When it comes to my present career (software) I'm a total zealot. In 95% of programming jobs on the market I'd either go mad from the self-compromise involved -- the idea of corporate employment alone fills me with dread -- or want to strip out the whole department and start it again doing it how I want; although I acknowledge that is, nearly always, a financially preposterous suggestion. But I retain this deep care for what I do. I'm sure this isn't specific to programming; anything else where the vast majority are poor practitioners I could feel this way about. If I were to compromise my belief I'd just get assimilated by the machine. I'd lose my identity, I'd lose my purpose, and there is no longer a point. Furthermore my uncompromising nature, my burning desire to do it right and my intolerance for "good enough" (when it comes to my career, I'm not unreasonable otherwise, at all) is precisely what makes me really good at what I do. Since meeting someone else here, in Toronto, who is a lot like me I've been able to finding increasing evidence for this fact and have learnt huge amounts more about what being really, really good looks like. I wanted to go into business with him but he's writing is own programming language. Damn It is going to be exceptional though.

                      1)When I was 17, I got really really good at the video game Asteroids. I found one in a 24 hour 7-11. I played for 26 hours straight. The Big Gulp Coke was my drink of choice. I had ships lined up across the entire screen. I took a bathroom break about every 3 hours which cost me about 10 ships per trip. I recalculated my score and it put my score at about number 5 in the world. The record holder played for 7 days straight.
                      That's crazy dude; I love it!

                      2)I have won several tennis tournaments. I love, love, love tennis.
                      3)I have done several mountain bike races. Fun....but brutal.
                      5)I teach tennis to kids at school.
                      I would love sport. That's a strange sentence, I know, but apt. I enjoy everything about it except the fact that I totally suck balls. I played volleyball for six months and didn't advance beyond what you'd expect from someone who'd only played for two weeks. After that time I told my trainer I was giving up and he just sort of nodded. He knew as well as me nothing was going to change. It was like that with piano and guitar too. I can't offer any real explanation but it's most likely something neurological; poor complex motor skills, I'm not good a very fast decision making either. It causes me other problems too I can't maintain one position for very long without experiencing painful aching. I really want to get to the bottom of that.

                      But...yes...there are times when I (yes, and you) have to buckle down and get work done. I get it done in the fastest way possible to get back to the fun. You might want to try reading The Four Hour Work Week. Tim sure knows how to have fun. I combine GTD with 4HWW to have a fun life.
                      That title has been mentioned to me before. I've got a "to read" list as long as my arm -- eh up, it's already on there.

                      Work hard and have fun Ollie. John
                      Thanks John. You too.

                      Yeah, being an adult means you have to balance fun with responsibility. But if you manage that balance well, it also means you can afford *way* better toys.
                      But isn't it ironic how more responsibility = more money, more money = more toys and less time, more responsibility = less desire and capability for play and happiness. To which I ask: Why are doing it? Why be a slave to the machine? If all you get is toys that you don't have time to appreciate. I think most people are trying to live up to the advertising and mass media messages telling them they should be all kinds of unachievable things. Get the product and you'll have the lifestyle or the body or the face or the boy-friend. Bah! I hate consumerism.

                      Ahhh, I needed to get that out.
                      Last edited by olliesaunders; 01-11-2009, 02:47 AM.

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