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  • My system crashes when I get home

    Hi everybody! I've been doing GTD for almost two years now and I love it. BUT it starts to fall apart as soon as I get home.

    I'm at work, I have some daily checklists, I have my next-actions, I have my waiting-for lists - they work very well! I have these for my home life too.

    But when I get home, I grab the mail, feed the dogs, make dinner, do whatever housework needs to get done, and fall into bed. Several days of the week I'm gone from 7:30 to 8:30 pm because I practice martial arts after work.

    So I don't have the same stringent check-my-list mentality that I do at work.

    Is this because I'm too tired when I get home? Because the immediate demands of family and housework supersede the long-term? Because my planner sits in my briefcase until I think of a reason to need it, whereas it sits right on my desk at work? Because I feel like "I'm at home now - I don't feel like addressing this extra work!" Might be all of them.

    I am actually pretty up-to-date on my next-actions and waiting-for lists - but I usually do these actions when I think of them, and check them off when I happen to look at them at work, and as we all know that can be a dangerous game.

    Needless to say I am not very good about keeping a recording system with me when I'm at home and writing things down.

    I would love to have the same discipline at home that I do at work - following through with my contexts, recording open loops as they pop up, etc. Does anyone else have this down, and have any tips for going the extra step and implementing GTD at home?
    Last edited by cojo; 03-17-2009, 11:50 AM.

  • #2
    None of what you've written sounds out of the ordinary. After a long day's work, you have a regular set of demands on your time and not a lot of discretionary time in the evenings. Furthermore, your energy levels are probably diminished. That's pretty common for most people.

    I know I don't get as much done at home as I do during the workday; it's the area where I'm weakest in terms of execution. I'm usually tired or don't have large enough blocks of time to do some of the work that sits on my @Home list for months. There's a lot of work that's new or uncomfortable to me and I tend to push it aside in favor of what I know I can do. But I know EXACTLY what I'm NOT doing, and that's key.

    "You can only feel good about what you're not doing when you know what you're not doing." -D.A.

    Originally posted by cojo View Post
    Needless to say I am not very good about keeping a recording system with me when I'm at home and writing things down.
    Aha! That's a major source of trouble right there.

    Always have a capture tool at hand or nearby. If you're filing things in your head at home, you're not going to fully trust your system, so your mind won't let go of the incompletes in your life. That's probably the reason for the next point:

    Originally posted by cojo View Post
    I am actually pretty up-to-date on my next-actions and waiting-for lists - but I usually do these actions when I think of them, and check them off when I happen to look at them at work, and as we all know that can be a dangerous game.
    Yes, a very dangerous game indeed. If you're not writing things down at home, are you ABSOLUTELY SURE your lists are up to date? Probably not.

    It sounds to me like you're still using your mind (at least partly) to think OF things instead of ABOUT them. You should be letting your system do the remembering part for you. But the reason why you're doing this is likely a symptom of poor collecting at home.

    I suggest you make sure you collect, process, and organize "stuff" at home with the same rigor you do everywhere else. Don't try to remember what's on your lists, either. Train your mind to trust what's on there. See if that makes a difference.

    Good luck!

    - Luke

    Comment


    • #3
      Me too!

      Same here. The routine after I reach home is so consuming, although I wouldn't call it tiring, that I rarely get a chance to look at the home list. But I do have a routine at the office to look at all the non-office actions as well during processing, and I know exactly what I am not doing.

      Most of the time the rare chances that I get to look at home list when at home are sufficient. If something is important, I schedule it at a time when I know I would be at home, and set a cellphone alarm. If it is really important and cannot find time during the home routine, I may consider scheduling it during daytime, go home early or reach office late (our office timings are flexible). But this is very rare.

      I have made sure that I have my capture process up all the time, though. So no leaks; only less speed.

      Regards,
      Abhay

      Comment


      • #4
        I certainly agree with others that this is perfectly normal.

        I have had to play around with my home system quite a lot. One thing that's working for me now: I keep my @Home NAs, Waiting Fors, and Projects on a clipboard. This is highly visible and an unusual item to have around the house, so my eyes are naturally drawn to it.

        You can also try putting up your NAs on a whiteboard, making them more visible.

        You may need to schedule time to work on NAs.

        Comment


        • #5
          Second Wind

          Originally posted by cojo View Post
          But when I get home, I grab the mail, feed the dogs, make dinner, do whatever housework needs to get done, and fall into bed. Several days of the week I'm gone from 7:30 to 8:30 pm because I practice martial arts after work.

          So I don't have the same stringent check-my-list mentality that I do at work.

          Is this because I'm too tired when I get home?
          Have you by any chance heard of the "Second Wind?"

          I wish I could remember exactly where I heard this concept. I'd love to say it was in one of James Loehr's books on performance or another called _Catch Fire_.

          The idea is this. All throughout the day we have different energy levels, transitioning between peaks and valleys. It's worth noting where you feel your best and slowest over 1 to 2 weeks daily. You'll see a pattern emerge.

          Have you ever noticed on some nights you have this unexplained burst of energy? This is what they (whoever I got this from) call the Second Wind.

          I've noticed my energy is very high after getting up and showering (8AM - 12PM), goes low around and after lunch (12PM - 2PM), rekindles late afternoon (3PM - 5PM) and then totally conks out (5PM - 7PM.) Everything gets so slow.

          Then miraculously when I've thought I'm totally useless, I get this real surge of energy from about 7:30PM to 10:00PM -- like right now! (Of course people love when I say, "Let's have a meeting at 8:00PM!")

          So I've really learned to enjoy, expect and use my Second Wind. Part of the GTD book talks about handling tasks based on time required, energy required or both. I've found it useful to do those tasks that require Short Time / High Energy in the Second Wind. Since I'm usually home then, I deliberately do Next Actions that have that kind of mix. I also group these NA's into my At Home context folder during Weekly Reviews. (NA's requiring Long Time / High Energy are for weekends.)

          To avoid getting too relaxed at home (which is so easy), I typically do these things:
          1. Watch what I eat for dinner. Grilled/Baked fish and certain complex carbs keep me alert (e.g., brown rice.) Chicken with its tryptophan knocks me out. So does wine. So on nights I really want to do things, food intake is important.

          2. I don't fully engage every night in the Second Wind. It's important to take some nights "off" to appreciate the contrast. It helps with relationships and some of the 40,000/50,000 ft. stuff too.

          3. If I take an evening nap, I put on an alarm clock. I hate thinking I'll just lie down a minute then waking up at 2AM seeing I missed that special time.

          4. Have rooms I'm working in well lit. Start turning lights off as it gets closer to bedtime.

          So keep track of your daily energy patterns. I bet you'll find you do have those later spurts. (HINT: Where do you get the notion to do martial arts 7:30 to 8:30 some enchanted evenings?)

          And use Billy Joel's reminder: "Don't forget your Second Wind!"

          Good luck!
          Last edited by QuestorTheElf; 03-18-2009, 08:30 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Thanks! All these suggestions are definitely helpful. Especially the "Second wind" one. I have to figure out when this is.

            I do not think it is just as I get home, because my husband always tells me to make him dinner right when I get home, before I even take off my coat, and I'm not lazy but it's the last thing I feel like doing, especially when he wants me to make him a sandwich for WHILE he's waiting for dinner - and especially when he's spent the rest of the day at home! All I feel like doing is sitting down right when I get home from work or karate but I'll have to find a way to make that happen.

            The last couple of weeks I started making food in advance and just reheating it after work. Maybe it's time to go back to that. So right after I get home is probably not my high-energy period. I'll start tracking this and figure it out.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by cojo View Post
              I do not think it is just as I get home, because my husband always tells me to make him dinner right when I get home, before I even take off my coat, and I'm not lazy but it's the last thing I feel like doing, especially when he wants me to make him a sandwich for WHILE he's waiting for dinner - and especially when he's spent the rest of the day at home! All I feel like doing is sitting down right when I get home from work or karate but I'll have to find a way to make that happen.
              I'd tell him to make his own @#$% sandwich. That's not an energy issue, that's a problem of unrealistic expectations.

              My husband likes to attack home projects, whether dinner or something else, as soon as he walks in the door, before he loses momentum. I would rather take a break and change gears. To each their own.

              Katherine

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by kewms View Post
                I'd tell him to make his own @#$% sandwich.

                Methinks that's the box on the flowchart labeled "Delegate It!"

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by QuestorTheElf View Post
                  Methinks that's the box on the flowchart labeled "Delegate It!"
                  LOLz! Love my hubby but he eats a LOT of food.

                  OK in the real world here is what I'm doing.

                  1. I created an energy maximization plan. This includes a lot of stuff I'm aiming to do anyway, but it includes:
                  • Make sure to take vitamins and calcium in the morning
                  • Limit coffee to two cups per day (caffeine causes crashes) and drink lots of water
                  • Limit added sugars and starches
                  • Eat light lunches with low levels of complex carbs
                  • Get some exercise each and every night (after exercise, I'm usually energetic to get things done)
                  • Listen to my body - do things when I have enough energy reserve to want to do them.
                  • Take a shower or bath only when I'm done for the night, or 1st thing in the morning
                  • No naps!
                  • Kick the dogs off the bed so I can get decent sleep
                  • Make sure my bed linens are clean and neatly made, every night (I don't sleep well on crumpled blankets)
                  • Turn down the temperature at night and make sure curtains are closed
                  • Stretch when I hit a low energy point
                  • Monitor energy levels and what causes them, whether it is food, schedule, mental status, etc.

                  2. I am FORGIVING MYSELF for not having time on weekdays to do heavy cleaning. This means I'm moving all my heavy cleaning duties to Saturday and Sunday. (Previously, I wanted to do a fraction of the heavy cleaning work every weekday - but clearly that is not working out.)

                  On weekdays, my only expectation is now that the dishes get done, laundry caught up, bed made, clutter put away, paperwork dealt with, and no obvious spills.

                  3. Remove the obligation to make dinner from scratch each night by creating multiple frozen meals on Saturday, and planning ahead. Hubby can make his own sandwich. I actually have started to alleviate this already by creating a "healthy snack box" that is accessible to him.

                  OK so we'll give this a try and see how it works.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by cojo View Post
                    I do not think it is just as I get home, because my husband always tells me to make him dinner right when I get home, before I even take off my coat, and I'm not lazy but it's the last thing I feel like doing, especially when he wants me to make him a sandwich for WHILE he's waiting for dinner - and especially when he's spent the rest of the day at home!
                    Oh, please, is it 1958? I've cooked all the dinners for my wife and (now-grown) kids for over twenty years, and I do all the grocery shopping too. Occasionally we go out when I'm frazzled, but I've also learned a keen appreciation for leftovers. Maybe it's time for one of those 50,000 foot discussions with your spouse. Or with a counselor.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Take it easy....

                      My 2 cents on the issue is that your system is supposed to relieve pressure, not create it.

                      Part of me thinks that your problem might be that you dont have your lists out when you are at home. In my experience, when I used a binder system for GTD, I would rarely take it out at home. Now that my lists are digital, I can very easily glance through them. I think you at least need to glance to make sure that you couldnt knock off something really quick.

                      BUT... and its a big BUT, if you glance through the list and dont feel like doing anything, I think you should be ok with that. For example last night instead of putting my bike back together or repotting a plant (real items!) I had a beer and watched Lost. I dont feel the least bit sorry either!

                      My energy also goes at night too. Try a low energy trigger list....

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by kewms View Post
                        I'd tell him to make his own @#$% sandwich. That's not an energy issue, that's a problem of unrealistic expectations.
                        I'd have to second this suggestion.

                        Some nights my wife cooks (because she likes it).

                        Some nights I cook (i.e. takeout).

                        This works for us

                        - Don

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          are you me or am I you?

                          haha, when I read this I had to do a double take to see if i was the on who posted it. I have the same problem! and by the same I mean the exact same.

                          I am a productivity machine at work but can't seem to get it going at home, I do what needs to be done when I get home but I don't step into my system even though it is completely made and regularly reviewed. I even have the same issue where I have martial arts twice a week!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by cojo View Post
                            I do not think it is just as I get home, because my husband always tells me to make him dinner right when I get home, before I even take off my coat,
                            You know, in my not so humble opinion your husband should change his behaviour. I am not sure if it should be your job to make him dinner, maybe it is. But I am 100% sure, that he should improve his "ceremony" how he recieves you (specially after you worked the whole day). Maybe your husband can learn to help you out of your coat, for starters. "Make me a sandwhich" is not a proper way to greet one's lady.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              the dinner stress issue is core

                              Just as there are key events that get us going into productive sequences of action, there are key events that undo this.

                              Lest this became a "Can this marriage be saved" article (a title of a regular feature that appeared in a Womens' magazine from the days when people did try to save marriages), I think we can put this in the generic context of having an annoying and derailing demand but one that we can predict--so for your sanity, turn it into a "recurring" event. In the world of business or even construction or teaching, certain clients or colleagues or students will reliably do things that are side-tracking to your main task. So you have to super simplify the process of getting your main task going and have an "at the ready" method for dealing with the sidetracking demand. These people do not change; they are lovable and usually otherise moral and nice people, who are "fixated" in some stage of childhood or adolesense in which they simply feel that their needs trump all in certain situations.

                              Since my partner must be your partner's identical twin I will tell you how I have "de-victimized" myself from this intrusive and demanding behavior. Mine is possibly worse because the time the partner arrives home in the "feed me now" state is anywhere between 5pm and 10pm, even when the time has been "announced" earlier in the day.

                              So this is what I do--I try to have a soup or stew in the crock pot, or a casserole that can be reheated in the micro, and failing that, I have plate of cheese and crackers and fruit at the ready, or some other "appetizer". This is totally against my Euro upbringing that would call this dessert, but it works. I can do what I need to do for the next 15 minutes because the monster has been feed for the time being. Keep in mind that these people do not respond well to low blood sugar, and unlike the rest of us, they would never keep a granola bar in the pocket to take the edge off on the way home. At least they are not stopping at Haggerty's for a pint or two or three. In the summer I have a heft salad in it at the ready.

                              When I can do it, I work on a little behavior modification. Not perfect but I do get a few days of better behavior. Any psychologists able to weigh in on this?
                              If I am relaxing for the evening, like on a Friday, I will anounce the time my "cocktail hour" will begin and then wait 20 minutes and no longer for partner to share it with me.

                              If partner is home, like on a Sunday, I will purposely talk about and make a dinner that has a last minute aspect (and of course tastes better), such as shrimp scampi (by the way make it with shallots and butter and serve with mayo infused with garlic and red pepper) or veal scalopini or even just sausage and peppers that have not been "stewing" for hours.

                              Now, if I could fidure out a way to keep the dining talbe cleared off.

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