Forum

  • If you are new to these Forums, please take a moment to register using the fields above.
Announcement Announcement Module
Collapse
No announcement yet.
Overwhelmed by Context lists. Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse
X
Conversation Detail Module
Collapse
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Overwhelmed by Context lists.

    I'm struggling with my contexts. I look at a specific context list, say 'internet'...

    and I'm paralyzed with on which action to start. I suspect some of my actions are actually projects.

    Help? Advice?

  • #2
    Originally posted by filmgeek View Post
    I'm struggling with my contexts. I look at a specific context list, say 'internet'...

    and I'm paralyzed with on which action to start. I suspect some of my actions are actually projects.

    Help? Advice?
    Don't stop at context. Deciding what to do is dependent on 4 factors: (1) your context; (2) how much time you have; (3) how much energy have; and (4) the relative priority of the work. If you look at a context list and are overwhelmed by what to do next, consider "How much time do I have?", "How much energy do I have right now?" and "What can I do that will provide me the biggest payoff?"

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by filmgeek View Post
      I'm paralyzed with on which action to start. I suspect some of my actions are actually projects.

      Help? Advice?
      Do a much more in-depth weekly review?

      Say each next action on your lists out loud and envision yourself actually doing it. If you can't see yourself completing it ask why not, what's missing, what else do I need or what is this a part of.

      I weeded out many projects off of next action lists that way.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by filmgeek View Post
        I suspect some of my actions are actually projects.

        Help? Advice?
        Basic definition:
        • a project is something require more than one action
        • a project is something to be realized in one year
        • Read again GTD book help to redirect in the right way
        • we are happy to have a new friend @GTD
        • Could we say the world will be less stressed?

        Comment


        • #5
          When writing actions for projects (or single actions even) ask yourself:

          If there was nothing else in the world I could work on but this project, what would I do first?


          here's something I have posted on a digital stickie, think from David Allen:

          A tip when next actions seem stuck in the mud is to ask yourself,

          "Do I have ALL of the information I need to take this action?"


          If not, what you think you've defined as the next action is not it. Back yourself up until you get to the very next microscopic step.

          If you can't make a phone call until you get the phone number, get the phone number is the next action, not make the call.

          It's amazing how this simple question can unstick stuff. Lots of people think they are procrastinating because they see stuff on their lists that doesn't make progress. But often, it's because what's on the next action list isn't the next action at all.

          end quote

          Comment


          • #6
            Just take a look at the list for any actions which will cause explosions if left incomplete right now. If there are none, then just pick what you feel like and complete them.

            To tune "what you feel like", you need a regular weekly review, and clarity of your vision for next one or two years, five years, and your life (also called horizons of focus or altitudes in the GTD book). Make forming your vision at various altitudes into projects and have corresponding actions in your action lists as well.

            Regards,
            Abhay

            Comment


            • #7
              My definition of an action is something that I can "just do". I don't need to research it, I don't need to think about it, I don't need to figure out how to do it, I just know how to do it.

              If I _do_ need to research it, then the next action is "research". If I need to think about it, then the next action is "think". I back up until I reach an action that I really can "just do". If I can't figure out a next action immediately, then the next action may _be_ "figure out next action".

              So for example, let's say that my next action for "Jane's birthday party" is originally phrased as "Make cake."

              I can't just up and make a cake. I don't know what cake I'm going to make. I don't know what ingredients I need. I don't know much about making cakes. So I need to divide the project up into tasks that I can "just do". Some of those actions might be:

              - Spend twenty minutes going through cookbooks to select recipe for Jane's cake.
              - Make final choice of recipe for Jane's cake.
              - Inventory kitchen to confirm that I have necessary equipment for baking Jane's cake.
              - Make list of ingredients for Jane's cake.
              - Purchase ingredients for Jane's cake.
              - Call Frieda to borrow cake stand.
              - Pick up cake stand from Frieda.
              - Call Charlotte for cake frosting tips.

              And so on. The less I know about doing the original action, the more actions it's likely to end up being broken into.

              Now, if I _can_ "just do" a relatively complex task, because I have the practice and expertise, then I may need fewer actions. If I have a well-stocked kitchen and I'm confident that I have all ingredients and equipment and I can make that cake in my sleep, then the action may truly be "Make cake." But usually, at least for me, actions are much smaller than this.

              Gardener

              Comment


              • #8
                Lots of great feedback. My replies inline. I've tried to be honest (and critical) of myself in the feedback.

                I find myself suffering the great sin: Procrastinating, and I'm not sure how to get myself out of that quagmire.

                Originally posted by Jon Walthour View Post
                If you look at a context list and are overwhelmed by what to do next, consider "How much time do I have?", "How much energy do I have right now?" and "What can I do that will provide me the biggest payoff?"
                I'm not paralyzed by the lack of insight of reward/return - I literally look at the list and say "whoa." Even with an estimation of how long it will take - I seem to see too many things with 'URGENCY' which is very much why I feel paralyzed. I have tried to define outcomes for my individual projects.

                Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
                Do a much more in-depth weekly review?
                My current in-depth review is >2 hours to look at (and add where necessary) next actions.

                Originally posted by clango View Post
                Basic definition:
                • a project is something require more than one action
                • a project is something to be realized in one year
                • Read again GTD book help to redirect in the right way
                • we are happy to have a new friend @GTD
                • Could we say the world will be less stressed?
                I try to keep actions to "-ING" verbs - things without them, I go back and examine. I'm pretty clear about the difference between the two - it's just that a level of fatigue approaches during my weekly review that...towards the end of the list, I'm sure I'm less thorough on.

                And thanks for the last two items of positive feedback.

                Originally posted by darlakbrown View Post
                When writing actions for projects (or single actions even) ask yourself:

                If there was nothing else in the world I could work on but this project, what would I do first?
                ....(snip)
                A tip when next actions seem stuck in the mud is to ask yourself,

                "Do I have ALL of the information I need to take this action?"
                ....(snip)
                If not, what you think you've defined as the next action is not it. Back yourself up until you get to the very next microscopic step.
                end quote
                I'll take another look. Good thoughts here.

                Originally posted by abhay View Post
                Just take a look at the list for any actions which will cause explosions if left incomplete right now. If there are none, then just pick what you feel like and complete them.

                To tune "what you feel like", you need a regular weekly review, and clarity of your vision for next one or two years, five years, and your life (also called horizons of focus or altitudes in the GTD book). Make forming your vision at various altitudes into projects and have corresponding actions in your action lists as well.

                Regards,
                Abhay
                That last part - I'm not sure how to realistically have a vision of the next one or two, much less five years. I'm not sure that sitting along in an office provides that level of clarification for me.

                Flat out, I just don't think I'm wise enough to see that far down the pike. I'd talk to a 'life coach,' but I'm not sure they have their act together either. This would be something I'd go to my father and talk to - except he's been ill (Alzheimers.) I don't know if I have someone in my life to provide this sort of insight.

                Originally posted by Gardener View Post
                My definition of an action is something that I can "just do". I don't need to research it, I don't need to think about it, I don't need to figure out how to do it, I just know how to do it.

                If I _do_ need to research it, then the next action is "research". If I need to think about it, then the next action is "think".

                .......

                Now, if I _can_ "just do" a relatively complex task, because I have the practice and expertise, then I may need fewer actions. If I have a well-stocked kitchen and I'm confident that I have all ingredients and equipment and I can make that cake in my sleep, then the action may truly be "Make cake." But usually, at least for me, actions are much smaller than this.

                Gardener
                I heard David answer the following question "How defined should my next action list be?"

                His answer was great - it was "As far as necessary for it to be off your mind."

                I'm trying to hit that ideal.

                I see several (personal) areas I'm struggling in:

                One - energy. At the end of a day (which is a single action - educating around technology), I find myself lacking in energy to face the 'big items.' I'm trying to attack on my list.

                This may be because:
                a) My 1+ year outcomes aren't well defined.
                b) I don't always have the outcome per project defined
                c) I may not have items broken down far enough.

                I'm already doing a 2+ hour review (software based - Omnifocus, btw, which is great.)

                And Two - the great sin of procrastination.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by filmgeek View Post
                  the great sin of procrastination.
                  ...the great challenge!
                  • What do you mean about procastination?
                  • Is there something invite you to procastinate?
                  • In other word, can you tell us something more about?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Lacking energy at the end of the day is a pretty common problem. And if you're tired, failure to do stuff doesn't really count as procrastination.

                    Can you change your schedule to give yourself "big picture" time earlier in the day? Alternatively, can you tackle some of this stuff during off hours? And are you getting enough rest so that you're *only* tired at the end of the day? If you're fried by lunch time on a regular basis, there's a problem.

                    If your outcomes and actions aren't clearly defined, but you're already doing a 2+ hour Weekly Review, you might want to take a look at your review process. For instance, if you have huge piles of notes to process during your review, maybe the answer is to find more processing time during the week. Like maybe in the afternoons when you're too tired to do anything more demanding?

                    Katherine

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by filmgeek View Post
                      That last part - I'm not sure how to realistically have a vision of the next one or two, much less five years. I'm not sure that sitting along in an office provides that level of clarification for me.

                      Flat out, I just don't think I'm wise enough to see that far down the pike. I'd talk to a 'life coach,' but I'm not sure they have their act together either. This would be something I'd go to my father and talk to - [...]
                      Talking to somebody will always help, but finally it is you who decides where to take your life. One of the (many!) reasons of procrastination is unclear direction. If you don't know where you are headed, you won't find meaning in completing the actions on your list. Unless you (eventually) answer the question of purpose of your life (which you decide yourself), all you will do is unwillingly, passively and inefficiently react to the input in your life. And to carve the purpose of your life on your mind, you need the associated vision (call it daydreaming if you like) of how it will be when you would feel you have been fulfilling the purpose all along. Two years, five years, twenty years from now.

                      You don't need to be wise to envision. In fact you need to be otherwise!
                      Using the phrase in the book, envision wild success in your life. Experience it emotionally as if you are watching a movie. It creates an emotional attachment to your purpose.

                      If you can't do it in your office, great. Go take a walk in nature. Use a weekend for this purpose. Make sure to carry a small notebook and pen. It helps thinking.

                      Then the problem of big lists just requires focused completion and directed renegotiation.

                      Regards,
                      Abhay

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Next Action = something that you can "just do".

                        Originally posted by Gardener View Post
                        My definition of an action is something that I can "just do". I don't need to research it, I don't need to think about it, I don't need to figure out how to do it, I just know how to do it.
                        Next Action = something that you can "just do".

                        It is the best definition that I've ever heard! (Sorry, David).

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          For me, you don't procastinate!

                          I find myself suffering the great sin: Procrastinating, and I'm not sure how to get myself out of that quagmire.
                          ....for me you are not procastinating....

                          I think you are looking for what you would like to realize, in other words, your own way.....

                          Listen to your heart! To your emotion!

                          Sincerely

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            @filmgeek
                            You seem a little depressed about something. Do you like what you're doing? Do you like the actions on your list? Are you working on a project right now that you HAVE to work on? Rather than on projects you are inspired about? We all have projects like that and it makes it really easy to procrastinate.

                            Also, yes it's good to have a life vision and know where you're going, but it's also okay not to know that. If you feel overwhelmed by your list, become present with yourself-take note of your senses, of your breath. You don't need to have all the answers right now. Enjoy the action & tell yourself nothing else matters but the present moment. That helps me.

                            Also, feel free to renegotiate commitments with yourself... If your list is full of SHOULDS that you obligated yourself to mentally, then take another look at it and put in some fun stuff -- hobby, selfcare, health, love, life, museums, painting, writing, dancing... etc. Make it more fun... balance it with things you'll enjoy doing.-- whatever that may be for you.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Break things into smaller actions.

                              Meaning? Turn an action into a two part action and just do the first part.

                              An example for me is the project of getting my prescriptions renewed. I have new insurance and I'm a travel RN. It's overwhelming to think of looking up Humana's info, finding a doc, calling docs to see if they're okay renewing my scripts and for how many refills(?), etc. (New insurance plan, new city, new Docs).

                              So, I break it into the actions: Go to Humana Website and cut/paste website into notes for next action. The next action is: search website to see if I can scan local Drs. Pick three, list names and numbers in notes of next action which is: Call the three Drs. and get info about whether they'll write my scripts.

                              This could be one action: "Go to Humana website for DR numbers and call MDs." I turned it into at least three.

                              You can stretch any action like this - the thing is, I can easily see going to the Humana website if I'm not worried about the mess that is the website and how to find Drs. All I have to do is copy/paste the link.

                              For my ADHD brain, just INCHING these tedius projects along makes sure they at least get DONE in a reasonable amount of time...and I stop WORRYING about the projects.

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X