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  • Too long a s/m list

    Hi All,

    I am trying to implement GTD for a long time, and am using Palm and Palm desktop to keep all my projects/Actions.

    Along the years many projects I might do someday accumulated in my s/m
    list and it is pretty frustrating and useless to go through all of them every week. (I am talking about many houndreds of them!)

    Many of them I would have approached immediatly if only I had the time, so just deleting them makes no sense, but I must admit that I don't see myself getting to most of them in the next few months.

    Could you suggest the right thing to do about this?

    Mic

  • #2
    I don't know if this is Bad GTD, but I would add another layer of someday. I'd have a group of projects that you really do hope to get to in the next month or so ("Someday Soon"), and a group of projects that are likely to take longer to get to ("Someday Someday").

    Then I'd review Someday Soon weekly and Someday Someday monthly, or even quarterly. Part of the review would be deciding whether to move the projects between groups.

    If a month or quarter's delay in reviewing a Someday Someday project might come up and bite you - for example, if doing your taxes is in there, and you don't want to see them until January but you really want to see them then - then you could add a tickler for the project to your tickler system, rather than reviewing the whole thing every week.

    Gardener

    Comment


    • #3
      Mic, what exactly is the nature of your frustration?

      Comment


      • #4
        long s/m

        Well, If s/m is very long, it takes a long time to go over it, and it made the WR enlengthen so much, which threatens the whole process.

        And besides the time it takes, it takes a lot of energy to be concentrated enough to go through hundreds of items deciding what to do (or not to do)
        about each of them. If I could just look at part of them and put the rest to rest for a while (like Gardener suggested), that would ease it for me.

        After reading Gardener suggestion I thought I might devide s/m to three:
        1. Items to consider next WR if I want them back to my active project list.
        2. Items to consider in the first WR next month.
        3. Items that can wait safely till the begining of next quorter.

        with palm desktop you could give priorty to each item (1-5), I can use that, even though I don't realy mean 'priority', to make the division without having to copy all the items I have already anywhere else, and during the WR I'll just read the s/m list till the point I need to. group 1 - every week, and I stop. group 2 - only if it is the first WR during the month, group 3 - at the begining of the new quarter (maybe I'll add a reminder to my tickler for that).

        The problem I see here is, for each item I do read, I will have to reconsider changing the layer it belongs to. But if that will save me so much time, I think it deserves the effort.

        What do you say?

        Mic

        Comment


        • #5
          Check the Tools & Higher Levels

          Originally posted by Mic View Post
          I am trying to implement GTD for a long time, and am using Palm and Palm desktop to keep all my projects/Actions.

          Along the years many projects I might do someday accumulated in my s/m
          list and it is pretty frustrating and useless to go through all of them every week. (I am talking about many houndreds of them!)
          2 initial thoughts.

          1) Perhaps Palm isn't the right tool for you?
          When I was trying to use the Palm stuff to manage my hundreds of projects it was completely frustrating too. Things were hard to deal with on the Palm, slow on the desktop and I never felt good about what was not being worked on i.e. in S/M and what was active. I was frustrated not only by how much was not active but also because I missed opportunities to move inactive projects active and forward because they got lost.

          I switched to LifeBalance and that was better but then I still had many frustrations trying to manage a weekly review of the inactive projects.

          Current implementation is Omnifocus and it's handling my hundreds of someday maybe things in a much nicer way. I can mark whole projects as waiting, see them only when I need to and even set how often I need to review any particular project. When I do a weekly review I set the system to review and all the projects that need to be reviewed get looked at. It's been particularly helpful for my many projects that can only potentially become active in a particular season.

          So first idea is look at the tool and if it's not working define what part is not working and look for a tool that is better for you and how you think that fixes the problems you identified but doesn't create more problems.

          2) If OTOH you are frustrated because you think that you'll never get to do these and that's bugging you because they are really important to you then you might want to revisit higher levels. You are clearly busy doing something, if what you are working on and your projects are not moving you towards where you want to be long term or support your personal purpose seeing the inactive projects you really want to be doing staying inactive for months at a time can be very discouraging. If that is the case some time reflecting on the higher levels and your purpose may allow you to move the current stuff to inactive and activate the projects that really matter to you. If there is any way to take an afternoon away from all your day to day stuff and just think, dream, doodle, read your lists slowly and carefully (out loud helps me as I gloss over things I read if I've seen them many times before) and re think your whole set of projects and goals and that might help.

          One thing I really liked about LifeBalance that is missing from OmniFocus is the immediate feedback about how what you are doing relates to your higher levels. But the shortcomings were not enough to keep me on that product. I used what I learned in LifeBalance to set up my OmniFocus system though and that's keeping me pretty much on track with who I am and why I am here, the really high level stuff that I care about.

          Comment


          • #6
            I have a few responses.

            The first is that it sounds to me that you have a time problem: "If s/m is very long, it takes a long time to go over it." If you're listing every project and NA, and you have a lot of them, reviewing all of them is going to take a lot of time. Certainly, reducing the number of items you're reviewing addresses that problem. But making more time for the work of reviewing also addresses the problem. Going back to the purpose of the review may be a helpful way of choosing between these two options.

            One of the points DA emphasizes is the importance of getting stuff off your mind as a way of freeing attention to do your work. If your frustration is merely that you have a lot of items and it takes a long time to review them, but you don't feel any pressure to do any of the tasks or projects themselves, then I like the idea of reviewing them less often, or moving them onto lists that you review less frequently. But if your frustration is that you have a lot of work to do and not enough time to do the work, then it may be time to start a new project called: Make More Time for Projects that Are Nagging Me.

            I think there's a danger to moving things around from list to list as a way of managing feelings about the items on the lists.

            In this respect, I relate to the concern that a WR that is very disruptive -- either in terms of taking too long or causing too much frustration or calling up too many unpleasant feelings -- "threatens the whole process." But all that's saying is that the review is turning up a problem that isn't getting addressed and may not have anything to do with the review itself. That problem may be, "I don't have enough time." It may be, "I can't sustain my concentration for this long." It may be, "There's no room in my life for ever doing the things on my S/M list." It may also be, as your original post suggests, that when you don't act on a project quickly it never gets done, in which case the problem involves removing obstacles to acting on projects quickly. But none of these have to do with the review itself. If these are the issues, then the review is doing its job.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
              1) Perhaps Palm isn't the right tool for you?
              It might well be that there are better tools then Palm-Desktop for managing the GTD way, but I found that having the PDA on me all the time, in sync with my system, leverages my productivity so much that it's worth it.

              And regarding the higher levels, I need to get to them better, but I do think that what's active in my system and what's not does reflect the higher levels.

              Mic

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Dan Owen View Post
                If your frustration is merely that you have a lot of items and it takes a long time to review them, but you don't feel any pressure to do any of the tasks or projects themselves, then I like the idea of reviewing them less often, or moving them onto lists that you review less frequently..
                Dan,

                First of all, I enjoyed reading your educated post with all the possible reasons for my frustration.

                But yes, only the time issue plays a role here.

                Yesterday I have printed a first batch of 160 s/m's, and went through them to define which I feel commitment to do somthing about this week, the next few weeks, the next few months, or only someday someday, and I felt very relieved by merely defining that. I can hope that when I finish processing all of it, my s/m list is going to stop being the monster I felt it was. my WR will be much more reasonable in this regard, and when the time comes to read the slower lists - I'll do that - with no fear in the meanwhile.

                Mic

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Mic View Post
                  It might well be that there are better tools then Palm-Desktop for managing the GTD way, but I found that having the PDA on me all the time, in sync with my system, leverages my productivity so much that it's worth it.
                  You don't have to keep your Someday/Maybe list with you all the time, though. You can record a new Someday/Maybe in your ubiquitous capture tool, then transfer it to your Someday/Maybe list at a more convenient time. Right?

                  Just a suggestion.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I have my S/M list separated into 3 categlores:

                    S/M Me
                    S/M Work 1
                    S/M Work 2 (separate job)

                    I have 167 items on my lists and keep them as low as this by reviewing them each week, being ruthless about removing any and all that I have changed my thinking on or now realize that they are not worth managing any longer.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Brent View Post
                      You don't have to keep your Someday/Maybe list with you all the time, though. You can record a new Someday/Maybe in your ubiquitous capture tool, then transfer it to your Someday/Maybe list at a more convenient time. Right?

                      Just a suggestion.
                      I did not mean that I need my palm on me for having the s/m list with me. I ment I'm not going to change my system to another tool because I want my PDA with me and in sync with my system. I don't know LifeBalance or Omnifocus, can they syncronize with a Palm Treo?

                      Mic
                      Last edited by Mic; 04-22-2009, 10:30 AM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by GTDWorks View Post
                        I have my S/M list separated into 3 categlores:

                        S/M Me
                        S/M Work 1
                        S/M Work 2 (separate job)

                        I have 167 items on my lists and keep them as low as this by reviewing them each week, being ruthless about removing any and all that I have changed my thinking on or now realize that they are not worth managing any longer.
                        I hope to get to your level one day, but right now:

                        1. My very long s/m list is a fact I have to cope with right now, and am looking for the right way to do that. I feel encouraged though to find that people do manage to get their lists shorter, and hope to be there someday.

                        2. As I mentioned in my first post, so many of these s/m projects are things I would have started doing today if I had the time, and still hope to get to SOMEDAY, kicking them up -> to the project-list, and not down -> to trash.

                        Mic

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I have a question.

                          If it takes 5 seconds to decide whether to do one Someday Maybe this week, even if you have 200 items, it will add just about 15 minutes to your weekly review. Just make a decision. If you need more than 5 seconds to think on a particular item, maybe sticker or highlight it in some way to take time during the week to explore whether it is a good time to do it. Make it a next action. Whatever.

                          Now for me, 15 minutes to think about my hopes and dreams every week is not too much.

                          How much time does it really add to your weekly review to look over your hundreds of someday maybes? Have you timed it?

                          If it is less than 20 minutes, maybe something else is bothering you about your Someday Maybes - maybe you feel like there is too much in your life you are not doing.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by cojo View Post
                            I have a question.

                            If it takes 5 seconds to decide whether to do one Someday Maybe this week, even if you have 200 items ...
                            Cojo,

                            I have many more then 200 s/m items. And they are not dreams but most of them are projects that are waiting for resources- time & money.

                            Going through them is not funny, thats true, but I don't think that is the point. It takes longer than 5 seconds to decide if there is a chance to kick-start a project or there is no use (It can involve the question- what is the next action- too) and 10 seconds times 500 is an hour and half of hard thinking. Furthermore, thinking about an item that last week you alreay thought there is no chance you're going to get to it in the next few months, and you think it over again - that's useless. DA says that having the same thought again should only be done if you enjoy that - and I agree.

                            That is why I thought to devide my s/m into layers and re-think about an item only after there is a chance the circumstances have changed. It could be that in the future I will change this back to the regular way, but for now I think that is justifiable.

                            Mic
                            Last edited by Mic; 04-22-2009, 12:41 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Mic View Post
                              I don't know LifeBalance or Omnifocus, can they syncronize with a Palm Treo?
                              I have a Palm Treo and I have used both LifeBalance and now Omnifocus.

                              Both synch to the treo. Omnifocus via iCal and then missing synch. LifeBalance by it's own Palm OS application and missing synch.

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