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  • Re-evaluating GTD; What's working/what's not

    Since starting down the GTD path I have been able to free up more creative thinking knowing that all my thoughts are gathered. What's not working, is that I do not seem to be as productive as previously. Below are what's working and what's not. Welcome any insightful suggestions.

    I currently use a small ring binder that has 1 page each for Action Items (includes all types of actions), Errands, Waiting For, and 1 page with a list of ideas/steps for 6 separate goals/projects.

    I have a separate paper calendar for appointments must do's on a specific day.

    I have my email sorted into folders: @action, @Read/Review, @ Waiting For.

    What's Working
    -Daily GTD sorting of inbox, emails.
    -During my weekly review I move the next action item to be completed from each proj page over to the Action Item List.


    What's Not Working
    -Since I am not writing down what I will accomplish each day, I don't seem to be accomplishing as much as I used to.
    -I never seem to be able to clear out the email folders of the items I need to act or review/read.
    -The Weekly reveiew does not seem to be very productive.

    Ideas/insights welcome.

  • #2
    What stops you cranking down your action lists? Was an artificial deadline helpful? Are the actions true next actions? Would it help if they were more granular, taking less time and therefore producing more checkmarks?

    Are you setting aside time for email actions and read/review? If you only organise them, but don't look at them it won't work. Could you maybe link them to your other lists? Something like 'Check email @action' in your paper lists for example.

    What would make your review more 'productive'? What would it look like and what is your current review like now that makes it not so?

    Comment


    • #3
      I may be off target on some of this but here are some thoughts I had on your post.

      "Since I am not writing down what I will accomplish each day, I don't seem to be accomplishing as much as I used to"

      You probably are accomplishing more, just in smaller bites. And I'll bet you're taking better advantage of small pockets of time between meetings, waiting for the dentist, etc.

      You can still make a short list of most-important tasks to do at the beginning of each day (a habit from the Zen-to-Done (ZTD), a methodology based on GTD) to stay focused on tasks that align with your goals and higher level priorities. I'm trying that out myself, in fact. But you must remain aware that priorities can shift rapidly and negate that list in a second. That's why a total-life reminder system is so important.

      "I never seem to be able to clear out the email folders of the items I need to act or review/read."

      That's not uncommon or even bad as long as you don't have some sort of internal resistance about those buckets. Are you just throwing things into those buckets without asking yourself "What's the outcome? What's the Next Action?" If you are, you've created piles of stuff, which creates distrust and resistance.

      However, if you really are making those decisions but just don't seem to get to clearing them all the time, that's okay. Most people do not experience empty lists on a regular basis if they truly have a complete inventory of their work. On occasion you'll get a list to zero, some lists more than others. But generally your lists will never be empty. You'll always have work as long as you live. The key is knowing your work and all the available options of work you can do at any given time.

      "The Weekly review does not seem to be very productive."

      The Weekly Review is a critical habit, perhaps the most important, to keep your system current and trustworthy. If you're having difficulty with the process, I suggest you use the Weekly Review checklist (see free articles on this site) to guide you and don't get caught up in DOING while you're REVIEWING. Most of all be patient with yourself; it becomes easier the more you do it.

      I had a recent "ah-ha" moment regarding the weekly review. You might want to refer to my recent post about it.

      Good luck and welcome to GTD!

      Luke

      Comment


      • #4
        The DOING while REVIEW problem was a major problem for me, too. Because I did everything on my computer or Blackberry, as something came up I would try to deal with it then and there since it was already on my mind and I had the resources to complete the task. Of course, this only slows me down. I've transitioned to a paper system which forces me to write stuff down to be done LATER.

        Comment


        • #5
          In ZTD there's a MIT (the Most Important Task of the day) concept. What's assumed by the Task: is it a Project or Next Action in terms of GTD?

          Comment


          • #6
            Best of luck in working on this!

            For what it's worth, I've noticed it common for people to feel less productive (even "dumber") after implementing GTD. And I think it's caused by the lack of things running around in one's head. When one is keeping everything in one's head, one feels alive and energized and excited. No matter how much is actually accomplished. Once it all comes out onto action lists, it feels dull.

            So, your feelings are absolutely valid, and may be a by-product of using GTD. I can tell you that it gets much more exciting as one's capacity expands.

            Anyvay, just a couple of comments in addition to the excellent ones so far:

            Originally posted by debbieg View Post
            -During my weekly review I move the next action item to be completed from each proj page over to the Action Item List.
            Good. Are you doing this during the week, too? That is, when you finish work on one Project and move to another, you record the new Next Action for the first Project?

            That is, the Weekly Review is a time to ensure that your lists are up-to-date (it's a time to fight entropy). But you should be updating your lists throughout the week as you can.

            -The Weekly reveiew does not seem to be very productive.
            Well, what is it not producing?

            Comment


            • #7
              Most Important Outcome.

              Originally posted by Pav View Post
              In ZTD there's a MIT (the Most Important Task of the day) concept. What's assumed by the Task: is it a Project or Next Action in terms of GTD?
              I think that MIT can be a crucial Next Action, a whole Project, or an important chunk of the huge Project. Something that gives Most Important Outcome for that day.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by debbieg View Post
                -Since I am not writing down what I will accomplish each day, I don't seem to be accomplishing as much as I used to.
                -I never seem to be able to clear out the email folders of the items I need to act or review/read.
                -The Weekly reveiew does not seem to be very productive.
                I don't know how much insight I have, and I'm no GTD blackbelt, but it helps me to focus having a daily to do list taken from the GTD lists. This may be GTD heresy, but in another sense maybe not - basically it means clearing your head of the mental worry about "what am I going to accomplish today?". Otherwise a part of your mind (or my mind, anyways) is always slightly worried about it (and I don't want to reread my entire action inventory after finishing every task).

                I try to be careful about interruptions. If something new shows up and doesn't need to be done immediately, I just put it into my GTD system for consideration tomorrow. If it should be done today, I scan my "queue" for the best spot for it, and write it in. Then I return to cranking through the daily list.

                My email also tends to accumulate. For me there are two big problems: 1) a high volume of low-importance requests (that I tend to just leave sit until I can't stand it anymore), and 2) emails with very vague outcomes that I'm not entirely sure what to do with. Haven't done much to solve either of these yet.

                Kevin

                Comment


                • #9
                  Just as somebody said in some other thread a few months back, there are no GTD police! So do what works for you. Quoting David Allen (GTD, page 40):

                  Having a working game plan as a reference point is always useful, but it must be able to be renegotiated at any moment.
                  Regards,
                  Abhay

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by mackiest View Post
                    II don't want to reread my entire action inventory after finishing every task.
                    Why not?

                    (I'm asking honestly.)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Why not?

                      (I'm asking honestly.)
                      From David Allen: "There have been many days when I haven't had to look at any of my lists, in fact, because it was clear from the front end -- my calendar -- what I wouldn't be able to do."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Dan: I'm afraid I don't understand how that answers my question.

                        Kevin wrote that he doesn't want to look at his lists. David Allen was writing about not needing to look at his lists, becuase his calendar was full.

                        I'm curious about why Kevin doesn't want to look over his lists multiple times per day.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Brent,

                          It's a good question. I'm curious myself.

                          I can tell you that one reason I don't want to look at my lists is that my time is often (usually) spoken for in exactly the way David Allen describes, but I still feel pressure to look at the lists because reviewing is such a crucial part of creating a trusted system. That feeling of internally-created pressure is unpleasant. If I'm not mindful about it, it has a way of undermining other components of the system as well. I approach this by promising myself a daily review at the end of each work day (I put together a task list for the following day every evening before stopping work for the day).

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Brent View Post
                            Why not?

                            (I'm asking honestly.)
                            Just to save time. I'd rather decide once at the start of the day what my short list will be (i.e. what my priorities for the day will be), and then work from that shorter todo list, instead of re-scanning a much longer list throughout the day.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by mackiest View Post
                              I'd rather decide once at the start of the day what my short list will be (i.e. what my priorities for the day will be), and then work from that shorter todo list, instead of re-scanning a much longer list throughout the day.
                              I certainly understand this; I do it frequently.

                              However, it strikes me that an advantage of GTD is being able to rapidly react, appropriately, to anything that happens. That means being able to move ahead on a project that suddenly becomes urgent.

                              Here's what I don't like about daily to-do lists: the idea that whatever I decide to do in the morning is still the most important thing to do late that afternoon. I don't know about you, but my work shifts too quickly to allow me to make that assumption.

                              It also seems like the ability to rapidly re-negotiate, using my entire list, is a more useful skill than the ability to re-negotiate using only my Daily list. That is, I'd rather fit new, urgent work into my entire system, not just the slice I cut off this morning.

                              Again, not that the Daily list is a bad idea; it can be a wonderful exercise in clearing one's head. I use it frequently. I just wonder if I'm engaging in the healthiest habit possible, long term!

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