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  • Motivation & GTD

    I know that Getting Things Done is really for people who have already made up their mind to get things done. David Allen tends to assume that people are not resisting "doing stuff" because of procrastination or laziness - his system is not really for those folks.

    However, I think that the major issue in getting things done is motivation. Those with high energy and desire tend to take over in most situations. They may not use GTD but they figure out something that will work.

    Any thoughts?

  • #2
    Re: Motivation & GTD

    [quote="DM"]I know that Getting Things Done is really for people who have already made up their mind to get things done. David Allen tends to assume that people are not resisting "doing stuff" because of procrastination or laziness - his system is not really for those folks.
    [quote]

    Not sure I agree with you there. I have found in my experience (and I guess a number of GTDers would agree) that when I resist doing something it is usually because the "thing" feels like an "amorphous blob of unknown something" that I'm afraid to tackle because it seems too big/too vague/too scary/too painful etc.

    Just by defining the next action precisely (as though I was asking someone else to do it there and then) - even if it is a very small action - I can usually do that thing, feel much better because I've done SOMETHING and then feel spurred on to do other related things on that project.

    John

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    • #3
      Re: Motivation

      I agree with John. I've discovered (as a result of GTD) that procrastination almost always results from not really having enough clarity about what the outcome is supposed to be or what is supposed to happen next.

      Coming up with even a very tiny, physical next action is usually enough to unstick things. If I notice that a project sticks between every action, I take it as a signal that more project planning and thinking about the project is required.

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      • #4
        Motivation

        For me the thing is well defined in jrossi's statement, "feels like an "amorphous blob of unknown something" that I'm afraid to tackle because it seems too big/too vague/too scary/too painful etc."
        I find that I am of the nature that I feel most free when I am most systematic, almost to the point of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive -order ) , then because I have everything in a trusted system I am free to be. However at this point in my life this is still all to often a lofty ideal. The main thing is for me to hone the habit of doing GTD rituals because although they are rather weird (according to my wife this is stuff normal people do without thinking about it ) well people thought Jack Nicholson was weird in "As Good As It Gets" but when he followed through with his counting & locking rituals he was a successful writer.

        We are motivated - maybe we have ADD that is cured by OCD when we make a habit of GTD! :P

        JERE

        1,2,3,4,5,6,7 did I leave my stove on?

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        • #5
          Those would be the classic GTD answers - clarifying focus, dealing with the amorphous blob, etc., but I dont think this is really where the real resistance is.
          Paying the bills (just an example) is something I really dont want to do - thats the real barrier. The more I clarify it, the more I see that I really would rather do something else!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by DM
            Those would be the classic GTD answers - clarifying focus, dealing with the amorphous blob, etc., but I dont think this is really where the real resistance is.
            Paying the bills (just an example) is something I really dont want to do - thats the real barrier. The more I clarify it, the more I see that I really would rather do something else!
            That's where I run into trouble... If my NA is something I don't want to do, and there's no sense of urgency (ok, in this situation maybe "pay the bills" is a bad example - the urgency is inherent), I tend to just keep deferring it.

            It's been a tough call for me - with FC's approach, you make a prioritized list daily, and you complete each task in sequence (don't move on to the next one until the first one is completed; don't just pick out the easiest one and do it just to get the satisfaction of being able to check the first one off). This, in theory is a good approach - your're forced to do the unpleasant things... David, however, bring out a good point as to why this isn't effective - what happens when you go in to work with your prioritized list, and your boss blows that list completely out of the water (I have this happen almost daily)!

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            • #7
              That is an issue. For me, both methods work and I use them together. I keep the GTD mandatory list of projects and next actions, but I also have a prioritized list of tasks or actions that I need to accomplish on that day, my win list. I focus on my win list first during the day and then turn back to my next actions. Yes, my boss does the same thing and tends to blow my prioritization out of the water every once and a while. But when she does this, I make sure she knows what is on my plate and on my list for that day. On more occasions then not, she has pulled things back when she realized that they weren't as important as the item I was already working on.

              I would assume, based upon my own experience, that this would work on the personal side as well. It simpy comes down to making agreements with yourself, and either keeping them or renegotiating them.

              AW

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              • #8
                Originally posted by DM
                Those would be the classic GTD answers - clarifying focus, dealing with the amorphous blob, etc., but I dont think this is really where the real resistance is.
                Paying the bills (just an example) is something I really dont want to do - thats the real barrier. The more I clarify it, the more I see that I really would rather do something else!
                Well there are certainly going to be things you are not going to want to do. I suppose the motivation I was referring to was when looking at a list of things to do and skipping over some of the items. I've found it's often because they aren't clear enough.

                But for the things that ARE clear enough and are still being avoided, I guess it comes down to whether you are willing to accept the consequences of not doing the action. If you don't water the plants, they will die and that may very well be acceptable. If you don't pay your taxes, you will go to jail, which is probably unacceptable. This gets into asking "why" you are doing the item in the first place. It may be that really don't need to do it, or it may be that you need to do it whether you enjoy doing it or not.

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                • #9
                  Motivation ... and productivity

                  There's a fascinating paradox between "motivation" and "productivity." As soon as one has to motivate herself, she's not motivated! Think back to the last time you were engaged in an activity (personal OR professional). Perhaps you were leading a discussion with a client (or a friend). Did you notice how if you were REALLY into it, time seemed to disappear?

                  If so, I suggest that you take a look at what happened to get you there. Once we find out what gets us into "productivity," we can then choose to use that on demand. (Of course, only if we'd like to!)

                  Many times a lack of motivation comes from not having enough information to get started. For example, I have not been motivated to get my car tuned...and then when I found the phone number to the garage, then called to make an appointment, then found myself reading a magazine while waiting for the car to get tuned...well, in spite of my non-motivation, by starting with the tiniest bit of information, I was able to start moving.

                  I will suggest you take a look at what it is you'd like to "get motivated" about, and then mind-map/brainstorm the information that would help you move forward. If at the end of that brainstorm session, you can pull at least ONE next action off of that piece of paper, you'll start winning the "motivation game."

                  Needless to say, this course will be about defining and clarifying all of your open loops, down to the level of VERY NEXT ACTION. The idea is, by defining our own work (our OWN widgets to crank) we can more effectively and efficiently move on the things we have decided to move on. I hope that helps!

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                  • #10
                    Alot of times it's just mood... I've done a little soul-searching to try and discover exactly what, at the times when I'm most productive, gets me in the "zone". I've come to find that sometimes it's almost as if the Planets have to align for me to get motivated. Other times, it's very easy. I'm not so sure that there's a common denominator...

                    Sometimes productivity/motivation has to do with whether or not I'm feeling good/bad about myslef/my job, etc. at that particular moment.

                    Other times, I can definately relate it to my feelings of control, focus, etc.

                    Just some thoughts...

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                    • #11
                      I relate the source to inertia. When my body is in motion, it stays in motion. Once I stop, it's a lot tougher to get rolling again. Getting started is the toughest part of the process. Breaking down projects, large or small, into bite-size pieces helps the process along. Of course, I still have to get off my ass and start step #1. Once what has to be done is defined, then it gets a lot harder to make excuses for my lack of action.[size=18][/size]

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                      • #12
                        Motivation

                        Agreed, breaking the next actions down to the molecular level if necessary, is a great way to visualize a project.

                        Based on my readings in Constructive Living, I would say you can't motivate yourself. A tenet of CL is that behavior wags the tail of feelings; start doing something, in other words, and the feelings will follow. You c=have to be clear-eyed about the consequences of NOT doing it.

                        For more on basic CL tenets: http://boat.zero.ad.jp/~zbe85163/dkr2.htm

                        Here's a little more from the CL site:

                        Feelings are an important part of human life. It isn't surprising that some people try to generate some feelings and eliminate others. The problem with that effort is that feelings cannot be turned on and off at will. We cannot make ourselves stop feeling nervous before an exam or tense before a job interview. They are natural and uncontrollable, like the weather. So the best way to handle feelings is to acknowledge them, accept them, learn from them, and to go on about doing what needs to be done.

                        Behavior, in contrast, is controllable in spite of feelings. We are responsible for what we do no matter what we are feeling. As time passes so do feelings unless they are restimulated by actions or other circumstances. Reality provides us with a variety of information about what needs to be done, feelings are only one source of such information. Simply put, we need to accept reality (including our emotional state) as it is, know our purpose or goal, and do what needs doing


                        I find the GTD processes and philosophy very compatible with CL.

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                        • #13
                          Thanks for the help!

                          Well I started this thread and it appears the overwhelming majority agree that the cure to motivation is to get busy!

                          I know the next question is get busy doing what? But Jason answered that pretty well by saying (in effect) to get busy figuring out what we need to get busy at! I may not be too clear sounding on this, but I think I agree with the prognosis. When it really comes down to it, what the heck else can you really do?

                          This may seem contrary to standard GTD thinking, but I think I need to get more stress in my life! Not distress - mind you - but the constructive stress that comes from being dilligent and deliberate about ones life/activity.

                          Thanks again for the input.

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