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getting self to decide next actions when I "don't wanna" (which is often)

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  • getting self to decide next actions when I "don't wanna" (which is often)

    I find myself constantly struggling in the process phase. I set aside a block of time, telling myself "This is your processing time - don't do work (unless it's two minutes or less) - just decide the very next action and record it."

    However, I find this process very difficult (unless it's due right now, in which case the next action seems to magically present itself.) Most of the time I just 'don't wanna.' My internal dialogue goes like this:

    "You need a new postcard for the restaurant. What's the very next action?"
    "The chef is super grumpy right now, he's probably going to hate it, I don't feel motivated to do it, it's too hard to write copy. I'm hungry, what's in the fridge?"

    I've been trying to train myself to break through anyway, but am having a hard time. Any tricks, tips to make yourself decide the next action even when you don't want to? I've been trying this without success for months now. I own my own marketing business so it's important I move forward on projects or else no one pays me. I normally wait until it's due and the stress helps me decide, but I'm tired of sitting down to my computer each morning with a feeling of dread, thinking "Oh god, what's overdue today?"

    I have done complete weekly reviews before, although I still feel like I've forgotten things so I usually just feel worse, looking at all the things I should have done already.

  • #2
    "I normally wait until it's due and the stress helps me decide,"


    I feel like this line is key. You've probably gotten by for so long by doing things reasonably well AT THE LAST MINUTE that you know you CAN delay making a decision.

    I am a teacher, and I often resist the urge to do long term planning since I tell myself it is not the best use of my time. What's the point of spending hours meticulously planning lessons if I know I frequently stray from my plans? And, it turns out, my lessons are usually successful, perpetuating this behavior.

    I, like you, do think I can benefit from more long term planning though.

    Comment


    • #3
      Often Success or Failure is predetermined

      Often our success or failure is determined even before we are adults living by ourselves. Our parents, family and friends' reactions to our habits growing up reinforce how we see ourselves and often we carry this into adulthood. It takes consistent effort to see ourselves in a different way.
      I was very messy as a child due to a lack of organisation skills and the easy ability to become overwhelmed. Even though I have worked hard at overcoming this and at 28 I am relatively tidy, my friends and family still see me as that messy child. Just last night I was showing my Mum and Nana my house on Skype and I said "excuse the mess, I've been baking" and Mum automatically came back with "don't worry, we know you're messy, no need to apologise". In a single sentence she'd reduced all my years of effort to nothing.

      As a child I succeeded with my procrastination. Teachers would give me another few days for homework. I would not make a decision about something so someone else would make it for me etc. I found the procrastination gave the best results with the least amount of work. So that became my habit. It has worked for me for YEARS. Even now I have to fight my inner urge to procrastinate. I HAVE to set alarms reminding me to do things. I have to get my partner to with-hold things until I do XYZ. I have to barter with myself.

      My advice to you, look at WHY you don't want to work on things. Get a piece of paper and write a statement on it that resonates with you. An example of this is: I want to do XYZ because...
      See how you feel about that. Write down some of those feelings. Explore it, really tap into your inner self. I had some amazing responses when I did this. I realise that I have found success as a 'failure' and that I am scared to do the work because I feel I will fail anyway so I want to save myself the time and effort associated with being a 'winner'. I really had to go deep and find out why I wanted to create a winner mentality and what I would get out of doing it. On bad days it is this work that gets me through.

      Good Luck
      Allie x

      Comment


      • #4
        If it helps any...you are not alone in this. I have been actively trying to implement GTD for the last 30 days and I still am trying to avoid any backsliding...but it is happening.

        I guess we all are grasping for a way to change our ways and why we are looking to the GTD system to give us a framework to work from.

        Comment


        • #5
          I sit down, tell myself, "You are going to concentrate on this." Then I do the action and usually I find myself getting it done and enjoying myself. Getting preoccupied with mind and other tasks happens but being firm with yourself helps you get in the mindset. Once you get it done, then check in the fridge. Focus first and tell yourself, "stay in the moment." You will find that you actually accomplish a lot in just a little bit of time and feel good after doing it.

          Comment


          • #6
            Don't worry too much

            When I started GTD i was under the impression that you should always be deciding next actions as you process items during the week. however this isnt neccesarily the case. In fact just the opposite is true, to a degree. The week is for working, the weekly review is for thinking.

            What I find now is that some of the stuff that comes my way I can decide what the next action is, because its obvious - if a trustee says "can you email me X" then its easy to work out what to put on my next action list. Sorted.

            But the rest don't get decided on until the weekly review. All I need to decide is "will this die in the next few days". If not then I add it to my projects list. I dont worry too much about clarifying the outcome, I just stick down what comes to mind and move on. If a trustee says "im not too happy with the way we recruit, is there a better way" i cant possibly think that through there and then, or even decide on the next action in some cases. I need to be in a thinking frame of mind. So I put "improve recruitment" on my project list, attach the email from the trustee, and keep on moving.

            When the weekly review comes round I go through every project very carefully, including a bunch that I'v gathered as the week goes by. Then I do the thinking on it, clarifying the outcome deciding the next action, etc.

            The point is that processing In simply means moving it into your system so you've got a complete picture.

            And the thing that amazes me about GTD is that its so much easier to think when you don't have to do immediately - and how much easier it is to do when you don't have to think first.

            I think the weekly review is the cornerstone of GTD, because its where the decision making takes place. if you can do it in the week do so, but if you cant then wait til the weekly review.

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanks all for the helpful advice! I will try these ideas out.

              I am wondering a couple of things:

              1. What do people do when 70% of my work appears during the week and is due before the weekly review? They are definitely projects, like write a postcard or write, design and send an enewsletter, but most things never make it to the weekly review. Then when I do the review, all that's left is all the longer term, overdue things.

              2. Are there any GTD-specific tricks that people use to get them to decide the next action? I have the project planning trigger list, but it's so comprehensive I get overwhelmed when I look at it. Has anyone created a mini-checklist or something for themselves they'd be willing to share?

              Comment


              • #8
                GTD Mentality

                I'll be honest, when I first signed up for the site I couldn't even answer the security question for the getting things done acronym. That being said, I'm really trying to systematize my life and schedule and really start hammering on my new GTD mindset. Just remember, all big things start out little. One step at a time and we'll all be GTD!

                Cheers - Pam

                Comment


                • #9
                  Do not confuse processing with reviewing!

                  Originally posted by anasoduck View Post
                  1. What do people do when 70% of my work appears during the week and is due before the weekly review? They are definitely projects, like write a postcard or write, design and send an enewsletter, but most things never make it to the weekly review. Then when I do the review, all that's left is all the longer term, overdue things.
                  Do not confuse processing with reviewing!

                  You should do processing daily to transform incoming actionable stuff into Projects and Next Actions (and Someday/Maybes).

                  You should do reviewing weekly to make sure that there are no holes in your GTD system.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Duckienz View Post

                    My advice to you, look at WHY you don't want to work on things.

                    Good Luck
                    Allie x
                    Thank you for this very simple and very useful idea that I have never thought of myself.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by anasoduck View Post
                      1. What do people do when 70% of my work appears during the week and is due before the weekly review? They are definitely projects, like write a postcard or write, design and send an enewsletter, but most things never make it to the weekly review. Then when I do the review, all that's left is all the longer term, overdue things.
                      im intrigued why you wouldnt know about a newsletter less than a few days before you needed to do it. Is it that someone else normally does it?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by anasoduck View Post
                        1. What do people do when 70% of my work appears during the week and is due before the weekly review? They are definitely projects, like write a postcard or write, design and send an enewsletter, but most things never make it to the weekly review. Then when I do the review, all that's left is all the longer term, overdue things.

                        2. Are there any GTD-specific tricks that people use to get them to decide the next action? I have the project planning trigger list, but it's so comprehensive I get overwhelmed when I look at it. Has anyone created a mini-checklist or something for themselves they'd be willing to share?
                        First off I tend to disagree a bit with bishblaize in that I don't want anything on my next action lists that is not completely thought out. The way I deal with the things that come up and need to be done before a week is over is that every day as I am processing stuff they get added.

                        When I first started doing GTD stuff I didn't understand that you have to process your inboxes at least daily, especially in the beginning. I thought you saved all that processing time for the weekly review. Now at my 2 year mark I think I finally am getting a handle on how powerful the GTD process really is and a key is allowing enough time for processing during the week not just at weekly review. In fact for me I found I get my best weekly reviews done if all my inboxes and processing is done the day before so that the get inbox 0 step is at most 1-2 things to deal with.

                        In a typical day I spend about an hour or 2 processing new inputs into my system as either projects with actions or someday/maybe things.

                        Here are the things I do when deciding whether a project is ready now and how to plan it:

                        1. Does this project align with my purpose?
                        2. Can this project be done in this season? I have a lot of weather/season related projects.
                        3. Do I have to do this project?
                        4. Do I want to do this project?
                        5. What tools do I need or where do I need to be to complete this project?
                        6. Do I have other similar projects that I am working on already?
                        7. If I could only do 1 thing on this project to move it forward what would that be?
                        8. Can I make a single action move more than 1 active project forward? This is fairly regular for me because of my work but is not the norm for most people.
                        9. Can I do this action with no additional thinking or work? Are all the pieces I need here already?

                        Some examples of projects I have that have been triaged via this list:
                        I've been asked to make a scrapbook for a friend about their new business and its first years. This is in tune with my purpose because supporting the local business keeps my community strong. Making the scrapbook will also strengthen our friendship and it is something I like to do. I can do scrapbooks anytime, I don't have to do this project but I want to do it. I need all my scrapbooking paper & tools but I have them all already. I need to be in the house with about 30 minutes of time to get stuff out, work and put away. I need to sort the newspaper clippings into chronological order first. Another possible next action is sort through my personal pictures to see if I have any I could use in this project. Sorting pictures also moves forward on my personal project to organize and sort all my digital photos so it's a twofer action. I can do either action with no further thinking so I put both on my lists as they are independent of each other.

                        I want to start collecting data about loin eye depth on my breeding sheep. This aligns with the purpose of being a breeder of top quality sheep. I can't do this now because the sheep are all out on pasture, it's difficult to bring them in for scanning and I don't even know who can do the scanning. The best time to do this work would be fall after we bring the sheep in off pasture. I don't have to do this project but I want to. I'd need a person with the appropriate equipment to do the scanning. If I really wanted to move this forward I need to research who in the state has the appropriate equipment but it's going to take a long time to do that. This now goes on my someday maybe list as I can't complete it now at all. When I do my weekly review I'll see if it's closer to fall and so I might want to start looking for a person to do this.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Thank you all for your advice! I appreciate it.

                          In response to the question about the enewsletter, sometimes I know I'm going to do one two weeks ahead, but other times, the client says "we should send out a reminder eblast tomorrow about the event in two days."

                          Now, in a perfect world I would have anticipated and planned for that, but I'm not there yet. I have just hired a part-time assistant and I'm going to start walking through the project planning process with her so she can help point out and trigger potential action items. Maybe talking through them with someone else will help with the 'don't wannas.'

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
                            First off I tend to disagree a bit with bishblaize in that I don't want anything on my next action lists that is not completely thought out.
                            thats an interesting approach. So when you do your processing each day are you in full executive thinking mode? And how does this daily process differ from your weekly review, other than its length?

                            I also wonder if you'd clarify where you see the line between process, organise and review? From my perspective processing means going through the inputs and organising them into my system. They're often put there fairly crudely, but I know its not lost now, theyre in my system.

                            Review I see as going back through that system and making the decisions on what they mean, deciding whats next, and so on. This might be an initial assessment of a new project or a reassessment of an ongoing one. So for me I don't normally do reviewing during the week, unless its urgent or (heaven forbid) I complete all my next actions before the week's out.

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                            • #15
                              My mother a teacher, and I often resist the urge to do long term planning since I tell myself it is not the best use of my time. What's the point of spending hours meticulously planning lessons if I know I frequently stray from my plans? And, it turns out, my lessons are usually successful, perpetuating this behavior

                              Comment

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