View Full Version : GTD for perfectionists...
05-03-2005, 01:28 AM
Well, I've read the book and attempted to implement GTD in my life but instead of getting things done I find I'm spending too much time feeling overwhelmed and worrying about small details (such as how to define a particular next action which I can get done in the time I spend worrying about it!!).
For those who've looked into NLP, I'm a "big chunk" guy and get easily overwhelmed with details. I've come to realise that getting rid of the next actions lists and working off a list of projects that need to get done is more efficient for me (although I still need to schedule admin/misc actions somewhere which don't belong to projects). My days are far easier when I can simply remind myself on a scrap piece of paper that I need to work on projects A, B and C when I'm not tied up with meetings or other distractions. Looking at lists of calls I need to make, errands I need to do, papers I need to read, etc, etc makes me feel like a zombie walking around not having a clue what's going on.
If anyone has any comments or suggestions on how GTD can be better suited to people like myself, I'm all ears. And if you reckon GTD is not for me, please say so. Much of what David teaches is really useful (and effective), but the idea of working off a bunch of lists just doesn't cut it.
Thanks in advance!
05-03-2005, 05:22 AM
if you are working with Outlook you may want to take a look at "Take Back your Life" from Sally Mc Ghee.
Her system is very much like GtD (she is sharing the same roots as David Allen), with some slight differences. If you are more into working from a project list her approach might suit better to your needs as she is going top down instead of bottom up. She especially has plenty of step by step descriptions on how to set up a GtD system (called IMS in her lingo) and she adresses the problem of feeling overwhelmed during this setup and the initial phase of installing hery system.
Unlike David Allen she is working with the calendar blocking out times for different things which have to be done. You could as well schedule phone times or working on a project into your calendar. I have got the impression, that she is focusing more on the project part than DA does. Her book is from last year, GtD from 1998. Things are evolving.
05-03-2005, 05:29 AM
Just a thought - I think you can capture a lot of the benefits of "next action thinking" without having to work off a list of actions by just making sure that, whenever you break off from working on project A (at the end of the day, for example) you make sure to make a note of the very next action that will be required when you resume.
I'd also recommend making sure, at your weekly review, that there is a next action listed for each project.
Beyond that I don't think you lose all that much by not working off NA lists when you're in the middle of working on a project.
Those who are particularly focussed on sorting actions by context will probably disagree, but it sounds from your post like you're probably not one of them. Me neither.
05-03-2005, 11:25 AM
Working off from projects lists instead from NA lists is not allowed. If you continue to do this you will get arrested. Please do everything excactly how it is written in the book, even if it decreases yout productivity and causes your stress. Remember: you are a robot and have no right nor reason to organize your work in a individualistic manner.
05-03-2005, 12:55 PM
CPU, Think of your next action list as a bookmark list for your projects; it tells you where you left off. When it is time to work on a project, the NA will tell you where to pick up and get rolling again. You don't have to work from NA to NA, just get going, and then when you quit, mark down what the next action needs to be when you pick it up again.
05-03-2005, 10:56 PM
If it works for Jimmy, great! But as BigStory writes, I think Jimmy's misunderstanding GTD. GTD doesn't insist that you map out all your phone calls, books to read, etc.
Imagine that each of your projects is a dragon that you want to slay. The NA list exists to show you the head of all your dragons at once, so that if you want to slay a dragon, you can easily choose which is best to attack right now.
Even in classic GTD, you don't have to keep detailed lists of anything, as I understand it; you only map out projects if those projects are complicated enough to warrant it.
Can you describe your attempted implementation of GTD, Jimmy? Perhaps we can work out a hybrid system that works even better for you.
05-04-2005, 07:47 AM
I can relate to what Jimmy says. I'm a Tax Accountant with ADD. At work, I do much better when I list the Project name in my next action lists (heresy!) Most of the things I'm working on I intuitively know where I need to pick up and actually writing that out literally on next action lists didn't add much - in fact, I found it made it more difficult for me to feel on top of the magnitude of what I really need to get done. Then again, there are projects where I find it helpful to actually think out what the next action should be and put that on my lists. In general I find that determining next actions for projects is better suited for my personal life.
05-04-2005, 09:33 AM
In DA's model there is a hierarchy. On the ground level there are 'actions', on the next level we have 'projects' and a level above we then have 'areas of responsibility'.
Now, David says :"Hey, look: it's cool to sort the workload somehow. My tip: sort the actions acording to the physical context you are doing them."
Offcourse, if you do this you get those NA lists sorted per physical context. But you don't have to sort them that way. You can go onto another level, like some folks here are doing by sorting theire NA lists on the 'projects'-level.
I think the priority here is: choose what works best for you! Remember we are talking 'stressless productivity' here.
I myself have a mixed set of na lists. I have physical contexts like @errands, but i too have for example areas of responsibility like *website.
Golden Rule: Do a honest and strict weekly review. It's the best thing you can do to figure out what works for you and what doesn't. And: experiment!