GTD - An analogy to washing the dishes (really)
I have been a member of GTD Connect for almost a month now, but have been reading David Allen's material on Getting Things Done for almost 4 years. While I acknowledge the fact that no two people are identical, I would like to share an experience and a blinding realization that occurred to me a few nights ago that I'm sure we all have taken part in at least once in our lives.
I had quite the project in front of me after the holidays -- all of the dishes had to be washed (and I am one of those few without the luxury of a dishwasher). Little did I know that this one project would make me implement a number of key concepts in GTD.
Ok, so the dishes have to be washed - where to start? Do I have all the dishes that need to be washed? Instantly I began to think of where other dishes (material to support this project) might be. I went from room to room. Normally these glasses, dishes, silverware, etc would be passed over many times a day until you need to do something with them. Immediately they jumped out at me. Very soon I was 100% confident that I had all the materials needed to complete this project.
Do I have enough detergent and a sponge to complete this task (context)? I did - so I pressed on.
How much time was this going to take (Time Available)? I had a few calls to make but determined that they could be re-negotiated or made after I was done with this project (Prioritizing). I knew that this absolutely had to be done because it was weighing on my mind -- so naturally I knew that this was the "Thing" I should be engaging myself with at the moment. Still I was not motivated...
Then I asked myself "What would success look like for this particular project?" This was very easy -- all dishes put away and within easy reach should I need a glass, plate, etc I would know where to find it (Outcome Focusing). This gave me the motivation I needed to move forward.
Having corralled all my "stuff" into one central place, I took one item at a time and processed (cleaned) it -- and I was able to give it the attention it deserved. Each item took less than two minutes to wash, but I was able to concentrate on each individual item with absolutely no concern to the following ("Do I have everything?" "Am I giving this item more / less attention than it deserves?" "Is this really the thing that I should be doing?" etc..) because I had answered all of those questions beforehand with very little effort.
As my momentum built, I noticed that within 45 minutes of setting out what I had intended to do - I was staring in the face of success. I boldly checked this item off my list.
In no way am I stating that what we face from one day to the next is as simplistic as washing the dishes. But believe it or not - some projects are (given the proper thought and focusing).
I wish everyone a very happy New Year.
All the best -
I am not a fast-eater but...
Originally Posted by kewms
I am not a fast-eater but... I can eat and wash my dishes with no hurry in 20-30 minutes. So if I buy this Whirlpool time saving machine I could have 25-hour day (assuming 5 meals per day)! :-)
Routine and washing dishes
I have a standard routine that allows me to wash dishes almost free of thought.
It chunks leftovers, dishes and silverware for the dishwasher, and post and pans very to be treated differently.
There are three sweeps I do in the process, and I then get the things into place (dishwasher, refridgerator, and counter to the left of the dishpan.
Things to the left of the dishpan fit into four categories that are placed progressively farther away from the sink and done in the following order:
1) Long tools such as serving spoons, knives, spatulas, kitchen tools.
2) Plastic items, such as cups, zip-lock plastic containers, kids lunch boxes and thermoses
3) Cutting boards
4) Pots and pans
Items are done in that order and are inserted into the dishtub, washed, and then left in the tub. When the dishtub is full, all the items in the dishtub are rinsed and placed into the drain.
I just then progress through the piles.
Then wipe down the 5 surfaces that need to be wiped down:
1) Counter just to the right of the dish drain
2) Stove top
3) Counter to the right of the stove top
4) Counter to the left of the sink that had the dirty dishes
You may laugh, but the clearing and organizing phase that I do first makes even the most awful kitchen completely do-able. I say this as a busy academic physician who works long days and some nights. This routine of cleaning enables me to do it after the most stressful of days and even longer nights and gives my wife a break.