> All in all it feels like GTD has just shown a
> magnifying glass over all the things I have to do that I'm not getting
> done and the thought of trying to get it organized and working
> properly seems to give me more anxiety.
This is normal. It's so normal that I'd almost go so far as to say that if you didn't feel that way, it would be evidence that you did an insufficient Capture.
Just for background, I use OmniFocus for my personal life and Outlook for my work life, which is annoying but unavoidable. (Well, OK, I could also use Outlook for my personal life, but I hate Outlook, so that's not going to happen.)
- I completely agree with the idea of putting everything into Someday/Maybe on hold, and selectively plucking things back out.
- One thing that I think that David Allen doesn't address in his main books (though I may have missed it) is that different people have different tolerances for long lists of tasks. Some people seem comfortable with hundreds. But me, if I have to scroll past the first screen when choosing a task I get cranky. So I make substantial use of all of the Omnifocus mechanisms for hiding tasks--Someday/Maybe (that is, On Hold), Start Dates, dividing by contexts, various perspectives, and so on.
- I would suggest that you play with OmniFocus's various perspective tools and set up your perspectives for daily and weekly reviews before you start activating items, so that as you're activating them you can periodically pause to judge whether those perspectives are getting too full for your personal tolerance level.
- I keep my folder/project hierarchy very shallow. I have no more than two levels of folders, and I have no nested projects at all. I find that this makes it a lot easier to scan everything without worrying about what's getting lost.
How does this handle project relationships, you may ask? Well, when Project A spawns Project B (say, "expand vegetable garden" spawns "start spring seedlings in greenhouse") I make them entirely separate projects, both at the same shallow level.
If I think that I might lose track of the relationship, I'll add a final task to the child project that refers back to the parent project, and if the parent is dependent on completion of the child I might add a WAITING FOR task to the parent project that refers to the child project. If I find that the original project is becoming nothing more than a shell for spawned projects, I'll generally just delete it.
- I'd say that before GTD you weren't progressing on every one of your life goals at once, so GTD alone probably isn't going to make that possible. GTD just lets you make your priorities concrete and visible, and makes it easier to act on them in a planned way, and probably get more done, just not get everything done.
- If I had the goals that you mention, I might dig through them as they sit in Someday/Maybe and create some modest active projects based on them:
Project: Read a book on photography.
Next Action: Spend twenty minutes searching the web for recommendations for the best book.
Project: Hold a beer tasting.
Next Action: Create an email list of friends who like beer, to invite.
Project: Create a "Hello, world" standalone executable using C#.
Next Action: Spend twenty minutes searching the web for the best price on Visual Studio.
That's three active projects, and for me that would be plenty, even if I had a dozen or a hundred goals. When I finish each modest project, I can go through my goals and make a few more, maybe for the same goals, maybe for different ones.
You may notice that the next actions for these projects are _small_. IMO, that's essential. If you go to a next action and your thought is, "Uh, fine, but how?" then the action is too large or too vague. If you don't know what the Next Action should be, IMO it's just fine to have a Next Action of, "Figure out the Next Action for this project."
And the projects are small--I think that this is also important. A project of "learn C#" is just too big, IMO. A project to accomplish one little concrete task like getting an executable that shows a message, is plenty big enough for a new language. And small projects that can be finished in a reasonable time mean that you'll go back to consider your goals and create new projects reasonably frequently.
- If I want to make sure that I consider a specific project at a specific time, I might insert some with future dates, such as:
Project: When cold weather starts next year, take a course of at least four guitar lessons.
Start Date: August 1, 2013
Next Action: Ask around for recommended teachers.
(By setting this to start in August, you have plenty of time to find a teacher, schedule lessons, etc., before that cold weather time.)
Project: Decide if I want to go to Home Brewer's Convention
Start Date: July 1, 2013
Next Action: Check Home Brewer's website when they announce the convention events on July 1.
With a start date set, these projects and actions will float around in your active system, but you won't even see the action until the right time to do it. I'm showing start dates on the projects, but you can also set them on actions, which is something that I do quite often when my task list is too full but I don't want to risk forgetting the action because I might get lazy about my weekly review.
- Another way to get rid of excess actions is by creating lists of "actions" that have an On Hold context (so they won't show in your action lists), and pointing to each list with a single repeating active action.
For example, if you have several dozen "Read X" actions, you could have a single list of all of the things that you want to read, all of them with a context that's set to On Hold, and then a single repeating active action, "Choose something from reading list. Read it or create a project for reading it." Or, similarly, "Choose a recipe from recipe list. Create a project for testing it.", "Read a link from Work Related Web Links list", and so on. These actions are of course optional - if they come up when you're too busy, you just check them off and they'll pop up again at the appropriate interval.
You can even use this scheme for much bigger things, like your goals. For example, you could have an "enrichment goals" list, and have a repeating monthly item, "Consider creating a project for one of my Enrichment Goals."
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