Adobe Community Professional
Lightroom Queen and general geek
"Your old belongings can sometimes be in the way of new better belongings." Chinese proverb
I like to compare this to book reading. Say you read around 20 books per year. If you live 60 reading years, you will read about 1200 books in your life. And that's it! Well, I believe there are 1200 written masterpieces that are really excellent and I will love to read. I believe there are! This means that whenever I'm reading a book that is boring or not that excellent, I think that I just made a bad choice, and replace it quickly. Finishing the book is NOT the point (given a few technical exceptions). It's the joy of reading. The same for projects. If it's other than great, maybe I just move on to a better one and forget the next-action-GTD-completing-machine because completing many is not the point. It's completing the BEST ones. All the time! And all the time new best-ones-to-be arrive. Letting go is the key to real freedom. GTD can really get you that freedom, unless you lock yourself in the "complete many" treadmill, hoping it will get you the life you want when you finish them.
Many of my clients are just waiting for the day they can have a really relax great life, so they want a completing machine that can take them there. But the thing is: they are already there! But they don't see it. They believe in a promised land of tranquility and relax, and they stress themselves up with GTD-completing-machine-optimization and live in hell running all the way so they can get to the desired life. So they never do. Because that relax is inside themselves, is not an outcome that will result from 35 projects completed each month...
(sorry for such long reply)
Gonšalo Gil Mata
Actually in my case hardly any projects ever really disappear. Life does change, the details of the projects may change a bit but the core ideas/needs haven't changed much in over 50 years. So I like having the large population of stuff available. In farming many things you do cover generations so it's not unreasonable to have a project that spans several decades or even several lifetimes.
Book reading was probably not the best example to use for me I do track my books read and I typically read around 100 a year or so. However I do agree that I can dump books that I am not interested in part way through if I decide to. I rarely do that, kindle's get samples has allowed me to winnow hundreds of books off the possible read list quickly and only save to my wish list those that are worth a second look.
For me the great life is now. I am living the dream, to quote a tweeting farming friend of mine from the UK. Sure it's hard work and can be heartbreaking (He was trying to dig sheep out of a blizzard and also dead ponies on Snowdonia this spring) but it is also rewarding. GTD supports my life as it is and it's the life I want to live. Completing projects that are important to me is part of what makes this a great life so GTD supports me.
Oogie McGuire - Mac, iPhone & Omnifocus
OogieM on Twitter
Paonia, CO USA
This thread contains a lot that I agree with wholeheartedly! And I would like to continue with some observations and questions. Varying the review frequency really is a key factor to having peace of mind.
I stumbled into this forum only yesterday, into a thread (GTD 2.0) where I did not feel at all feel comfortable with the overall tendency to partly reintroduce classical time planning elements and classical priorities. Not having seen this present thread yet, I responded over there, trying to advocate a differentiation in review frequencies instead: http://www.davidco.com/forum/showthr...891#post109891
But here in this thread it seems that almost everyone is already into this type of differentiation in one form or another, and I would like to follow up with some questions and thoughts. We are all probably using different software, and similar things can have different names, so please bear with me.
I get the impression that many of you use "review timers" individually set up for each project. Does your software have special review timers, or are you using the regular Tickler functionality (usually called Start date or Scheduled date in most apps)?
It would seem to me that some of the things being referred to in this thread, e.g. reviewing certain things annually before the harvesting season, actually ARE regular Tickler items, or am I missing something? I mean, these particular kinds of reviews are actually triggered by a certain external condition that is expected to be present on that date.
As for the regular "interval reviews", those that are not brought about by any particular factor at any particular time, but which we do at certain intervals just to keep our lists up to date and make sure we do not miss anything, do you use individual timers for each project there as well? I get the impression that many here do, and maybe that is good, but I am not quite sure why.
I am curious whether anyone does it like I do it, and can help me compare the benefits of the two methods.
My method is to "mark" different projects (and single actions) for different review frequencies. I have a High, Normal and Low level for each type of list. Depending in what features the particular software has, I would use its Tags, Labels, Contexts, Priority or some similar mechanism to do this review frequency marking.
Then at certain intervals I have Tickler items popping up to do a review of type X, and then I know exactly where to look. I even do spontaneous reviews whenever I feel like it, in those cases usually looking only at the things marked for "High" review frequency.
For example, in Someday/Maybe, I usually have some very tempting things, but which I feel may be too risky (that's why they are not in Next), that I want to contemplate as often as possible. Having these marked as "High" allows me to find them very quickly. Similarly, in Next, the High items in there I look at every single time that I even look at the list, much more than just once a day.
The Normal frequency items I review at the standard GTD intervals. The Low frequency items I review only more seldom, which saves me a lot of time.
I have found that my choice of a frequency setting correlates very much with the fuzzy general definition of priority as "important, urgent or whatever makes you feel excited or anxious about this thing". So I prefer to use the Priority field in those apps that have one, especially if it is in color.
You can blame your boss, your wife or even yourself for having to much commitments. But I don't think it's fair to blame the way (methodology, system) you handle those commitments. GTD was designed for doing great things. Not for doing everything.
GTD is a start
On the other hand, I agree GTD needs some revision, or at least there is something missing. The basic rules are alive and kicking and still very true. But especially when I have to translate those basics into everyday life, I keep running into the brick wall of apps and (web)services that don't quite help me across. All products seem to be inspired by the basics. But it takes more than just some basics to actually make it work. I really feel there is something missing. So I see GTD (the book) as a start.
Priorities and reviewing
Whatever way you use to review your projects and actions, I don't think there is a wrong or right way. David Allen's advice is to be properly engaged with your commitments. And what 'properly engaged' looks like is really up to you.
A Someday/Maybe project that is a perhaps this lifetime may have a review frequency of once a year and no start or due date. A project on handling monthly financial inputs may have a review frequency of every week (because things may be due during the month) a repeat of every month and a due date of say the 15th of the month.
A project to vaccinate lambs will have a start date adjusted for each breeding season based on when the lambs are born. Once the rams go in with the ewes for breeding a whole lot of my recurring projects with start dates will get adjusted as they have to happen a certain number of days after breeding or lambing. They also have due dates that work off that as well. Some are cascading dates, i.e. I may have a project to vaccinate early lambs. Based on when the sheep were bred I know that the early lambs will be born within a certain timeframe (start and end dates for that batch of lambs). But until they are born I won't know exactly what those dates really are. I do have flock average gestation dates but it can vary from year to year based on weather, condition and food quality. I have to vaccinate no earlier than a certain number of weeks after birth but there is a range of time after that which is ok. S I set the vaccinate start date based on when the last early lamb is born. We then have some variable amount of time when the shots can be given. What day we actually do it is weather dependent. Once we actually give the vaccinations then I have to set the second shot date. New lambs typically require 2 shots a specific number of days apart. So once I know the day we really gave the first shot I can set the rolling dates for the second shot. Again it must be a minimum of a certain number of days from the first shot and no later than a certain number of days after or I have to start over. The actual timing varies depending on what vaccine we use so I can't set them up ahead of time because until I buy the vaccine for the year I don't know the actual timings. The vaccine we use may depend on what is available or the disease risks per our vet based on perhaps new diseases appearing or old ones disappearing. Plus some vaccines have an initial series that is 3 shots so I may have to add another set of timings if that is the vaccine we use. That is why vaccinate lambs is a major project with a lot of detail. I have it set to start at the approximate time lambing starts and once it's starts I review it weekly. But once the lambs re vaccinated for the year, at my next weekly review I set the new start date to when I expect to have the rams in (so I can reset the start date based on that) and also the review time goes to once a month or even once every 3 months.
There are lots of projects like that on a farm. Once I've done the hard thinking about them I try to save that thinking and re-use it as much as possible next year. No sense reinventing the wheel so to speak.
Omnifocus is very flexible that way and very useful for managing my complex range of recurring projects.
Oogie McGuire - Mac, iPhone & Omnifocus
OogieM on Twitter
Paonia, CO USA
Your descriptions are so very clear and vivid and easy to understand!
May I ask (a bit off-topic for this thread, but not for GTD): How do you manage to keep a clear head concerning which of all these projects are related to which, and will need to have their timers tuned when there is a delay somewhere? Does your software (Omnifocus) have features for linking projects (making them relative to each other in some way), or does it all come down to keeping all this in your head or documented in checklists etc?
I understand Omnifocus is probably the best software around. Unfortunately, I have not been able to try it, because I use Windows, so I have been using apps like Nirvana, Doit, Toodledo, RTM and several others. I started with Outlook about 15 years ago. These usually have a start date and a due date, but no review date.
The way I understand it, the vast majority of the actions you are referring to would be ticklers (using the start date), so those I could manage even with software that does not have a separate review timer.
For those reviews that aren't anywhere close to being ticklers, though, just regular "interval reviews", unrelated to everything around you, do you still use individual timers for each project, or do you use a "review interval classification" approach more like mine, where I have applied a tag (or priority etc) to everything, and just use recurring ticklers as a general prompt to review certain "classes" of items, which I then go and look for in my lists?
I imagine, if you have a review timer in your software, then maybe you find it easier and more consistent (similar principle) to set up a timer for those "interval reviews" as well than it would be to apply a classification tag etc, or do you use both methods in parallel, for different kinds of things?
I like the discussion here - very well focused around methodology and GTD. And thanks again for the explanations.
OF has a separate review period for each project. Reviews and ticklers (make active or available) are totally separate. OF does not have tags and I do not like using the one priority flag they do have for stuff as it's cluttered and when things change, which they always do, it's inaccurate or takes a lot of time to keep updated.
I do use both start and due dates and review periods as required. Some projects have both and some do not. It is complex but the thinking about the structure only really happens once for those recurring projects so not too onerous to maintain.
Oogie McGuire - Mac, iPhone & Omnifocus
OogieM on Twitter
Paonia, CO USA
Thanks for explaining.
I am both disappointed and relieved to learn that even the great Omnifocus has its limitations - at least now I know I do not need to rush out and get myself a Mac just to get some decent software.
Yes, those strictly sequential projects really are a pain. I am using Nirvana, a beautiful and well-made app overall, which has that exact same silly setup for projects. It is sad, because it would seem like such a simple thing to fix. Instead of having the two project types (parallel and sequential, both of them imperfect; and confusing to many new users) they could simply have a single project type with a sequential section within a parallel main section (the sequential one feeding into the parallel one when that gets empty). That would have the merits of both, plus allow you to have more than just one current action right now. (And it could be refined even further, of course).
We are all ultimately limited by the limitations of our software.