Sunday, April 18, 2010

April - GTD and Toodledo #10: for Business and/or Personal life?

Yesterday I spend a good deal of time tuning up my GTD and Toodledo systems, with some fairly significant discoveries, primarily:

- Keep my Next Actions realistic - cull it down
- Realize that this 'objective' system has gray areas and accept it
- I can leave "finish to start" triggers for myself inside a task to emulate project management

It's not the system, it's me
As I'm going along, I'm realizing that the learnings that have the most value are usually about my perspective on things and not about the GTD system or Toodledo's functionality.  Both of these are powerful and flexible.  What a newsflash - it's ME that must adapt.  (Just like every area of life.)

What's a project?
Today's lesson so far has been regarding where the boundaries of a task-management system really are.  I think most people consider project management for work only.  And 'work' projects can tend to be larger than home projects... or are they?  Depends.

If you're comparing the construction of a building to a home project like remodeling a room, yeah it's bigger in an absolute sense.  But, bigger in an absolute sense has no bearing on what actually matters to a person - the room remodel might be much more significant to how you feel on a moment to moment basis.

Getting GTD.  No, I mean getting it
.The point of this is that the criteria for what constitutes a project might be pretty darn small.  Yes, this is not a new element to GTD, GTD acknowledges this and promotes the idea fully.   However, getting into GTD requires (at least for me) the quantum jump of understanding of these minor 'A-Ha' moments into major 'Oh, Wow....' moments only through personal experience.  Academically I understood it right away, but I didn't really get it until much later.  Then I got it.  You'll know.

Business or Personal
Here on Sunday morning, my day started with my 3 year old crawling on me at 6:15 telling me about a bug he found and asking for pancakes and a story.  I wasn't really ready for the day yet but my day was jolted into being without my involvement.

The point is that GTD is all about staying in a defined process and this was no defined process.  Even though I could wake up and ostensibly work through whatever Sunday's priorities were, it didn't happen that way.  Between me, my 3 and my 5 year old, there were many different agendas for the morning, including when to eat, when to dress etc.  There was schedule-free, complete randomness for a few hours.  Frankly, it spun me out.

Why?  I have a lot on my plate, and it's sometimes hard to just be.  I hadn't planned this time out and it was hard for me to go from structured, production time (or at least time that intends to be structured and productive) to time that's profoundly random and unstructured.  I got into a tailspin and changed my mind about 10 times regarding the actions of the day.

By the time mid-morning rolled around, I had to get on to some firm obligations and I was not in the right frame of mind to work productively.  I decided to take some time to chill and relax before working. So, where's the GTD connection?  The first part of my day, the few hours I spend with my boys while their mom sleeps in, didn't even have so much as a backdrop of clear intention associated with it.  Not even a decision to accept the randomness or commit to leisure time!  My GTD system, with projects, actions, next actions, someday maybe items and all the related structure gives me a consistent context that my mind can sync to and get rolling.  I'm thinking this is one of the major unarticulated functions of GTD - a context to sync to that becomes familiar, easy and automatic.

Even though I've had as many weekends as weekdays in my life and they make up the lion's share of my uncommitted time, they receive MUCH less forethought.  This is bass-ackwards.  Railing against the knee-jerk reaction to keep my free time unstructured is actually quite smart; it is, in fact, the time that I should have the most structure on because that's the most fun part, the part that I really want to enjoy.

Apply the same GTD principles to my free time as my work time.

By way of example, some of the options for Sunday were to work in the garage (cleaning), do yard work (weeding, planting), play at the park, or go for a bike ride.  With a committee of 3, there was anything but consensus and we waffled.  I waffled.  I'm the grown up so it's my job.  Waffling extolls a high price of the waffler and the waffled.  Suckola energy drain.

I'll have a plan for next weekend.

GTD with Toodledo 30 day project

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