March 28, 2006

GTD meets Covey meets M. Scott Peck…

Posted in GTD, Lifehacks at 1:59 am by a11en

Ok, I’m back. Positive work meeting. Too bad Gmail is down, otherwise my day would be decent. Not excellent, just decent. Too much work overhead that is risking to fall on my head to be good. 😉 So, I must continue dilligently.

But, I promised some short thoughts on the meeting of three major systems. Getting Things Done by David Allen, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and M. Scott Peck’s The Road Less Travelled.

First, GTD:

GTD is excellent. I highly recommend it to everyone. What I’ve noticed is that it’s excellent at helping you to actually *do* things you want to do. In other words, it helps you to organize your day to day life. The little tasks that are cluttering your brain, making you remember things in the middle of the day, or while you’re out with your girlfriend enjoying the evening. All of a sudden <<kapow>> you remember a major item you needed to accomplish by tomorrow or the next day… things that need to get done. Doesn’t do you a lick of good as you’re out with the girl… but would have helped a crapload when you were at your desk. Well, enter GTD. For everyone who wanted to know how to get things done, this is the book.

Golden nuggets from GTD:

  • -almost too numerous to list here-
  • The concept of actual “next actions”. Your to do list is ineffective if you don’t have actual physical actions listed. For instance- buy a particular book. Your actual first action may be to research the going price online. You won’t get this bit done, unless you put down that actual task. You’ll think to yourself: Oh hell, I can’t get that done right now, I have to get online, check the price at Amazon, then at Barnes and Nobels, then at Abes books… it goes on and on. So, put *actual actions* on your to do lists.
  • The concept of “Contexts” A to do list for groceries and hardware supplies does you no darned good at the office, and vice-versa. So, make your lists have contexts. Find yourself out and about? Pull out your errands list. Find yourself online? Pull out your online list.
  • The concept of an InBox and the concept of filtering your crap. You want to throw out stuff that doesn’t need to get done, or archive it if it needs to be kept… then you want to put new stuff on your inbox when it comes in.. secure in knowing you’re going to go through looking at them again soon, and putting them on your appropriate to do lists.
  • Ok, I need to stop here.. just go out and freakin’ buy the thing…

Second, Seven Habits:

I think Covey was such a major advancement in personal management, that it has sort of become old news. I hate to say it, but when there are college courses surrounding a productivity book, it’s likely that is the case. For everyone who had to struggle through it in college, take that book back out when all hell is breaking loose and you think you’re getting no where in your life. It’ll all start to make sense when you work through it yourself. People who throw the baby out with the bathwater will want to throw out Covey’s concepts of Roles, and larger-life-management. This is a mistake. Covey helps you to think about what wall you’re putting your ladder against to climb. Does you no good to climb that wall unless it’s the right one. It does, however, only really give you a taste-test of how to get things done in your day-to-day. People who read the chapter “First Things First” or the book entitled the same, will understand what I mean. Looks nice, nice concepts, but hell, doing it, is a whole other ball-game. I played with it for months on end, and never ever got it working. [Caveat- I’m a disorganized fool. My good pal Pankaj actually got it working just great- infact, he swears I helped him accomplish his work ’cause I told him about Covey. 🙂 Well, at least I do someone else good even if I’m not doing myself good. 😉 ha ha ha… grr…]

The golden nuggets in Covey:

  • The concept of roles in life: Are you forwarding all areas of your life, or are you only focused on one area to the detriment of al else? If so, you will be soon (if not already) realizing that your life is missing something, and ultimately you’ll feel like you’re spinning your wheels. The answer to this, is to think hard about all the major roles in your life, and where you want each one to head. Then, you must think about these roles at least once during your week, if not your day. This will help you to accomplish at least 1 thing in each role each week. You’ll notice your whole life moving forward, not just that one little area you’ve been focusing on.
  • The concept of the Four Quandrants: This is a classic. Draw a big plus sign on a piece of paper. Now, put a box around it- that’s a small grid. Good. Now, from right to left, put a big I, II, next line, III, IV in the squares. Ok. Now, we’re going to name the rows and columns. First Column. Get’s the name: Important, the second: Unimportant. The first row, gets the name: Urgent, the second row gets the name: Not urgent. Ok, good. Now, this is a breakdown of everything you do in your day. The IInd Quadrant tasks are where you always want to operate. These are important but not urgent items. [If they are left alone, they’ll become urgent and burn a hole through your desk.] The imporant and urgent items are already hurting you… the fire-bells are ringing… most likely you left these a bit late? Finally, quadrant III items are really just not important… answering that phone that keeps ringing left and right, or that e-mail that keeps coming in. Most of those are gonna be urgent, but really not important. They’ll steal time away from the important things. And finally, quadrant IV will just waste your time all around. Not urgent, not important = dorking off.
  • Sharpening the saw: You can’t cut any trees if you don’t stop cutting, sharpen that saw of yours, and start cutting again. Weekly destressing and relaxation are critical to your wellbeing.
  • Roles: Are you neglecting a major aspect of your life that’s important to you?
  • Circle of Influence: The basic concept here, is that there’s no reason fretting or spinning your wheels about things which are outside of your circle of influence. Not a member of the team that’s screwing something up? Does it do you any good to fret about it? You can’t do anything about it. Global Warming? Seriously, folks, if all of you who are helping the globe warm up, could please come over to central-Illinois, I’d really appreciate it. I’m ready for some good weather. What? You don’t have that much of an effect? Then stop freakin’ worrying and spinning your wheels, my friend. It’s out of your circle of influence. Always working within your circle of influence will keep you moving forward, and prevent you from wasting your time.

Third, The Road Less Travelled:

This book so far is absolutely fantastic. It has in the short space of 3 or 4 chapters completely explained my procrastination. It’s amazing. Ultimately, it explains my problem is *not* with time-management. Ha! Yeah right!… no no, he’s right. It’s all about Delaying Gratification. It’s so true. What it boils down to, is making the choice for short-term pain so that the long-run I can enjoy longer term pleasure. If I delay my short-term pain (the things that need to get done), I ultimately choose short-term pleasure, and gain longer-term pain. It’s the absolute freakin’ truth. I put off the short-term work, and I gain the pain and horror of things hanging over my head for long periods of time. As well, I get only short-term pleasure… stupid web-surfing, stupid TV show watching, whatever it is. If it’s something I’m putting in place of my real work (and not sharpening the saw), I ultimately am not enjoying it as well (I know I should be doing something else), and I’m gaining only short-term pleasure. As well, until I own up to the fact that this is *my* problem, and something *I* need to fix myself… I can easily throw it on the environment I’m in, my coworkers, my boss, whatever. That’s a character disorder right there… if I’m not willing to realize I have fault here.

Golden nuggets from the first 10 little chapters:

  • Delayed gratification is a method for scheduling the pain upfront, so as to increase the pleasure by getting the pain over with first.
  • Many people just simply don’t take the time (the short term pain) to solve life’s intellectual, social, or spiritual problems. Often when you do take the time, you realize you *can* do it. It’s not some deficiency of yours. Expend the effort, you can accomplish what you feel you couldn’t.
  • “Problems do not go away. They must be worked through or else they remain, forever a barrier to the growth and development of the spirit.”
  • Ignoring problem is simply due to the inability to delay gratification.
  • It *is* your problem. “This is my problem and it’s up to me to solve it.”

Bringing it all together:

Ok, so to bring it all together. Covey helps you to understand the major areas of your life you wish to do things in, and helps you to think about what you want to accomplish in them in the long run. He explains the concept of important, unimportant, urgent, not-urgent tasks, and which areas to work in. He helps you to see that you should only be concerned ultimately with your circle of influence (which includes yourself and your emotional responses to things that are outside your influence), and helps you to see that you need to keep the important things (first things) first. David Allen helps you to take those things that you are trying to get done, organize them in such a way that you have actual actions to work on, and know when and where to work on them, or what to do with them if you don’t know where they should go. He helps you to get them the heck out of your mind, so they stop bugging you all the time while you’re trying to do your work. He is your day-to-day trust it like a rock, system. And finally, M.Scott Peck highlights the fact that you aren’t an idiot, if you spend time on the item at hand that’s difficult, you can and will get it done. As well, you should realize if you are putting your problems onto someone/something else. Stay true to the reality of the world. The world includes pain.. you can’t ignore the pain, or the tasks that are painful… hoping they’ll go away on their own. If they stay neglected, you’ll have long-term pain (urgent and important tasks burning holes in your desk). So, best get it done in the short term, and delay your gratification until you’ve got that short term pain out of your way. This way your mind will be free to relax and enjoy that well-deserved pleasure.

<whew> I hope that puts it all together for me, and for others who might catch it. It’s been a long post, but hopefully it will clarify things in my head a bit.

Quick update: Peck is a bit more focused on personal psychological development rather than time-management. I have to admit, however, that his comments regargind procrastination were spot-on for me. So, I will continue to read his book interested in his comments for all areas of my life…

Now that I delayed my gratification a bit with this long post… it’s time to go and enjoy a bowl of Russ Oulette’s Anniversary Kake in a Hans Christian Andersen II by Stanwell.

One last thing: kinkless kGTD system for Mac OS X and OOP, has been updated! Woo HOo!

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1 Comment »

  1. […] for me, searching4arcadia has beat me to it: Bringing it all […]


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