Clean Edges

Wow, major "blinding flash of the obvious" about GTD today. I've fallen off the stress-free productivity wagon a bit lately and decided to spend some time getting back on.

I've been keeping all my actions and projects together in a Circa/Rolla-based Hipster PDA. Each card in the Circa represents a project, and I use the card to think about what needs to be done, what the status of the issue is, and just general notes about what I'm trying to do. The idea was that each day I'd flip through the cards and figure out my next actions, which I would put on a daily to do list. As things developed, I'd take notes on the cards and update the statuses. (stati?)

But it wasn't working, and I realized that I didn't have what David Allen calls "clean edges" to my system. My "could dos", "must dos", "someday maybes", and "waiting fors" were all mixed up. It was too time consuming to read through each card and figure out what I was going to do next, so I was avoiding the whole thing and just wandering from one interruption to another.

So I decided that I need a list of the actions I'm ready to do right now. The list has to be things I can actually do, not tasks that are waiting for something to happen, or that I think I might do at some point in the future. Sound familiar? Like a "Next Actions" list perhaps?

GTD is so simple but so hard.


gtdfrk said...

Hi Jennifer, I'm glad you're writing about GTD again! :)

Even though I have been "doing" GTD for over 8 months now, I still have regular BFO's about the system.

My last BFO was really listening to David Allen's words that basically you only need a good list manager that is fast, fun and flexibile to "do" GTD.

Since then I am using a simple list manager on my Windows Mobile PDA where I put only 2 lists: the Next Action list and the Someday/Maybe list. The Next Action list also contains Waiting For items. Using list filtering and sorting I can quickly view only Waiting For items, or only Next Actions for a certain project, and so on.

Jennifer said...

Hi gtdfrk, thanks for the comment! For me the thing I've really been thinking about lately is the difference between next actions and someday maybes. I had a ton of things on my list that were really someday maybes masquerading as next actions. I had to sit down and decide whether I was really going to do them, or if I was just fooling myself. Sure, I'd like to clean out my closet, but am I really going to do it this weekend? Probably not.