Procrastinators Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from chronic procrastination.

Hi and Getting Things Done (GTD) question

Never posted here before... maybe it's just another way for me to procrastinate. ;) Then again, maybe some folks with experience can help me. Found my way here via the procrasination book on wikipedia and was looking at the article on time bingeing and thought it fit me to a great extent. Actually, for me I think the issue is a combination of procrastination and escapism... they always seem to go together for me. It's a chicken/egg scenario. I might try the bookending thing too... I kind of do that myself sometimes but with no audience, there is no sense of accountability.

Now too, I was wondering whether any of you had any thoughts on the GTD book. I read it 6+ months ago and was following many of his suggestions but fell off the wagon after 2-3 months. The thing is, I was accomplishing more but I constantly felt like even though I was doing more, I was also constantly stressing about the things that weren't getting done. I also felt like I was getting lots of little items checked off at the expense of the big picture. It got to the point that I almost refuse to look at my PDA because it makes me sick to see all 3 million things I need to do in one place. :barf: I couldn't really concentrate on where I was or what I was doing because there were so many other things I felt like I should ALSO be doing.
Has anyone else had this feeling after working with the book? Any ideas or comments on how to deal with this?

Ok, now I am going to work for a half hour on this problem at work that has me totally stuck. I really don't want to but here I go...

I agree with Flexiblefine

I put dates on mine too. That way a list of (let me just look...5,873 items!) becomes a manageable number in each day. For example, today's list is just let me see... none! items long. Usually it's about 8 - 20, but I don't plan ~any~ extra on busy days (which is what today was supposed to be, except one of the workshops I was supposed to be running was cancelled). Some of these things are my regular routines, so they're just reminders. There are quite a few things on the Projects List, a ~lot~ of things on Someday/Maybe (some of them tried to get onto the Action Lists but had to be 'demoted' - there are only so many hours in a day that I can work at my lists!) Be ruthless with the Someday/Maybe. If there are things on your list not getting done there's no point giving yourself grief over them.

Personally I also find it easier to group certain things on certain days (an idea I got from FlyLady). So I schedule anything to do with my accounts on Thursdays, errands on Fridays (if I'm home at the weekend - otherwise Thursdays), etc. I don't concern myself with Friday's tasks until Friday comes - that's the value of the Weekly Review - I can plan ahead and not have that ominous feeling that I've missed something.

Sadly, I've let the Weekly Review slip - I could do with finding a way of working it back in again.

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hobby/fun stuff in GTD?

Do you guys put hobby/fun related stuff on your to-do list. I was just going through the old stuff on my PDA, trying to get it organized again and I noticed a lot of it was related to stuff that should be fun but doesn't really matter if it gets done. For instance, I want to practice my (really bad) piano playing a bit more... so that was on the list. But I wonder if it really belongs there because:
1) it makes somethings that should be fun seem like work
2) it doesn't really matter if I do it or not

Then again, if it is not on the list I might not do it and I'll never improve and I would like to improve. :?


I put fun things on for a number of reasons:

1) It ~does~ matter if they get done - if I don't have any fun I'll go insane!
2) Sometimes I can't think of anything fun to do, so I would just carry on working even though I need a break if I couldn't look stuff up as a reminder
3) Some things come to mind at an inconvenent time - I want to check out a website, book, make a phone call etc, but I've not got time to do it now. I've got to make a note of it somewhere I won't lose it!
4) Sometimes it's nice just to flick through the fun stuff and remind myself it's not all hard work.
5) Sometimes I need to make a commitment to doing fun things, because I've a tendency to punish myself by working all the time (I think this may be a procrastinator thing - we feel we never have time to play or allow ourselves to play).

Do you ever write a wish list of books you're interested in, or places you want to go? It's the same thing. Just because it's written down it doesn't have to mean it's work.

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Excellent point!

Normy, you make some wonderful observations in many of your posts. this is another one I like.

Do as I say, not as I do!

Thanks slider. I don't always follow my own advice though. I've just caught myself out doing number 5 on my list. I crunched through a difficult list of ToDos today, and now I'm too tired to play - I'm experimenting with putting in 'fun' things in my ToDo lists to motivate me (and so I actually get to do some of them!), so I'm going to put an extra one in there tomorrow to make up for it! :P

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One of the goals of GTD

One of the goals of GTD is to help you become comfortable with what you aren't doing. Instead of keeping track of everything you have committed to do in one place so it's always bothering you, your system should help you focus on what you are working on and not worry about the rest.

I have been in the situation you describe -- long action lists that only get longer as new things come in. This only makes me more anxious, so it doesn't help me get anything done. In fact, it makes me so nervous that I have trouble choosing anything to do at all.

When you do a weekly review (and you should, to help keep your system straight), you should look over your projects and actions to figure out what you are actually likely to work on in the upcoming week. If you limit your action lists to those items, you won't keep facing reminders of the things you haven't gotten done in weeks. (I put dates on my actions when I put them on my lists, so I know just how old they are.)

Just two weeks ago, I spent extra time to go through my projects and actions to decide which situations were "good enough" as they were -- which actions were on my lists because I wanted to get things done perfectly instead of successfully. Projects got pushed to Someday/Maybe, and actions were crossed off my lists.

In the end, my action lists, which used to fill two printed pages (of two columns), were cut down to less than a page. I felt so free to do things, cut loose from the anxiety-causing reminders of so many things not yet done.

Short lists, combined with a new habit I'm working on (doing work first, and work only until noon), have helped me be much more productive these last two weeks. I've finished multiple projects, and I feel like I have a workload that I can actually manage.


I guess I need to be more

I guess I need to be more selective about what actually is in my "current" list. I guess part of my problem is with prioritization... I've got kind of a one-track mind. When I think about doing something, it becomes the single most important thing that I need to do. Perhaps I need to be better about saying this is something I'd like to get done but it's ok if I don't do it anytime soon so I'll put it on the someday/maybe list. But then again, that starts to sound like procrastination after a while... *sigh*


Let me also post a little tip that sometimes works for me... maybe someone else will get a little good out of it. A few years back I was feeling especially discouraged and getting NOTHING done for day after day. I bought a package of little colored smiley stickers. Then every day I made a list of (manageable) tasks I wanted to get done. Whenever I finished a task on my list I put a smiley sticker next to it. Sort of like checking it off but a wee bit bigger reward. Lately, I've just been drawing a smiley face which isn't as good as a sticker but still pretty good.

I thought this was a really stupid idea and I didn't really think it would help me but I tried it out of desperation and it DID seem to help some. Now the only downside is I am always trying to hide my list from coworkers so they don't see all the silly little smiley faces.

I do that too!

Works for me! As you can probably tell from my posts, I'm a visual kind of person ;) I thought they looked silly too, so I put them on the calendar in my study. DSO puts them on his monitor. If I'm finding it difficult to get going on a particular task, I'll give myself the sticker just for doing that, to make it achievable.

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Todayfirst - I'll try anything! Thanks for the tip.

I'm moving into the red zone with my procrastination around a particular thing. I'll try anything. Thanks for the tip.