Friday, May 18, 2007

Getting Things Done

GTD talks about Project Verbs vs Next-Action Verbs. This stuck in my mind because I realize it points to a weakness in the way I plan things.

The verbs listed in the post are business/productivity verbs. A lot of them don't really apply to me, but I was thinking that I could make my to-do lists much easier to refer to if I codified my own set of action verbs. Here are a few that come up all the time:

  • Call
  • Write
  • Talk to
  • Clean
  • Read
  • Study (defined as taking notes, or reviewing)
  • Walk
  • Go
  • Buy
  • Research (defined as searching the library or the internet or possibly the store)
  • Pray about
  • Think about
  • Choose?
  • Assign/Delegate
  • Train/Instruct
  • Meet
  • Move
  • Take out
  • Put away /File

There are probably a few more, and those ones could be broken down further, but it clarifies my thinking to have those ones out there.

I can't think of any project ones offhand. Here are a few he mentioned:

  • Organize
  • Complete
  • Draft
  • Design
  • Update
  • Look into (this sounds like Research but maybe it's more about deciding whether to research).
  • Plan
  • Construct
  • Implement
  • Classify

He says:

I really wish I’d had these tables taped over my desk three years ago when I started doing GTD, because — geeky as it sounds — they’re a kind of rosetta stone for ensuring that you correctly translate your stuff into either tasks or containers for tasks. So useful.

I guess the thing is to take the broader verbs and break them down into smaller actionable steps.

Here's a couple more articles:
Building a Smarter To-Do List Part I, and Part II

From this one on ciphers:

My theory is that the secret code for most self-improvement systems—from Getting Things Done through Biofeedback and the Atkins diet—is not hard to break; any idea that helps you to become more self-aware can usually help you to reach a goal or affect a favorable solution. That’s pretty much the entire bag of doughnuts right there.

(leads to a few basic principles)
  • action almost always trumps inaction
  • planning is crucial; even if you don’t follow a given plan
  • things are easier to do when you understand why you’re doing them
  • your brain likes it when you make things as simple as possible

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