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Interesting article about using second person.

When entering actions in OmniFocus, I'll try to put the action in a completed state. Instead of:
Repair broken water pipe
I'll type:
Water pipe is repaired.

I may start trying to use second person.
You have repaired broken water pipe.

Interesting how that changes the sentence structure back to verb before noun.

Repair broken water pipe. (verb noun)
Water pipe is repaired. (noun verb)
You have repaired broken water pipe. (noun verb noun)

Using the second person includes me in the action. And the simple act of me reading and thinking about that action allows my mind to visualizing the action being completed.

Last edited by SpiralOcean; 2009-02-19 at 11:52 PM..
Interesting article. I have a background in instructional design and the generally accepted method of writing actions is to begin with a verb:

1) Research this...
2) Collaborate with your team...
3) Create a 3-page document that...
4) Submit your document to your professor before...

What I am curious about with your implementation is why you would write actions in the past tense? I would not be comfortable with 'You have repaired water pipe' when in fact I have not yet repaired the pipe. What if you wrote your actions as 'You repair the water pipe'?
I think the use of past tense encourages visualization of the completed task.
I have no problem with visualization of a completed task. I have a bigger challenge with actually completing tasks! ;)

This method may be a big boost for some people. For me I think it would be a nightmare. Seeing 'You have repaired the water pipe' would be followed by 'Cool, what's next on the list' or 'No I didn't fix the pipe at all'.

The research article also appears to be reporting on present tense perspectives (I am repairing...) rather than past tense (I repaired...) or future tense (You will repair...). It might be interesting to contact the psychologist that conducted the study (original article here) to see if he also looked at past and future tense.
I use past tense for project names (where I'm interested in visualizing successful completion) and future tense for actions. While it might sometimes be helpful to use the second person to put myself in the visualized success state, often the success of the project isn't centered on me. For example, "curriculum committee approved new course" versus "you convinced the curriculum committee to approve the new course". There are lots of actions I can take to nudge this project to completion, but ultimately I'm trying to effect a change in someone else.


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