The Omni Group
These forums are now read-only. Please visit our new forums to participate in discussion. A new account will be required to post in the new forums. For more info on the switch, see this post. Thank you!

Go Back   The Omni Group Forums > OmniFocus > Applying OmniFocus
FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

 
Why David Allen doesn't "get" GTD Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Made you look, didn't I?

Actually, I'm serious. David Allen is different than most of us, and that difference explains a lot of the disconnect between strict, pure David Allen GTD and those of us so much in need of it.

Let me explain.

I've seen a lot of discussion in the OF forum lamenting the fact that GTD ignores Priorities. To state it simply, DA believes you should plan in Projects, but work from Contexts. Therefore, when you're at an airport with 20 minutes on your hands and a cellphone in your pocket, you look at your "Calls" context and that's what you do.

Makes sense as far as it goes, The problem is, it doesn't go far enough to cover "the rest of us."

Here's what makes DA different than me and (statistically) you: DA is The Boss.

DA can look at any given Context list and decide what's important at that moment for where he is and what tools are at hand. I can't. My boss decides what's important - and when he tells me, I better have a way of marking those actions accordingly.

In other words, DA and I come to GTD from opposite directions. DA makes a call because he's near a phone. I am near a phone because my boss says I need to make a call.

And that, my fellow wage-slaves, is a critical difference indeed.

The reality is simple: if someone else is constantly pushing things onto your plate, you need to know which things are steak, which things are veggies, and which things are garnish. And that's the pusher's call, not yours. You're the pushee.

Fortunately, the solution in OF is just as simple. Here's what I do:

I start every action assigned to me with a number (1, 2, or 3) followed by a symbol (I use the equal sign). Here are a few examples:

1= Send flowers to Boss's mother from him (Mother's Day is tomorrow).
3= Sched appt to have tires rotated on Boss's car.
1= Buy Boss's wife a great anniversary gift from him (anniversary was yesterday).
2= Tell Jenkins he's being transferred to Cleveland (the Boss hates him).
3= Buy Jenkins a bus ticket.
2= Begin training your replacement if you don't get high priority items done.

So now, all I have to do (in either Projects or Context mode) is type "1=" into the search field, and only the most important items (in my Boss's humble opinion) appear. I can quickly see that I have assigned each action an appropriate start/due date, moved it to the right place (if it belongs to a Project), given it the right Context, and so on.

Most importantly, I can be sure that of the 200 actions currently stuck in my OF craw, I can instantly see the relative importance of each action, and make sure I don't do a 2 until I've finished all the 1's, no matter where I am or what tools are handy.

That's how I keep myself in the context of "employed." <g>

PS: the reason I don't use the Flag for critical items is that I flag actions that I'm waiting for. This let's me keep "1= Call Dave to schedule lunch meeting with Boss this Fri" in the "Phone" context, and to even check it as "Done," (after all, I made the call), yet still see that I'm waiting for Dave to call me back and confirm that he got the voice mail I left for him and that he'll be at the meeting.
 
If your boss says you _need_ to make a call, why not just make the call instead of putting it inside of OF with the top priority?

I don't use OF as the extreme arbiter of ALL actions. Some things are TIMED actions (e.g. conference calls, customer calls, meetings, etc.) which I put in a calendar and do at an exact time. Then I typically use dates to help me prioritize other actions. And I don't have to have a priority number sitting in front of me when confronted with 3 tasks... I do the most important ones first. When I look at the 3 actions, I can decide that then... the fact that I made the priority decision hours or days previously and marked them as such is irrelevant.

Yes, there are other threads saying OF needs priorities (one just got hit by a Chinese spammer... wanna buy something?). And for some it's helpful. But you can also work around it in various ways.
 
CatOne:

If my boss called and told me to make a call, then hung up, I'd make the call as soon as I had a dial tone. But my boss is not stingy when it comes to handing out tasks.

When he calls me, it's never with a single action -- it's with several simultaneous assignments, most of which he probably thinks are Actions but which are usually each mini-Projects with several steps required to make them happen.

If I ever had a day when I was confronted with only 3 tasks, I'd feel like Jimmy Stewart at the end of "It's A Wonderful Life."

Maybe I could train my boss to adopt a "one call, one task" policy with me, but until I win a lottery, I don't think I'll put it to the test. <g>
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by daiglebox View Post
The problem is, it doesn't go far enough to cover "the rest of us."

Here's what makes DA different than me and (statistically) you: DA is The Boss.

DA can look at any given Context list and decide what's important at that moment for where he is and what tools are at hand. I can't. My boss decides what's important - and when he tells me, I better have a way of marking those actions accordingly.
I'm not sure I agree. In my experience, most "knowledge workers" have at least some discretion in choosing what to work on at any given moment, as long as the deadline is met. This certainly holds true for me and the vast majority of my coworkers. But every situation is different, so let's assume your assertion is true.

I use flags for marking items as important and give items due dates if they're urgent. This has worked extremely well for me. I think the distinction between importance and urgency is significant, so I like to view them in separate lists.

In addition to this, I've been experimenting with a "dynamic" perspective that focuses on the projects I'm currently working on. It changes frequently, sometimes multiple times in a day. I select the projects that are currently hot, hit the focus button, and update the perspective snapshot. This gives me a narrow list of just the items I want to work on right now.

-Dennis
 
There are a couple of alternate ways you could deal with this without resorting to the numbering scheme you've described:

1) Why not just create a context entitled "Boss Assigned" or something similar? Mark all of your boss requested actions with that context and a due date. Then, when you are in context view you will readily see how many "Boss Assigned" tasks you have, and deal with them accordingly. And if you want to get even more precise, you could also create sub-contexts under the "Boss Assigned" context (phone, email, etc.).

2) Create a sub-folder in your "Work" folder (assuming you have one, of course) in your projects list, and title it "Boss Assigned." Then put all of your boss assigned projects into that folder.
 
That right there is a great tip, daiglebox. Funny how, when an interface doesn't spoon-feed functionality, tricks like that can be rather elusive...

I'll definitely be trying that out for a few suitable projects...

I do a little patch like that for knowing if an action has a note in OF for iPhone: I add a > to the file name.

More for easy searching, and for keeping names short for display on iPhone, my work folders all start with a bullet: • - there's a bullet in our logo... and my "life" folders start with a tlide: ~ . (Just one level deep, since once I've drilled down, I'm already where I need to be, so there's no great need for either category name...)

Anyway, great tip, thanks!
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by daiglebox View Post
...GTD ignores Priorities. To state it simply, DA believes you should plan in Projects, but work from Contexts. Therefore, when you're at an airport with 20 minutes on your hands and a cellphone in your pocket, you look at your "Calls" context and that's what you do.
Context is only the tip of the iceberg. But without context, you have nothing. It's the old "being reminded of dead batteries in the flashlight when attempting to use it, rather than when out at the store" routine.

To say that GTD ignores priorities is false. If you were to shadow David Allen for an entire day, all the GTD you'd see him "doing" is the five-phase system of Collect-Process-Organize-Review-Do. This is the only "horizontal" component of GTD, but it's the most visible, so many people mistake it for being the whole GTD system.

What you won't see him "doing" is what's going on in his head: doing the "vertical" aspect: examining one's work, life and priorities with everything from the daily stuff to the big picture view in mind.

Quote:
Originally Posted by daiglebox View Post
DA can look at any given Context list and decide what's important at that moment for where he is and what tools are at hand. I can't. My boss decides what's important - and when he tells me, I better have a way of marking those actions accordingly.
Do you have a pulse? If so, then you can prioritize (making action decisions) in the moment, based on any of a number of criteria, only the first of which is Context. The problem is, these criteria may be shifting continually, based on time available, energy available, urgency with regards to deadlines, and yes, interruptions from your boss.

As David Allen says: (taken from track 2 of the audio version of the GTD book)

Quote:
The traditional approaches to time management were useful in their time. They provided helpful reference points for a workforce that was just emerging from an industrial, assembly-line modality, into a new kind of work that included choices about what to do and discretion about when to do it. Along with discretionary time also came the need to make good choices about what to do at any given time. ABC priority codes and daily to-do lists were key techniques that helped people sort through their choices in some meaningful way. If you had the freedom to decide what to do, you also had the responsibility to make good choices.

What you've probably discovered, at least at some level, is that daily to do lists, and simplified priority coding have proven inadequate to deal with the volume and variable nature of the average professional's workload. More and more people's jobs are made up of dozens or even hundreds of emails a day, with no latitude left to ignore a single request, complaint, or order. There are few people who can expect to code everything an A, a B, or a C priority, or who can maintain some predetermined list of to-dos, that the first telephone call, or interruption from their boss, won't totally undo.
Anyone who thinks GTD ignores priority needs to take a more careful read of the program, especially the "6-level model for reviewing your own work" and the "Natural Planning" model. There's a lot more subtlety and depth to GTD than the 5 stages of mastering workflow.
 
@C Breiling:

You hit it right on the button....

Previously, I tried using the A, B, C priority method in my Franklin-Covey Planner and it just didn't work.....

Now that I use contexts (including time available, energy level available, deadline, etc.), I've been more productive.

Previously, I felt guilty about finishing a C level task when I knew I should be doing the A level tasks. Now it's about contexts. It's my saving grace from the madness of the real world....

Now I'll never go back to the A, B, C To-Do list. Whenever I read user reviews using the other task managers praising OmniFocus competitors for including A, B, C priorities, I just roll my eyes, smile, and get back to using contexts. It's so much more effective.
 
Agreed. GTD is oversimplified for the real world. But oversimplified concepts sound good and sell more books.

GTD doesn't reflect the fact that for many of us do priority trumps context, no matter how much we wish that we had the luxury of efficiently doing everything by context
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tah View Post
Agreed. GTD is oversimplified for the real world. But oversimplified concepts sound good and sell more books.

GTD doesn't reflect the fact that for many of us do priority trumps context, no matter how much we wish that we had the luxury of efficiently doing everything by context
Okay, well, let's talk "real world."

1) Priority fans rarely do their A tasks first, B tasks second, and so on. They do a lot of C stuff first because they're easier to knock out. As for their so-called high priority tasks, they'll nibble at some of their B's, but only get to the A's when they absolutely have to--when they're out of time and out of excuses. (Or if they've got an A priority email to get out, they'll do that, but then, since they're already in their email system anyway, they'll go through the rest of their new messages at that time. Which, by the way, in GTD lingo, is called their mail context.)

2) They waste a lot of time re-prioritizing their priorities. They get new tasks or new projects all the time, and they have to constantly compare the relative worth of those new tasks to the others already on their plate (and already prioritized).

How about just doing the work instead of constantly trying to figure out which task is more important? In your phone context today you see that you have six phone calls to make, so you make those calls, regardless of their relative worth to one another, and then move on to your next context. I would venture to guess that within those six calls are one or two that are more important than the others. The fact is though, you got them all done. And if you must have a visual aid showing you which of those phone calls is more important than the others, then flag them so you are sure to make those calls first. Or if you've got some low priority calls, then don't date them. In your Due perspective they'll show up in your phone context in the "No Due Date" group, so you can get to them whenever you have some spare time.

When it comes to organization systems, task prioritization has been around forever, ceratinly longer than GTD, so a lot of priority fans simply can't shake their old habits. Actually, they don't even want to try.
 
 


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
GTD's David Allen new OF Setup guide neilp OmniFocus Extras 4 2012-11-12 07:25 AM
David Allen Endorsement - strong! Fireproof OmniFocus for iPhone 0 2010-08-27 05:32 AM
David Allen on The Hot List invictus26 Applying OmniFocus 2 2010-06-06 09:27 PM
partnering with David Allen? steve OmniFocus 1 for Mac 1 2009-02-12 06:42 PM
Excellent Podcast with David Allen kioneo OmniFocus 1 for Mac 3 2007-08-30 10:54 PM


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:40 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.