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Patching GTD for repeating actions

GTD seems to me to focus very much on helping with a certain kind of thing; it's the one-off project. Roughly;

- You figure out what you want to achieve
- You break it into actions
- You do the actions
- You're done.

But what about those things you never complete? 'Keep the house tidy' isn't something you do once and forget about it. Nor is 'Keep fit' or 'Keep my relationship great' or 'Maintain vehicle'.

So how do you fit the action these goals create into GTD? I don't think it's written into the system - I think it needs a patch.

Anyone got any ideas for how to do this? If you already do it, how are you doing it?

Thanks for any ideas,


nansense's picture

In order to avoid adding...

In order to avoid adding a patch (I like to fully use what's there before adding anything), I consider some of these recurring tasks into hard landscape as well as projects. In other words, they go on my calendar. Gassing up my car and checking the oil/water/air/etc happens on my way home from work on Friday and I tickle it every week. I don't do NAs during that time. Home/self maintenance tasks like running the dishwasher and flossing teeth every night (daily calendar = hard landscape) or vaccuuming behind the refrigerator grill (yearly = tickler file) can fit into GTD without additional methodology.

Fitness goals fit in, too. Making tomorrow's healthy lunch and laying out workout gear every night = hard landscape. Buy a new yoga video and mat = project.

When it comes to relationship issues, I find myself dropping ticklers and projects in as they come up in my thoughts and in my journal. Birthdays go in the tickler file. Keeping a gift idea list (at various times, I've done it both on paper and in a Palm) has generated way more ideas for me than keeping it all in my head. My brother-in-law's birthday is coming up? Consulting the list shows a book about a country he traveled to recently.

Implementing GTD and writing things down has raised my relationship awareness. Right now, two of the items on my @email list are to answer emails from old high school friends. I suspect that I've had two or more similar unanswered emails in my mailbox, but before GTD they either dropped off the radar or got stuck as a low priority and never got done. Now I see that I've got some interesting people reaching out to me, and all I have to do is answer the email and schedule dinner (= hard landscape) or whatever. Keeping an Agenda list has made me realize that I have three questions to ask my mother-in-law. So when she calls about something else, I remember what I wanted to ask her. In the same call, I find out that another relative is injured. Get well flowers (= tickler file) for tomorrow, to remind me that's a timely task. As I scan my @email and @calls lists, I see that an aunt's name doesn't appear anywhere...the one whom I always hit it off with. So I might add an item to my @calls list or @home list to write her a letter or @errands list to buy her a card.

The only patch I've added here is my own journaling, which has made me aware of my desire to give back in my immediate relationships.

I don't think anything's missing from GTD. But that may be because I was implementing FlyLady before GTD, so I had the hard landscape thing starting to be under control. Not everything in GTD is an NA. It can be hard landscape or a nebulous project. A "getting fit" goal can be subdivided into a "exercise one minute more every day until I'm up to 45 mins" project, then pick a sport (next project).




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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