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You cannot have productivity or time management without priorities

My problem is that I have too much Stuff TM that I want to do. I have tons of hobbies and I love to learn, be it by reading, watching documentaries, whatever. I also like to participate with various communities I am a part of. What I am coming to realize is that the main reason why I am not productive and cannot manage my time well is that I am scattered all over the place. And it's not like at work where I can go to my boss and say that I have time for four project out of these ten so choose six for me to work on. This is my personal life; my so called leisure time. Reading one book means missing one documentary which means not participating in some online game which means not working on one of my four or five hobby coding projects which means not playing one of my 25+ computer games, etc.

I spend my entire day always thinking about what I am not doing. And pulling a GTD and brain dumping will not solve my problems as there is absolutely no way I can get 10% done of the stuff I want to get done. The thought of giving up hobbies because I don't have the time for them is one I can't seem to bear. How does one go about choosing Anime over PC strategy games, yoga over tai chi, electronics over philosophy, or Everquest over World of Warcraft!!! Until I make a painful decision give up whole meaty chunks of my life I drive myself crazier trying to time manage it all and I will never be productive; even if in some cases productive means finishing a science fiction novel or a module of Neverwinter Nights.

krackeman's picture

I have actually found GTD...

I have actually found GTD has helped me live by my priorities better than other methods for one simple reason: GTD allows me to have crappy little things to do. With Covey, or any other 'priorities first' system, I always struggled with guilt. "Why am I cleaning the fridge? If learning is my priority, I could be reviewing my classical Greek!" "I can't believe I threw away my expired medications instead of making memories with my children." All the little nit picky stuff would never make it on my list because it was a distraction from what really mattered to me. However, if I completely ignore all of the nit-picky stuff my life collapses into chaos.

GTD has given me the freedom to track it ALL "Clean our glovebox" and "Learn to speak German" and "Be a better Dad" are all accounted for. And as David said/wrote/perhaps implied, we have priorities or we don't. During my weekly review (which occurs semi-monthly, if I am honest), most of what I am doing is making judgement calls. If it came down to "Clean out glovebox" vs. "Be a better Dad", obviously time with my kids is most important, but most often my review forces me to look at both ... and decide if either is possible. Most times they are both possible and get organized appropriately. An date to go hiking with my son and "clean glovebox" on an action list.

Then you get to "be there" .. not thinking of the golvebox while hiking with my son, not thinking of how crappy a father I am while cleaning the glovebox. So I agree with the original subject line, in part. Indeed, you can not have productivity or time management without priorities. However, you can't do anything without priorities (by choosing one thing to do, you have inherently chosen NOT to do all othe rthings at that moment). GTD just gives me an appropriate space and time to really think about my priorities and my life, while also affirming the fact that we all have a ton of mindless junk to do. The trick for me is ACTUALLY spending the quality time at higher altitudes, so that day to day on the runway I can make make better "gut decisions" on what to do.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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