My Month in Productivity - March 2013
My month in Productivity for March 2013. Enjoy!
March 6, 2013 - Myth of Multitasking ::http://storify.com/rsidneysmith/prodchat-03-06-2013-myth-of-multitasking
March 13, 2013 - Project Planning (guest-hosted by the self-defined productivist, (http://augustopinaud.com)) ::http://storify.com/rsidneysmith/prodchat-03-13-13-project-planning
March 20, 2013 - Procrastination (guest-hosted by the always-remarkable productivity consultant, Natalie M. Houston (http://nmhouston.com)) :: http://
March 27, 2013 - All About Paper! ::http://storify.com/rsidneysmith/prodchat-03-27-13-all-about-paper
Margaret Winn shared a great account in her article entitled, “Outcome Thinking, Next Actions and Old Family Audio Files” ::http://twominuterule.com/post/45207846607/outcome-thinking-next-actions-and-old-family-audio
I haven’t been as steady with my podcast episodes going out as I would like, but I’ll fix that as of this week. Stay tuned!
Episode 57 — Banish New Year’s Resolutions! ::http://prodpod.net/2013/03/12/prodpod-episode-57-banish-new-years-resolutions/
Episode 58 — Paperless 2013 :: http://prodpod.net/2013/03/14/prodpod-episode-58-paperless-2013/
Episode 59 - Habit (poem) :: http://prodpod.net/2013/03/19/prodpod-episode-59-habit/
Episode 60 — Personal Life Action Negotiation (PLAN), Part One ::http://prodpod.net/2013/03/27/prodpod-episode-60-personal-life-action-negotiation-plan-part-one/
Episode 61 — Personal Life Action Negotiation (PLAN), Part Two ::http://prodpod.net/2013/03/28/prodpod-episode-61-%e2%80%94-personal-life-action-negotiation-plan-part-two/
Productivity Book Group
This is a new virtual reading group for all things productivity and related genres of books. We meet for a live call, and they’re archived so you can listen back if you miss a discussion (and subscribe on iTunes). More details at http://productivitybookgroup.org.
Wow! We have gone through three episodes already of Productivity Book Group and we’re almost completely through Getting Things Done by David Allen. Here are the archives of episodes one through three. Thanks to everyone who has joined the live calls!
March 2, 2013 - Getting Things Done: Part 1: The Art of Getting Things Done: Introduction and Chapters 1-3 ::http://productivitybookgroup.org/2013/03/02/getting-things-done-part-1-the-art-of-getting-things-done-introduction-and-chapters-1-3/
March 17, 2013 - Getting Things Done: Part 2a: Practicing Stress-Free Productivity: Chapters 4-6 ::http://productivitybookgroup.org/2013/03/17/getting-things-done-part-2a-practicing-stress-free-productivity-chapters-4-6/
March 30, 2013 - Getting Things Done: Part 2b: Practicing Stress-Free Productivity: Chapters 7-10 ::http://productivitybookgroup.org/2013/03/31/getting-things-done-part-2b-practicing-stress-free-productivity-chapters-7-10/
Upcoming This Month
Getting Things Done NYC Productivity Group meets on April 18th at 7:30pm (http://meetup.com/gtdnyc) and in addition to our normal, fantastic Meetup agenda, we have a special guest expert, Lilli Weisz (http://lilliweisz.com), presenting, “How to Become a GTD Superstar with Evernote.” If you’re in New York on April 18, please join us!
We have lots of great guests and topics upcoming on #ProdChat:
TODAY, 8PM EDT, will be discussing #email +#GTD + #Outlook using his **Control Your Day* method outlined in his book: http://controlyourday.net.
On April 10, we’ll have guest-hosting for me on the topic of “Productive Parenting.”
On April 17, our fellow Productivity Community member, , joins us to talk about his brand of productivity!
Finally, on April 24, we’ll close out April discussing “Filtering Media” for greater productivity.
Productivity Book Group - our next live call is April 13, 2013, 12:00pm EST, where we’ll be discussing the final part of Getting Things Done by David Allen - Part 3: The Power of Key Principles | Chapters 11-13 / Conclusion - http://goo.gl/FWQBw
Here’s to your productive life!
Outcome Thinking, Next Actions and Old Family Audio Files
As a long-time GTD-er, I usually have clear outcome statements for my projects, and next action items that are truly the next-actions. In this case, I was stuck. I was making no progress at all. None. So I tried to figure out what the problem was. Did I have a next action that wasn’t really a next-action? No. Was the project outcome unclear? No. Then what?
The overarching project was about the family papers and photographs I received after my parents passed away. That project was called: Photos & Other Family Memorabilia Sorted, organized, scanned & distributed to family members. The smaller sub-project I was stuck on was: Finalize the clean-up of cousin Nita’s interviews with Grandmother Harriet. The next-action: Transcribe the audio files.
These audio files were from some 1975 cassette tapes of an afternoon of interviews my cousin Nita had done with my grandmother, Harriet. Harriet was 86 at the time of the recordings, and she lived until 1981, when she was 92. I remember fondly the childhood visits I made to her at the farm in New Mexico, where there were a few horses, a cow, and acres of alfalfa. I don’t know what Nita’s plans were originally for the five cassette tapes, but in 2005 she sent them to my mother, who gave them to me and told me to “do something with them.” I bought a device to transform them into MP3s, and we all got a kick out of listening to them. It had not been a structured interview and the tapes had not been labeled so we were not entirely sure that we had all the tracks in the right order (as each side of a cassette converted into one audio file and the tapes were not numbered).
When my parents died several years ago, I became the executor of their estates as well as the keeper and distributor of all of the family papers, photographs and other memorabilia, including those cassette tapes. As I spent time sorting and scanning family photos—including dozens from the late 1800s and early 1900s of my grandparents—I wanted to have access to the stories that Harriet told in those recordings. I envisioned making a photo-book for myself, my brothers and my cousins, and to include a CD with the raw audio files and transcripts of the audio files. I was hoping to also do an edited summary that put everything into a more straightforward timeline, which would make it easier to follow.
Week after week, I looked at that next-action, and thought “what is keeping me from moving forward on this? I need to transcribe them so that I can use the stories with the photos. I want to make sure I have each of the tracks in the proper sequence. I want to get to know my grandmother better.” So the problem was not with my desired outcome. The problem was not with the next step. The question I neglected to ask was, “Do I have the energy and time to do this next action?” The answer to THAT was a resounding “I do NOT have the energy or time (or skills) to transcribe the recordings.” That was my sticking point. It “looked” like a next-action, but it wasn’t really a next action that I would do.
Once I identified why I was stuck, it wasn’t too hard to make a new project that I could take action on: Research and Decide on a Transcription Service for the audio files. I realized I could drive myself crazy trying to find the “best” transcription service, so I limited my research time to no more than an hour to play with Dragon Naturally Speaking (which doesn’t work for an interview with two voices), and then no more than an hour on the internet doing research to determine two or three candidates for outsourcing the work. I stuck with those time limits fairly well, and contacted the first service I wanted to try. For $1/minute of original recordings, they would send me back a typed transcript. I sent off one MP3 file of about 30 minutes, and waited a week to get the transcription back. For a few hours of research, a few minutes to send in the file and $30, I’d made more progress on that project than I had in months. After I got the transcription, I printed it out and listened to the recording and made a few minor edits to clean up the text file. I was pleased with the quality of the work and the turnaround time, so I sent the rest of the files off to be transcribed.
Now my next action is Print the transcripts and proof against the recordings. I should be done with that in the next week or two, at which point I’ll be very familiar with the material again, and able to write a summary of Harriet’s stories to share with my family. I don’t know if they’ll all want to listen to the original recordings, but I am so grateful that my cousin had the foresight to make them and to send them to my mother after so many years. I feel much more deeply connected to that part of my family now, and I’m grateful that my GTD system kept the next action in front of me, week after week, until I could figure out why I wasn’t making any progress on it.
Do you have any stories of when your “clearly defined next-action” wasn’t really what you needed to do next? How did you solve it?
Margaret Winn has been practicing GTD since December 2005 when the first chapter of the eBook of David Allen’s Getting Things Done was included on the Palm T/X she received for Christmas. She is a CPA and lives in Alexandria, VA with her husband and two cats. They are moving soon to Raleigh, NC.