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Playing Through The Tape: Linking Actions To Life Goals

Playing Through The Tape: Linking Actions To Life Goals

    Staring at my lists of tasks during my weekly review (about 285 the last time I checked the count in OmniFocus) my eyes start to glaze over with the thought of just how much monotonous crap there is buried in them. What’s even more daunting is as I look over my system during my weekly review I add around 30 – 50 tasks while only destroying about 25 that have gone dormant or have been completed during the week.

    If you have been a GTD or any other type of productivity practitioner over the years, you have at least been in this situation once or twice. What tends to happen when you provide yourself with ubiquitous capture is that after awhile a lot of unimportant tasks may infiltrate their way into your system; unimportant tasks that may have sounded like a good idea at the time, but no longer hold any value, or worse, tasks that you know you should complete because of some agreement with yourself or others. What happens is that your system starts to rot from the inside out, and after seeing an easy task like “call mom” sit on your list for 7 weeks you tell yourself that your system doesn’t work. You aren’t getting anything done.

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    It isn’t your system and it isn’t GTD

    The fact you have tasks in your system that are “uninspiring” and stagnant has nothing to do with how your system is failing you or how GTD just doesn’t work. This is more of a prioritization problem. GTD doesn’t talk about an old school A-B-C, 1-2-3 type of prioritization of tasks and projects but it does speak of how to make sure that important stuff gets paid attention to and the less important stuff moves to the back burner or gets trashed.

    So, please, before you change your tool or give up on GTD completely understand that this idea of “action bloat” has nothing to do with either.

      The link between actions and higher levels

      What I have come to find from reading Mr. Allen’s books as well as learning from my own experiences is that if something in my action list doesn’t sync with what I want to accomplish in my life, the chances of me doing it are pretty slim. What’s even worse is the chances of me not doing it and feeling bad about myself and the state of my system are excellent.

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      So here is where some real “soul searching”, goals, and dreams come into play. if your action lists don’t resemble what you want for your life, then two bad things can happen:

      1. Your action lists stay stagnant and build up with tasks that seem like they have no purpose (because they don’t).
      2. You don’t accomplish any long term goals because your actions lists do not resemble these goals.

      This all sounds good in theory but what about in practice? What about tasks like “take out the trash” or “clean the cat litter”? These don’t seem at all related to a higher purpose or life goal. You will run into a lot of tasks that are like this; daily/weekly/monthly tasks that seem like they are just a nuisance and don’t prove to be anything important.

      All you have to do to make sure that a task on your action list links up to life goals is “play through the tape”.

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      Play through the tape

      Hopefully everyone reading this still knows what a tape is. Anyways, the best way that I have found to make sure that your tasks on your action lists are important is by “playing through the tape” of what this action will accomplish.

      Here is an example:

      • Action: Call your mom
      • Why? Because you haven’t talked to her for awhile.
      • Why does that matter? You want to make sure that you stay close to your family.
      • Why? Because your family and family life is something that is important to you and you value it.

      Seems excessive I know, and maybe calling your mother isn’t the best example, but this little exercise can be applied to any task that is on your lists or even projects as well.

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      Here is the kicker. If you can’t “play through the tape” with a task and link it to some goal or important aspect of your life, put the task or project on your someday/maybe list or just get rid of it. If it isn’t that important there is no reason to do it, especially when you have 250 other actions that actually are important.

      As time moves on you will start to find tasks that don’t belong at all in your system and you will be able to inherently “play through the tape”. You will start to see what is important and what isn’t in your task lists and with that be able to prune and tweak your lists to match your life goals. Make sure that you try this out, especially if there is some tasks on your lists that make you think that your system is broken or GTD isn’t working for you.

      More by this author

      CM Smith

      A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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      Last Updated on June 19, 2019

      10 Websites To Learn Something New In 30 Minutes A Day

      10 Websites To Learn Something New In 30 Minutes A Day

      Learning something new is always an exciting endeavour to commence. The problem is that most of us get wrapped up in busy distractions throughout the day so that we can never find the time to learn the new skill we want.

      What’s worse is that some of us spend hours learning this new skill only to give up after a few months, which is precious time that goes down the toilet.

      Luckily, there’s a better solution.

      Instead of using our time to sit through long lectures and lengthy video courses, we can take advantage of all the amazing websites that can help us learn a new skill in 30 minutes or less.

      We’ve collected the best sites that teach a diversified list of topics and have decided to share them with you here today. Enjoy!

      1. Lynda

      Estimated time: 20-30 mins
      Topics: Business, marketing, design, software tools

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      Get access to 1,000s of courses with a 10-day free trial to develop your skills in business, photoshop, software, and much more.

      2. Skillshare

      Estimated time: 20-30 mins
      Topics: Cooking, design, software tools, marketing, photography

      Ten dollars per month gets you access to bite-sized, on-demand courses taught by leading experts like Gary Vaynerchuk, Guy Kawasaki, and more.

      3. Hackaday

      Estimated time: 5 mins
      Topics: Life hacks, productivity

      This website delivers tips to make your life better and more productive. Just 5 minutes a day is all you need to learn new life hacks to improve your lifestyle.

      4. Codeacademy

      Estimated time: 15-30 mins
      Topics: Software development

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      A gamified approach to coding, Codeacademy helps anyone build a website through an interactive learning method. Learn any programming language from HTML, CSS, Javascript, Ruby on Rails, and more by actually building instead of spending your time on theory.

      5. 7-min

      Estimated time: 7 mins
      Topics: Health & Fitness

      Do you have just 7 minutes to get in shape? Most of us aren’t in the shape that we want to be because of the lack of time we have. Putting our workout apparel on, driving to the gym, and driving back can take up a lot of our time in themselves.

      In just 7 minutes, this website will go through dozens of routines to get you in shape and ready for the day ahead. Time is no longer an excuse!

      6. Calm

      Estimated time: 10 mins
      Topics: Meditation

      Get guided meditations right to your screen. With Calm, you can learn different types of meditation where a teacher can guide you step-by-step through the process, even if it’s your first time trying meditation.

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      7. Highbrow

      Estimated time: 5 mins
      Topics: Business, creative skills, design, history

      Bite-sized email courses delivered to your inbox every morning to learn everything from film history, marketing, business, and more.

      8. Big Think

      Estimated time: 10 mins
      Topics: Technology, science, life

      Learn from the world’s experts about scientific breakthroughs, revolutionary business concepts, and more in short, chunk-sized videos.

      9. Khan Academy

      Estimated time: 30 mins
      Topics: Academics

      Recognized by Bill Gates as one of the best teachers online, Salman Khan breaks down complicated subjects into simplified concepts to help you understand them in minutes, not weeks.

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      10. Rype

      Estimated time: 15-30 mins
      Topics: Foreign languages

      Are you “too busy” to learn a language? Meet Rype, your personal trainer for languages. Get unlimited 1-on-1 private language lessons with professional teachers around the world. Each lesson is just 30 minutes, allowing you to fit learning a language into your busy lifestyle. You can try it free for 14-days and see for yourself.

      Over to you

      Which of these topics were your favorite?

      We’d love to hear from you, and please share this with friends who are also looking to learn something new!

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