Tuesday, June 21, 2016

the essence of GTD

Ana inquired yesterday about GTD, since I have mentioned it a lot lately.  I plan on doing an organizing series featuring my current iteration of the system, but here's a list-style run down for anyone else mildly curious:

1) GTD stands for "Getting Things Done".  It is an organizing/life management system developed by David Allen.

2) The GTD method was published in a book (Allen calls it a "manual") back in 2001, but rewritten in 2015.  It is not particularly trendy, I don't think, but people who love it seem to really love it.

3) The essence of GTD is to get everything off of your mind and into some kind of system.  In my case, that's largely paper, but this is 2016, so of course there are electronic components too.

4) The system consists of 5 steps:

  • capture - collect everything you have going on, in a consistent and systematic way
  • clarify - define your collected items specifically.  If it's trash, trash it.  If it's reference, file it.  If it's actionable, ask the important questions: What exactly needs to get done?  When (is it a calendar-specific item)?  Who should do it (is it a task to delegate)? 
  • organize - put the actionable items on the right lists
  • reflect - look over your lists as often as you need to in order to feel comfortable and in control.  Also, conduct formal reviews (weekly, monthly, etc) to make sure everything is current
  • engage - use your lists to attack appropriate actions with confidence!

5) The whole point is that you are not supposed to be worried about the things you are not doing when you are not doing them.  (This is actually the #1 reason why I love it).

6) Allen goes into great detail about tools he recommends, including some old-school ones.  Much to my delight, I now own a label-maker.

7) There is flexibility too.  Many people make their systems largely electronic.  I am using my Hobonichi planner + a small supplemental notebook that tucks into the cover.

8) Once I started implementing GTD, I emptied my email inboxes to 0.  I love my empty inboxes!

9) One of my favorite GTD rules is the Two Minute Rule, which directs you to complete any task that should take under 2 minutes right when you see it.

10) I do think GTD meshes well with clinical medicine, with its endless parade of small tasks and loose ends that can drive you crazy if you let it!  But it's also incredibly versatile and I can't really think of a situation where it wouldn't be at least somewhat helpful.

Barre3 time!

Monday, June 20, 2016

weekly review & other things

GOOOD morning and happy Monday.   We spent half of the weekend at home and the other half celebrating a beautiful marriage on the west coast of FL.  A&C had their first ever overnight together at their grandparents' (Bebe & Poppy!) house -- and it went amazingly well until C woke up vomiting yesterday morning.  (Of course.)

Thankfully he is fine now.

Josh and I spent much of the drive plotting our GTD plans of attack.  Somehow he seems to have a lot more going on than I do -- although I think this is because I tend to be much quicker to give up on certain things than he is!  (Example: at work, I give myself about a week to read journals that come in before I toss them.)  We discussed inboxes (virtual & physical), Evernote (I don't use it, but think maybe he should?), and the Weekly Review.  I am trying to keep mine as simple as possible, and here is the current iteration below:

In case that is too light to read:

1) Review Projects List (basically list of every 'project' - large and small - that I envision completing within the next 12 months)

2) Review Next Actions list & add to weekly list (in planner) anything targeted for week

3) Empty physical inboxes (mail, desk)

4) Empty gmail (and will empty work email Monday morning)

5) Plan upcoming week of workouts, meals & ensure all needed childcare is arranged

6) Review all of the above with Josh

That's it!  Very simple/doable so that I will actually do it :)


Lego madness

At the finale of Princess Dance Camp (!)

A daddy bath. 

On that note:  Josh deserves a special Father's Day shout-out.  Seriously, he is the most patient, nicest, loving dad ever.  He also manages to drum up nearly infinite energy for A&C.   He received his annual gift of TIES chosen by A and attended a celebratory barbecue at BB/Poppy's which I did not attend because I was quarantining Cameron.  I feel so lucky and grateful to be experiencing this parenting (okay, and LIFE!) adventure with him.  Thank you Josh, for being an amazing father and husband every day - you are the best!!

On another note/PSA:  I really really really try not to get political here, but given recent events I can't help myself.  If you are looking for an extremely efficient way to add your voice to the movement against gun violence, you can sign up here -- it takes literally 2 seconds.


Weekly workout report: (theme: slow miles & heat)

M - rest

T - 4.3 mi, 9:40/mi average, 79F

W - rest (was supposed to do barre3 but slept too late.  oops)

R - 6 mi, 10:01/mi average, 79F

F - 4 mi, 9:53/mi average, 81F

S - Flybarre 45 minutes (OUCH)

S - 4 mi on treadmill, ave 9:58/mi

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

interruptions, focus & mosquito mind

The phrase 'Monkey Mind' is used to describe the uncontrollable mental wandering that most people (including me) experience when they are meditating.  My Monkey Mind is meandering, inquisitive, and tends to get lost in tangential alleyways.  It is distracted but not unpleasant.

This post is not about that.

I have noticed a far less pleasant mental state that seems to afflict me in certain scenarios:  the Mosquito Mind.  For the record, I cannot stand mosquitos - they give me hideous itchy welts which last for days.  So you can imagine how I feel about the Mosquito Mind state.

 Characteristics of Mosquito Mind:
* flitting rapidly from task to task (example: checking email multiple times during the course of writing a single outpatient note)
* inability to stay in a single mental gear long enough to do anything of substance
* vague irritability for no real reason

Scenarios that tend to bring on MM:
* being interrupted frequently.  I learned recently (on the Note to Self podcast) that outside interruptions actually increase the probability that you will start interrupting yourself.  I have absolutely experienced this phenomenon before
* an uncertainty about what I am supposed to be doing due to a general sense of overwhelm / lack of clear prioritization
* fatigue
* the afternoon hours
* not having exercised
* stress

Things that tend to help prevent MM:
* having a deadline (if I am clear about exactly what needs to happen by XYZ time, I am much more likely to be able to focus)
* meditation (even 5 minutes)

As I am currently on call, I am experiencing plenty of MM.  Yesterday, while trying to finish up notes at my desk, I had what felt like 2837 outside interruptions and then an equal number of self-inflicted ones.  I need to figure out how to block out my day so that I am not constantly getting 'urgent' calls about things that are not urgent (important yes, but urgent no!), causing the unpleasant (and unproductive) pinging from task to task.

* consolidating patient slots a little so that there is a dedicated block of time at the end of the day to do patient phone calls / orders / lab result calls / whatever nagging tasks I am being asked to do intermittently all day
* NOT having email open on my desktop (!!!) and sticking to dedicated checking times.  Sadly I have attempted this on so many occasions and failed.  Eliminating digital distractions has been much much harder for me than any other habit!
 * blocking out time for the day in my planner ahead of time so that I know, for example, 4:15 - 5 pm will be devoted to dealing with those kinds of tasks so that they are not bothering me the rest of the day
* establishing daily (or twice daily?) check-in times with staff so that they know when to approach me for questions/issues, or ask them to use the electronic in-box and not show up at my office door / call unless a matter is urgent
* blocking out periods on certain days (when I have time allotted) for focused work on projects such as residency tasks -- during which the inboxes will be closed (and perhaps my office door, too, which is currently always open)
* GTD -- I think that fully implementing this system will help with this (it is definitely supposed to), and I am on my way, so we will see.

today's attempt at taming the MM

By the way, this post is about work, but MM can strike at home, too.  Household tasks, time with the kids, texts, flipping through a magazine -- often it can all get mixed up into a distracted jumble that is far more unpleasant than the activities themselves actually are.  Although I will say I am far better at ignoring messes than emails/messages.


Has anyone written an article / book / etc on this, especially as applied to the healthcare setting!?  (If not . . . maybe I need to)