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Some David Allen "twos" - two reasons we procrastinate, and two kinds of problems

Here is a pair of related thoughts that I picked up from David Allen's Getting Things Done. Paraphrasing him:
  • There are only two reasons for procrastination: The task is either a) overwhelming (too big), or b) not motivating (unpleasant).

  • There are only two problems in life: a) You know what your want, and you don't know how to get it, and/or b) you don't know what you want.
As you might have guessed, Allen's solution (typically clear and powerful) is to apply his two big focusing questions, respectively:
  1. What's the next action?
  2. What's the desired outcome?
(They're usually shown in the reverse order.) More specifically, for the first case (procrastination), he advises us to either break it down even further (Lakein calls this his "Swiss Cheese" method - poke some holes in it, AKA "instant tasks"), or focus on the positive outcome (you're doing it for a reason - harness that motivation to work around the avoidance). For the latter, Lakein has additional advice: either 1) deal with the unpleasantness directly (fear), 2) recognize the greater unpleasantness that results from delay (risks), or 3) create enthusiasm that counterbalances the unpleasantness (stress the benefits).

The second case ("life problems"), which Allen credits "Steven Snyder" for (here?) is really a generalization of his approach - we haven't clarified the task sufficiently to "intelligently dumb down" your mind, or we haven't focused sufficiently on the positive outcome.

What looking at this finally connected for me was what Allen says at the end of his book (and which is one of the quotes on his complimentary RoadMap notepad): There are only two solutions:
  • Make it up.
  • Make it happen.
(You can find a little more about it in his article Making It Up and Making It Happen.) I find that these are simple, deep, and really apply to me personally - I'm exploring this area (GTD, personal productivity, time management etc.) without a map (no training or certification programs from davidco, for example), so I'm truly making it up. And to make it happen, I'm doing everything I can - writing, reading, thinking, talking, and meeting others. Fun!

For reference, here are some other ideas for addressing procrastination and todo anxieties:And finally, for fun, here are all the quotes from the RoadMap seminar notepad:
  • If it's on your mind, it's probably not getting done
  • Make it up! Make it happen!
  • Psychic Ram has limited space and it's a terrible office
  • Your ability to generate power is directly proportional to your ability to relax
However, as popular as Allen's work is, I doubt you'll be seeing these in the movie theater before your next show. It might get people thinking, though...

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