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Messages - Arjen [ switch to compact view ]

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Living Room / Re: What present should we get Cody for xmas?
« on: December 08, 2006, 03:35 AM »
A birdhouse.

On the other hand, i've seen mainly new programmers give up when they hit this point, and pushing past it is an important part of becoming a real coder.
I agree, but it's important how you push past that point: knowing when to stop a certain approach and start looking for alternatives, knowing when to ask for help, knowing when to step back and get a good night's sleep. :-) It's easy to get all caught up in it until you realize hours have passed.

i've never known a programmer including myself who can accurately estimate project times, except to stop yourself right after you are about to give out your estimate, and multiply by 4 or 10. i wish that was a joke   :'(
You are right, I'm probably asking the impossible. :-)

I'm interested to hear what Mark Forster has to say about the following points - they're quite specific to programmers / web surfers:

  • How to deal with aimless surfing on the internet, but still allow yourself to visit sites or search for topics that interest you. For example: I'm interested to read what people have to say on these forums, but it's so easy to read more and longer than I'd like to.
  • I can spend hours on a (programming) problem and make very little progress. Maybe that's how programming works sometimes, but I'd like to hear any suggestions on how to stay focussed, how to tell yourself when to stop looking for a solution for the problem or start looking for alternatives.
  • Tips on estimating the time needed for a programming project.

I think it's worth noting that the idea of the "current initiative" is that it's meant to get projects started (get them "up-and-running") or to get things done that you've postponed for a long time. It's not meant for long running projects, things you'll do anyway or recurring things like exercise or learning a language. The current initiative runs until the goal you've set is reached, but this shouldn't take too long so you can select a next current initiative every once in a while.

Also, Mark Forster describes the current initiative as "the first thing you do every day".

So it should be the very first thing you do on a day: no first checking e-mail, chatting or whatever - just get started, and you have to really do something (no matter how small) every day!

it seems you are either self disciplined or you are not. is it possible to change from one to the other, well, of course it is - but without some kind of external force training you to become disciplined then how are you going to achieve it on your own.
According to Steve Pavlina (and I'm sure he's not the only one) self-discipline can be trained. I think you can train this on your own by taking something small you can do and gradually increasing the size of the things you pick.

Techniques like the one from DIT I described above help you pick such tasks. Have you tried this? I'm doing this, and it doesn't make as productive as I'd like yet but it helps me focus.

Don't worry!

so, if you accept what Pavlina is saying, then if you are waiting for self-discipline to finally kick in and take over your life every single day - forget it, it ain't gonna happen.

i find this shocking. i thought, to become super disciplined would be the conclusion of this DC GTD experiment. clearly this is where i'm going wrong. i'm trying to achieve something that isn't possible.

Well, according to Pavlina, willpower is just one of the aspects of self-discipline.

I don't think you will be self-disciplined as a result of implementing a system like GTD. I think it's the other way around: you need self-discipline to implement the system. The goal of systems like GTD is having more focus on what you want to do, so that's the desired result.

Of course, once you get going on being more focussed and doing things that motivates you (gives you passion) to keep going. But you'll still need self-discipline to keep moving. (As described by Pavlina in "Passion vs. Self-discipline".)

I've been thinking and reading about what self-discpline really is. To me it still sounds like a dirty word - it sounds like I must do something, to being forced to do something. I don't want to be forced to do things; I want to do things because I like doing them, because I have a passion for them.

But you can ask yourself: who is forcing who to do something? If you're talking about self-discipline, it would be me "forcing" me to do something. So who is forcing who? It basically just means I'm deciding for myself I'm going to do something. Let's say it this way: self-discipline means I'm using my own power, my inner power, to get things done. That sounds a lot better. :-)

Steve Pavlina has some interesting things to say about passion vs. self-discipline in this article.

He also has a whole series of articles (six parts!) on self-discipline. Here is part one. He defines self-discipline as "the ability to get yourself to take action regardless of your emotional state."

Here is a very practical tip I found helps me. It comes from the book "Do It Tomorrow" by Mark Forster:

  • Every night, make a list of tasks you want to do and are sure you can do the next day.
  • Put a line under the list so you can't add more items to them. Really, do this!
  • The next day, do it.

Of course the third point, "do it", is the most important one. Working in short "bursts" helps with this. So use an egg timer or on the computer, a program like InstantBoss to do this. Here is the procedure:

  • Decide which task on your list you want to start doing.
  • Decide for how long you would like to work as the first "burst" (say, 20 mins.) and set the time on your timer.
  • Feel how that feels. :-) If you get this really ugly feeling in your stomach or if it feels like someone is grabbing you by the throat, go back to the previous step and choose a shorter period. Repeat until you say "I can do that!", then... 
  • Do it!
  • Take a break. Also decide how long your break will be, and time it, so you won't wander off.
  • Repeat and try increasing the time of the "burst".

I've been doing this the last week or two and although I must say I've only completed all the items on my list once, I do notice it keeps me more focussed and I am improving.

Where I wander off most is (surprise) the internet. It's so easy to just keep browsing and "just look up one more thing". Does anyone have a tip on how to deal with this? I see some people post a lot on these boards and I can imagine they spend a lot of time on this - or maybe not, maybe they're just very efficient. I'm interested to hear how these people deal with this.

1.  [..] what do you recommend a person do to make sure he/she is concentrating enough time and energy on the things that are really important for quality of life?

2.  Is the GTD system compatible with the "First Things First" principles of Stephen Covey?  If so, can he explain how?

3.  Does he have any suggestions [..] for ways we can stay focused on the things that matter most to us?

I second these questions!

Great to hear you'll be interviewing David Allen; any idea when?

Since we're doing this experiment to work out our own "system" that works best for us, it would be interesting to hear if David Allen has any tips, ideas or suggestions to guide us in this process.


Up until now, I have been a silent about a problem I was having with the whole GTD concept...the fact that it seems to come from another planet that I don't live on and is all in an alien language I can't really comprehend.

It was starting to get very frustrating to just think about it...
Remember that this experiment is not about you having to do GTD, but about finding out what works for you. If GTD frustrates you it might not be for you. It might be interesting to look at what frustrates you: is it the concepts of GTD itself, or just the fact that it's explained in a way that is not your style? Or both?

Your todo lists sound a lot more like others-expect-me-to-do-this lists. Maybe you could try to make them I-want-to-do-this lists. Of course they could still contain stuff you want to do for others.

I used to think about getting organized, planning, setting goals etc. as something very stressful. (And I still do regularly.) But I'm trying to see it as exactly the opposite: getting organized as a way to make sure I can relax. If I have all my "stuff" organized I don't have to think about it and I can just do what I choose to do at that moment.

vrgrrl, I found the following article recently; if you don't like systems and todo lists you might find it interesting!

It's called: Time Management for Right Brained People (Or-What to do if to-do lists are not your style) (PDF).

Hi everyone,

Here is my Getting Organized System I've worked out so far.

It's mostly based on what I've read about GTD. I've tried to keep it as simple as possible.

Here's what I want to use and don't want to use from GTD, as requested in this week's assignment.

I must say I'm not consequent in using my own system yet, but I will try of course. I do use the weekly schedule, but I don't have a project list yet, for example. A lot of things I want to do are still in my head - to get all that out is one of the big challenges... :-)

Your comments are welcome!

I'm off to do my very first weekly review...! :-)

I think TaskLog is a great tool but I have the following problems with it (version 1.1):

  • If I change the task names in Settings they don't take effect until I restart TaskLog. (Also reported above.)
  • If I unselect "Show reminder dialog" it will still keep coming up, even after restarting TaskLog.

I hope you can help me with this!

I've just read about this experiment and will join, so I'll catch up as soon as possible!

Please let me know what to expect... Will there be an assignment every day? What will be covered?

Clipboard Help+Spell / Another bug?
« on: December 06, 2005, 03:39 AM »
Thanks, that would be great...

Another thing I saw: I was trying to change the options "Start with Windows" and "Start minimized", but they didn't stick after a reboot. (I rebooted while Clipboard H&S was running.) The options did stick when I manually closed and restarted the application though. (I guess the same thing goes for some other options, but I haven't tried.)

Hope this helps.

Edit: oops, this might be the same thing as mentioned in this thread.

Clipboard Help+Spell / Bug: commas in editbox "Strip trailing stuff"
« on: December 02, 2005, 06:19 AM »
I encountered the following issue:

When I type two commas in succession in the "Strip trailing stuff" editbox (in the Modify/format case dialog), the program hangs. I was trying to strip trailing commas from a string; obviously this is not the way! :-) Is there a way to "escape" a comma so it gets treated as a character to strip instead of as a separator?

I use version 1.05.02 on Windows XP.

I hope this helps you solve the problem.

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