The most effective reminder and motivation comes from dismantling the “scene” where things happened

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In the classic time management methodology GTD , in addition to emptying the brain, another very important concept is “situation”. To make actions feasible and tasks complete, thinking about the classification of situations is a critical step. In the concept of GTD, the situation is like “what scene should handle what thing”. Only by taking into account the “scene” where things will happen and things will be executed, time management can get twice the result with half the effort .

For example, we must have a scene of processing emails every day, so when the scene of processing emails appears, what important replies and inquiries we have, can we handle them together in this scene of processing emails? If you can classify all kinds of trivial matters according to different scenes every day, you can deal with large and small actions in a more suitable situation.

Furthermore, when we plan tasks, we often neglect to disassemble the “situation and scene where things happen” , which often leads to things that are prone to unexpected problems, and it is difficult to execute at the scheduled time. Even, ignoring such a disassembly may leave things vaguely executed without clear motivation.

Let’s look at it from three perspectives:

  • Disassemble the scene where things are executed , get reminders, and take advantage of gaps
  • Simulate the scene where things happen , find problems and prevent risks
  • Design specific scenarios for goals , focus on value, and be more motivated

Let’s take a look at analyzing scenarios and how it can help us improve productivity.

Design proactive execution scenarios, get alerts, take advantage of gaps

In time management, what we can often think of is the arrangement of time, but the problem is that “time” is actually difficult to control . Firstly, it often takes a lot of time to calculate the arrangement time, and secondly, the arranged time usually still changes, because The control over time is not entirely up to us.

However, although we don’t know what time I will be able to do something, what we can be sure of is that every day there should be scenes of processing emails, commuting, personal energy and leisure, and family leisure. The scenes and so on, but when these scenes appear, we may not be able to fully control them .

In this way, perhaps the more flexible arrangement of time management is not what to do at what time, but what kind of scene can be done and what is decided to do.

For example, I always have a person who is free, but at this time the body and mind are relatively tired, and I just want to relax and relax , so what can I do in this scene? I’m sure this scene must appear often, but I don’t know when it will appear, so I designed a category of “leisure for one person” and put tasks suitable for this scene into it, so that whenever this scene occurs, I will open this category. The ability to better grasp effective leisure tasks without killing or even wasting time is an effective reminder.

My experience is that using “execution scenarios in the daily process” to classify tasks can often create a more effective reminder effect than time reminders , and it can also help me use the gap to complete tasks more effectively when different scenarios appear. (Extend to read my specific approach: 2021 review: How to manage tens of thousands of notes with tags? Evernote, Notion, obsidian are all applicable )

Moreover, the actual scene is more representative of the most suitable state for performing the task than empty time.

For example, should I write a draft article at 8:00 am or 8:00 pm? Or should I write drafts when I have the energy and brain to do so? The latter is the “scene” and the actual moment that is more suitable for this task. So I have designed a category like “thinking and using the brain”, and put those tasks that need to be mentally and mentally advancing all the time in this category, so I can make better use of these scenarios to perform more suitable tasks.

I often share this kind of technique of classifying tasks with scenes and situations in computer toys. And the online course ” Personal Digital Productivity ” that I recently launched also has a design logic such as special unit analysis, which I think is applicable to all productivity tools.

Simulate the scene of the task, find the problem, and prevent the risk

It is not just a reminder that “scenes” can be used to design, in fact, thinking about “scenes” when dismantling a task’s action list is also a way to discover problems in advance, prevent risks, and find better action steps.

Just like when we set reminders, we often only see the time, but ignore the need for “suitable scenes” for execution.

In the process of dismantling a task, it is easy for us to only see the ideal and basic action list, but ignore the “problems that need to be solved in the actual implementation of the scene”, but the steps in the scene are often more critical.

For example, I often encounter situations like this. When discussing how to do a marketing event, everyone lists things to do such as registration webpage, promotional copy, post advertisement, and event venue preparation. It is the basic action that we can easily think of, or the superficial action that we can see when we see other people’s cases. However, I will always ask some questions about the “actual execution scenario” :

  • If this is a free event, how can we increase the registration rate for those who register first and then talk? What incentives can be designed so that the other party must come to report to get it? Or do you sign up only if you really want to come?
  • When registering (if it is a physical event), if many people arrive at the same time before the opening, is there a process for quick digestion and processing?

Another example is that when I make a presentation, I don’t just think about what to report in the meeting, but also simulate the “meeting scene” . Who will participate? Are they at the start of the day or before they leave work? What is their attitude towards this report? What kind of people may I be questioned during the reporting process? Then, I will prepare solutions in advance for the problems in these scenarios.

This kind of thinking is simulating the actual execution scenario of this task, not thinking about the task itself, but thinking about what processes and problems the executors, participants, and interactors of this task will go through in the actual scene. .

Although it is also an imagination, these imaginations may or may not happen, but after such a simulation process, it can always help me reduce more unexpected problems and give myself more leeway to deal with the situation when the time comes.

However, when arranging and designing tasks, we often only think about the tasks themselves, without further thinking about the various problems that may occur in the “actual execution scenarios” of the tasks, so the listed to-do lists or plans will always lead to certain problems. problem .


Daniel J. Brown

Daniel J. Brown (Editor-in-Chief) is a recently retired data analyst who gets a kick out of reading and writing the news. He enjoys good music, great food, and sports, with a slant towards Southern college football, basketball and professional baseball.

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