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Getting Things Done: personal productivity management from the perspective of situated and embodied cognition. Francis Heylighen & Clément Vidal (ECCO, VUB). Outline. Introduction Summary of the GTD method Cognitive foundations of knowledge work Cognitive paradigms applied to GTD

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slide1

Getting Things Done:personal productivity managementfrom the perspective of situated and embodied cognition

Francis Heylighen & Clément Vidal

(ECCO, VUB)

outline
Outline
  • Introduction
  • Summary of the GTD method
  • Cognitive foundations of knowledge work
  • Cognitive paradigms applied to GTD
  • Further research about GTD (brainstorming)
    • Collaborative GTD
    • GTD and happiness.
    • Etc.
the problem
The problem
  • Complex informational society
    • Most of our activity is knowledge work(Drucker 1973)
    • Growing complexity and change
    • Constant bombardment with new information
  • Priority and resources are constantly changing.
  • How can we organize such information-dependent work?
david allen s 2001 getting things done gtd method
Subtitle: « The Art of Stress-Free Productivity »

Minimize stress and anxiety

Maximize productivity

Very popular method

Bestselling book in « time management », etc.

More than 1 000 000 web pages about it.

We propose a theoretical investigation of the method.

David Allen’s (2001) Getting Things Done (GTD) Method.
gtd as a praxeology
GTD as a praxeology
  • GTD is a praxeology,
    • a value-independent theory about how to manage actions.
    • Constitutes one of the six fundamental components of a worldview, according to Leo Apostel
slide8

Self

System

4. Theory of values

goal

6. Theory of knowledge

Perception

5. Theory of actions

Action

Diversions (problems and opportunities)

WorldEnvironment

2. Explanation

Past

3. Prediction

Future

1. Ontology

Present

Worldview of an individual as a cybernetic system. Heylighen (2000).

main principles
Get everything out of your head, in a trusted external memory.

Coherent method to use organizational tools most effectively

To do lists

Calendar

Notes

Etc.

Main principles
five stages of our work
Five stages of our work
  • We (1) collect things that command our attention; (2) process what they mean and what to do with them; and (3) organize the results, which we (4) review as options for what we choose to (5) do. (Allen, 2001, 24)
  • (1) Collect
  • (2) Process and (3) Organize
  • (4) Review
  • (5) Do
1 collect
(1) Collect
  • Collect everything that catches your attention.
  • Physical collectors
    • Trays, folders, notebook, etc.
  • Electronic collectors
    • Email application, outliner, etc.
result an organized external memory example below
Next Actions

Buy a present for Ellen

Call Peter about the new contract

Project Travel to Belgium

Book hotel

Phone tourist office

Calendar

Oct. 29: Ellen’s birthday

Nov. 12: departure for Brussels

Waiting for

The plane tickets for Brussels

Someday/Maybe

Read that novel set in Belgium

Reference

Visa pin code: 4576

Result: an organized external memory. Example below.
4 review
(4) Review
  • Daily review
    • To do list.
    • Calendar.
  • Weekly review
    • update your whole external memory
    • up-to-date and trustable
    • feeling of control and goal directedness.
slide19
First model

Context

Time/Energy available

Priority

Second model

Do work as it shows up

Do predefined work

Define your work.

Third model (longer term goals/values)

Current actions

Current projects

Areas of responsibility

1-2 years goals

3-5 years goals

Life goals

(5) Do
limitations of rational cognition
Limitations of Rational Cognition
  • Working memory:
    • not more than about 7 (Magical number) items can be processed or stored
    • Patterns of activation interfere and decay
  • Long-term memory:
    • Recognition is easy
    • Recall is unreliable
situated and embodied cognition
Situated and Embodied Cognition
  • Basis of cognition is not internal reasoning
    • But interacting with the external situation
  • Sensory-motor feedback
    • Perceptions trigger actions
    • Actions change situation
    • Changes are perceived
    • Triggering further actions...
stigmergy
Stigmergy
  • Environment-mediated coordination of actions
    • External effect of action stimulates subsequent action
    • By same or different agent
  • Can be:
    • Synchronous: reaction follows immediately
    • Asynchronous: action leaves stable trace
extended mind
Extended Mind
  • Traces left by actions function as external memory
  • External memory stimulates actions
slide26
Flow
  • Csikszentmihalyi’s theory of well-being
  • Requirements:
    • Clear goals
    • Continuous feedback
    • Challenges matching skills
  • Being in control:
    • able to advance smoothly towards goals
4 cognitive paradigms applied to gtd

4. Cognitive paradigms applied to GTD

GTD implements the lessons from:

• Situated and Embodied Cognition

• Stigmergy

• Flow

facilitating stigmergy
Facilitating stigmergy
  • Externalizing memory
    • Storing tasks in different repositories
  • Formulating information in an “actionable” form
    • Intended to stimulate action
    • Without need for further reflection
situation dependent execution
Situation-dependent execution
  • Choosing next action first on basis of context
    • Affordances
    • Time
    • Energy
  • Only then on basis of priority
  • Rationale:
    • priorities are subjective and changing
    • affordances are objective and need to be used now
not planning but adapting
Not planning but adapting
  • Stigmergy produces coordinated action
    • But without plan or blueprint
  • Situations change, creating:
    • New needs (problems, priorities)
    • New opportunities (affordances)
  • This requires great flexibility
    • But without losing track of which things to do
achieving flow
Achieving flow
  • information overload →
    • Anxiety, confusion, procrastination
  • GTD → Flow:
    • Focus on task
    • Well-being
    • Smooth and fast progress
  • “mind like water”: doing without thinking or worrying
5 brainstorming further research about gtd

5. Brainstorming:Further research about GTD

Collaborative GTD

Maximizing well-being

collaborative gtd
Collaborative GTD
  • Task repositories shared by people in organization
  • Individuals choose tasks to perform based on
    • Personal abilities
    • Time, situation, context
  • Quantitative stigmergy
    • Tasks have points representing importance
    • Individuals collect maximum of points
    • Makes sure important tasks are done
      • And everyone performs a fair share