Intention as Crucible

I was stimulated today by three thoughts coming together.

I’ve been keen on the Alexander Technique in the last few days. Sore back, and also watching my son josh with a crippling sore back has led to a renewed interest in this approach. I’d read the book by F Matthias Alexander (Wikipedia) in the early ’80s. It got me to walk without a limp after an accident.

The aspect of the philosophy on my mind today was what they call “end-gaining” ie focusing on the goal or outcome rather than the process. Yet the method certainly has goals; reduction of pain, better performance, less stress, productivity. Like much of the method, it’s a bit paradoxical. The couple work I do with clients involves slow conscious dialogue: I say slow is fast. It is a bit similar. I use the phrase “goal shadow” to describe the negatives of being too outcome focused.

This was on my mind when I heard the phrase “holding the intention” in relationship to art. That puts the same idea in an active way, rather than not “end-gaining”, hold the intention. Intention is significantly different from goal, purpose or solution, not much but enough to give me a whole new feel, there is no sharpness in it, it is soft focus.

The third thing was reflecting on the sacred space of the therapeutic hour. How framing the work in an hour created a holding space. (Lacanians may differ). I think of that hour, the psychodrama stage, the Imago dialogue and the canvas of a painting, as alchemical vessels within which transformation can happen.

Then it occurred to me that intention far from being a wishy-washy thing could be an alchemical vessel. Holding the intention creates a space in which the intention is held, a space for the work to cook through all its stages. I like it, it complements GTD.

Later:Changed the title from vessel to crucible, and noticed how firmly this related to an earlier post. Being & Doing.


Mutually exclusive items that between them cover all possibilities. What do you call such a list? (I had the name for them in the past, but it escapes me)
This is one for example. :
What to do with stuff


Anything delegated needs a new task: follow up xxxx with a due date.

Anything deferred needs a next action

Do includes filing, storing

Later – Recalled the name: MeeCee
Tuesday, 26 May, 2009
Continue reading “DDDD”

From the GTDSummit

I have the been scanning twitter with the #gtdsummit hashtag & it is interesting. MindManager people link to this summary, which is the on the topic I have been blogging about, but it looks best in MindManager!

Interesting how each time I see this list it is slightly different. Each new take makes more difference than it would seem. Clarify is different to process. I now call it Clarify/process/review, though as I move on I might refine that.

This map also shows the Focus area in the Making it all Work book as Responsibility.

I have a tag for AOR and AOI areas of Responsibility and Areas of Interest. I use the Focus device in Appigo To Do to show me just those Projects I want on my current list, reviewed anytime but at least weekly.


From David Allen at the GTD Summit

Here is a quick summary of the lecture using the new book. MIAW ( I slightly edited the quote below.)

Control is simply cooperating with reality with conscious intent

Capture: write it down
Clarifying: what does this mean to me?
Organizing: put it where it goes
Reflecting: look through the whole
Engage: Do


Purpose/ Principles – 50,000 How: how do I want to operate as a human being?
Vision – 40,000 Feet How do I see my self and my life
Goals – 30,000 Feet What do I want to accomplish both long term and in the next two years?
Responsibilities – 20,000 Feet What do I have to do
Projects – 10,000 Feet
Actions – Runway

System: build, fill, use

“You are here for a purpose. You are either on purpose or you’re not.” David Allen

“Focus on what has your attention and you’ll find out what really has your attention.” – David Allen

Killing your Children

One of the things I found with GTD is that I get items Off my mind but onto lists, where they continue to haunt me. The system hovers like a spectre – still saying “I need to be done”.
The system hovers like a spectre.
Ruthlessness in reviews may be the answer.

These ideas are things we gave birth to! Was it Cronos who killed his children and ate them? One of the fathers of the Gods? Maybe if we followed his example we’d have more time! (Bad pun)

The trouble is that if I knock them off they might just get back into my mind…


I like this entry in a discussion I found on this. Not only the Sometime/Maybe list either, all projects… I will see how it goes in the reviews in the next few months…

During your weekly review, you should be pruning items off of the someday/maybe list. If something no longer has the relevance it once did, or if you feel the value of completing it is outweighed by the stress of having it on a list, then deleted it; kill it; destroy it; obliterate it from your consciousness. Then feel good that you have said, “once and for all, NO. I am NOT going to do that. I don’t have the time or energy to spend another moment thinking about this thing that has no value in my life”.

Edit: If you promised someone else that you WOULD do that thing, then be sure to tell them that you no longer plan to do it.

Making it all Work – By David Allen



I downloaded the ebook to my phone. I’d seen a few poor reviews mainly saying it was a re-hash. It is in some ways but the simplification of the steps into two groups: Control steps & Perspective steps is elegant! Worth the price of the book IMO.

The Matrix diagram is useful, but the next one covering the 11 steps is the essence of simplicity.

As I read the book I am slightly tweaking my system as I go. It is beginning to work well for me. After several years of GTDing I have almost got a system I trust! Shifting from Palm amd the PC to iPhone has made a big difference.

David Allen suggests that there is a qualitative leap when the mind is truly freed of having to do the tasks the *systems* should do. I’m getting close.

Good review of the book here.

Buy on Amazon

Honouring a Classic

A Beginner's Guide to Effective Email

This is a link to Kaitlin Duck Sherwood's classic and once rather useful guide. Effective Email is not a bad title.  It is, in hindsight an idealistic paper, honourable because of that but also impractical & frustrating.  There is an ideology about email embedded in the work that we now know will remain an ideal. In 2006 this 2000 document is dated.  It is dated not just because it is from the last century or because of new technology (it is somewhat technology neutral, but technology has surpassed these older ideas) but mainly because something completely new is needed

    * to relate to the reality of actual practice
    * to grapple with ineffective practices and fallacies  that have gained more popularity

For example there is a link to a page by Kaitlin Duck Sherwood on Email Overload. Which has a range of tips, some better than others but which is flawed in its attitude to the question.  Even in its title.

There is no such thing as email overload, any more than that there is a library overload, or an art gallery overload, information overload or a shortage of time, or difficult problems… you get the idea, own the challenge, don’t be a victim to abundance in the world; be wise to the flow of stuff.

I am planning some posts here around Email Intelligence.  I want to find the central principles of wise email practices.

This is not a trivial thing, a good practitioner would be a back belt in communication, there would be personal fitness combined with a thorough tradition, and like judo would use the energy in the "enemy" as a source of strength, as a friend.  There may be a bigger topic here – the art of communication in the digital era.  I will however focus (slowly I'm afraid) on principles and practices related to email.  And in case you have not spotted, I am already indebted to David Allen's GTD tradition in my thinking here. They are good on email practice, and I also see limitations.

I recall some earlier posts on this theme.  I will go back & tag some old posts.

Message Notes for Next actions in Thunderbird

Mozilla Update :: Extensions — More Info:Message Notes – User Comments

Ah!! Message Notes does work with Thunderbird 1.5  It is a great thing to have as it enable me to add the Next Action GTD style.  I like the idea of an Icon that others mention in this forum, that would help me know which emails have the NA!

How to make it work for 1.5

by CyberAnth, Tuesday, January 17 2006

–Download the .xpi file. –Change the .xpi extension to .zip and unzip it. (NOTE: an .xpi is basically a .zip file!). There will be a chrome folder and one file called install.rdf. –Open install.rdf in Notepad and make the change that the poster below says. –Make a zip file of the chrome folder and the install.rdf file you just edited, and then change the extension to .xpi –Install using the Extensions interface in Thunderbird. –You are done.

Thanks! to all who contributed to this and for the edit tip!!

Email Like Water

I think I am a bit of a Ninja at email and many of the things here:Recap: Becoming an Email Ninja | 43 FoldersSound ok, but there is an underlying idea that email = waste of time.


Some email is a waste of time and some is valuable.

The art is to sort it, not postpone it, avoid it or to have email free hours or days.

I use Thunderbird and use many of the features: filters, flags, and customised Labels and "Search folders". I used to have an extension called "Message Notes" but it does not work with Thunderbird 1.5. Still hoping looking for an equivalent. The sorting happens vertically into folders and what I think of as "horozontally" by multiple tags in a variety of ways.

I apply the six GTD workflow steps. Collecting; (that is easy they just arrive). Processing; most of that is automatic using the software. Organising; doing if it is under 2 min, deleting delegating, organising includes includes linking to Address books, Mind-Maps and the Calendar and thinking about the the associated NAs and alerts reminders needed. Then there is the Reviewing Doing.

As I write this I realise there is philosophy needed to do this well, GDT is part of it, "email like water" also a notion that online communication is deeply revlolutionary for the psyche. This stuff matters.

Pile or file?

My physical file GTD setup on flickr

Discussion in GTD on Yahoogroups about the use of piles. The seemed a silly idea till I realised that my three trays are a Pile. Why not have that stuff in a File? It needs to be in your face until it is is filed so no other reminder system is need for the day to day stuff.

Why notice all this stuff… the David Allen Getting things Done craze has got me.

It is quite profound, at the basis of such practical stuff on the surface is a major impact on the psyche, for me anyway.

Mt. Lyford Week

I am up here at Mt. Lyford – working through my To Do Lists – and getting more & more to the writing phase! Not many days left though.

The bandwidth is bad here right now, around 21 kbps – so editing stuff online is out, and I am doing these last few posts via email and not looking up links. I’ll go back and tidy up. I know I will as it is in my GTD system!!

The weather has been good and I have enjoyed a few walks. More of that! Also have been very enthused & stimulated by listening to Dave Winer, Adam Curry, and many IT conversations. So will keep up the comments.

And maybe send up some audio.