Finding why I don't trust my system
I'm interrupting my weekly review to bring you this confession. I don't trust my system.
David has often commented in his podcasts that if you're not using the system it is because you don't trust it. I still find myself prioritising and remembering what to do next from memory rather than my lists. It would be once a fortnight, at best, that I go into a list of next actions to see what I can do. My most useful list is @waiting for by far.
I am comfortable that I have my 10,000ft projects covered. The life goals aren't there yet. I mention that because I don't think that's the reason, rather I keep working on the last thing in the pile. Despite my intentions I don't seem to be able to finish A, look at list, select B, finish B. Instead I finish A, finish Z, finish D
Back to David's comment about trusting my system. I know it has the placeholders for much of what I have to remember (have you noticed like I have that I'm using much and most), and when I go back into it each week I've ticked off the major items as I would have prioritised them. It seems wrong to not be looking at the list each time. It gets worse in weeks like this where I have a backlog to process, however small, butting up against some big items.
Thought: I do the little things immediately though they usually take longer than 2 minutes in order to quieten interruptions and create space for the bigger things to occur. Then I react to the pressure of the big things having not occurred! A big thing is usually something that requires 2-3 hours to think and reflect. On further thinking a big thing is big because it is really something that I believe is fundamentally important.
I would benefit from hearing the experiences of others. This is not a technical implementation issue but an emotional one.
In the time since originally posting I've:
- Caught myself thinking, "I'll just do the minutes of the board meeting so that I have time to process my conference notes"
- Decided to put the board minutes aside and process my conference notes which I need to have organised for a meeting with the chairman tomorrow.
- Begun processing my conference notes
That says it all.
What's wrong with not checking your NA list for every action?
I find that if I do my weekly reviews and my lists are current, I don't need to check my NA list for every action. Most of my NAs are related to appointments at work. Those appointments trigger the NAs and I go from there; knowing what needs to be done since I did last week's review. At the next weekly review, I check to see where I stopped with that appointment or project then note the NA for that project. And the cycle repeats. I don't check the NA list everyday. Actually, I find myself checking the lists more when I am NOT current with my weekly reviews.
Originally Posted by quantumgardener
So I don't see a problem with not checking the list everyday if you do your weekly reviews and have current lists.
Repeated reviews of the lists make them fresh in my memory. I can't help it that I remember lists from reviewing them on a weekly basis. I don't check my NA lists daily; but that does not mean I don't trust my system.
I guess I am trying to see why it is a problem with you? Are you not getting things done? :confused:
re: Not Trusting Your System
THE WEEKLY REVIEW
One of the keys to trusting the system is doing a complete weekly review every week no-matter-what. If you do this you'll have enough peace-of-mind to trust your choices. But the frequency and the discipline do take awhile to master. As I just recently read from the DA himself, "GTD is about getting rid of mental residue, not going faster." A good reminder. You might collect some thoughts during your weekly review about your system and how you're feeling about it; then later you can process them into projects and actions.
THE TRUTH ABOUT ANY GTD SETUP
GTD is good because it does a better job at keeping things organized than we do when we just keep it all in our heads. Hence the importance of collection and emptying our heads. But the downside is that any GTD system can never be as quick as our heads when it comes to adjusting to sudden changes on a whim. Hence the temptation to go back to trusting our head again.
Any GTD system is limited to its infrastructure - paper, palm pilot, daytimer, email, file-system, computer, etc.). Paper requires lots of reduplication, computers are notorious for abandoned software platforms, bugs or glitches. Your system will only be able to adjust as fast as its infrastructure allows and your efforts to adjust it to new demands. So a sudden bug in the productivity software you use may throw your whole system off or a life change may do the same. Either way you have to readjust. The bottom line is that life thows us curve-balls and interruptions that knock us off course sometimes -- maybe we skip a few weekly reviews, don't get anything done for a week or two to focus on a new emergency. We just have to accept it and move on. The truth is that things are no different than before the discovery of GTD -- the interruptions were there before. What *is* different, however, is that GTD is working a lot better than whatever previous system we were using and it does take some time to master.
So I think part of it is just nailing that weekly review no-matter-what every week -- especially when you're feeling overwhelmed -- and making sure to capture the things that are bothering you. And the other part is just accepting that no matter what system you use, it's going to have some limitations in helping you face the swift demands of life's circumstances.
Pruning Your GTD System When Overwhelmed
You may also try pruning your system down some so that you can get enough off the table and out of your inbox so you can start thinking about some of those higher levels. One thing I counsel people to do immediately before even starting the collection process is to "prune their inputs" -- what channels are flowing into your inbox that you could cut off right now? subscriptions? RSS feeds? certain people dumping piles of stuff you don't need to know? Eliminating channels like these can reduce the amount of processing time and provide you with more time to get everything else in order.