I've done the collection stage and I've started to process. I've got a TON of things in my next action list, and I can safely say that the bulk of them aren't Someday/Maybes. They have to be done. The thing is, there are a LOT of them. A lot more than I had in my conscience mind. Even when broken down by context it's a huge list because really, the context bit breaks down a little when all day you're in your office with a phone and an online computer nearby. They almost seem arbitrary (barring home or errands, of course).
The point is that this huge list may be out of my head, but now I can SEE it, and it's scary! I've procrastinated a little lately, and this is the price I'm paying.
Anybody else have this experience?
Your experience is not unusual at all, especially in the beginning of the GTD journey. Although I've been a GTD-er for years now, I still sometimes find I get overwhelmed by and numb to my lists if they are too long.
Originally Posted by fadecomic
I got some advice from Katherine here in this forum: Take the things out of my lists that I know I won't work on between now and the next weekly review. You might want to create a "pending" context to put them in temporarily. You will, of course, need to be very disciplined in doing a weekly review or you're going to miss something very important. But there's no use in having something staring you in the face that you can't do right now anyway!
You'll get more advice on this, I'm sure. Hang in there!
I was also scared of my lists when I started about two months ago and I still have lots of backlog. This is what has worked for me:
- Separating someday/later from someday/maybe
- Reducing main lists further by asking myself every day "if I went on holidays for two weeks on Monday, which are the tasks that I would do before it, which would I delegate?"
- Scheduling time to at least start working on backlog later on and then "forgetting" about it, concentrating on critical things only
- Being very, very disciplined about staying current with all new stuff, not letting myself overcommit any more unless something very critical shows up. Remember: "No is a complete sentence."
-Weekly review, weekly review, weekly review... (my weak point :( )
Hang in there, keep working on it and things will get clearer soon!
There is less stress in partial or, in some cases I know, full oblivion. Being aware of all that is in your life, all that you may want, all that you will want can seem daunting, especially when it stares at you for the first time. I promise you, though, that there is tremendous power in having control over your life and the direction it's taking. Knowing what you have to do now and what you may do later, allows you to move in that direction. It also gives more meaning to taking care of those items that seem tedious.
I'm at that point where I would be stressed if I had to once again sit uncertain of what to do next. GTD calms me. It has also opened new opportunities because I have more confidence that I can get there.
Very common esp when you first get started. The thing is you already have made some sort of commitment to those items just now you can see them all and it can be really overwhelming.
Originally Posted by fadecomic
My suggestion if the length of the list is that scary is to break it down further. Instead of @ computer you might have @computer spreadsheet, @computer web surfing, @computer e-mail, @computer word processing, @computer image processing as categories to get through your lists.
Hang in there it takes months to get semi-comfortable with GTD and years to get good at it.
Remember: All these commitments were there before. Now you're just seeing them all at once.
The shock is normal; it will wear off. Especially as you make lots of progress on lots of fronts.
I have also noticed this happens, espcially after a really complete weekly reveiw. I think it becomes a bit less intimidating once you have the confidence that you will keep rveiwing the lists and keep working at completing the next actions on them. My mind seems to relax more with a big list now because there seems to be more certaintly that I will continue to review it and actually do what is on it.
Yes, the experience is very familiar.
Right now I'm several weeks later in the process than you are, having recently implemented GTD more fully than in the past. I can tell you it really feels great knowing that I have a pretty complete picture of things (at least from the 20K level and below). It also feels really good having gotten more done in recent few weeks than I would have in the past.
It really does work.
I've been using GTD for 5 years now - and got this same shock again this week. It's just like the first time all over again.
I never fully implemented GTD collect at home for reasons that aren't worth rationalising here. Two weeks ago we moved house and I had vowed (and warned my family) that I would be implementing GTD more visibly at home with a proper paper collection system and home inbox. I had previously noted inbox items into my notepad or PDA and synched them up to Outlook at work.
So I did have "all" my personal projects and @home contexts - during the house sale and move they were pretty busy places. I've always thought I was doing it well and was happy with my system.
But then came the tidal wave. Oh My God! It seemed that for a week, I was non stop picking up a square of paper, writing something on it and chucking it in that inbox. As we've moved house there's a pretty big snaglist - and daily processing of the collected inbox was taking over an hour some days.
Now the tidal wave has passed, there's more of a trickle of items hitting the inbox. My lists are in Outlook and I've never known anything like it. It's up 41%. I mean I was missing about 40% of my commitments just because I wasn't doing "collect" properly at home.
I did not get time for my weekly review due to work commitments and just sheer processing this week. I'll have to do one at the weekend. Not much was processed into Someday Maybe so there's going to be a lot of shifting projects around to fit my 20K and 30K horizons this weekend.
It. Feels. Great! :mrgreen:
So stick with it is what I say. And spend your weekend "Cranking widgets" when you can :)
I think that what you've described here is a common rite of passage for most if not all new GTD users. Seeing all of the unfulfilled commitments that you've subconsciously made to yourself in front of you can evoke some negative emotions including guilt, grief, and overwhelm. But there's a key step to moving beyond overwhelm at the sheer size of your lists: RENEGOTIATION. I don't think that the book emphasizes doing this at the onset (I believe it's covered later during weekly reviews), but what good is a series of lists that are so large you don't want to look at them?
Now that you can actually see those commitments in one place you can renegotiate them. That's precisely what you should do when your project and action lists grow to such a large size that you start to go numb to them. That's where the Someday/Maybe list comes into the picture.
I believe you have a misconception that Someday/Maybe (S/M) is for more "blue sky" or "dream" type projects that may or may not happen. That's only the "Maybe" side of the list. The "Someday" side of the list is there for projects that you are committed to finishing, but just not right now. I have over 100 items on that list and some of them were at one time active projects that I had to pend for an extended period of time. It really is an absolutely critical component of a GTD system.
Originally Posted by fadecomic
Remember, you can only do what you can do. Don't over commit yourself. A pint cannot hold a quart. Therefore I suggest you start the renegotiation process by identifying all of the projects that you have on your list right now that don't have a fixed due date or consequences for being unfinished (fixing a leaky roof, for example). Move them to Someday/Maybe and remove the corresponding next actions from your action lists.
Review S/M during your weekly review and decide if you should activate any of the projects that you temporarily pended there. If you activate a project, immediately decide the next action and put it in the appropriate place. Don't move any projects back to the active list that you don't foresee yourself making any progress on in the next couple of weeks.
You have to figure out for yourself how many projects you can handle at one time. I suggest you keep the list as small as you can for now and let it grow a little at a time until you find your optimum comfort zone. I've reduced my active list to less than twenty and I'm finding that I'm actually finishing more projects and feeling more productive.
Best of luck to you and welcome to GTD!