GTD lacks a systematic method for filtering and focusing
I've chosen to use a title that may be a little provocative, because I feel GTD doesn't address this issue methodically enough for people like me who have a problem with overcommitment and overwhelm. Maybe I'm missing something, and all the experts here can set me straight.
Problem: Whenever I collect and process and organize, I end up with Next Action lists that are too long to have any chance of being completed, and I am paralyzed with overwhelm.
Part of the problem happens because the standard question during processing is "Is This Actionable?" Well, yes, lots and lots of things that come through my inboxes are actionable. It's easy to determine the Next Physical Action and put it on a list. Or to throw the item into a project file. But as noted above, this does not solve the problem. It just makes my Next Action lists very long.
During Weekly Review (or immediately during Processing and Organizing), I can decide to move many of those items to Someday/Maybe, or just delete them. But what about all the other items that remain?
My Next Action Lists and my Someday/Maybe list get so long, they cannot be reviewed effectively in a 2-hour weekly review. Not even in an all-day weekly review. There's just too much to review, too much to think about.
Sometimes it's easy to decide how to handle some of these things. Some of the tasks and projects are "absolutely must do this week", and I might even put them on a special Next Action @NOW list. Some of the tasks are "yeah that would be nice, if I had 48 hours in my day" and go directly to Someday/Maybe or just get deleted. Maybe half of my inputs fall into one of these categories. Those are easy to deal with.
It's the other 50% that causes the problems. Stuff where I'm not sure if it's really important or not, not sure if it ties into my commitments or not, not sure if it will cause things to fall apart if I fail to handle it. Is it "actionable"? Sure, it's often easy to determine the next physical action and put it on an appropriate list. But it's not so sure whether I should even be committing myself to this action at all. That sounds like the definition of "someday/maybe", so these items often go straight to that list. But that list gets very, very long and very difficult to review effectively.
When the lists get too long, and a 2-hour weekly review doesn't help, the whole system starts to fall apart. Please show me where, in any of the GTD books, charts, or official material, this situation is dealt with.
I looked for the keyword "overwhelm" on the GTD site, and all I found were summaries of GTD itself, such as the one here: http://www.davidco.com/faq/gtd-metho...erwhelmed-work Yes, I already do all that - but I am still overwhelmed.
There are lots of ideas on the forum (e.g. http://www.davidco.com/forum/showthr...ight=overwhelm ), but they are ideas I have found and read in many non-GTD sites and books: you need to prune your commitments, you need to learn to say no, you are just out of control, etc. Yes, all true, all good advice -- but not a systematic part of the GTD method.
Tags for this Thread