Holy Moly, Jason!
You hit the nail on the head, making this statement in a post below about difficulty with "processing". I've read this in the GTD book: that all conversations in the hall, every email, article I think I might want to read and throw on a pile, the engine light on the car...are all in some way commitments that tug at us in some way.
This week has been a really hard one, with multiple deadlines and lots to do, with some unhealthy compensations sometimes. I think that a lot of the frustration that I see in myself and other arises from their commitments to things and the agreements they have made with themselves and others about those commitments. It comes from poorly managing those things they have previously agreed to do (David's articulation of this idea clued me in to see it in real life.)
Keeping aprised of our agreements and commitments is the key to not lose track, let things fall through the cracks, and end up feeling guilty.
I have been a pretty dedicated user of GTD over the past 11 months. Before then, the best way to compensate for all the misplaced and unremembered agreements was to go numb. When I have used the GTD methods, I have been energized.
Because this week has been a time to see results of the way I have managed (or not managed) those agreements over the past few months and years, your statement really hit me. If I look at GTD as exactly this, then I really become empowered to live the priorities that I have felt all my life. I can do a lot to manage all my agreements, old and new, with others and with myself, with society and with my family, my boss and in those spontaneous interactions that come up.
It is somewhat ironic that this bottom-up system, which does not require articulating priorities on a daily basis, works well for me in helping keep my priorities my priorities.