As the subject suggests, I have anxiety and depression disorders and I'm finding it difficult to keep my GTD system going. The times when I'm feeling good, I'm enthusiastic about processing my inbox, managing my lists, writing things down, and pretty much the entire system. It feels like I can accomplish anything and I feel secure about my system. Then there's the majority of the time when my depression and/or anxiety are bad and I get into my lows and it feels like each task, no matter the size, is akin to having to clean out the garage or solving the world's hunger problems in one day. Just knowing that there are any tasks waiting is enough to drain me. A simple 2 minute task is often way too much for me and it'll just sit there taunting me every time I look at it. The only things that get done during my lows are those items that are about to blow up, rather than taking care of them when they show up. Logically, I know that reacting this way during my lows creates more problems later, which will likely bring me lower in the future. Logically, I know what I should be doing, but I feel so psychically weak during these "spells" that just to do the absolute necessary—going to work, paying bills, eating, etc.—can be enough to keep me from doing much else.
I've tried the "just start with something small and use it to get the ball rolling and to have energy beget energy" stuff, but that only seems to work on the few days where I feel somewhat decent and am just procrastinating. Normally when I'm in my low spells, I'll try to initiate the flow of energy by just trying to do something and it ends up draining me rather than getting me started off in a snowball effect.
Here's where I am in my GTD practices:
- I've read Getting Things Done and plan on reading it again in a few months.
- I'm currently reading Ready for Anything.
- I'm fairly new at the whole GTD thing and officially have been at it for about 5 months now.
- I have a complete Projects, Someday/Maybe, Next Actions, reference filing system, Inbox, and everything else and try to keep them as up-to-date as I can.
- I usually re-read any sections or cheat sheets related to anything I'm confused about in GTD regularly.
- I try to review my lists and do my weekly review as often as possible, but that doesn't always happen for the reasons explained above.
- I try to keep up with blogs, reading forums (including this one), buying interesting office supplies (I love office supplies), and reviewing my accomplishments to try and keep myself motivated, which doesn't always work.
- I've been on various medications for my disorders and am now trying something else. I'm actively seeking treatment (which is one of those things I do that's often a pre-blow up project). Making and keeping appointments alone is enough to zap me off my motivation.
- I try to capture as much of what's on my mind to paper as often as possible.
- I'm pretty strict about keeping up with my next actions to keep myself from being overwhelmed by not knowing what to do next. Breaking things into small, "bite sized" chunks has already helped some.
- One of my anxiety and depression triggers is my irrational fear of making phone calls. This makes things very difficult since not everybody communicates through email. I have at least 2 simple, under 10 minute calls I have to make that I've needed to make for about 2 months now that still remain incomplete.
I guess what I'm looking for here are others who have similar problems and have found ways to get past them. Writing this post by itself is costing me a lot of psychic energy, which is fine since I'll be going to bed soon. Basically, I have a lot of faith that sticking with GTD will benefit me greatly and I've already seen many benefits. The fact that it's so forgiving that I can come back to it after being in my funks is reason enough. It's frustrating, though, realizing there's a system that I enjoy that can make me more effective, productive, and better all around is also a system that can so easily overwhelm me during my lows. It's also frustrating because when I'm fully partaking in the GTD process, I feel in control of my life. When I'm not able to do what I need to do in GTD, I start to feel like I'm helpless, or at least out of control of things again.
Maybe I'm too much of a perfectionist? Maybe I'm too hard on myself (or not hard enough?) I'm not really sure. I don't know what else to say as I'll likely just repeat what I've already said, but just in different words.
Hope you can help.