As most people here I'm working my way through consistent and effective GTD implementation. I'm happy to say that the system is working better and better for me as each month progresses.
I have been struggeling with a specific part of GTD for a long time: The tasks that I'm not sure whether should be on my NA-list or on a someday/maybe-list, AND which have the feature of being pretty urgent if I decide to do or not do them. (If that makes sense).
An example might be that I get a birthday invitation, which is held 10 days from now on. According to GTD methodology, I have to decide what to do about this item when I'm processing my inbox: Will I go or will I not, or do I need to get more information before I make the decision? (E.g. asking a friend of mine if he's going to).
But in this case the answer might simply not be that easy.
Let's say that I'm actually free on that night, so it's possible for me to go, but on the other hand I really don't know if I feel like going or whether I rather would be home reading, or maybe I don't even want to commit because I know that some of my friends probably will create a spontanous get-to-gether as we always do on fridays. There might be a lot of other factors.
The bottom-line is that this "item" (stuff) really is something that I can't define a NA for right now. On the other hand it's not something that I want to put on my someday/maybe list, as a weekly review is too long into the future for me to be reminded of it again.
I have tried different solutions to this:
- make a "logic" decision in the moment. Putting a "RSVP yes to the invitation" on my action list e.g. The result? My NA-lists would have a task, that I'm really not commited to. Or in the case I decided to decline, but actually wasn't sure if I wanted to not go, it would also just sit there and clog up my NA-list.
- put it on my someday/maybe list. The result? My mind kept reminding me about this issue, as the time perspective for my next review simply wasn't working for me.
- not include it in my system. Which basically gave the same problem as putting it on the someday/maybe list: Constant remindering from my brain = stress.
As I went through my lists a couple of weeks ago, I tried identifying all of theese projects, where I had made a "logic" decision without really being sure whether I want to carry this out in real life or not.
And suddenly it occured to me, that theese decisions really isn't something I can "force" myself to make. Forcing a decision is like putting a "false" due date on a project or task - your mind (often) doesn't take it seriously, and your trusted system become untrusted.
So, I created a new list: A "Waiting for me to decide on" list, which I keep as a "context" with all my NA-lists. After going through my system, which has about 80 active projects currently, I ended up moving 12 project's NAs into this context. A couple of examples after having rewrited the NAs:
- "Find out if I want to give the gift I have been thinking about to X"
- "Find out if I want to start a weblog on X"
- "Find out if I want to go to X event in february" (which will probably soon sell out)
- "Find out if I'm ready to commit to quiting smoking"
The result: All my open loops has suddenly been captured in a way, where they TRUELY reflect the internal state of my brain. And as my waiting for list and waiting for me to decide on are at the top of my NA-list, I now get reminded continously about this "Not-commited, but to urgent for the someday/maybe-list" many times during the day.
I also found a couple of projects that I had earlier dismissed by logical decision, but were still running around in my head and now got them back into my system, where they belong.
The result the last two weeks has been a much bigger sense of being in control, and I sense my mind has started trusting this system. I get reminded of these "maybe's" really often, but when I focus on a specific task, they don't interrupt me. The sense of being in control of my undecided items has been such a relief, and has caused (I believe) my subconscious mind to keep the "wide overview", and my decisions-processes, which is reaching deeper than the logical level, has speeded up tremendously.
Sometimes out of the blue the decision is made. And that decision might just be to flesh out a research project on the item to help me come to closure. In this way it's like having an inbox "on hold".
I guess the basic insight for me here is that my trusted system is not how I think my commitments SHOULD be from pure logic. It's supposed to be a true reflection of my relationship to my commitments - even if it means undecided. (And it doesn't mean that I can't go from undecided to decided in a heartbeat, it just means that I can't force decisions).
I just wanted to share this little tip. Hopefully it's usefull to others