When I started off with GTD, about 15 months ago, I did immediately get the boost in energy and creativity that "the David" talks about. It was incredibly freeing to get things out of my mind, and I enthusiastically carried around universal capture pads and wrote down tons of new ideas in them. I had lots of energy--almost unprecedented amounts for me. I proselytized everyone I met about the system.
But it faded, of course. Part of it was I started letting leaks in, running a double system because I stopped trusting the GTD one, lost discipline on weekly reviews. But all of those things reflected, I think, a deeper cause: the initial burst of energy came from the idea that I might indeed get everything done, live a much fuller life... And the disillusionment came from the fact that there was far more in my head than I could ever do, and that I was having a much harder doing things than I had hoped.
Still, I miss that initial burst of energy, and think that maybe a renewed commitment to GTD could get me back to it. So here's my question: do any of you have experience with "re-energizing" your GTD use? How did you do it?
A good, old-fashioned brain dump is good for me. The weekly review can be re-energizing too, but sometimes facing the weekly reality is like plunging into cold water. Moving projects to someday-maybe, adding and removing projects. Cleaning up. Investigating new tools- got to be careful on that one, though. Checking off. Deciding, and writing down the decisions. Lots of stuff. There are a lot of people around who can testify that GTD really has given them a much fuller, richer life; perhaps you can draw inspiration from them?
Originally Posted by David W.
I agree..sort of
I've used the "new tool" idea many times to re-energize myself. I fully agree to be careful. Sometimes it is helpful to re-examine your projects list to be sure there are projects on there that you find exciting and energizing. These are most likely personal projects you may be overlooking. A trip? A vacation? Learning something new? You are the only judge of what is exciting to you.
Originally Posted by mcogilvie
Try defining your "Areas of Focus" as the roles you play in your life. Ensure you have some goals under each role. From the goals, see if that generates some exciting new projects.
I think I read somewhere that going UP in the horizons of focus can provide you with perspective. Perhaps THAT is what's missing and you're losing control because of it.
This is a good thread. I think it's a common problem.
re: Getting New Enthusiasm for GTD
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's book _Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience_ explains exactly what is going on when enthusiasm wanes and is reignited again. Flow is created when the the challenge you face adequately meets the skills you have. Too much skill for the challenge results in becoming bored with it; too much challenge for the skill results in feeling overwhelmed. Flow is when there is a match.
The GTD approach consists of not just one habit or skill but a multiple number of them, and juggling them all in such a way as to obtain "flow" (or what David Allen calls "mind like water" or "relaxed control") takes some time. Falling off the GTD wagon is just part of the process of learning how to juggle the nine or so habits one needs to develop and keep going at the same time.
When I developed the Ready-Set-Do! approach for the mac I had some difficulty staying motivated as well, so I added ten "belt levels" that I could graduate through as I acquired new habits. As odd as it sounds, it added some fun to the process. Thus when I either got bored or overwhelmed I could still get motivated to get that next belt level--to earn my Orange Belt.
At any rate, a return to the _Getting Things Done_ book during any time you fall off the GTD wagon is often enough to reveal something you didn't read the last time, and that can provide new motivation to "kick-start" the productivity again.
Last edited by Todd V; 07-01-2011 at 10:41 PM.
We All Fall Off the Wagon Sometimes
David has said many times that knowing and doing GTD is all about being able to know that you have fallen off the wagon (things are a little out of control) and knowing what you need to do to get back on and get control again. It is like the story in the last GTD Journal on GTD Connect about the elephant. Gently guide yourself back to getting started again and you can have that sense of being in control again.
I love trying new things, so the "new tool" approach helps me to keep things fresh. I'll also agree that you have to be careful not to be distracted by the shiny-object sort of thinking. The tool has to be something that would be helpful and not distracting to your processing of lists. But, sometimes just switching tools can be helpful.
Don't feel bad, though. Like David says, "GTD is easy to fall off of, and easy to get right back on."
If this statement is part of what's holding you back from starting again, I'd like to offer this food for thought. I had a similar stumbling block at first.
Originally Posted by David W.
David Allen himself said the following during the Mastering Workflow seminar that I watched, and it was a huge sticking point for me when I started my GTD journey. He said itduring the part about why we feel grief or guilt as we look at the list from our first mindsweep:
"The guilt that you feel is not about having too much to do. There's always more to do than you can do. If you're hearing that for the first time you either need a priest or a grief counselor."
He went on to explain that the real guilt came unfulfilled commitments that you've made with yourself, but you've consciously forgot about them. You still pay the same (or worse) price emotionally and psychologically as if you broke an agreement with someone else. Once you externalize them and see them, you can keep them and renegotiate them, and those agreements will no longer be broken. You'll lose the guilt.
Accept it. Your lists will never be empty. You'll always have more to do than you can do--Nature abhors a vacuum. If by magic everything on your lists were suddenly completed, what would you do next? You'd come up with a bigger list! You'd be so excited and full of energy that you'd take on more incomplete and ambiguous stuff!
In spite of having more to do than I can do, GTD has enabled me to live a richer, more enjoyable life. Not so much because I'm able to get more done with less effort, but because I am now totally at peace with the incompletes in my life. For me, that is the most valuable benefit of GTD.
"You can only feel good about what your not doing when you know what you're not doing." -DA
I wish you luck in your quest.
Very well said, Luke. A great reminder for all of us, struggling or not!