My GTD Failings

We are now into my third month of GTD. To assess where I am at realistically, I would have to say that it has not been a complete failure, but neither has it been much of a success. My results are on the bubble at this point. I use my Hipster PDA and have been trying to effectively capture all my ephemeral inputs into it. I’ve got pretty decent set of next actions for the various contexts of my life, and I keep them up to date and even sometimes actually do them. I’ve gotten my email inbox – not quite to zero – but to spitting distance of zero. Those are the good points.

On the downside, I’m not effectively handling incoming paper inputs, like mail. I am not consistently doing the reviews. This is a huge failing. Part of how I got the inbox to the low double digits and on my good days the high single digits was by filing some of it in a “Next Action” folder. Because of my failure to do reviews though, this becomes the “Place to Put Emails To Get Them Out of My Face and Then Ultimately Ignore.” The biggest failure, the one that threatens to make this all useless, is that I have not achieved the zen state.

Last night as I was lying in bed trying to get to sleep, I was fretting about various things that need to be done before I leave for Orycon. If I’m in my bed fretting, then obviously I have not achieved faith in my own system and I don’t believe myself when I say things are not falling through the cracks. I sort of wish it hadn’t been the middle of the night, because that probably would have been a good time to do a “mind sweep” and capture all those things making me antsy.

I’m not giving up. I believe in this system, and even doing it half-assed has improved things somewhat. What I need is a disciplined time and place to do my reviews, daily and weekly. When I look at my “inbox” (which is really a shelf near my desk) I want it empty or with only a single item or three on it. I want to not be anxious about anything as related to whether I have dropped the ball. I want to not actually drop the ball, screw things up, miss deadlines and basically be a disorganized chaos source. I need to make that commitment, and execute on it consistently, every day and every week. I can feel it going wrong, and I need this train back on the track.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father. Member of the Podcast Hall of Fame class of 2022.

One thought on “My GTD Failings”

  1. That zen like state might take a couple more months, it did for me anyway. Well, “zen like” might be a bit of an overstatement in my case, but I certainly don’t worry about the things I might be forgetting anymore. Are you using a tickler file to wrangle some of your paper? Many people don’t see much use in 43 (mostly empty) folders but they can be quite useful for quickly filing items that need attention in the future. A “next action” folder can quickly become unwieldy as you have experienced with your email. Speaking of email, much of mine suffered the same fate for a time (due to lack of reviews), I found that I needed to put a corresponding item on my next action list to keep the emails from being lost. Whatever you do, stick with it man, it will click eventually.

    P.S. I’ve posted my email methods, perhaps some will be helpful:

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