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Out of sight, out of mind?

Hi everyone,

I had a quick question here about GTD methodology. I've tried to implement GTD twice now. I've had a little too much fun fiddling with my implementations. In the end, the system works for a while, but then I always seem to get stuck with the same problem.

In some perverse twist of my imagination, when I make lists of projects and actions, I actually feel less urgency to get stuff done. Yes, I "feel" a little bit more in control; but I also get a little slack in my work habits, knowing that my stuff is on lists, waiting for me. When I keep the thing in my mind, I have an incentive to get it done as quickly as possible--to get it off my mind. GTD takes away that incentive. In the end, I feel much less in control. If I keep stuff in my mind, I have an intuitive grasp of everything I need to do--figuring out priorities is a cinch. When stuff is on lists, my work feels much more mechanical and arbitrary. I have yet to discover the magic of the "flow" that everyone talks about.

The other thing that causes stress is trying to keep my lists up to date. It seems like everyday, the definition of some project changes--or some task needs to be deleted and redefined. With my old "in-my-mind" system, it took very little work to make that change; the system was easy to update. With GTD, I feel like I spend half my time just keeping my lists up to date. I have to hunt for the project on the project list--then I have to hunt for the related actions on the context lists. And then I wonder what the point of it all is anyway.

Once my GTD system gets a little out of whack, I feel far more stress than I ever felt with my old all-mental system, because I feel like I've just created a buttload of extra, meaningless processing work for myself. If I spend almost as much time obsessing about organizing my work as I do actually doing the work, something has to be wrong.

In short, while the idea of getting everything out of my head seems appealing, I haven't yet figured out the trick to making it work smoothly. I'm thinking of simplifying my life drastically by going back to daily to-do lists--i.e., a list that can actually be accomplished in a day. In this sense, I think the GSD method is perhaps the best route. A daily list, with actions carrying over to the next day. This gives me incentive to try to get stuff done today. I generally don't forget the major projects in my life--so if I'm really worried about forgetting something, I can save an extra page for that.

Should I adopt a simpler system? Please advise!




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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