the corner office

a blog, by Colin Pretorius

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Getting Things Done I

For years, every January sees a (broken) resolution about doing All Of The Things. Then come November (my birthday month), when I write my 'Reflections on Turning X' (which I like to do), it invariably has a gripe about how I wish I was on top of All Of The Things.

This is November, and the gripe was weighing on me this year as much as ever. So to get on top of All Of The Things, I started using Trello and bought Getting Things Done, by David Allen. It was first recommended to me nearly 14 years ago, and I've seen it mentioned a number of times since.

I've started reading it, and so far rather like it. The book describes a process for dealing with, well, All Of The Things. The main thrust of which is that you need to 'capture' everything you need to do or are thinking about, by writing it down, getting it on paper or into an In Tray. Then you 'clarify', which boils down to making an up-front decision about what to do about something, generally a 'next action', or just filing it or throwing it out, and then you do some organising and review everything regularly and yadda yadda. The latter part of that is rather vague, but that's because I'm still in the early stages of the book.

The capturing is the bit I'm most caught up in at the moment. The book's promise (premise, too) is that by getting everything out of your head and on paper, you begin to relax more because you know you have it written down and have a system that's going to take care of it. But it has to be everything, for your mind to trust it.

I started capturing, but at first it was anything but relaxing. Instead, it was as if I'd opened up a floodgate, and allowed a zillion repressed thoughts and ideas and worries to come out and play. I had insomnia for a couple of nights - I'd wake up in wee hours and start thinking about things, and "I really should write down..." (which isn't so easy at 3 in the morning in the dark with kids who bounce out of bed ready for the day at the slightest hint of parents waking up). Within about 5 days I'd filled up 16 pages of TODOs in my little notebook.

But then a funny thing happened. Only 2 new items made it to my list today. After nearly a week since I started, I can't think of more stuff to capture. And what's more, I've probably knocked off more small tasks in the past few days than I had all month. Regardless, if it accomplishes nothing other than me being more relaxed about the things I'm not doing, then that's better than before.

{2017.11.22 21:42}

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