One of the things I like most about the GTD-methodology is how easy it is to get back on the GTD horse once you’ve fallen off. One of the things I like least about the GTD-methodology is how easy it is to fall off of the horse. Given the discussions that have occurred on the blogosphere about getting back into getting things done, I take it that the on-again, off-again cycle is relatively common.
The leaky hole for me seems to be in my ability to collect all of the inputs I have and to get them processed into some meaningful system. Sometimes I do really well at collecting everything, but then I end up stuck with the “what the hell do I do now?” mentality. Other times, I do really well at coming up with the critical tasks that I have to get done for the day (or week), but none of the other gazillion things get done and many more of them jump on board while the captain’s away.
A critique of the GTD system has been that it doesn’t really give one a workable system for syncing long-term goals with the runway. In fact, only 20 pages of the book are spent developing the above the runway goals. This is consistent with “the David’s” philosophy that we can’t focus on those higher tasks because the runway tasks are draining so much of our mental energy. However, many people find this to be a flaw of the program, and this has been a continual point of contention in the GTD vs. Seven Habits (7H) debate. To use the language from both systems, the GTD system can make one really efficient without being effective; I can crank the hell out of widgets and still not push any of my really important goals forward. It’s something I really have to watch before it gets out of hand.
The Weekly Review is a fail-safe feature that’s supposed to subvert the tendency to crank widgets without getting many important things done. When done properly, it really does keep one in line. This is buck that throws me off the horse. Miss a few weeks of weekly reviews and, well, you end up in the “I have no idea what the hell I need to be doing” sea. Generally, I find that I spend about three weeks on the horse riding high, a few more weeks hanging on, and then a couple of weeks out to sea. Your mileage may vary.
So, given that inspiration for writing generally comes from something we’re dealing with, you can probably tell that I’ve fallen off the horse. The next, and perhaps final, year of my graduate career is the most critical, and I’ve got more projects going than I can currently handle in abstracto. The next few posts will likely deal with my struggle to get back on the horse and going. You’ll likely sense a shift in mood from general pessimism to generally overwhelmed to general optimism that I can actually get it all done. Hopefully, five-six weeks from now I won’t be back to general pessimism, but if I am, you know I forgot my weekly review.