David Allen’s Food For Thought – March 2015

Date: Friday, March 13, 2015 by GTD Staff

Who does your remembering, retrieving, and reminding?

Your system has to be at least as good as your mind to give your head the freedom to be present, creative, and spontaneous. If your organization has leaks or incomplete processes and data, your mind will still be burdened with the task of remembering, retrieving, and reminding you. And (if you haven’t noticed) it often remembers, retrieves, and reminds you at awkward, inappropriate, and useless times and in ineffective and incomplete ways. Not a good staffing decision.

The reason to have external objective systems to track our commitments, agreements, options, ideas, and information is to leverage our mind’s capabilities. We want to free up our creative mental process to produce potentially valuable thoughts about whatever we direct it toward, and to eliminate the stress and distraction of thinking about things we can’t do anything about at the moment.

The problem is, our mind cannot (nor will not) give up the job of attempting to remember, remind, and retrieve unless it trusts a potentially meaningful item, issue, or commitment is being handled. It can’t advance beyond that until that job has been filled.

Two things have to be in place in order to have your mind let go: (1) all the things that have our attention (little or big) have to be captured in the system, and (2) we have to know that what’s in the systems will be reviewed at the appropriate time and place.

The biggest frustration about this syndrome is that with only a portion really tracked and managed, we don’t know what’s missing, and the mind cannot really let go. Then we have all the trouble and investment of trying to keep up with organizational systems that still don’t really give us the payoff of the investment we made in them.

No wonder there’s so much interest and so much disappointment with personal organization education and tools. At some point we’ll look back and wonder why on earth we didn’t always keep it all out of our heads.



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