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Getting behind

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  • Getting behind

    I am still keeping up with processing my email, but my projects are way behind. I haven't really tracked them. I start one job after another with no time to finish the last one. When I do have time to try to finish something I'm so tired of working I don't have the will power to do it. On top of this I seem to have developed an anxiety problem which doesn't help me stay on task or feel like doing much of anything.

  • #2
    Ignorance was Bliss

    Originally posted by SoonerRyan View Post
    I am still keeping up with processing my email, but my projects are way behind. I haven't really tracked them. I start one job after another with no time to finish the last one. When I do have time to try to finish something I'm so tired of working I don't have the will power to do it. On top of this I seem to have developed an anxiety problem which doesn't help me stay on task or feel like doing much of anything.
    Ignorance was bliss wasn't it.



    • #3
      I believe there's a psychological rite of passage when one gets started with GTD where you initially feel worse instead of better. It's similar to starting a fitness program for the very first time. At first all you feel is soreness and fatigue, but eventually you feel stronger, more energized and more confident.

      As you start to collect, process and organize your "stuff" you see a growing list of unfulfilled commitments that you had buried in the back of your mind or in your physical world. When you really see all of the commitments you made and have not kept the guilt factor about those unkept commitments hits you full force--they are in your face, not buried. Remember, your subconscious beats you up over every single one of those "oh, I ought/need to..." that you have filed in psychic RAM because it thinks you should be handling every one of those things right here, right now. At this point you have to forgive yourself, let go of that guilt and learn to feel good about what you're not doing because you know exactly what you're not doing.

      Once you "see" exactly what commitments you made you can *renegotiate* those commitments. That's what the Someday/Maybe list is for. "Yes, I'll do this, but not right now." It's a remarkable transformation. Just hang in there and if you do the habits you'll experience this for yourself.

      Good luck.


      • #4
        re: On the Other Side of Overwhelmed

        I echo ellobogrande's advice. You're not omnipotent, but human, which means there is only so much time you have in a given day to collect, process, organize and do things. Accept your limitations and be ok with that. Hire or delegate more of your stuff to others who can help you accomplish more of what's on your lists than you can on your own. And know that GTD is as much about discovering who you are as it is about getting things done. The more you clear away from the lower levels the more you get in touch with why you set out to do each of those tasks in the first place and what you truly value in life. The greater insight this gives you about your life, and the better you know yourself, the easier it becomes to say "No" to the things that no longer matter as much in light of your current life circumstances.

        Here are some pasts posts that may help:

        On Anxiety & GTD

        Learning to Surf Next Actions

        Migrating Projects to Someday-Maybe

        How to Manage 100's of Projects

        Help, I'm Overwhelmed!

        Tutorials for Understanding / Organizing Projects


        • #5
          Nice job pulling all of those links together Todd!


          • #6
            Get Project Support organised

            To really make progress on your projects, examine your project support and reference - IS IT ORGANISED ENOUGH?
            You need to setup a template for the natural planning model. I have mine in Microsoft Word. As soon as you decide you have a new project, you create an electronic folder and copy over the template to make a new project support file. I find that as I'm processing, there will be lots of bits and pieces that will naturally go into the project file, information, ideas, possible actions, etc. Having these in the file when you're ready to work on it really helps.

            I find project work slows down if anything I need in terms of support or reference is hard to find. Organise such that all of the important info can be found within 30seconds. I do a lot of large long term projects, and having the support material organised has been a key change, and really helped me get them moving along


            • #7
              I think the last thought of David Allen could be helpful, as well:

              Time management is not the issue


              • #8
                Ellobogrande made a great point about the guilt. I think I'm hesitating to dive into the mind-dump step because I know when I finish it, I'm going to have a huge pile of stuff staring accusingly back at me -- failed deadlines, forgotten projects, etc. -- and I'm going to be able to see concretely how many failures and missed opportunities there have been. Of course, they're already subconsciously beating me up every day, but facing them in a tangible way is very different.

                There's a fair amount of fear, too, that goes something like, "What if I do this, spend the time and emotional turmoil to go through this whole process, and it doesn't work for me (though my own fault, not GTD's)? Then I'm still going to be disorganized and behind, but I'll have a bigger pile of stuff staring at me, and a more conscious idea what's in it, so it'll be even worse." It sort of feels like double-or-nothing, as if GTD will make things better or worse, but certainly won't leave them as they were. Maybe a person has to get to the point where he feels like he doesn't have a choice -- either get organized or give up on life.


                • #9
                  work style? anti-procrastination day? imaginary vacation? a helper?

                  Some people doing some kinds of projects feel more in control or can build the momentum if they can really focus on completing one project rather than chipping away at several. If your situation allows it, you might feel better if you can clear the decks and devote a day or a hour a day for a week (your work style will dictate) to one project or reaching a milestone (e.g., first draft of chapter 1). I have felt that listing the one-action-at-a-time was useful for new projects in that I could get control over them early on but some projects that were half in the bag and had been hanging around I have been much more effective making the n/a pick a day and finish xyz.

                  Another tactic I have invoked is to make some Wednesdays "anti-procrastination day". Never mind efficiency, priority (within reason), it feels really good to take care of some these bits and pieces. I have done this at home and at the office. You can work from your lists or just brain storm it. The idea is to not start anything new, not get bogged down, and be guilt-free about doing stuff that has been attracting and using up your unconscious energy.

                  Finally, imagine that you will be going on a vacation for a three weeks. You will not have a signal for your phone and their is no computer. What would you feel compelled to blast away on? Okay, you will need to set some things aside for after vacation. Go ahead and indicate this on your project list that these are deferred. Get started on your pre-vacation list.

                  Finally, would it help you have a helper for a week? Many high school and college students are available. If you are low on money, you might find a son or daughter of a friend and explain this is not an hourly wage but you will provide an honorarium and a letter of recommendation. There are also some parents who just ant their kids out of the house and they would be happy if they had an "internship" in whatever it is you do.


                  • #10
                    Getting out from behind

                    I can testify to the power of GTD in dealing with getting behind. In early March I started having back problems which got progressively worse. In early May, it was diagnosed as diskitis and osteomyelitis, an infection of the discs and bones of the spine. Following a 12-day hospital stay, I have had a slow, painful recovery at home. In the last week, I have finally been able to work at my desk at home for an hour or so at a time. After several months where I was unable to do much, I am now completely caught up with everything I can do from home, which is actually most of my work. I'm not where I wanted to be because I've lost most of four months. However, I have no next actions lingering from the past: every next action I see today was entered yesterday. All projects are moving forward. The trick has been to keep going through my next action list, breaking down tasks that seemed too big, changing them if they seemed to miss the point, and following everything via a weekly review. Frankly, the state of flow I have been in is astounding to me. I don't know if I can sustain it, but if it is possible to stay here, then I will do what it takes to stay.