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Is that on my list??????

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  • Is that on my list??????

    (Please forgive typos and misspellings . . . trying to get this in at work)

    This is something about GTD that gives me a problem. Perhaps its just my own neurosis, but, I am always trying to figure out if "that" is on my list.

    I understand that the "zen" of it all is that you're able to be open to what's coming to you every day because your mind is clear since you got it all out in your ubiquitous capture. Ok. I like this in theory. Here is where this goes wrong (for me):

    A million things go thru my mind every day and I'm very often wondering, "is that on my list already? did I put that on my someday list?" So, that particular "stuff" is on my mind and I can't get it off until I go review my lists again or until I put it back in my inbox thru ubiquitous capture. So, what happens as a result is that nothing ever really gets out of my head.

    I know this may go back to the explanation that it's because my system isn't set up correctly, so I don't fully trust my system and therefore feel like I have to keep things in my head. Or perhaps if I were doing my weekly reviews correctly, then I would know what is and isn't on my list.

    But this exact thing is sort of what has stymied my progress in setting up a complete system. I can't get past that very first collection phase.

    Can anyone speak to this?

  • #2
    Originally posted by VanessaLeigh View Post
    A million things go thru my mind every day and I'm very often wondering, "is that on my list already? did I put that on my someday list?" So, that particular "stuff" is on my mind and I can't get it off until I go review my lists again or until I put it back in my inbox thru ubiquitous capture. So, what happens as a result is that nothing ever really gets out of my head.
    Write it down, put it in your inbox, process it like any other input. One of two things will happen. Either you'll realize that it *wasn't* on your list, and be happy that it is now captured; or you'll realize that it *was* on your list, and trust your system that little bit more.

    Over time, your lists will become complete, you'll trust them more, and this will be less of a problem.

    Katherine

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    • #3
      Originally posted by VanessaLeigh View Post
      I know this may go back to the explanation that it's because my system isn't set up correctly, so I don't fully trust my system and therefore feel like I have to keep things in my head. Or perhaps if I were doing my weekly reviews correctly, then I would know what is and isn't on my list.
      You need to capture everything in your mind. There is nothing wrong with capturing something several times - maybe its important. You can always delete duplicates/triplicates/etc.ates when you do the weekly review. To worry about whether or not you should even capture it is contrary to GTD and is just adding unnecessary stress.

      The weekly review is also key. This is the only way you will know what is on your list and to know that you have captured everything in your head. It's also a great time to add things to your someday/maybes.

      You may also want to clarify in what way your system is not set up correctly.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by sdann View Post
        The weekly review is also key. This is the only way you will know what is on your list and to know that you have captured everything in your head.
        Ditto that!

        An interesting side effect to the whole capture/review cycle is that if you do it effectively, you will discover that the goal of "getting out of your head" is a red herring. It's not so much "get it out of your head"; rather, it's move it from the "holy cow, I gotta do it now!" spot in your brain to the "yeah, it's cool, I know its written down so I don't have to panic about it" spot.

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        • #5
          been there and getting over it

          Whatever you use to list your current projects, someday maybes, whatever, make sure that it is searchable in an open kind of way (like open stacks in a library). That way, you will see if you noted it already. Also beware that the first coup[le of times through higher level things might seem like projects and vice versa.

          Also, if you are going through a lot of stuff and you are generating ideas, one-off actions, projects, etc., you might think of collecting them on a whiteobard or black board so you can look up and see them easily, modify, add to, etc.. Then process them.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by jknecht View Post
            Ditto that!

            An interesting side effect to the whole capture/review cycle is that if you do it effectively, you will discover that the goal of "getting out of your head" is a red herring. It's not so much "get it out of your head"; rather, it's move it from the "holy cow, I gotta do it now!" spot in your brain to the "yeah, it's cool, I know its written down so I don't have to panic about it" spot.
            Interesting point! I like the idea of different parts of the mind vs. it's completely out of the mind. The items are just in the more relaxed part of the mind (ideally).

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            • #7
              Ask Yourself Why It Is Still On Your Mind?

              You may still have decisions to make about a particular issue or it might not be fully defined.

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              • #8
                If you capture it, then trust that you've captured it and let it go. If it comes into your mind again, don't ask the question "Is it on my lists?" Just write it down and move on with your day. It doesn't matter if it is on your lists. If it comes up in your mind, capture it. That's all that matters. Over time, you will begin to trust your system.

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                • #9
                  To the original poster, I can appreciate your frustration! I certainly felt the same way early in my implementation of GTD.

                  If I may offer a blunt, contrarian view:

                  It takes time.

                  You will not get everything out of your head immediately. You will not have a pristine working system quickly. Your brain isn't going to rewire itself in a few weeks. It can take months to re-orient your life around a new productivity system. Heck, it's taken many of us years.

                  This is frustrating. This is hard. But it's just how we're built.

                  The rewards are worth it.

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