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Re-energizing GTD

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  • Re-energizing GTD

    When I started off with GTD, about 15 months ago, I did immediately get the boost in energy and creativity that "the David" talks about. It was incredibly freeing to get things out of my mind, and I enthusiastically carried around universal capture pads and wrote down tons of new ideas in them. I had lots of energy--almost unprecedented amounts for me. I proselytized everyone I met about the system.

    But it faded, of course. Part of it was I started letting leaks in, running a double system because I stopped trusting the GTD one, lost discipline on weekly reviews. But all of those things reflected, I think, a deeper cause: the initial burst of energy came from the idea that I might indeed get everything done, live a much fuller life... And the disillusionment came from the fact that there was far more in my head than I could ever do, and that I was having a much harder doing things than I had hoped.

    Still, I miss that initial burst of energy, and think that maybe a renewed commitment to GTD could get me back to it. So here's my question: do any of you have experience with "re-energizing" your GTD use? How did you do it?

  • #2
    Originally posted by David W. View Post
    Still, I miss that initial burst of energy, and think that maybe a renewed commitment to GTD could get me back to it. So here's my question: do any of you have experience with "re-energizing" your GTD use? How did you do it?
    A good, old-fashioned brain dump is good for me. The weekly review can be re-energizing too, but sometimes facing the weekly reality is like plunging into cold water. Moving projects to someday-maybe, adding and removing projects. Cleaning up. Investigating new tools- got to be careful on that one, though. Checking off. Deciding, and writing down the decisions. Lots of stuff. There are a lot of people around who can testify that GTD really has given them a much fuller, richer life; perhaps you can draw inspiration from them?

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    • #3
      I agree..sort of

      Originally posted by mcogilvie View Post
      A good, old-fashioned brain dump is good for me. The weekly review can be re-energizing too, but sometimes facing the weekly reality is like plunging into cold water. Moving projects to someday-maybe, adding and removing projects. Cleaning up. Investigating new tools- got to be careful on that one, though. Checking off. Deciding, and writing down the decisions. Lots of stuff. There are a lot of people around who can testify that GTD really has given them a much fuller, richer life; perhaps you can draw inspiration from them?
      I've used the "new tool" idea many times to re-energize myself. I fully agree to be careful. Sometimes it is helpful to re-examine your projects list to be sure there are projects on there that you find exciting and energizing. These are most likely personal projects you may be overlooking. A trip? A vacation? Learning something new? You are the only judge of what is exciting to you.

      Try defining your "Areas of Focus" as the roles you play in your life. Ensure you have some goals under each role. From the goals, see if that generates some exciting new projects.

      I think I read somewhere that going UP in the horizons of focus can provide you with perspective. Perhaps THAT is what's missing and you're losing control because of it.

      This is a good thread. I think it's a common problem.

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      • #4
        re: Getting New Enthusiasm for GTD

        Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's book _Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience_ explains exactly what is going on when enthusiasm wanes and is reignited again. Flow is created when the the challenge you face adequately meets the skills you have. Too much skill for the challenge results in becoming bored with it; too much challenge for the skill results in feeling overwhelmed. Flow is when there is a match.

        The GTD approach consists of not just one habit or skill but a multiple number of them, and juggling them all in such a way as to obtain "flow" (or what David Allen calls "mind like water" or "relaxed control") takes some time. Falling off the GTD wagon is just part of the process of learning how to juggle the nine or so habits one needs to develop and keep going at the same time.

        When I developed the Ready-Set-Do! approach for the mac I had some difficulty staying motivated as well, so I added ten "belt levels" that I could graduate through as I acquired new habits. As odd as it sounds, it added some fun to the process. Thus when I either got bored or overwhelmed I could still get motivated to get that next belt level--to earn my Orange Belt.

        At any rate, a return to the _Getting Things Done_ book during any time you fall off the GTD wagon is often enough to reveal something you didn't read the last time, and that can provide new motivation to "kick-start" the productivity again.
        Last edited by Todd V; 07-01-2011, 11:41 PM.

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        • #5
          We All Fall Off the Wagon Sometimes

          David has said many times that knowing and doing GTD is all about being able to know that you have fallen off the wagon (things are a little out of control) and knowing what you need to do to get back on and get control again. It is like the story in the last GTD Journal on GTD Connect about the elephant. Gently guide yourself back to getting started again and you can have that sense of being in control again.

          Good Luck.

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          • #6
            I love trying new things, so the "new tool" approach helps me to keep things fresh. I'll also agree that you have to be careful not to be distracted by the shiny-object sort of thinking. The tool has to be something that would be helpful and not distracting to your processing of lists. But, sometimes just switching tools can be helpful.

            Don't feel bad, though. Like David says, "GTD is easy to fall off of, and easy to get right back on."

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            • #7
              How to recover falling off the bandwagon.

              There are days that I don't feel like flossing. And some days, I don't want to brush my teeth. That doesn't make brushing teeth or flossing a bad system, it just that sometimes, I don't feel like doing it or not doing it as well as I should. In the end, it doesn't make flossing or teeth brushing a bad practice. Quite the contrary, it's quite beneficial. I've noticed that once I go to the dentist and have my teeth cleaned, I renew the feeling of wanting to keep my teeth flossed and brushed. Now, I get my teeth cleaned every three months instead of every six months to a year to get back on the bandwagon so to speak.

              My point is that when we fall out of the habit of doing something, it's not the system it's just human nature to tire of things we are used to. Don't beat yourself up about it. Work to do better the next day.

              What I do when I feel this way, is start at the beginning to get everything clean like a good teeth cleaning always does. Get everything collected into my inboxes. Then I get things to empty. And work my way through my system again.

              I compare it to working out. If you haven't been working out, you couldn't run a marathon but you could run a few feet. Start by running a few feet and then run a little farther each day. By repeating this process with GTD, you'll find that eventually it takes you less time to snap back into it.
              Last edited by BlackBeltProject; 01-18-2009, 08:49 AM.

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              • #8
                Thanks and an additional thought/question

                Thanks to all of you for taking the time to write such reflective and encouraging answers.

                I used to change my tools a lot early on, but once I came to OmniFocus I haven't looked back and I'd be loathe to change now. It implements GTD principles perfectly, it's very easy to use, and it has an iPhone app.

                Thinking over the reasons I "fell off the GTD wagon," one of them seems to be that throughout the last 8 months, as my GTD as been limping, I have continually had some sort of extremely urgent, fairly large, and procrastination-inducing task. So I always had the sense that I knew what I should be working on, and how could I mess with the weekly reviews, maintain a someday/maybe list that was completely hollow and unrealistic, etc. Any thoughts on staying with GTD when it seems the flow of "I absolutely have to be doing this right now" is overwhelming?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by David W. View Post
                  Any thoughts on staying with GTD when it seems the flow of "I absolutely have to be doing this right now" is overwhelming?
                  This is pretty much how I've been feeling. Initially I thought it was my daily checklist, which I forced myself to do first thing in the morning. I thought it was pulling me down for the rest of the day. I reworked that with a lot of very good advice from this group and that has gone so much better. However, I'm also still missing something energizing.

                  This is a great thread.

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                  • #10
                    Often, when I fall off the GTD wagon, I find myself engaged in work that aren't on my lists. The gap inevitably widens between my stale GTD system and my actual work.

                    If I spend a few minutes putting my real, active, current work in my GTD system, I experience a burst of energy. It's all there! As are all the things I wanted to do! It's complete and captured! I can just look here for all my work.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by sdann View Post
                      However, I'm also still missing something energizing.
                      Maybe we get tired.

                      Me, given the two-minute rule which has me handling all kinds of stuff that used to get put aside 'til later', and given precisely-defined next actions which have me productively working on the appropriate projects, I get tired. I think it is because I am doing more work than I used to; work takes energy; I am not yet in good enough shape to do twice as much work in the same amount of time without getting a little tired.

                      Working purely on energy levels, perhaps it might be appropriate to take a break. take a nap. take a walk. Recharge and gradually get stronger.

                      Rob

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by David W. View Post
                        the disillusionment came from the fact that there was far more in my head than I could ever do, and that I was having a much harder doing things than I had hoped.
                        If this statement is part of what's holding you back from starting again, I'd like to offer this food for thought. I had a similar stumbling block at first.

                        David Allen himself said the following during the Mastering Workflow seminar that I watched, and it was a huge sticking point for me when I started my GTD journey. He said itduring the part about why we feel grief or guilt as we look at the list from our first mindsweep:

                        "The guilt that you feel is not about having too much to do. There's always more to do than you can do. If you're hearing that for the first time you either need a priest or a grief counselor."

                        He went on to explain that the real guilt came unfulfilled commitments that you've made with yourself, but you've consciously forgot about them. You still pay the same (or worse) price emotionally and psychologically as if you broke an agreement with someone else. Once you externalize them and see them, you can keep them and renegotiate them, and those agreements will no longer be broken. You'll lose the guilt.

                        Accept it. Your lists will never be empty. You'll always have more to do than you can do--Nature abhors a vacuum. If by magic everything on your lists were suddenly completed, what would you do next? You'd come up with a bigger list! You'd be so excited and full of energy that you'd take on more incomplete and ambiguous stuff!

                        In spite of having more to do than I can do, GTD has enabled me to live a richer, more enjoyable life. Not so much because I'm able to get more done with less effort, but because I am now totally at peace with the incompletes in my life. For me, that is the most valuable benefit of GTD.

                        "You can only feel good about what your not doing when you know what you're not doing." -DA

                        I wish you luck in your quest.

                        - Luke

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                        • #13
                          Very well said, Luke. A great reminder for all of us, struggling or not!

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