Why are your lists repelling you?

Date: Monday, September 21, 2009 by GTD Times Staff

How do ever expect to get things done on your lists if you never step away from your Email Inbox?  Seriously folks, those lists need care and feeding too.  Just like the Inbox doesn’t get to zero on its own, your lists don’t ever get completion unless you:

  1. Do what’s on them
  2. Decide not to do what’s on them

You need time for processing and defining your work, just like you need time for doing what you’ve already defined, as well as time you need for choosing to do work as it appears.  So is David Allen suggesting a nice, neat little pie chart of 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 to spend your time?  No.  But everybody needs time for each one of these areas.  And technically, while reading email is part of defining your work, it can quickly teeter into doing work as it appears when you start using it as a distraction or procrastination technique to avoid what’s on your lists.

If you really don’t want to do what’s on your lists, checking email won’t solve that. I’d say you have a bigger issue to look at there called why are your lists repelling you?

10 Responses to “Why are your lists repelling you?”

  1. DCB says:

    Thanks for the reminder, Kelly. So easy to get caught up in email and ignore the work already waiting on my lists!

  2. Becky says:

    Nailed it! People complain about email volume, but they secretly love tons of email because it keeps them from having to face their lists.

  3. Nik says:

    Was just thinking about this today when I looked at a work list and then closed it and went home…. shame on me

  4. Abe Crystal says:

    This is a deep topic that needs more attention. I’ve heard similar statements from other DavidCo folks and the general advice helps… but we really need more specific guidance on how to deal with the challenge of lists that repel instead of attract (and why emails is more attractive than lists!). Can you go into more depth… or maybe do an interview or two with people having trouble with their lists and illustrate some specific solutions? Any further guidance in this area would be deeply appreciated.

  5. Robert says:

    OUCH!!! I was thinking today about how I’m spending way too much time on email and other distractions. Also, I couldn’t figure out why I’m not getting anything done and “resisting the list”. I’ve got it nailed down though…I don’t want to do anything that’s on my list, none of it is enjoyable right now. I need to just put down the distractions, hammer through these things and move on to a point where I can start delegating stuff again!

    I think I’ll go back to only opening my “Today” list in Things FIRST, before anything else and not checking email until the afternoon…worked before!

  6. Mark Jantzen says:

    And it seems the attraction factor is a combination of not only what’s on those lists but the chosen medium or tool.

    They both have to be in sync with our own styles and situations.

  7. marvin says:

    My biggest list repellent is a feeling of overwhelm. It’s something I’m working on learning to deal with. GTD has certainly helped get me started. Thanks!

  8. Daniel Williams says:

    Was just thinking the other day – I was glad that my inbox is zero – but was wonderding when I would do the @action and @review items. like a monster in the closet –

  9. Patricia says:

    I’ve been discovered! Shame on me.

    I’ve sensed this problem for a long time, but it wasn’t until Kelly wrote it out so succinctly that now I can put a finger on it…and then turn that finger around and point it back to me.

    I think mine repel me because I think they are so long and I get tired just looking at them. No, not tired. I feel hopeless. I get an emotional reaction to the overall length of the list. Hmm, now I’ve got something to think about…

  10. Arif Vakil says:

    Kelly are you from LA? I hear they’re all psychic there. Brilliant post. Thanks!

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