I’ve been all about the GTD thing lately. I got my lists, I’m getting things done! I’m biggifying! I’m awesome!
And then yesterday I realized, I’m completely exhausted.
Here’s what GTD is missing: sometimes you need to re-evaluate your commitments. Not just come up with the next thing and do it. Sometimes you’ve got to ask yourself “What am I doing? Do I even want to do this?”
So. I made a chart. Listing all my current commitments – not just “projects”, but any ongoing thing. Especially the ongoing things, that don’t even make it to the “project” list, because they are in the background.
I included everything major – personal, business, family. Also commitments that I am considering adding, or will be coming up soon. I put in all regular practices and groups, so I can see how they are working for me now. And anything that I can sense is stressing me out in some way, even if it doesn’t meet the traditional meaning of “a commitment”.
It looks something like this:
|[a group]||Ugh. I only joined this group because [snip]. I feel obligated listening and participating sometimes. I used to meet needs there, what were they? Hmm, I think i wanted to watch [person] because she teaches classes and i want to see how she does that, what her insides are like, how she navigates. one of those study-people-more-biggified-than-you things. but the rest of it, eh.|
|[relationship]||when we fight it really drags me down and affects my day. want to come up with concrete strategies for when that happens…and rest more so i’m not cranky|
|delegating stuff to [new person]||yes. this is where i need to spend my time. wish i wasn’t so tired. i need to give him clear directions. not expect him to get everything 100%. use that as an opportunity to get even more clear on my vision and articulate it. get good at articulating it. it’s a skill.|
|[project]||this has been dragging on for too long. i want to just finish it.|
The right-hand column is completely stream-of-consciousness.
Don’t decide what to do about anything, just write.
The idea is to uncover any hidden stuff – unconscious agreements that you have taken on without realizing it, feelings that you were kinda ignoring but they’ve been taking your energy.
Don’t think too much, just write what comes up for you when you think about the thing, as honestly as possible. Spew out all your snarky thoughts, grumpy resentments, or bubbly excitements. This is just to see what is there.
Even if you think you know what you will say, just write. You are interested in what you will write after what you “know” is on the page. When you get the surface thoughts down, then the next thought underneath it will come out. And the next one. And those are the thoughts that matter. An attitude of discovery helps: “I wonder what will come up writing about this?”.
When can see everything in black and white, it’s a lot easier to see when you have gaping problems. Like that you are spending 10 hours a week doing something that you hate. Or that is getting your business nowhere. Or that some personal stuff is taking up a lot of your energy right now and you can give yourself a break about getting less done right now.
Look at the list as a whole, kinda from a third-person perspective, almost like it’s someone else. See what you notice. Are you making some bizarre compromises? What do you see that is obviously not working for you and could be tossed?
Remember, don’t do anything about it yet! Just notice.
If you don’t know where you are, it’s hard to find the route to get where you want to be.
Making the list is like taking a snapshot to really see what is going on in your life and your emotional body, below the surface of daily tasks. Then you know where you are starting from, which is important for any kind of change.
Then I advise taking a break and letting all that you noticed percolate around in your mind.
Let your unconscious get ahold of it – it’s good at doing the “heavy lifting” of making decisions.
Don’t make yourself toss things right away, or feel like you “should” be trimming down those things that are sucking your time. All you have to do is become aware of it. That lets your mind know that you care about – then, in the back of your mind, it will start going to work solving the problem of how to shift things around. Trust me, it works! I try to never have my conscious mind do work that my unconscious can do better. (It’s kind of like learning to lift with your legs instead of your back).
The fact is that “what is important to you” isn’t something you can just analyze with your head. You want your heart and your body to weigh in too. If you’re like me, your heart and your body might need some time to think about it – ponder, percolate, sleep on it, etc – and get back to you.
So the point here isn’t to make a list and then do something about it. The point is to make the list and notice what is on the list. If you really notice things and become aware of them, the doing will often take care of itself.