GTD can be painful

This idea came to me when I was ironing (not my favourite household duty).
Triathlon is a sport that’s very much orientated on efficient of energy use. The shortest of races takes at least an hour to complete and the longest Ironman last from 9 hours up to 17. To achieve best possible results in this sport you need to have great level of endurance and a good technique. Developing both takes time and effort.

Every swimming or running technique is built on a simple set of moves so that you can get maximum power from each stroke or step.  During the learning process body needs to adjust to new type of movement. Some muscles are under bigger strain than the others, joints need to stretch more in directions they never did before.
New types of strain you put on your body cause a pain. As your muscles are not used to increased  intensity of workout they develop lactate acid and you feel as you can barely move. Joints and tendons get stretched so you merely can move your arms. When you keep repeating new drills and steps over a period of time body adjusts and pain will be gone.

A similar set of principles applies to learning new productivity methodologies like GTD. There is a set of rules that need to be learned and some behaviour needs to be changed. Although these appear to be simple and easy it takes some time effort and pain.

The Getting Things Done book offers few very simple ideas to organise life and work. The information flow is straight forward. All you have to do is collect, process, organize, review and finally do. Nothing overly complicated. Yet the complete implementation can be a drain you mentally.
When you look at this methodology closer you’ll see it requires establishing new set of habits for each of the steps. New thinking paths need to develop, new behaviour needs to be learned. Old patterns need to be replaced. In the medium term the effect will be similar as for the muscles and joints, there will be experience of pain.
As I learned GTD there were couple forms of frustration and discontent jumping at me all the time. Even now days after over 2 years of practicing it I get this feeling. I’m not happy with my system or with the way things work. I’ve been reading a lot about other  people experiences with implementation of getting things done, their problems and questions. I think the biggest adjustment and pain shows up in three areas.

Tools. Perhaps not the most important element of the methodology, yet it’s discussed the most. In order to track thing you need a tool and most people searches for a perfect appliance. Although the choice is varied we rarely settle with one for long. Frustration grows every time I change a tool and then realise that all I need is a simple set of lists. Yet again I spend hours trying new shiny programs and gadgets. It can be a vicious circle.

Rules. They are simple; one word rules yet again we are not used to think by them. Collect, organise, decide, review, do, how difficult is that??? Either you don’t collect, forgot to review or completely ignore what you decided to do. Then when you try to re-examine what went wrong you look at the principles and try to find the answer why you can’t implement them – they are so simple.

Progress. There is expectancy to get an immediate result with anything we do. Have headache grab a pill and in 10min pain is gone. Want more time, be more organised and efficient then use GTD. But this time it doesn’t work that well, there is an improvement. It lasts only until next surge in workload when everything goes out the window. On the other side you crank through the carefully carved actions and then you find you haven’t moved a lot. Something important and meaningful was left out.

Implementing GTD is major shift in thinking so there will be obstacles, challenges to overcome. So if you are feeling down with your implementation or you fell from the bandwagon just take a moment and think of any things that your GTD adventure helped you to experience, complete etc.

It just takes time and persistence to work with your system. But once the change is done you begin to act on some sort of autopilot write down, process, organise, review, do! And it happens just like that.

Someone said that anything worth fighting for will cause you pain. Is GTD worth the pain? Probably not but most definitely it will have impact on areas that are important in life.

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