Getting Things Done, Again

I considered myself an organized person when I first read Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity ten years ago. In retrospect, I didn’t have a clue. Oh, I had systems, and quadrant prioritizing, and a color-coded DayTimer, but I also had anxiety, sleepless nights, and a nagging feeling I might be climbing the wrong mountain (I was, but that’s a different story).

An effective organizational system takes that angst away, and replaces it with greater productivity and creativity. Though highly-structured and discipline-driven, the point of GTD is to exist in the Zen state of “mind like water” in which you are able to be fully present to the moment because you know all of your commitments and responsibilities are captured in a system you trust. Trust is the bottom line in GTD. Either you fully trust your system (peace), or you devote some part of your psyche to the impossible task of mentally managing your world (unease).

With all the recent changes in my professional and personal life, I had started to feel a little slipping and sliding in my system, resulting in (1) anxiety, (2) a constant feeling of hurry, and (3) never having the satisfaction of true completion. Know what I mean? David Allen was looking out for me, though, because he revised and reissued his opus. Fifteen years have given Mr. Allen more anecdotal stories and updated references to technology, but the basic principles are unchanged. This, in itself, is telling: GTD has stood the test of time.

So, I once again collected all my stuff (his word!) and sifted it through the GTD lens: What is it? Is it actionable? What’s the next action?

It was a lot of work. A lot of things got trashed. A lot of commitments got “renegotiated. Clarity came.

Until you experience it for yourself, there is no way to imagine the pure, unburdened elation that comes at 5:00 on Friday, when “In” is empty, and everything is collected and organized into a trusted system.

It’s freedom, true freedom, and I wish it for you.

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