There is a magical component of GTD where you ‘Get “IN” to Zero’. After processing everything into its place, there is a wonderful feeling of Inner Calm. Funny thing because there is still work to be done – processing to zero doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve completed all the processed material. So, if there is an expected and wonderful feeling of Inner Calm (at an early stage), then why do I frequently have a resistance to processing to zero?
I think the answer is different for everyone. I’m trying to observe the inner conversations happening for me while processing. Saying that it’s procrastination is too obvious.
A primary tenet of GTD is to decide the Next Action — processing the emails to zero means that I’m taking over ownership of the email from the person who sent it. This initial process is crucial because it places an official marker into your personal productivity system, as opposed to just sitting in a random location (paper, InBox).
Keep in mind that after collecting all loose papers and materials, the first major process is ‘Get “IN” to Zero’. Maybe I have something here… I’m sensing a part of myself resenting having to spend my time going through the material. I frequently refer back to the original mailing date and feel good/bad about my date of replying. Oftentimes, inbound emails have me thinking about other people’s stuff.
Getting to Zero on a frequent basis neutralizes all this additional wasted mental effort and agitation.
Don’t read this as “the Truth” because I’ll look at this again in a couple weeks and come up with another distinction, but I’m interested in your thoughts.
Pausing for a moment to come back into synch. What’s the next action – no overwhelm.
What I’ve found is that when you do have your system reasonably under control, it’s all about shifting to the Systematic Approach of GTD. There is a difference between my system and the Systematic Approach. The System happens to be Lotus Notes. The Systematic Approach for processing something new requires me to write it down, put it in InBox (tray) and then process it completely. This requires checking the system to see if the entry is already in there and just needs updated. Because technology makes it very easy to update information, you can end up clobbering it with repetitive junk.
What’s really trippy is that I’ve amazed myself with all the detailed thought I “HAD” put into a project a couple weeks back, and am now processing something into the system. The trippy part is that, after searching for the project, I’m reading great stuff that I couldn’t remember typing in. What this means is that the Systematic Approach does require you stop and think thoroughly about your Next Action Processing and not just automatically slam everything into the system. I’m now really careful about feeding my system correctly and it’s paying back dividends.
Disclaimer: I’ll read this again in a couple months and probably tweak a bunch of it — hope some of this helps — I’d like your thoughts.