I’m on PTO for a few days because Iggy had surgery on Thursday and because it was high time I took some vacation for myself. I want to enjoy my time off, but also I really struggle with how productive I should be when I’m out of my normal day-to-day. Work productivity is unaffected and not something I worry about — The Man is a well-oiled machine and already has mechanism in place for planning what to do with my wage-labour. I’m more worried about the labour I do in the remaining “free” time. I was raised on capitalism, so my habits are bad and my sense of what feels “right” is out-of-whack.
From time-to-time I revisit David Allen’s Getting Things Done — I think I own several copies at this point over various forms of media — and today I followed the advise of one Wheezy Waiter to try the summary of the book on Shortform. I’m not done with the first fifteen minute summary yet but already my head is abuzz with what one word implies: “everything”. I have to track and organize “everything”? This book was written in 2001, when “everything” entailed a lot less, even less so if you were an adult at the time and not raised on the Internet. “Everything” for me is sifting through archives of data — probably mostly useless data — and figuring out what’s relevant to what I want to get done. Allen details a very algorithmic approach, but unfortunately that approach runs in linear time (O(n)) and that type of time complexity doesn’t scale well for people. After all, that’s why we have computers.
And is “everything” realistic? I understand the goal of tackling “everything” is having confidence to not lose track of things, and therefore feel safe to jettison thoughts from the brain. My problem with that is obviously the aforementioned scale of “everything”, but also that ADHD will jettison things for me whether or not I want it to. So keeping track of “everything” is as much for me a stress-relief mechanism as it is a survival tool to get anything done at all.
Recently one of my friends created a group calendar for us to organize events we want to go to and ones we have already committed to, and let me tell you: I AM EXCITED. I thought it was worth mentioning here because having that calendar element is crucial to the GTD way of doing things, and was something I used to survive college. I would put every rehearsal and gig in Google Calendar and it was how I could be a successful musician despite not having the discipline to practice. I would also put in work shifts and deadlines for homework.
I still use a personal calendar to organize when I go to scheduled events, but I will admit its usage has withered a bit during the pandemic. So while I’m starting to flex the personal calendar muscle more, I think it’s a good idea to put in personal project deadlines too and block out time for me to work on things. After all, that’s what I did when I rehearsed music, and it’s what basically do when I go to work!
So yeah — I think I’m gonna give this GTD thing another try, and make use of that Todoist subscription I’ve had since forever. I’ll try to muscle past the first part of the book I’ve reread a dozen times — it’s about filing reference items and honestly it’s really boring. I wanna focus on new projects, and those don’t even really have reference items since they’re so new! And everything is digital now so how do I consolidate items from so many different places?
I used to joke I’d write a business book with a bunch of obviously stupid metaphors like “Sea of Despair” and it’d sell really well and that’d be how I make my fortune. Still not ruling it out, but I always think about it any time I revisit a book like GTD.