Of GTD, iPods and File System Flu

If you were sick with a fever and felt awful, you would take a couple of days off to get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids and otherwise take care of your body so you could come back both feeling good and also more productive.

You wouldn’t be getting much done anyway with that all-over achiness, and you’d be running the risk of infecting your coworkers, too. And when you came back to work, the business would not have disbanded and been forced into liquidation because of your absence. Somehow, everyone would have muddled through.

So why is it you think you can’t possibly take a couple of days to do the GTD mindsweep and get your filing system organized?

Let’s face it: if you’re like most people (and like I was), your filing and organization system is sick. It’s causing lots of discomfort and inefficiency not only for you, but for everyone around you. You’re operating way below your capabilities.

So, I’m not suggesting that you call in with a fake illness, but that you find a way to set aside the time to get a good start at implementing GTD. Block two days for vacation so you don’t have any meetings or appointments scheduled, but then show up for work and spend that time clearing your psychic underbrush.

That’s what I did last year, just as I was getting started with GTD. I had previously scheduled a four-day getaway weekend with my wife, Lisa, for our annual Christmas shopping trip. With six children, it’s nice to get away for a few days, just the two of us, and wrap up our shopping all at once.

But then Lisa got the idea that instead of buying our offspring a bunch of smaller presents that collectively add up to a triple-digit price tag for each child (but yet six months later none of them would likely remember what they had received!), we should get them each an iPod or something of similar significance.

I quickly agreed. That meant:

1. Our shopping was done, so we didn’t need the shopping excursion
2. I could sell my vacation time (and use the money we would have spent on the getaway hotel) to pay Steve Jobs and my fellow Apple stockholders for the iPods, and
3. I had a couple of days without appointments scheduled that I could devote to establishing my GTD system.


It also means they’re getting a lot less for Christmas this year.

I’d recommend you consider following our 2005 example, and not just because I own 0.00000012 percent of Apple’s outstanding shares of common stock. By giving an iPod, this year’s present won’t just blend into what you’ve given other years, unless you have a habit of being extravagant. And if you take the two days to clear the decks in implementing GTD, you will feel more refreshed than you would have if you had taken the time off.

You’ll also be off to a healthy start on 2007, with less stress…which may (along with your flu shot) keep you from losing time to illness.

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Author: Lee Aase

Husband of one, father of six, grandfather of 15. Chancellor Emeritus, SMUG. Emeritus staff of Mayo Clinic. Founder of HELPcare and Administrator for HELPcare Clinic.

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