March 19, 2007

Going Postal… (why GTD)

Posted in GTD, Rants, Work at 8:47 pm by a11en

Free-wheelin’ post here… just a brain-dump. Trying to keep myself positive since I just discovered our growth system may be down for a long while here… [and time is not a commodity I can spend right now].

While listening to some GTD related audio that a friend sent me recently. Wonderful stuff. An idea I thought I’d share with you clicked for me: You know the postal service, right? And the jokes about people that go “postal”… the reason is always given that the mail “never stops coming.” It’s very very true. I mean, think about it… gobs and gobs of mail on Monday, gobs and gobs of mail on Tuesday, gobs and gobs… well, you get the idea. Not to mention that rain or sleet or shine or snow, they’re out there- walking that beat, or driving their little trucks. It’s all gotta get to people on time. My hat’s off to the postal service. I can completely understand why insanity may ensue!

I just realized, we are all pretty much experiencing a very similar effect. The never ending stream of things we have to do. That’s right, gobs and gobs on Monday, gobs and gobs on Tuesday… no matter what the weather is like outside, you and I most likely will be continuing to receive large amounts of things we must get done. In this day of the information age, things can fly into the inbox from around the world in less than a minute. (How long is that Satellite lag, or the land-line in the ocean again?) If you’re like me, rarely can we accomplish those tasks in that amount of time. So, we can expect to have bags and bags of these things that we are hoping to do, or are being told to do, lying around somewhere. Perhaps it’s in your head. [Need to drop the transmission from the bike, and fix the dog-eared shift-lever… Need to do the oil in the car… Need to write the ending to the preliminary document…] The list goes on and on. This is why we are darn well close to going Postal. Insanity. Never ending stream of stuff we just never really seem to get done.

In fact, as you get better at doing things (like fixing the growth chamber), more work comes your way. Someone says: “Hey, Allen is pretty decent at fixing this stuff… he did it last time… let’s let him do it.” And so, another item hits the inbox. This is actually a good thing. It means people want you to do things. They value your work; value your help. [I guess perhaps they may just not want to do it, but perhaps they are making this decision because they don’t feel they’re the best person to do “it” for some reason.]

So, how do we cope with this? How do we cope with that one last piece of straw before it breaks our backs? [Say the heater isn’t working anymore?] We must try and keep our brains clear of information so that when these issues arise, we can have the mental ability to work our way through them. In the information age, we must flow like water around rocks in our path. We must constantly adjust, renegotiate, find solutions. If you don’t, you’ll be left behind. You’ll snap, you’ll go postal. You’ll never improve.

What you need instead, is a trusted system, where all your “need to research x price on internet”, “need to buy oil from wallyworld”… etc. lives. When you have that trusted system, your brain can relax. Why? Because it knows where to go when it has time, and it’s ready to do something. When that crisis arises, you now can look at your trusted system, review anything that might be pressing (meeting at 3 more important?)… and chose wisely. In the heat of the moment, you’re likely to forget that meeting at 3pm, likely to miss something important, and more likely to despair if you do not have trust in a system that is more precise and durable than your short-term memory.

That’s what I got out of some of what I’ve been working on lately. And, I think I’m still sane… not postal yet. 🙂 Heater block is busted… perhaps… but we can swap it out for the old crappy system.. yes, it’s crappy, yes it brings into question our work… but at least it may still work… Had I despaired and not stopped to think of ways around this last straw… I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish any work tonight.

So, I struggle to have a mind like water… one of these days I’ll succeed. 🙂


1 Comment »

  1. a11en said,

    Major apologies for the icky spelling mistakes etc.

    BTW, any thoughts are always welcomed!! How do you cope with the never ending stream of incoming work?! When you get good at “Getting things done”… you get even more to do, right? More projects laid across your desk…

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