GTD: It’s not you, it’s me.

Dear GTD,

I know it’s been weeks (months?) since I last visited with you. The relationship ended abruptly. I thought you deserved an explanation of why, given how long we were together.

In short: It’s not you, it’s me.

You see, when we met, I thought, “Finally! I’ve found someone that gets me… someone who can make me a better person!”

At first, it was intoxicating. You made me feel complete, confident, and organized. With you by my side, I thought I could take on the world! I was always forgetting to do things, but with you in my life, you helped me remember oh so much!

But, it was that ability to collect action items – and have them available everywhere I went – that made the problem worse, not better. I thought my problem was not being able to remember all of the things I internally committed to do. You definitely helped me be better at that.

The real issue wasn’t forgetting these things: It was that I couldn’t say no to most of them. This meant I made too many commitments with myself and others.

Before I met you, I was crushed by guilt because I forgot these commitments. You were so supportive in helping me address that. But, as our relationship grew, it took me a long time to realize that my list of “important” items often went neglected. I would tell you about Projects we should do, only to remove the Project weeks/months later, feeling even more guilty that I had not done them.

What you promised me was less guilt because I would capture my commitments and drive them to completion. Instead, you were more like a guilt bank, where these Projects accrued guilt interest which sparked back up every time I would revisit you!!

(sniff) I’m sorry. The wounds are still fresh for me and you don’t deserve that. I apologize. Breathe deeply… OK, let me continue.

I was a commitment hoarder. You helped me become more efficient at collecting these commitments – and having them available at my fingertips 24/7. You promised me that I would have better control and balance over work, family, and self-care.

Instead, any moment my hair wasn’t on fire, I felt guilty if I did not try to check off some action item. This meant I simply could not just “be.” It was impossible to enjoy life because I had this ever-present list of actions I “should” be chipping away.

Rather than helping me, you were an enabler: You made it so easy and seductive to collect new Projects.

What I really needed was a bouncer; someone to decide who made it past the velvet rope. Instead, you were more like a crazy cat lady, feeding every stray idea that popped into my mind, encouraging them to hang around and multiply.

What started off as a seemingly healthy relationship turned tragically toxic. My inability to say no + my strong work ethic + an ever-present list of things I “should be doing” meant that I spent all my time moving 1,000 grains of sand while the “boulders” in my life sat untouched.

I am sure some of this doesn’t come as a surprise. You kept asking me to do Weekly Reviews with you, but something always came up. I know that you need Weekly Reviews for us to maintain a healthy relationship. The truth is seeing that list each week – a list that grew seemingly exponentially – was just to much for me.

So, that’s why I say, it’s not you… it’s me. I’ve decided that it would be better for both of us if we just parted on good terms.

I am sure I will see you again. After all, I don’t plan to abstain from lists entirely… and I know you all hang out on the same productivity blogs. I have to keep track of short-, medium-, and long-term goals. I have to jot down weekend to-do’s. I will use a 3-2 list for my day-to-day stuff.

But it’s clear that you require a level of commitment that I can not keep up with – and that is not fair to you. For that reason, I have to say goodbye.

In the mean time, I will be deleting most of my Projects while I try and choke back the tears, with Bruno Mars on repeat.

With love,
Chris

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One thought on “GTD: It’s not you, it’s me.

  1. Tomorrow it’s going to be performed the first public presentation of SmartGTD – app helpful in tasks management based on GTD methodology. If you want meet the Team, just find us today (July 2nd) at 8 PM CET at special G+ Hangout. We’d be more than happy if you’d take part in this event ;)

    Hope to see you tomorrow at: http://bit.ly/11bgA3K

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