Paul McAleer

My brain isn't perfect

Paul McAleer

I've dipped in and out of GTD systems for a long time, driven by my love of lists and my desire to have some sort of trusted system other than my noggin. I've tried a good number of things over the past 6 or so years, but noticed that my overall GTD system was none at all... so I almost always felt overwhelmed by default.

Note that it's also been about 6 years since I read the book, so I'm about due. But the recent run of Back to Work episodes focusing on GTD (eps 95-100) inspired me to get back to... something.

After deliberating over OmniFocus and Things, as one tends to do, I went with Things in part because it was cheaper and prettier. That matters to me: I figured that if I was going to be looking at the Daily Review in Things every day, it had to at least appear pleasant.

So far, middling

The thing I've noticed most about this run at GTD is how willing I am to drop it and ignore it. The tool? Fine. I have the iPad and iPhone versions of Things, so I always have something with me; I use Drafts for ubiquitous capture. I have the ability to dump things out of my mind into a list at just about any time.

But take this morning for instance. My wife asked me to follow up on something soon and I remembered it brilliantly at 11:30 last night, about 2 minutes after she asked me about it. I didn't write it down and it's not in Things nor Drafts, so now... yep, I've forgotten it. I used to see this as a brain failure (and take it kind of personally) but now I just see it as a mistake: I should have written it down in Things.

As Merlin talked about in that run of Back to Work episodes, it really is about changing one's mindset. I initially thought that I'd devote Monday mornings to mini-brain dumps, and then organize my stuff on Tuesday mornings. Isn't happening. It's easier to write (here I am!), or browse the web, or do any one of a number of things.

But, this matters

Following the tone of my recent posts, though, this matters to me. Having a trusted system is actually a requirement for me because I can't remember everything. I admit it! My brain is flawed! I haven't given Things it a fair shot.

Has nothing to do with the software. Has everything to do with me.

So, I can say that thus far my experience with a trusted system has been fine - but I need to actually trust that trusted system first. Letting go is a big step.