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Strategies for using GTD to stop stewing about an issue?

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  • Strategies for using GTD to stop stewing about an issue?

    Hello! I was just wondering if other people had handy tips/tricks for using GTD methodology to get your mind off an issue.

    Example: I have an employee who is wanting a raise - he's talented but the reasons he's asking for a raise are not very valid and has also recently gotten one. He is also resisting hiring an additional team member because he's worried it will affect his ability to get a raise, which I find highly frustrating. I am trying to placate him plus also make recommendations to HR. I keep stewing about it in my head - what I should say to him, what I WANT to say to him , what I should say to HR, etc. I cannot stop thinking about it and it's driving me nuts. (Can't sleep, etc.)

    Has anyone used GTD to solve these kinds of issues? I'd love to put it on a piece of paper and have my brain relax, but am not sure exactly what I'd write down.

    I am prone to anxiety and know that sometimes my brain gets into 'anxiety loops' where it latches on to a topic and won't let go, even if it's an unimportant topic. Anyone use GTD to help overcome this?

    Thank you!

  • #2
    Natural planning model. Mindmap issues, sequence what has to happen when (e.g. when and why does a new hire need to happen), sequence what you have to say to him, say it to him. If you're the boss, be the boss.


    • #3
      Make it a project (or a couple of projects). Define them in terms of outcome 'decision about X's renumeration has been made and communicated'. 'New team member is on board'. What is your very next action. What is its context. Write that on your next action list.

      Do you need to make an appointment with HR? review X's last performance appraisal? Update the budget for X's team? Talk it over with one of you co-managers if you have one? when something is really bugging me I find often I am missing a piece of information, or just need to talk to somebody. Mind mapping or otherwise following the natural planning model will help figure out what that is.

      when I am worried about something I also find it helps to get even more granular than normal for my next action - I'd go down to the level of "retrieve copy of X's performance appraisal". record that on your @office or @computer next action list. No matter how much anxiety is causing procrastination you WILL be ale to do an action like that, and even having made that decision will make you feel better.


      • #4
        Specifically for the can't sleep issue: when I wake up in the middle of the night and find myself unable to stop thinking about stuff I turn on the radio, tune to a talk station, pop an earphone into one ear and set the volume to barely audible. My mind is distracted by the subject being talked about so I don't think about the other subject which is causing me stress and I fall asleep with the radio on. I especially find BBC world service most effective for sending me to sleep


        • #5
          Write it down

          I've had lots of those kinds of issues where I can't get my brain to stop working on it. Eventually, I actually do come up with an idea for moving forward. But if it's interrupting sleep or making me really cranky I know it's time to transfer from brain to paper through my hands. I just start writing - you could draw, mindmap or whatever - and any thoughts, especially the ones I've had over and over, get put down on paper. I'll write out whole imaginary conversations.

          Once you've done that, put it in your inbox (or a cryptic note about a safe place it's located - you don't want something like that lying around) and you process it as you would any other item in your inbox. Look through what you've got and identify projects, next actions. And as a previous responder noted sometimes what you need is an outside consultant (your boss, HR, another manager, etc.)

          The best thing about this is that your brain will tend to move on and create different imaginary conversations and sometimes that knocks something loose and you find your path forward.

          Good luck!


          • #6
            Thanks so much, these are all great ideas! I really connected with Sioban's suggestion - to write out whole conversations and then process as an inbox item and how the process of writing it down can help jog other ideas loose. I think it would help the thoughts 'get out of my system' as oftentimes I keep thinking of things I'd LIKE to say but can't (not work appropriate, etc.)


            • #7
              As above and would like to add Free-writing.

              Don't even think of structure just start at the top of the page (using actual pen and paper works really well as opposed to typing) and go for it write down the first thing that pops into your head and don't edit - I guarantee you won't be able to stop the flow and eventually get to the bottom of the problem and even find solutions.

              I read a book recently called Accidental Genius which is all about this subject. I've come up with so new products, ideas and operations since doing it. It really taps into your subconscious and clears out the noise.