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Shadow Tasks

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  • Shadow Tasks

    Every week since reading GTD in February I feel progress and this week I not only had more pond-like moment than any week since beginning my adoption of the GTD system, for the first time I felt like I was cranking widgets, just going down the list a knocking off actions and not thinking as much about the system as just moving through it. But then something happened once, then twice, and then a third time. I experienced shadow tasks. Like shadow limbs, they were tasks that had been removed but I suddenly had the sensation that they were still there, a brief panicked moment of feeling like I had dropped a ball, left a loop open, and then remembering that no, I had entered that task into the system and then completed the task as it rose to the surface of time, energy, intent, context, etc. It was gone. My first thought was that I’m not yet trusting my system, and this would not be totally without justification. I am happy with my steady progress but still short of feeling like I can claim brown belt status, at least regularly. But why after several weeks of weekly reviews and capturing commitments with some grace (if I do say so myself), and very little mind-chatter, do I get these shadow tasks? Are these pre-GTD flashbacks? Has anyone had this experience, diagnosed and treated it? Perhaps it is normal and it works itself out, to be expected after years of trying (and failing) to keep everything in my head.

  • #2
    I think the "curing power of GTD" must have some time to act. You lived your pre-GTD life (most of your life) with fears of forgotten promises. So do not expect immediate effects. Your GTD system must be reliable to allow your trust to grow to 99.99%.


    • #3
      Audit Trail

      I'm still fairly new to using Getting things Done, though I've done a similar weekly review process for years. What I have always found missing is the audit trail aspect of what was requested and what gets done.

      It seems it never fails that someone will ask me about a task that was assigned (and completed) as long as a month ago and I may or may not remember it. I've found that by keeping an audit trail of the activity that I complete it helps me be more effective because I know that whatever tasks were completed, if questions do come up about them, I know I can easily find the answers to what was done, by whom, and when.

      That's one part of GTD that I've found lacking that I've had to create for myself. It can be a bit of a challenge to set up and manage, but once you have it in place and working it can be incredibly beneficial.


      • #4
        Re: Audit Trail

        Originally posted by jpm
        That's one part of GTD that I've found lacking that I've had to create for myself. It can be a bit of a challenge to set up and manage, but once you have it in place and working it can be incredibly beneficial.
        How did you create this audit trail? I am finding a need for something like that myself. Could you explain how you are doing it and if you are using any other software/tools to implement it?


        • #5
          Thank you for your comments. I do think it is a matter of getting more GTD time under my belt. At the same time, I've made a few adjustments that seem to help. I had my completed tasks list set to be deleted automatically every day and I have changed that. For now I will keep the last 30 days and archive all completed tasks. I think throwing my completes off a cliff was part of the problem. I've also added reviewing the previous weeks completed tasks to my weekly review. That helped a lot. Well, so far since yesterday. Thanks.


          • #6
            Re: Shadow Tasks

            I agree that keeping a record of completed tasks can be really useful and important. I use software named DayNotez to keep a journal of completed tasks. I can quickly search for an entry to see if I did something or not. Or when I did it. It's great to be able to call someone and say, "I mailed the request form on September 23 but still haven't gotten it." People take you seriously when you know the details like that. It's also great for resolving arguments with my spouse: "No, we did X 2 days ago, not 2 weeks ago." I'm really not kidding.