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I'm stuck in a "Do it Now" trap

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  • I'm stuck in a "Do it Now" trap

    Any tips for training myself out of 24x7 processing and into something more controllable?

    I've been working with GTD for a couple months now, and I love the feeling of a clean inbox and clear mind. But I find that I've developed a bad habit - love a clean inbox so much, that when I receive an "In" item that takes less than two minutes, I'm tempted to just jump in and do it immediately, regardless of whether the thing I was already concentrating on is more important.

    This, of course, leads to a lot of task-switching and inefficiency, and with even just a few of these tangents, my larger goals don't end up getting as much attention as they should.

    Anybody have suggestions that will train me to just jot it down, stick it in "in", and stay on track with what I'm supposed to be working on at the moment?

  • #2
    I only empty my in basket at the beginning of the day and (sometimes) at the end. I understand the lure of doing everything as it comes at you, even if it is counterproductive.

    I keep a stack of plain paper next to my inbox. Whenever something comes in (someone walks up, phone call, etc) I make a note on a sheet of paper and then make a snap decision: is it more important to handle this or continue working on whatever project I was engrossed in? If not the paper goes into the inbox for me to handle at a later time.

    Remember that the point is to have a "mind like water" so that you can flow with the interruptions and regular work load, not be knocked about. Someone wanting to talk to you about the email server can probably wait if you are half of the way through a difficult task but your boss coming around and asking for a status report probably needs at least a quick response.


    • #3

      Have you read 'Do It Tomorrow' by Mark Forster?

      He puts all tasks/NA's in to 3 categories; Immediate, Same Day, and Tomorrow. The difference between the categories is the size of 'buffer zone' requried between you and the action required to impose order on your workload, not how important it is. The theory is that by imposing order on an otherwise disordered set of actions you can avoid the trap of either constantly putting off things you don't want to do, or as in your case trying to do everything now.

      I'll admit that I haven't finished the book yet but it sounds like it might help! (be reassured that it's quite a slim volume and won't take long to read )