Google Productivity Pad: Todo list quest: Why you have to trust the system

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Todo list quest: Why you have to trust the system

As part of this todo list quest I have started rereading David Allen's book Getting Things Done. This book expounds the GTD method of productivity which I try to follow. I think that rereading will help me to actually identify the app or apps the will help make up my system.

The system must be trusted
One thing he stresses a lot is that you have to trust the system. The point of GTD is to get the "stuff" off your mind so that you can get things done. If you don't actually trust the system to bring you the information when you need it then your mind will not let go of trying to keep track of that item.

Trust is the important issue here. This is the reason that skipping from one system of task management to another is not advisable. If you have pieces of your information stored in several different systems with no process of reviewing them effectively your brain will assume that it needs to tack back the responsibility of tracking those items.

The future value of trust
When you trust the system enough to put everything in it you gain a lot of peace of mind now, and a lot of focused productivity in the future. GTD contains several processes for saving information for the future: the Someday/Maybe list, the Tickler, the Calendar, and the Reference System. When all of these items for the future are safely stored in a trusted system you not only gain peace of mind now, but you are more likely to accomplish your goals and dreams in the future.

The tickler folder is particularly important because it is where you store information that you cannot act on now, but you want to act on at some future date. The tickler is the trusted way of brining that to you when you want it and not wasting brain power on it now.

When trust is broken
The problem with movement into digital systems of management from the old analog styles is that trust can be broken. You can invest time and effort to make your system complete and then it can disappear.

This happened to me with Producteev. I put everything into there and trusted the system, although system wasn't even a very sophisticated at that point. Still, I trusted it and it kept me on track. Then they released a major update that they weren't ready for and I got locked out of my account.

Changes can happen suddenly in the digital space, fortunes rise and fall overnight, a stray bit of code can break an app. This can make it hard to put all of a trust in a system. I am not sure that even the Todo List Quest will find an answer to this problem.

In order to effectively use concepts like the Someday/Maybe list and the Tickler file, things have to be put far out, and everything has to go in, but that can be a lot of upfront work which can be frustrated by a break. Fortunately most companies will try to fix things as quickly as possible, so maybe it will end up not being that big of a deal.

I don't know, I don't have an answer and that is probably part of the reason I am still on this quest. If you have thoughts let me know in the comments below, or tweet me. We can help each other as we try to remember, to live better.

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