Wishful Thinking

My weekly reminder of how inadequate I am.

Wishful Thinking
Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

I enter the way-back machine, and go to the day I started my latest job. August 7, 2016, and I was determined that this time I would adopt the Getting Things Done(R)1 as it was a clean slate, the perfect time to manage my tasks, and duties, to properly categorize and dispatch with extreme prejudice.

I set up my mailbox with the right folders and began processing all my in-bound emails accordingly.

I ought to add that my first flirtation with GTD was in the mid-aughts, when I was absolutely buried in the minutia of product management, someone that I looked to as a guiding star mentioned in a blog post how it changed their life. I bought the book, read it a couple of times, and began arranging my workflow.

And it worked. My inbox was quickly a place of action. Things I could do immediately, got done and archived. Things that needed longer, but were important went into the “Today” folder, dealt with by the end of the day. A few trickled into the “This Week” folder, to be dispatched before I logged out on Friday, and ever fewer into the “Long Term” folder.

For a few weeks, this seemed to work.

Then the first day I failed to clear my “Today” folder happened. I wasn’t too worried. It was just a couple of items. No big deal.

Then the carryover grew to a dozen, then a few dozen items. I got the brainstorm to move them to the “This Week” folder.

Soon, I was spending 6 hours on Fridays trying to clear that folder, and soon - you guessed it - I was building a backlog there.

I fixed that by moving them en masse to the “Long Term” folder.

That was the end of GTD for me.

Plenty of reasons.

  • Product management has a lot of input threads that can’t be quickly dispatched or ignored
  • Whenever I traveled (something I did about 6 weeks out of every quarter) my inbox was wedged. Too many new mail items and not enough time to work on them.
  • The realization that if I processed every email I got, I would spend about 6 hours a day in my Outlook. And frankly, that isn’t what I am paid for.

Needless to say, for me at least, GTD is a nice idea that fails in execution.

Back to the present

As I mentioned above, when I began this current job, I once again had the fantasy that I could actually do the GTD method. Apart from setting up the mailboxes, I added a 15 minute “meeting” to recur on Fridays at 4:00PM Pacific time. It says: “Clear Email Backlog”

Alas, I currently have 2,362 unread emails in my inbox.

I keep the reminder there to guilt myself for my moral failings in the Getting Things Done methodology.

So, when a colleague tells me they practice “Inbox Zero” I just nod and smile.

Ctrl-A; Del and empty trash, and I too can be “Inbox Zero”.

  1. Getting Things Done - David Allen