Alright, so I’ve been a full-on ‘Getting Things Done’ convert since roughly 2001 or so. Since that time, I’ve claimed it as my own One True Way, and I’ve evangelized the book and the methods near and far and I still do.
Having said that, I’ve got to admit that I regularly fall off the wagon. Slowly but surely, papers start to back up on my desk. I start to ignore my physical inbox (never have been too concerned about the email inbox). All the doodads on my Palm start to gather virtual dust. And I start losing stuff–I have close calls with deadlines, I begin to rely on other people to "remind" me of committments I’ve made, etc. Not good. Even for a Slacker Manager, it’s not good.
As an aside, the great thing about GTD for a Slacker Manager, is that it provides you with ample timespace. Because you don’t have to concentrate on not dropping balls, you can concentrate on stuff that’s more interesting.
So every now and then, when it all piles up too much, I close the door to my office and I turn off the Amazing Distraction Machine (aka the ‘puter) and I let calls go to voicemail. I tell folks in my office that I’m having a "vertical day." We have vertical days every once in a while when we have a specific task that urgently needs doing. Most recently we had a vertical day for sending out tax information.
During my vertical day, which may or may not last the whole day–or it may last more than one day–I reinvest myself in GTD-ness. I pile my inbox full of all the junk that got trapped on or around my desk. Papers, magazines, assorted knickknacks…they all go in the inbox. Then I work that thing, top down, one item at a time. I reaquaint myself with my neglected friend, the labelmaker. I have a stack of plain paper nearby to capture any thoughts that tumble out of my head during this time–those all go in the inbox. I review my Palm for orphaned "stuff" that needs doing or tracking and I put it down on paper too.
I find it immensely helpful to re-read GTD right around this time too. Lately, I’ve had several long drives, so I’ve taken advantage of the GTD audiobook. I think I’ve listened to the whole thing at least three times in the last seven days. I’ve got a vertical day coming up today, I think.
Fortunately, the time between GTD vertical days has lengthened considerably over the years. I don’t know if I’ll ever hit the "black belt" status, consistently, but sometimes it feels like I’m getting close…then, slowly, I get overconfident in my ability to capture stuff, I start to rely on my head to remember things, and I let it all fall apart again. I think my life motto ought to be: "Begin. Again."