If you’re like me, with quite a number of lists of many next actions, projects, someday/maybe’s, etc., you’re likely to encounter people who question your efficiency if not your sanity. “You’ve got so many lists! That’s just too much work!” (Sound familiar?) If you ever feel like you need to defend your lists, ask your sceptical friend if they are sitting around trying to remember what appointments they have on their calendar for next month. They’re probably not biting their nails about where they need to be a week from next Thursday at 4pm. They’re probably not even thinking about it. Why? Because they have their appointments tracked in a system they trust—a calendar they trust they’ll review at the appropriate time and place.
So, why not have the same lack of distraction about all the things that you need to be reminded of?
A calendar is nothing more than a list of next actions in the context of sequence in time—something to look at when time is of concern. My “Calls” list is the same thing—a list of next actions that can be done from any phone, to be reviewed when I have time and a phone. In the same way I’m not distracted by trying to remember and remind myself about who to call—it’s in a trusted system. The problem with most people’s system is that the calendar is the only list they trust, and more than 95% of what they really need to keep track of is not a set of appointments but all the things to be done in between them. Thinking that their head is a better place to keep track of stuff, and yet finding it critical to maintain a calendar, seems to me a kind of intellectual dishonesty.
So, now that you have this secret knowledge of GTD lists, you no longer need to defend them!