The Great GTD Safety Net - Next Action Associates



You have a safety net. Whatever acrobatic manoeuvres will be required in the working week ahead, you can leap from platform to swinging trapeze with confidence. Someone down there is going to catch you if you fall. That someone, strangely enough, is you.

As I mentioned before, there are a number of milestones along the GTD journey that can mark your progress toward mastery. One of the biggest markers is ingraining the weekly review as a habit.

There are a lot of good reasons for this—from creating perspective to spiralling upward on a virtuous cycle of building trust with your system. One of the most profound for me, though, is this: it means that you don’t have to be perfect.

Often at some point in my one-on-one coaching with clients, they become very enthusiastic about the gains they are making in their GTD practice, and enter into what I call “good student mode”. That is, they want to really get all of it, entirely, and do every bit of GTD perfectly.

While this is admirable and encouraging, my experience of my own GTD practice is that it is much more of a journey than a destination, and part of the art of knowledge work is eschewing perfectionism in favour of going toward a very practical, and flexible, form of excellence instead.

For example, this obsession about “getting it right” can lead to over-grooming one’s system, meticulously bookmarking every project and action at every stage of the process leading up to completion. This can lead to a less time to actually complete things, as well as resentment of interruptions that take one away from this grooming behaviour, despite the fact that interruptions are both inevitable and sometimes very positive.

This is because, without a regular weekly review habit, you really would have to “get it right” with every transaction in your system, every time. If you miss recording the next action on a project due to an interruption, who knows how long that project could be stalled as you work week-on-week from lists that don’t include a next step to remind you how to get moving toward that outcome?

With a regular habit of doing the weekly review, however, you can relax—loosen your grip a bit, flow more naturally with circumstance, even trust your intuitive judgment in the moment.

This is because once per week you will indeed get your system to match your reality by marking off completed items, recording new actions for stalled-out projects, making note of appropriate follow-up to your “waiting-for” items, and evaluating your relationship to your systems to improve and refine incrementally over time.

So make the weekly review a habit, like brushing your teeth. Then relax. Someone you can trust has got your back. That someone is you.

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