In Box Zero Disease: A conversation from RestartGTD Part 3

Hi Bill,

Thanks for writing back! I wasn’t expecting a comprehensive reply with an essay like that. You’ve raised some interesting thoughts:

– When you talk about “beating the world for traffic”, I think of crunchy blogs full of “top ten lists” and 400-word click-bait articles that don’t say anything. I’m so glad restartgtd isn’t one of those.

– Great advice on avoiding the trigger while capturing most of the benefit. I’ll give that a go — an almost-there weekly review in good health is way better than an immaculate review and being unwell.

– What we would actually do once we arrived at panic-free work. That’s a fascinating insight. I’d always thought that “If only I could get all this finished …” but I wouldn’t have a clue what to do upon arriving at “finished”, due to the behind-as-normal phenomenon you mentioned. So, we’re conditioned in so many ways to strive for something (getting our work done), and also programmed to self-sabotage our efforts to attain it. Insidious! No wonder falling off the GTD bandwagon is so common — it’s like we have to get down deep and rewrite some of our internal scripts before we have a hope of staying on it for any length of time. This, then, might be the real work of sticking with GTD: rewriting the scripts that make you fall off (converting away from being a herd animal, like you mentioned). Not sure exactly how to do this, other than maybe to approach it obliquely by asking related questions until we reach the AHA! moment, or introducing ourselves to small GTD wins to prove it’s not so scary.

As for Task Zero … I’ve never been there. I’ll have to try it and see what happens, although having now framed it like this, observer bias will probably make it much less interesting.

– Trying harder as a vestigial function. Haha! It’s true — and we’re in a great place when we realise “trying harder” to handle the constant load of inputs cannot be done. The firehose can’t be switched off, partly because so much stuff is open-ended. You get assigned a project, and nobody has defined what “finished” looks like, so you get all visionary, thinking “I could really go for it and create something world class with this project”, and in so doing we create extra inputs and agreements for ourselves. Then the lizard brain tries harder and quickly succumbs to overwhelm.

– You talked about your next GTD challenge being to create a feedback mechanism to help you regulate the amount of work you handle (really, the volume of inputs you choose to address?). That’s tricky. I guess most people (men, especially) don’t find out they’re doing too much until their wife complains they’re never around, or their kids react/rebel, or they develop a chronic health condition. The only way I could think of to regulate that is indirectly, by putting some external speed-limiting measure in place, like the number of hours you choose to work. That might not create a quantifiable feedback signal (“work left over on Friday afternoon” isn’t useful once you’re tackling bigger projects, and several at a time), but it’d lead to intuitive regulation — over time either you have too much to do so you’re forced to cut back, or you feel like you’ve got extra capacity so you look for areas to expand in. I could be oversimplifying.

– Feel free to post the email on your blog. It’d be interesting to see what comes of it. Feel free also to edit for brevity and flow as needed.

– There’s only one winery around here, and no Zinfandel that I’m aware of — but some of that is grown a little further south in theGranite Belt region around Stanthorpe. I’m not well versed on fine wines (coffee is my gourmet drug of choice), so you’d be welcome for a visit if you’re in the area. It’d be an education for me.

Mel-bunn. Hehe, it should be renamed according to tech startup naming conventions: Melbn. Then we’d be pronouncing it right.

Thanks again for the correspondence.

Warm regards,

Dave