(N)GTD: my (un)productivity method

Image from the “interwebs.” No copyright infringement intended.
The GTD bible.

Perhaps you’ve heard of “GTD” – short for “Getting Things Done” – the time-management system developed by productivity specialist David Allen. (If not, here’s a nice animated summary.) I’m more of a Bullet Journal fan, myself – since I have oodles of empty journals in which I’m not doing anything creative, and they can easily be converted to BuJo notebooks. But my preference is irrelevant, because the fact is, I’m not doing ANY kind of time- or project management particularly well these days. I call my (mis)management method (N)GTD – Not Getting Things Done.

To be clear, I am keeping up at work, where my paycheck depends on it. But the rest of life feels completely out of control. I over-caffeinate to energize myself, then I sleep poorly, then I often can’t get up in time to exercise – which would actually help with the low energy issue, then I run late for work and don’t give myself time to prepare a healthy breakfast or lunch – so I grab something fast and (usually) calorie-dense but unsatisfying – which leads to another energy-crash a few hours later. Deadlines that once looked light-years away suddenly appear on the immediate horizon, jetting toward me faster than I can open a new blank document on my computer – adding stress that jangles my sleep.

And the frustrating thing is… I KNOW BETTER!!! I know how to eat better, I know I shouldn’t guzzle a Diet Coke on my long drive home from work (but it keeps me alert!), and I know I should haul my arse out of bed in the morning and climb on the rowing machine or stationary bike. I know my tendency to fill those months before a deadline with other commitments that I’m just sure will be finished in plenty of time. I also know that my after-work life is going to get more complicated this year, as I try to fit in an internship that will get me closer to a career shift.

So I’ve been reviewing some of my old to-do lists and notebooks and planners to get organizationally inspired for the coming year. I’ve drawn up an excruciatingly, embarrassingly detailed list of tasks and deadlines – apparently I can no longer count on my brain to keep track of them. With the agreement of the spouse, I have set up a three-alarm system to get myself up and headed to the basement gym in the morning: one in the bedroom, one across the hall in the office, and one at the foot of the stairs. By the time I’ve made it that far to turn each one off, I will be far enough from bed to stay up.

Meal-prep will always be sporadic, because of evening meetings; but the nights I cook, I’ll pack the next day’s lunch. For more consistently healthy breakfasts, I’m bringing overnight oats back into rotation.

And didn’t I recently confess that I need an athletic challenge to keep myself disciplined? I’ve got three in my sights. I’m just not ready to admit to them, yet.

Now, these sound suspiciously like resolutions, which I’ve always said I don’t do. So instead, I’ll call this my Stop Not Getting Things Done (SNGTD) plan.



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