In Getting Things Done, your trusted system is the tool and methodology you use to capture all your inputs. You trust it because you make a commitment to: a) put everything in it; b) check it regularly; and c) only check the parts you can use in the moment. Being a geek, my trusted system is an app. Being a complete luddite, my husband’s trusted system is his wife. Paradoxically, what this means is that his trusted system is also an app filtered through the vagaries of my mood, temper and time. It took me nearly a decade to get him to start using an iPhone based app. Just as he finally mastered the basics of adding a task, I moved on to a much better app on different platforms. I only dip my toes into that old cludgy PoS when he’s standing there on a Saturday morning looking lost and not knowing what to do or what I should be doing on his behalf.
Not that that happens very often. My husband is very busy. He’s probably the busiest, most active man you’ll ever meet. He never stops doing useful stuff. On our first vacation to a cabin in Baja Mexico, I took romance novels and drank margueritas on the porch. Dean built an outhouse. He’s that guy. Yet here we are 3 decades into this relationship, and I still find him unable to prioritise his shit. He does the first thing that occurs to him when he wakes up and he keeps doing and doing and doing until he falls into the hot tub late at night. What I question is whether or not he’s doing the right thing. Since he uses a strange combination of me, his brain, and a really old app, it doesn’t appear that there is any method to how he decides what gets done.
Work is like that now. Everyone is so damn busy doing doing doing whatever happens to be right in front of them. There is a tremendous amount of activity, but is it the right activity? Do we know how to describe the Big Bad? Can we really say what we’re doing is the best use of our time? Do we value our own time enough to protect our attention by throwing off the bus all the little shit that doesn’t advance our objectives? I trust my system. It doesn’t remind me that I need to buy milk until and unless I’m at the grocery store. Similarly, it takes me 30 seconds to pull up the list of things I want to talk about with my boss during our regular weekly 1:1. So I don’t need to send him an email about most of that crap wasting his time and mine. There is a time and a place for everything; Figure out how to start sandboxing it.
“If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.” ~ David Allen