Over the summer I read David Allen’s book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity and was converted into a full-blown GTD nerd. I bought Omni Outliner Pro and installed Kinkless GTD. I bought the labelmaker (even though it sucks). I made a tickler file (despite the fact that this sounds like something that a naughty Office Max employee would keep in his closet). The works. People who were following my blogging of GTD might be wondering where the GTD posts have been lately.
Well… Around week 2 of the semester, that system, which seemed so robust and powerful at first, totally broke under the huge volume of input and output that the daily grind of college professorhood requires. It was like dumping the contents of an Olympic swimming pool into a Dixie cup. At the beginning, I was feeling like a kung-fu master practicing productivity moves at a degree of fluidity heretofore unseen in my job. But before too long, the amount of stuff coming in was just too great. Papers were coming in at a rapid pace. Grading was (is) slow. Committee work drug on. I was buried, and no amount of GTD zen was getting me out. Today, my desk and my email inbox is as cluttered as it was the day before I “installed” GTD.
Maybe it’s not the system’s fault. GTD did work at first. And I want to get back to that level of freedom from stress and that level of productivity that I had at the beginning. It was nice to be able to actually get my stuff done during the day so that I didn’t have to work 50+ -hour weeks and nights and weekends. The problem is probably in the amount of work I bring upon myself — I probably assign way too many things in each course during the semester — and the level of ambition I had for actually getting things done. I’m not sure. But I’d like to experiment to find the sweet spot.