Vibe Check #2: GTD in the face of weathering and predators

March 2022 has been a good month for me. December-January saw me feeling very mentally strained, in retrospect because we're seeing the remnants of covid restrictions lift. personal and professional obligations are changing, and as an introvert they're drawing from an already shallow well of extrovert energy.

I've not felt drained in this way since the beginning of my professional career. I remember consuming loads of books and podcasts at that time around personal productivity and management, and I think it helped (I'm still in a similar career area now). I spent February-March re-discovering some of the things I've learned and since forgot.

Early March saw the tentative adoption of a Getting Things Done (GTD) -inspired personal task management system, which I'm running through Todoist.

To be a cliché: having a task management system has been liberating. Having a big old list of every actionable thing I need to do, is great. I know I've reached adoption because if I can't jot down a TODO after it popping into my head I get viscerally nervous.

GTD has been paired really well with a reading of Deep Work, by Cal Newport. Both Newport and Allen (GTD author) have hammered home that thinking is the highest value work I do, as a knowledge worker.

"Thinking is important" is taken-for-granted simple. So it doesn't happen. In the same way we assume that we're not going to forget pay rent or stop work at five pm. Making sure that thinking happens, and that its quality is high, is work, and should be taken seriously. I'd forgotten that.

Instead, I was allowing precious mental CPU cycles process the questions "is this thing I'm doing right now the thing I should be doing?" (Probably?); and "is there anything I should be doing but have forgot?" (more than probably).

The next thing I need to conquer is some kind of ritualised review of my system. The Weekly Review™️ in GTD-land.

With zero dought, re-upping personal task management has made the single biggest quality of life change to my day-to-day in 2022. Feeling like I'm equipped to capture, prioritise, and then do the things I want to do to live the life I want to live... That's one of the load-bearing challenges of life, and also one that face constant weathering from the tiny stream of ordinary life chaos, but also an entire ecosystem of attention predators (Netflix, YouTube). Okay, soap box away, tin foil hat off.

March is an unknowable month for weather, at least February is reliably terrible. Eighteen degrees one day, snow flurries three days later. I don't even think this one's good for the plants.

Anyway, here are some things which happened in March 2022 which I think are worth talking about:

  • Saw Come From Away, a fantastic musical. I loved it and you should go see it, it's a great example of the craft.
  • Took a glorious Saturday morning cycle in the spring warmth. I saw lambs and sheep.
  • Saw a university friend and went for a walk and a Wagamama lunch. Wagamama is a true champ among the highstreet food chains.
  • Travelled first class on a train for the first time, and got complementary snacks for doing so.
  • Got a tiny shed for the garden, painted it sage-green with white trimmings, and filled it with pots and garden whatnots.
  • Got grumpy at the loss of an hour's sunlight in the morning and joyful at the expansive evening light.
  • Went back to group exercise classes and did enough squats to make stairs a mortal threat.
  • Saw my first live dance show since the start of the pandemic
  • DM'd my second Dungeons and Dragons session (a player died lol)
  • Crossed the 800th test in our CI-process at Oxwash. I think this means we've 10x'd the total test count in the last 8-12 months, which feels fantastic.

The books I've been reading this month are:

  • Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-free Productivity, by David Allen. I told you above how great this book has been to me. If you're looking to boot-up or freshen a personal task-management system just read this book, it's classic for a reason.
  • Pandora, by Susan Stokes-Chapman. A really beautiful, semi-mystical historic London urban fantasy loosely based on the Greek myth. A nice book, but I don't think one that I'll remember in a few months.
  • The Shadow of the Gods, by John Gwynne. I switched from Audiobook to physical book on this one because the names were starting to pass me by a little too fast. I am absolutely smitten with this book, it is everything I love in fantasy: a loosely explained magical world, multi-character narrative, visceral hatred and storytelling.
  • Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey. I'm too early in this one to pass comment.