Patterns of GTD #4 - Be Honest

Many themes make up the GTD system. Some are explicitly described in the book, like inboxes, reviewing, and clarifying, while others emerge as you use the system. One of these themes is being honest with yourself.

To even take up GTD a person needs to be honest and admit they can't handle everything in their head. I started using GTD because I admitted to myself that I was just handling my life well. I suspect this is how others started too.

Taking stock of all your commitments and having them on display week after week forces you to be honest with what you can and can't do. No matter how much you lie to yourself some part of you will know you're taking on more than you can chew.

If you're not honest about what you have to do or want to do, the anxiety will creep back in because your brain knows you're not dealing with things.

Building the five horizons and reviewing them forces you to be honest about the things you're spending your time on.

Over time, as you build your someday/maybe list you will realize that more than half of the items on those lists will never happen. This is for me the most profound moment of self-honesty. The realization that there are only so many minutes left in your life, and you simply wont get to everything. Bummed out yet? Have some puppies!

Don't lie to yourself!

It's strange to think of honesty as a pattern. While we may be honest with other people, we tend to lie to ourselves often and with ease. Just think about what you have in the attic or in the back of your closet and wait for your brain to start making up lies:

  • I'm totally gonna go running next week
  • After dinner I am gonna pick up this guitar and learn how to play
  • I will make 2016 is going to be the year I learn to draw

This will stop you from getting stuff done. Holding on to maybes, could-haves, should-haves brings nothing but anxiety and disappointment. The space taken by old clothes, that guitar you're not playing, or the unused training shoes could be taken by another project you will finish. Empty space is a reward we often undervalue.

Honesty is useful whenever you're creating or building anything. Do you need this slide? Is that table in my article necessary? Am I helping my reader if I use fancy words?

Perfection is Achieved Not When There Is Nothing More to Add, But When There Is Nothing Left to Take Away - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

So what now?

Oh boy, this is a hard one. Go around your house and look at stuff that you've not used for a year. Throw it out. Don't recycle, sell, or give it away. Do not tell anybody! If you have to do any work you'll falter. If you tell someone they'll say it's a waste. You have my permission to throw it out. If anybody judges you, tell them to send me an email. I'm great at ignoring people.

I'm gonna leave it here. Let me know how you get on. What did you get rid of? How do you feel?

Have a nice one. Until Next Time.

--Jay Blanco