GTD for Homemakers: The Review Process

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31 Days to GTD for Homemakers & HomeschoolersLike David Allen’s book Getting Things Done, this series, 31 Days to GTD for Homemakers is about managing your stuff and your actions, and once those are under control, your mind is left more free and clear to focus on the present moment with your family. So this series is not about shaping our homes and families to a business model, but about being in control of our tasks and stuff rather than letting it control us, so that instead of running around like chickens with heads cut off, we may be more free and calm to make the correct intuitive decision about how to handle whatever is before us in the moment.

Previous Post: Organize Calendars & To-Dos

Review: Staying Current & Conscious, Clean & Clear

Well, up until now we were really dealing with preliminaries. Sure, a major mind-dump and organizational purging reduces bloat and fog, but it is review that keeps those things from reappearing. Try as I might, I cannot escape the reality that having a plan is not good enough. I have to work the plan. Sorry, it’s painful, but true. In the GTD set-up, the review process is a huge component to the “work the plan” admonition. What is the point in having a list, after all, if you never look at it?

Actually, I used to think it was worth something. Having the list meant that I spent some time brainstorming and clarifying, so even if I didn’t use my list after it was made, my mind was in better order. Also, used to be, if I sat down and wrote out a grocery list, I could manage a grocery shopping trip without consulting the list and generally only miss one thing, if any.

Those days are now gone.

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Now if I end up at the grocery store without my list, I can only come up with half the items, if that. My brain is gone. Hence, I need things written down and I need to consult what I have written. 

Oh, sigh.

Turns out David Allen was right: “Having [action items] ‘organized’ isn’t sufficient to get them off your mind — you’ve also got to review them appropriately.”

Consistently having the appropriate level of review at appropriate times is the key to maintaining the trust in your lists that will keep them effective and you focused: It’s one thing to write down that you need milk; it’s another to be at the store and remember it.

Consistently having the appropriate level of review at appropriate times is the key to maintaining the trust in your lists that will keep them effective and you focused: It’s one thing to write down that you need milk; it’s another to be at the store and remember it.

“The purpose of this whole method of workflow management,” Getting Things Done reminds us, “is not to let your brain become lax, but rather to enable it to move toward more elegant and productive activity.” In other words, you are not done when your system is set up. Not only do you then have to do what you have to do, but systems simply don’t stay set up, they don’t run on their own, and they don’t work if they can’t adapt.

In passing Allen uses house cleaning as a metaphor for the system, and I shall elaborate upon that theme, since it is one we can relate to.

The point of housekeeping is not to have a spotless, sparkling house all the time. Having a clean and orderly house is not about never having dishes and always sweeping once the tiniest crumb hits the floor. The point is to keep it functional, healthy, and attractive, in keeping it in a state of readiness for fulfilling its purpose. So it is with most of our work and with this system. The point is not to maintain a squeaky-clean organization system, but to keep it useful and effective.

So the review process is not a bunch of time spent keeping this third thing constantly juggled; review fulfills the system’s purpose: keeping your head clear and your intuition trustworthy.


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Mystie’s book, Declutter Your Head will walk you through the process of clearing your head and organizing your home so you can take calm, intentional action. Also available on kindle.

GTD® and Getting Things Done® are registered trademarks of the David Allen Company.

Next: GTD for Homemakers: Mom’s Morning Review