The greatest resistance we hear from new people considering TSW is that, although they really need a better system, and understand the benefits of this new methodology, they have a really hard time abandoning that system they have used for years, and worry about to-do items “disappearing”. We encourage converts to begin by first processing their previous two months of emails into Evernote, and applying TSW methods to those emails. Then, once the TSW methods have become ingrained, start tackling another prior month of emails. In the beginning, it may feel less risky to start with deleting all the emails you know you don’t need, or processing the oldest month in your email Inbox first, just to get the mechanics worked out with “less risky items”. As mentioned, moving emails to a safe Old Inbox folder that you could move back to your Inbox if you panic may be a nice security blanket. We also realize there is some premium to converting and learning to use TSW. We assure you it is well worth it.
We suggest putting all appointments and drop dead due dates in the your digital calendar (Outlook, iCal, etc.) and not EN, as they HAVE to occur at that moment (this is standard GTD logic). We might also occasionally put a re-occurring to-do in the calendar (until Evernote provides some repeating alert capability).
“What I am finding is that before I had this “all-encompassing system” like The Secret Weapon, I did not have an accurate, definable count of how many things I had in my life’s Action Pending. Once that I had a True Accounting, I found that knowledge to be a bit daunting! At 463 items “Action Pending” I now realize that I had been mentally carrying around many undone ideas and tasks that frankly just never got prioritized for execution, and they just somehow floated around in my sub consciousness, only to appear momentarily in my conscious thoughts from time to time, as I remembered that I had forgotten about them. This quasi “ignorant bliss” caused me to sometimes take on more responsibilities than I realized I could manage. Now that (I believe) most of my undone to-dos are properly accounted for, it will take me a while to clear that backlog of baggage that I have been carrying around for years. I’m thinking I’ll feel better when I get to something under 300 to start. Kind of like a Sleep Number for the brain. What is yours? Monitoring your total number of Action Pending items, having a true accounting of all things pending, and your specific 1-Now and 2-Next totals can give you a good estimate of how busy you really are. Be kind to yourself, and get those down before taking on any more responsibility! In short, learn how to say No.“
“Now that all that is pending is properly accounted for and prioritized, and I have gotten comfortable with the sheer numbers of pending items that I use to ignore and now am reminded of every Sunday during my Weekly Review, I have to start doing them. For some items that is easier said than done. There were reasons they never got executed before, and those reasons still cause me to put them in a 4-Later context, and conveniently skip over them in my review. Why we push back on executing some items is varied, but we all do it, regardless of our system. The difference now is that I can’t hide. They stare back at me each week, pleading with me to suck it up and get them done. Now I at least mull on IF I were to execute this note, how would I go about it? Are there any new ways to approach it? What is it that is causing me to ignore it? Once I develop a game plan, I move it to 1-Now, and face the music. Once it is in 1-Now, there is no turning back. It MUST be done. And boy does it feel good when that one is marked complete!”
Some tricks to overcoming this pushback is to ask yourself some standard questions: