GTD won’t work for you if you don’t trust your system

I have just spent the last half hour in a panic. I had a cheque to pay in to the bank and I couldn’t find it. This cheque is for quite a large sum of money so I was getting really worried that it was lost.

First I looked in my in-basket. Before I started GTDing this basket was always overflowing with papers and receipts and rubbish. If I had a cheque to pay in, it would be in the basket. But this morning it only has a small pile of papers waiting to be processed. I thought maybe the cheque had mistakenly been put in my pile of papers waiting to be scanned, but no, it wasn’t there either.

By this point I was getting pretty grumpy. “This room is a tip.” “I’m going to have to spend the whole day sorting this out.” “The day is ruined.” You get the idea!

Then I had some inspiration. Maybe I had added it to Things on my Mac. And lo and behold, there it was: “Pay in cheque”, tagged as “errands” and with an attached note “cheque is in the bank file”.

I’m really disappointed in myself. It’s not that GTD has failed me – I have failed GTD. I had done everything as I should – I hadn’t left a todo sitting in an inbox – it had been processed, appropriately filed and a reminder left for myself. The problem is that I didn’t trust the system. I can’t believe the first place I looked for the cheque was the in-tray. That’s where the old me left things. I need to learn to trust my system, which is clearly going to be harder than I thought. Have you found this hard to do? I’d love to hear others’ thoughts on this.

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