Ending a Particular Nightmare: Managing the Particles

Getting Things DoneIf you are having the nightmare where you get to class and discover there is an exam that you forgot and did not prepare for and you are way past school age, then you need to learn to manage the particles. At the World Domination Summit, Jon Acuff recommended David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done. I jotted it down in my notes and downloaded it later in Kindle. At one point in my life I had that nightmare on a recurring basis with a twist: I forgot that I was enrolled in the class and had not attended most of the semester.

I no longer have this dream because I have created systems that help me manage the particles. In the CTI Co-Active Leadership Program they challenged us to not put too much energy into managing the particles. Our trainers were concerned that we would substitute a focus on details for leadership that sees the big picture. You can carefully care for your calendar and never drop a ball, but without a clear leadership stake and a strategy for accomplishing it, and then the details are just particles. They admonished us to do more than manage the particles.

However, if you do not have a way to manage the particles they will undo your leadership. As Allen says:

“Managing commitments will requires the implementation of some basic activities and behaviors:

  • First of all, if it’s on your mind, your mind isn’t clear. Anything you consider unfinished in any way must be captured in a trusted system outside your mind, or what I call a collection tool, that you know you’ll come back to regularly and sort through.
  • Second, you must clarify exactly what your commitment is and decide what you have to do, if anything, to make progress toward fulfilling it.
  • Third, one you’ve decided on all the actions you need to take, you must keep reminders of them organized in a system you review regularly.

You must use your mind to get things off your mind.”

Getting Things Done, page 14

If this resonates and you could use a system for tracking your “open loops” and identifying your priorities, then read Getting Things Done. If you have figured out a system that works for you, then carry on and give this book a pass.

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