Another reason a lot of people are feeling overwhelmed is because people are not in true survival or crisis mode as often as they have been in much of our history. The interesting thing about crisis is that it actually produces a type of serenity. Why? Because in a crisis, people have to integrate all kinds of information that's potentially relevant, they have to make decisions quickly, they have to then trust their intuitive judgment calls in the moment. They have to act. They're constantly course-correcting based on data that's coming up, and they're very focused on some outcome, usually live--you know, survive. Don't burn up. Don't die.
But as soon as you're not in a crisis, all the rest of the world floods into your psyche. Now you're worried about taxes and tires and "I'm getting a cold" and "My printer just crapped out." Now that flood is coming across in electronic form, and it is 24/7.
To cope, you need the executive skill and the ability to make rapid decisions about how you allocate limited resources. There's nothing new under the sun about that. What's new is how many more people have to be making those kinds of executive decisions now. You've moved the executive requirement down through all the ranks.
So that's what's different, is how broad, I suppose, and how potentially overwhelming it is, if you don't have a clear focus, to know how to discriminate what's meaningful and what's not in your world.
Being able to carve out islands where you need that, that's always been true, but I think more and more of us are now faced with that, especially when more and more people have access to your calendar and [can] stick stuff on there. And part of that is just my own personal professional development as I moved up, sort of, and now have a company of 50 people, and now [that] I've got other people putting stuff on my calendars, I'm going, "Whoa, wait a minute." I've been coaching people about this before, but now I actually have to do it--I've got to block out a three-hour block so nobody grabs that, because I need that kind of time to be able to do that kind of thinking. So, yeah, that's a trick. It's just that the problem is, a lot of people won't keep their own agreements with themselves, and that'll be the first meeting you'll unhook from, is the one you've made with yourself, and then you feel even worse.
So again, back to my general philosophy, [which] is: look, make as few plans as you can, capture every single thing that is potentially meaningful, and make sure you've got the appropriate maps to be able to know where to focus.
It's always been true about GTD, but I think [you need] a way to be able to see: How do you set priorities about all this stuff? Well, you need maps. You need maps to orient yourself. You need a map that says "Hey, in the next three years, what's coming toward me that I need to be aware of?" "In the next three minutes, what's coming toward me?" Those are different maps. By the way, you know, a "map" would be any list that you have that orients you: "Here's my whatever-it-is project." That's a map. Obviously your calendar is a map. So having all the potentially relevant data determined so you can populate your appropriate maps and then spread out [in] your map room and say "Okay, what do I need to look at right now?" So the ability to be able to decide what needs to go on what map and then building the behaviors to make sure that you're then negotiating with those maps appropriately.