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When you hear that little voice, listen!

Have you ever had the following happen? You're doing something (a chore, writing, whatever) and your mind says "Hey, you really ought to ____." In my case the ____ has been:
  • wear safety goggles (while using a crowbar to break break up a wooden pallet)
  • check out that wet wood around the shower stall (while showering)
  • get my bike's freewheel fixed (while riding it)
  • go to bed (when I'm feeling really tired)
  • ...
In all of these cases my mind was doing the right thing - identifying situations that needed my attention. In the first one I listened, but in the other two I delayed. Now, had I been following David Allen's principles, I would have written these down and placed them in my Inbox (the collection step of his process), then put them in the appropriate Next Action categories to be done as soon as possible. However, I didn't do this, and as a result they both got worse and created additional stress. For the shower issue, I let it go too long, which resulted in some wood rot and insect infestation (plus anger, shame, etc.) In the bike case, my delay created the added time pressure of needing to get it fixed soon, since the bike was up for auction. If I had only acted sooner, things would have been better.

My artist friend, who was a fine woodworker in a previous life, said his boss at a NYC shop used to talk about this:
You got that Steven James quote right. He would use that phrase with an action. For example he would take an open gallon of paint and move it away from the edge of a table and into the center and look at you and say "If you think something's going to happen, it probably will."
I'd be curious to know if others have had this happen, and how they addressed the problem. In my case, I'm trying to use these experiences as lessons to help re-invigorate my GTD discipline, esp. the collection phase.

Reader Comments (7)

yeah, but you only can do so much a day. so, sometimes i consciously decide to just live with the mess. it's a question of priorities. you can't have an all-perfect life. sometimes you just have to strike out.

September 13, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Hi Anonymous,

I'm not sure what you mean; it would be great to hear more...


September 13, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Cornell

Situation: scraping a sticker off my car window with a razor with my right hand

Thought: "I should really move my left hand out of the way before I...."

Outcome: yeah, you guessed it. Still have the scar.

September 23, 2005 | Unregistered Commenteranemone


September 23, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Cornell
I hear little voices to, but I don't think these little voices are gonna do me any good, they tell me to kill myself and anyone who causes me pain. 0-0
This has been going on since I was sexualy abused when I was 5. Should I really listen to these kinds of voices... maybey...Hmm, it would help the world be a better place, they told me to do so much to myself, I don't think i should "ALWAYS" listen to the voices. 0-0
January 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNo one
Cara, you should get some help. This advice is not for you.
January 29, 2011 | Registered CommenterMatthew Cornell
I'm too shy and scared to be locked up in a mental hospital to talk to anyone about this, I am only a 12 year old, I was Googling advice and this showed up.
January 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNo one

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