Interesting thoughts from Jim McGee on What comes after "keeping up"? based on a post by Kathy Sierra's recent post on "the myth of keeping up" (and the ensuing discussion). Kathy starts by talking about the ever-growing pile of "want to read" materials many people keep and gives some thought to getting away from that mind set. Jim takes this another direction (his summary):
Instead of a series of tactics for “keeping up” more efficiently, we need to think strategically about how we can best incorporate learning into our doing. While there is much that can be done to improve our learning (Kathy’s books being at one excellent example of that approach), we need to work at eliminating artificial distinctions between learning and doing, and between performing and keeping up (see, for example, my observations last year about better on-the-job learning).
If I over-promise myself (time, energy, etc), I am guaranteed to go numb to some aspect of those promises. Even worse, I am almost guaranteed to go numb to everything except that stuff that rears its head into the "urgent" category in response to a phone call or the most recent email or that angry look from your spouse. This is the opposite of keeping up.
As Jim says, I need to create a system in my life that ensures I will manage everything that needs to be managed at the appropriate times and with the appropriate information at hand. It must cover everything from the daily flow of activities to that stack of reading (electronic and on paper) to taking action on projects to planning for the future.
In case you can't tell from the language above, I've been reading David Allen's Getting Things Done. Allen's claim is that the system (and my belief) is that the GTD system helps create the space to actually accomplish many of those things that have been hanging out in the back of my mind. Now I just need to do something about it.