You'll notice that GTD, starting with the mind sweep, makes little
distinction between work life and life life. Again, neither does
the mind. That's why we think about ski trips during meetings and
think about quarterly reviews while we're on the slopes. Splitting
a river into two artificial streams makes little sense; we need to
deal with the river as it is.
In his executive-coach role, Allen has sat beside many a CEO or top
manager and gently forced them to face up to a staggering number of
open loops. He has seen people take six hours just to gather
placeholders for all the things on their minds.
"After you've done a mind sweep, everything is captured," says
Hagerty. "Then there's this wave of panic and relief. Panic because
you have so much to do. Relief that it's all in the right place.
Nothing is lurking in the box that's going to come up and bite you.
It's an amazing kind of peace."
That peace is part of what Allen, who earned a black belt in
karate, calls "mind like water" - the ready state of the martial
artist, poised and stress-free. "Your ability to generate power is
directly proportional to your ability to relax," he writes in
Getting Things Done. If your psychic RAM is overloaded, you're not
relaxed and ready for the next minicrisis. You may overreact,
underreact, or run screaming down the hall.
As each open loop is discovered, the RAM-dumping newbie must make a
decision: What is to be done with this? If closing the loop
requires two minutes or less (call Bob, skim letter, make dental
appointment), do it immediately. If the loop requires more than two
minutes (hire assistant, plan London trip), it's a project for
which a successful outcome and next actions must be determined
(review résumés, narrow down choices, schedule three interviews for