Poetry and Productivity

I would not have been able to complete an MFA in writing poetry while holding down a job as a technology executive had I not been a longtime practitioner of the GTD® methodology. In a recently released podcast, David Allen, my boss and the inventor of GTD, asked me about how the GTD concept of the ubiquitous capture tool relates to poetic inspiration. (That conversation begins around 16:56.) My process has evolved considerably in the past few years, from capturing phrases and lines whenever they came through my head to “assemble” later into a poem, to establishing a regular practice of opening up to the muse. This shift sees me capturing fewer individual lines in the moment, and focusing more on getting my head clear of work and personal responsibilities–by using GTD–so that when I do sit down to write, I can slip through the keyhole unencumbered into that poetic space.

The practice of capturing inspiration in the moment is nothing new to artists and writers. After the Ojai Poetry Fest Fundraiser, I had a stimulating conversation with a fellow writer who also happens to be a journalist. As our chat got interesting, he whipped out a pad and paper, seemingly on reflex, and began to take notes. He was “off duty” in the sense that he wasn’t taking notes for a news story–but it got me thinking that if one is, indeed, a student of life, there is no “off duty.” And a good student takes good notes about subjects that fascinate. The difference GTD makes, of course, is that it presents a systematic approach for what to do with those notes–including tracking any resulting commitments to oneself or others, and executing appropriate action and regular review in order to make one’s dreams more than just a scribble on a notepad.

So, in case I haven’t said it lately, thank you, David, for bringing this methodology into my life, helping me to bring appropriate focus and attention to the many different worlds I inhabit. The gift of being more present in my life is truly precious.