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Okay, first of all, let me say ... what a community. OF users are half the reason to use OF! Thanks abh19, keone, malisa.

@malisa: I use flags very similarly. (And now I’m wondering how many others do.) And I seem to more or less get away with it. And I also don’t know if I’ll ever truly feel comfortable with it. Both flags and bright red “due” item seem to really push my psychological buttons — I do a little “oh %$@!#, that!” every time I see them. And that’s maybe okay if the action REALLY has to be done that day. But there are actually very few actions that are truly like that. Time and again I find myself blowing off even the flagged stuff, and realizing that it was optional after all — despite my best intentions not to flag stuff unless it truly must be done when due. Those little mental oh-crap anxiety seizures whenever I see a flagged, red item are exactly the kind of thing I wanted GTD to save me from. I think the calm, rational, mentally uncluttered and pure-GTD approach of only thinking in terms of what’s next is what I want ...

@keone, yes, absolutely religious about weekly reviews, despite the fact that it usually feels pointless, because I never actually do anything except mark everything as reviewed after looking at and thinking things like, “Nope,” “Nuh uh,” “Not even close,” “Can’t deal with that one yet,” “Not that one either” etc down the whole list. Occasionally I check something off that got done days ago but didn’t get checked at the time. That’s about it. It’s a ritual I am devoted to without much reward, yet.

(A little context ... part of my problem is that I have only one project I’m taking seriously, and that’s been true for a long time.)

@abh19 re: “selectivity” ... yes! More and more I’m noticing that most of my “active” projects are apparently wishful thinking. I am not being honest with myself. They ain’t. So, call a spade a spade and pause a few of them. Or maybe a lot of them. Or maybe most of them.

So... I just tried putting a bunch of this advice into work and ...

I’ve paused a LOT of projects. Most of them. (I had been thinking of “paused” in terms too absolute. It’s not a permanent condition! It’s not project death, just hibernation.) And with the ones that remained, I defined more specific actions. And moved a lot of them to someday/maybe. And then I tried to “utilize the FOCUS icon in the toolbar for projects or folders, and the NEXT ACTION filter in the view bar.” I had done that before, but the result was always a humungous list of first actions from too many active projects. With only the truly active projects ...

Interesting effect!

For the first time, I feel as though I have in my OF window both complete and useful and yet not overwhelming information about what I might choose to do next. Which also frees me to be choosier about what to make due and/or flag — that is, I don’t have to make something due and flagged as a way of making sure I notice it. Which means less of those oh-crap mental moments.

I’m sure this isn’t over, but I think I made a huge leap here ... thanks!