I first read the book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen when it was published in 2001. (Affiliate link: I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if you click through and make a purchase with an affiliate link. Thank you for your support!) Despite enjoying the book and the ideas therein, I didn’t actually implement them. When I began this blog and became aware of some of the blogs available with productivity ideas, I saw that this book has a huge following. So I decided it was time to take another look. Upon review, I see that there are a couple of things that I have difficulty with.
One is the complexity of the methods. I have had difficulty envisioning what GTD looks like. Looking at a Workflow chart makes my mind hurt. When I hear the words “brain dump” I get a brain freeze – it’s too overwhelming and I can’t think of anything. It was also difficult for me to see which list to put things on. While I like the idea of a Weekly Review and actually do try to at least perform a quick one, the checklist is long and daunting. It sounds good in theory to corral and process all your stuff, but really when the rubber hits the road it makes me tired just to think about it. I think I’ll go lie down for awhile. When I wake up from my nap, I’ll talk about the other thing.
The other thing is the terminology. It just doesn’t speak to me. In the book “How to Get Organized Without Resorting to Arson,” Liz Franklin says “use your own verbs and no one else’s.” People have different work personalities and organizing styles. Some access visually, others are spatial or chronological. Our words should reflect how we access things.
Here are some words that I am more comfortable with:
- GTD: Collection buckets. ME: Organizing tools
- GTD: Waiting for. ME Pending
- GTD: Agendas. ME: Discuss
- GTD: Next Actions. ME Action steps
- GTD: Someday/maybe. ME: Idea file
Getting back to complexity:
- GTD: Calendared actions & information. ME: Calendar
- GTD: “Next Actions” lists. ME: To Do list and other lists
- GTD: A “Projects” list. ME: Goal and Project Plans
- GTD: Project support material. ME: Project files
- GTD: A “Waiting For” list. ME: Follow-up system
- GTD: Reference material. ME: Weekly plan
- GTD: A “Someday/Maybe” list. ME: Idea file
A crucial difference is a way to include goals. Since I believe that goals and productivity are like peanut butter and jelly, I make a sandwich that includes both ingredients. For me, it’s clearer to know where to put incoming tasks in The Daily PlanIt Keep It Super Simple (K.I.S.S.) System, and easier to see the big picture.
See also GTD Essentials and GTD Made Visual
Hello!! I just had to say “BRAV0!”
I read GTD two times and I didn’t understand what David Allen is trying to say until you just put it in more familiar terms! I made a notebook with all those sections and contexts. I found it nice to have everything written down on paper, but it makes more sense to me (visually) to have a list of the 5-10 things to accomplish, rather than flip to a “context” list.
I’m going back to Stephanie Winston’s two list system, which I think is really simple & motivating. I like to keep up with new ideas though because it was worth reading GTD to get the easy file system which I have maintained.
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