GTD (Part II)

Dec. 30, 2010, 10:42 p.m.

In a previous blog post, I talked about GTD. But I slowly have fallen out of love with this system. Now, don’t get me wrong–there is a lot about Allen’s work that I appreciate. I enjoy, for example, the “trusted system” that is associated with this model: there is a lot to say for Allen’s insistence in clearing your conscious from nagging obligations.

But like any theorem, there remains a lot that is a bad approximation of my reality. More specifically, complexity is present in places that I don’t need it. I don’t need the crutches of next actions (these are tasks are the ‘next step’ in a project–and in some software implementations of GTD they can become more of a handicap than a help) or contexts (these are the settings where tasks take place, but really, I can do most of my work anywhere I take my backpack–which is basically everywhere).

Furthermore, in our day to day lives, there is a lot that remains between putting things in a trusted system and actually getting the work done in a timely manner. My previous use of this model has included putting my chemistry p-set in such a ‘trusted system’ the day it is handed out, and meaning–with all good intentions–to get to it that day. But I leave it often untouched the day it is actually due. Sure, GTD can tell you the next action. It can explain to you when to do what, given your context. You can estimate durations, appropriate places in your calendar that you can get the work done. BUT WILL YOU DO IT?

Likely not.

This is the central problem of task management: the individual. If you fail to maintain integrity with any GTD system, no matter how fancy the system, you will fail at doing great work. And, as we know, no piece of code or notepad or system can produce this change in mindset.

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