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What is GTD, continued

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  • What is GTD, continued

    This interesting thread has been closed:

    To define and describe GTD is not easy. The current Davidco definition is not at all bad:

    But sometimes you'd like a shorter definition, and perhaps an even clearer distinction of what makes GTD fundamentally different from other methodologies. Almost any methodology or tool or consultancy service could easily claim more or less exactly the same things - focus, clarity, confidence, bigger picture, ahead of the game, successful outcomes, next steps and so on ...

    But we all know that GTD stands out as something very different and much better. Why is that?

    I believe that Howard, the last one to say anything in the old thread, touched the heart of the matter - GTD is NOT time management.

    May I be allowed to use some simplistic metaphors:

    - GTD is the jeep for rough, unpredictable terrain, whereas Time management is a sedan for smooth roads.
    - GTD is for the hospital's emergency room, whereas Time management is for the cosmetic surgery clinic.

    Time management is based on scheduling stuff in a time plan (calendar etc). It works great (it appears) for people who are in a predictable environment, dealing with predictable people, and who themselves are very predictable persons (disciplined; self-obedient). Then the time plan itself (the schedule, the timeline) will be the principal organizing principle for all your "stuff" (and you probably have additional categories etc to make it even more manageable.)

    But not so for all: GTD is designed for those who are in a more fluid and unpredictable situation, or are more intense personalities. Time schedules for these people (us) will fall as a house of cards only moments after it has been drawn up, and simply will not work. So GTD aims to organize the stuff in a more robust manner that can withstand the sudden turns much better, leaving the final decision to do something until the very last moment (whenever possible), but always having these decisions based on objective facts and characteristics of the various possible actions, and the ability to find the most suitable possible actions for all situations.

    So, if you please excuse my very limited capabilities as a copywriter, maybe a few sentences like these could convey these aspects:

    "GTD is about getting things done - even for people who live and work under very fluid and unpredictable conditions, when time planning simply is too slow and fragile, and when you need to make the best use of each moment. GTD is a robust and fact-based planning system, geared around organizing and reviewing your commitments thoroughly, using only a minimum of dates, in a way that allows you to always see what is important and what is possible, and be able to always choose wisely and quickly what to do right now."

  • #2
    Originally posted by bcmyers2112
    If one is to distill GTD down to a metaphor, I like DA's choice of "mind like water" the best.
    I like that one a lot, too. Very expressive. (And it reminds me of Tibetan Buddhism, which I also have a lot of admiration for).

    Originally posted by bcmyers2112
    It is DA's position that GTD applies equally well to all professions, personality types, cultures, age groups, etc. He's been very clear about that.
    I am not disputing that. But is sounds bland. And it sounds less credible, despite the fact that it is quite true.

    I would dare to say, though, that the benefits of GTD are not equally obvious to people in very stable and predictable situations, who often seem quite happy to just enter a task, set a date, forget about it, and then five weeks later at 9.00 am when they get a reminder simply obey the instruction. Different people. Different lives. Different habits.

    As a side note, please bear in mind, also, that GTD, or part of it I should say, is not seldom often used even by extreme time planners as a supplementary system for managing their "backlog" or "unscheduled" tasks. They schedule everything that is urgent or important, and that makes them feel "in control", but they cannot schedule everything. The rest goes on their "Next" list (if they use a GTD app) and they will use context, energy etc to select tasks from there when they have some free (unscheduled) time. This usage seems very common - many seem to perceive of GTD as a "backlog management system". Although there is nothing totally wrong with what they are doing, this skewed view may be one of the misconceptions that Davidco would be wise to safeguard against.

    But be that as it may. Please note that in my layman copy I wrote "GTD is about getting things done - even for people who live and work under very fluid and unpredictable conditions". This does not exclude anybody. It just identifies one segment that can be expected to be more attracted than others to use GTD.

    The "new" emphasis I am suggesting is (what Howard had already said) the fact that GTD is not some kind of time planning system. It is more a kind of "decision making support" system for everyday use. It avoids using time, except when necessary. This is the big and truly fundamental difference.