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Why is GTD so often misinterpreted or misunderstood?

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  • Why is GTD so often misinterpreted or misunderstood?

    There's an article about GTD that has been discussed at great length in another thread, but I decided to appropriate it for a new thread because I'd like to look at it from a different angle. I'd like to start a discussion about why so many people mis-interpret GTD, which I feel is actually a plainly-written book filled with ideas that aren't difficult to understand.

    Here's a link to the article for those of you who may have missed the prior thread (although I don't see how that is possible -- it is an epic thread) here is the article in question:

    Admittedly, the central conceit of this post is that I *do* understand GTD. Some of you may agree, others not. But that's the whole purpose of a discussion, right?

    So, first let me begin by picking apart the article's misnomers about GTD:

    1. "For the rest of us, though, GTD feels a little too much like the kind of work we picked the book up to help us manage in the first place. That is, it feels like business, and for people whose business is not business – creative professionals, for example – it feels “external” to our real work (and identity)."

    When I clicked on the link to the web site of the author, Dustin Wax, I noticed that among other things he labels himself a photographer, curator, and "art world booster." Which is why I am perplexed as to the way he dismisses the idea that GTD can be applicable to a creative person's "real work (and identity)."

    I am an art hobbyist. I was a fine arts minor in college and I enjoy figure drawing. I also used to write TV scripts as a hobby (I even had a reputable agent get one of my scripts in front of the producers of Star Trek: The Next Generation -- she had other clients for whom she had sold scripts to that show -- although I didn't make a sale). I also have many friends who are creative professionals or dedicated art hobbyists. So I know a bit about this. And the one thing I can tell you is that the only way you get good at art is to recognize that art is work, just the same as farming, sales, computer programming, running a company, or what have you.

    Almost all of the great novelists had a writing habit. They would write either a minimum number of pages per day or a certain amount of time per day. Jerry Seinfeld uses the "Don't Break the Chain" method -- where you try to make a daily habit of something -- to motivate himself to write a joke a day. A friend of mine who has done work for Nickelodeon and who is developing an original animated children's series for that network has always approached his art in a disciplined fashion.

    There is nothing about art that wouldn't lend itself to a GTD approach. For a painter, a next action might be, "Do five preliminary sketches" or "Finish underpainting." For a novelist, "Do character bio for protagonist" might be the next action. Or a musician might have on a next actions list, "Spend two hours jamming with band to come up with song ideas."

    2. "Perhaps Allen’s biggest innovation in GTD is getting rid of priority-setting in favor of context-awareness."

    Uhm... no. DA suggests you set your priorities in the moment, based on your intuitive understanding of your roles and goals and what is -- or isn't -- happening right now. DA advises against priority CODING of your lists. That's not the same as eschewing priority SETTING.

    3. "GTD is a ground-up system, meaning that the system focuses on getting your day-to-day tasks in order, not on higher-level goal- and priority-setting."

    Again... no. Clarifying your roles, longer-term goals and life's purpose are integral to GTD. DA simply suggests that it's a lot harder to clarify those things until you've gotten control over the tactical, day-to-day realities of your life.

    OK, so... having established (at least to my satisfaction) that the "problems" this author feels he has so brilliantly identified in GTD are insubstantial strawmen, the question I have on my mind is: why do people have so much difficulty understanding GTD? Because in fairness I had to read it three times before I really began to understand.

    For me, it's because I brought certain unchecked assumptions and preconceived notions I wasn't even aware I had. Like Yoda admonished Luke Skywalker to do in The Empire Strikes Back, I needed to "unlearn" before I could learn.

    For me, the biggest preconceived notion to break was that productivity principles and productivity technologies are inextricably linked.

    If anyone cares to share his or her perspective, I'd love that. Do you agree? Do you think I'm full of crap? Something in between? Very interested to know. Thanks.

    (Apologies to Folke for hijacking your idea. Sorry! )

  • #2
    I once read a book called _It's Hard to Make a Difference When You Can't Find Your Keys_. Much of it addressed the suspicion that many people who identify themselves as creative, especially 'artistic' creative, have of organizational systems. I think that these people are likely to resist GTD.

    (I can't tell you much more about the book because, as a person who identifies as geeky-creative, I didn't need to be persuaded to seek organization, so I didn't need to read it more than once and I sold it to the used bookstore. Though now that I remember it, I rather wish that I could read it again; it was pretty good.)

    At the other extreme, I think that people who believe that you can have a system for everything, who distrust intuition, also resist GTD. GTD just arrays your work in front of you; when it comes to doing that work, you're back to intuition. There is no system in GTD that tells you to do *that* specific task first.

    So I think that there are a lot of people on *both* ends of the spectrum who will resist GTD. The people who trust intuition may distrust organization; the people who trust organization may distrust intuition.

    That's all I've got.


    • #3
      Originally posted by bcmyers2112 View Post
      (Apologies to Folke for hijacking your idea. Sorry! )
      No problem. It is actually very good. It brings us back on topic. The other thread had digressed in too many different directions over time.

      I agree with a lot of what your are saying. I agree that the article's analysis is far from being correct.

      The article primarily presents some speculations about why GTD might be difficult to others, not to the writer himself. In a way, this is what we in this forum also do from time to time - e.g. in this very thread, in my previous thread that you referred to, in the thread "What is GTD" and countless others. Very often, people speculate about why GTD is difficult to others. And we often tend to suggest clarifications etc to GTD.

      Apparently we often feel that others (or we ourselves) misunderstand GTD. The title of this thread reflects that view - "Why is GTD so often misinterpreted or misunderstood?". And frankly, I share that sentiment. Apparently, we all seem to feel that we belong to some little "elite" that are the only ones that understand GTD "correctly", and everybody else is more or less off track.

      Now, why is that? That is the question you are raising, and I am curious, too. What is it that makes every reader so cocksure that he has understood it correctly? And what is it about GTD that gives rise to so many conflicting interpretations?

      Let me offer a tentative speculation:

      GTD is based on common sense, and David Allen is a fantastic teacher. His books read like novels, and everything feels just right. It matches everything you ever believed in and you agree without even thinking. Why? Because it matches your understanding of common sense.

      But different people have very different "common sense". The individual's common sense is based on that individual's life experience (profession, culture, age ...). So how come we all (or so many of us) feel that GTD's common sense is the same as ours?

      I think maybe this is due to the fact (if it is a fact; I am not sure everybody would agree) that GTD conveys a general common sense mindset at an abstract level that we all agree with, and presents a number of details that we do not take too literally because we see them as examples, and it does not really matter if the examples are perfect.

      At the general mindset level there is a lot of age-old common sense that no one would disagree with, and this is why it is relatively easy to get wide acceptance. For example, recognizing the necessity of identifying a "next action" - who has ever disagreed with that? It may have been expressed differently throughout history, like first action, first step, next step, initial few steps, the very first thing to do, first things first, or simply "what do we need to do now, first of all", but the recognition of that necessity has always been present (even across a vast majority of the population). Similarly, for some more "intellectual" distinctions, such as the recognition of the difference between the "why" (purpose) and the "what" (vision/outcome) etc., this has probably been at least passively recognized and understood, even applied, across vast parts of the population for ages, but has been expressed and analyzed in writing mainly by intellectuals and philosophers. But it is all intuitive. It is all "common sense".

      So, no wonder GTD appeals to us! It excellently summarizes and hones a number of common sense "components" that we already agree with, and puts them together into a system. Beautiful. And most of the finer details are understood as examples or subjective personal preferences or general recommendations for the assumed typical reader, and is generally described as a framework which may require adaptation to the individual's needs. So we do not have a problem with those - until we begin to compare our interpretation with that of other people.

      And we do perceive our needs differently. And GTD does give us a lot of leeway in our interpretations. We can all find at least some kind of support for almost any interpretation of GTD within the books and articles that DA has published.

      For me personally, born in the 50's, I never though much of "task management" at all. When I started to get overloaded with stuff I realized I had to write it all down. Since I had a lot, I used several different lists. The lists were separated mainly by "where" (context) and/or by project. And I noticed many others seemed to do more or less the same. I started to become aware of task management only with the explosion of "time management" which I instinctively disagreed with strongly, for all its lucid arguments. So for me, GTD represents the first coherent written objection to time management, the cavalry that came to our rescue when we were under siege, a "back to nature" kind of movement. I am opposed to virtually all forms of arbitrary time planning and arbitrary priority-sequencing.

      I full well realize that GTD represents different things to different people. To some, I have noticed, GTD seems to have taken the role of a "new-age religion", an explanation that gives meaning to almost everything in life. Although this interpretation seems alien to me, I believe I can understand how it can happen. If someone is in a stage in his life where everything is getting chaotic, and if the person has no previous experience with "getting organized", and has no strong foundation in any religion or life philosophy, then I am sure GTD can come across a as very nice packaged solution - the one and only "savior for everything" - GTD does in fact mention life goals etc at the 50K level.

      For most of us, I think our different interpretations mirror the difficulties we may have in our daily lives. Some have almost no thoughts at all, and write almost nothing. Others have big problems finding their emails and tasks and everything, and tend to advocate strong integration of task apps, Evernote, email and what have you. Others struggle with the perspective on now vs future, and advocate sequencing, hierarchies and the like. Other struggle with huge masses of tasks, and advocate measures to deal with that. Others struggle with time awareness, and require beepers and snoozers etc. I goes on.

      I believe most of these people will ask for different things, and will tend to be able to find support for most of what they ask for in GTD.


      • #4
        Originally posted by bcmyers2112
        I think it's because GTD bucks the dominant organizational and productivity paradigms. Like I said, we bring our own preconceived notions to the book.
        I totally agree with that. The way I read your statement it is a concise and accurate summary of my perhaps overly long post that you responded to:

        You wrote: "I think it's because GTD bucks the dominant organizational and productivity paradigms.".
        I wrote: "GTD represents the first coherent written objection to time management."

        You wrote: "... we bring our own preconceived notions to the book."
        I wrote a lot in the same vein, for example: "[GTD] matches your understanding of common sense ... But different people have very different "common sense". The individual's common sense is based on that individual's life experience (profession, culture, age ...)"

        I would almost say we are in total agreement here (except for the fact that we disagree about that fact )

        I also agree with you about the examples of false interpretations you gave. I, too, think they are totally false. It is even a bit difficult for me to imagine how people have managed to misunderstand it so completely. But nevertheless, other people do claim that those false interpretations are true, and they often manage to find some sentence here or there that can be construed in a way that supports that interpretation, especially if it is read out of context. And that really brings us back to the original question - how do people so often "misunderstand" GTD? As I think we have both said, this is probably due to the fact that people have different backgrounds and life situations, different personalities, experiences, beliefs and preconceived ideas. GTD is not totally specific or unambiguous or rigid at the detailed level. And one person's common sense is not exactly the same as the next person's. But GTD speaks to us all at a general level where we tend to all agree, and allows, sometimes even encourages, us to make our own adaptations.

        (BTW, I sensed that I would stir up some resistance when using the word "elite", but the more apt expression "minority community" did not come to mind at the time of writing. Sorry. But we all tend to feel that we are the ones who are right, though, don't we )


        • #5
          Originally posted by bcmyers2112
          I try to change my mind to fit the facts, and not the facts to fit my mind.
          I agree with that, too

          (If you want to get philosophical about it, even the facts themselves, as you know them, are a mind-made interpretations, but I "know what you mean" and agree )

          Anyway, let's get back to the topic:

          I do believe that GTD stands out as unique in some very important ways. I have mentioned what these ways are in several other threads, so I'll just mention one here as an example and point out how it relates to what I said earlier here about common sense and individual interpretations of common sense:

          Reviewing: It is definitely widely accepted common sense in all circles that you must keep your plans and documents etc "up to date", keep your documents "living" etc. No conflict or contradiction so far. I still dare to stick my neck out and say that GTD emphasizes the reviewing much more than other people (or writers or schools) do. In fact, GTD even prescribes reviewing as an active part of your decision making process - there is more at stake than just keeping you documents "clean".

          This tallies very well with some personalities, and less with some. I have always had the habit of resorting to my lists and plans when I feel lost, or want to refresh my memory, or am unhappy or insecure, or whatever. Reviewing my plans has almost been second nature to me for as long as I can remember. And to many others, too, I am sure, but definitely not to all people. It is natural that I read into GTD a larger emphasis on reviewing than somebody who is intuitively prone to avoid it.

          Although reviewing to some extent is common sense to everybody, it may be perceived by some as conflicting with other kinds of generally accepted common sense, for example the wish to keep things simple. An alternative to reviewing, attractive to some people, is to predetermine the date on which you will do something. This takes away (for them) some of the ongoing need to regularly review their lists. All they need to do is wait for that date to come up.

          So although both reviewing and calendaring and keeping things simple are all within the domain of the common sense or common practice that we all share, we all place different emphasis on these things. Based on my own "preconceived ideas" I tend to read into GTD an emphasis on reviewing, an emphasis on avoiding soft scheduling and soft sequencing of all kinds, an emphasis on what are "objective facts" rather than mere "planning", and an emphasis on situational (almost "carpe diem, carpe horam") day-to-day task selection.

          Whether or not this is the one and only accurate summary interpretation of GTD I obviously cannot say (it would be philosophically incorrect to do so, and I could even improve the above description myself), but I can testify that this is my honest understanding in a nutshell, based on the "preconceived" views that I have managed to accrue over the years and which is the only reference point I have - it is all subjective in the end.

          I am painfully fully aware that many of those things I cherish about GTD - truly core principles as I see it - may not to be equally cherished in all parts the GTD community.


          • #6
            Originally posted by bcmyers2112
            As I write these words I think I have one answer (although certainly not the only one) as far as why GTD is so easily misunderstood. The human mind has a great capacity to rationalize away things we don't want to cope with.
            Yes, that's another good way of putting it. (And I agree with you about all the misinterpretations we so often hear.)

            Let me add another example - an example of how we all may "rationalize away things" depending on our individual common sense: Soft scheduling.

            I believe you and I would both agree that GTD generally advises against soft scheduling. i.e. against "making appointments with yourself". The Next actions list(s) and task selection based on the four factors is the preferred alternative, generally speaking. Are we roughly in agreement, so far, that this is the "main message" as regards soft scheduling? Yet, David Allen says that if you do feel that you really do need to make an appointment with yourself on the calendar, then honor this appointment in the same way that you would a real appointment with someone else. And in one post somewhere (I think maybe on GTD Times) he answered someone's question with something like "just put it all on your calendar" (and one of his associates at Davidco commented diplomatically that the person who had asked the question was a major corporate client).

            Now, given all this input from DA, when confronted with the choice whether or not to put a given task on the calendar, what would different people do? How would they interpret DA's advice?

            For a fervent "anti-scheduler" like myself, my personal "common sense" tells me that DA agrees with me and actually emphasizes that soft scheduling is generally bad, and I would tend to "rationalize away" the other advice as him being diplomatic towards his opponents.

            For a fervent "scheduler", however, the opposite kind of common sense would tell them that DA agrees with them and that he fully acknowledges scheduling whenever you yourself think it is necessary, which for them would be for all things of any significant importance or urgency. They would tend to "rationalize away" the general advice of caution as just a "common sense" reminder not to schedule every little detail in your life (in other words, to keep a "Next list", too, as a set of "spares" for whenever you have some free time. This is generally advocated by time management methodologies, too, and therefore fits in perfectly with their "preconceived" view).

            So, we can all find support for our own brand of "common sense" in DA's writings. Is this ambiguity of his necessarily a bad thing, though? I don't necessarily think so, although I sometimes wish he had been more precise. First of all, a certain degree of flexibility is sometimes advisable (people may need to bend their own rules sometimes). Second, people will often read things the way they want to, anyway, regardless of how you write it. Third, a majority of professionals probably believe in both hard and soft scheduling and would ignore DA and GTD completely if he insisted on an adamant regimen using hard scheduling only. They simply would not know how to sleep at night if all they had was a huge Next list (or set of context based Next lists).
            Last edited by Folke; 12-07-2013, 09:13 AM.


            • #7
              "So often" compared to what?

              I'm not sure I can think of anything that's misunderstood less often than GTD, including things like the rules for Monopoly and the instructions for setting the clock on a VCR.

              If you mean specifically that GTD is more often misunderstood compared to FranklinCovey, for example, I'd like to hear more detail on that.



              • #8
                Originally posted by bcmyers2112
                ... failed to stay on the GTD bandwagon and conclude that GTD must be the issue.
                There's that funny expression again - "the GTD bandwagon"; I am sick and tired of hearing about it, too. There is no such wagon. Do they mean an orderly life?

                Look at it very simply: GTD teaches people, from scratch, everything from how they should clean out their desk drawers to how they should make appointments. It teaches people how to get organized, and it "sells" the merits of being organized. It contains a lot of wisdom, for sure, nicely selected and collected and presented, and some of it a bit controversial, but more than anything else it is an exhaustive beginner's 101 in how to get yourself organized, if you have never been organized before.

                Now, the majority of us who participate on these forums do not need to be sold on the idea of getting ourselves organized. We have been organized for years or decades. And we do not need to be taught a system for getting organized, because we already have one that we are reasonably happy with. Most of us probaly have been organized for very long, and successfully so.

                So why are we here? Probably because we want to learn more tricks, shortcuts, simplifications, approaches etc - ways to get even more done even more easily. And we like to compare notes with others. And help, if we can. And socialize. We have all come to gather around GTD, because we have found that GTD is the closest match we have found to our own views of the best way of getting things done.

                But we are not entirely identical. We are all looking for slightly different things, further simplifications in our lives. GTD does not tell the full story. GTD is just a beginner's course, quite vague once you get past the general outlines. But we all like it a lot, we like the fundamentals, we perhaps even see it as "the Truth", and we prefer that whatever shortcuts or additions we make to it be in line with the fundamentals. And I believe this is where we begin to have troubles understanding each other - when we try to extrapolate the fundamental principles into very concrete and detailed steps of implementation. But there is no failure or disapproval. Everyone likes and respects GTD. And you cannot really "fall off GTD".

                bcmyers2112, what did you say your problem was? You want to hear about success, not failure? Well, I am sure there are many here who can report success with GTD. Context lists, projects list etc is stuff I have used successfully for ages. It sure works, guaranteed. And getting the inbox to zero - absolutely; I actually never even knew there was any other way. And keeping your reference stuff organized so you can find stuff in it - same there; that's necessary, too. And avoiding "making appointments with yourself" - I always have avoided that and I love it that way. And on it goes.

                So, GTD in fact is a perfect system at that level, and it is also an excellent basis for further sophistication and simplification. For example, your own efforts to integrate (link) your reference material with your tasks - go right ahead if you want. It is not exactly prescribed by GTD, but it does not in any way break with the GTD fundamentals. Just do it - I am sure DA would be proud to see you making full use of "his" fundamentals and finding ways to tailor those to suit your individual requirements.

                Could you please elaborate a bit more on what particular problem it is that you are having with GTD? That you want help with?


                • #9
                  Originally posted by bcmyers2112
                  I read a lot about people's struggles with GTD. I struggle with it myself and have written about that at length (and in excruciating detail.) I've also read more than my fair share of articles like this one from LifeHacker that dwell on those who have failed to stay on the GTD bandwagon and conclude that GTD must be the issue, regardless of the existence of those who have done well with GTD and have stayed with it consistently.
                  I think that's just one of those facets of human nature. There's never going to be a front-page newspaper article: "Good News! Millions of people woke up this morning and didn't struggle with heroin addiction!" So, yeah, it's part of the landscape, let's accept it and move on.

                  I would like to hear from people who feel they succeeded with GTD. More to the point, I'd like to hear if they have any insights as to why they have succeeded with it. Those of us who are struggling might be well served to learn about behaviors worth emulating rather than dwelling on the opposite.
                  I think the most-accurate (and probably least-helpful) thing to say about my success is this: my life is really easy.

                  I mean, really, it is. Compared to some of the accounts I see here, and some of the people I know in real life, my life just isn't that hard, and that makes everything easier, especially GTD.

                  What do I mean? Well... let's see. Today at work I've received:

                  - 1 voicemail message
                  - 1 telephone call
                  - 14 emails, of which 9 were automated messages that I knew I could completely ignore. Only 3 required any further action from me at all.

                  I had one meeting which lasted about half an hour. Otherwise the calendar has been empty.

                  A goodly amount of this is pure luck. But it's also fair to say that I've intentionally taken steps to make my life easier.

                  If there is anyone who would care to share their "secrets" I think I'm not alone in being very, very interested to learn from you.
                  I find myself coming back to something offered in the context of, weirdly-enough, playing poker: "The only piece of advice I've ever received that was any good at all was: pay attention." (If anyone happens to know who I can attribute this to, please let me know!)

                  I think it applies here. The value of GTD, in my opinion, corresponds closely with the degree to which someone is paying attention to their own life, and rejecting the unexamined life.



                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Roger View Post
                    A goodly amount of this is pure luck. But it's also fair to say that I've intentionally taken steps to make my life easier.

                    I find myself coming back to something offered in the context of, weirdly-enough, playing poker: "The only piece of advice I've ever received that was any good at all was: pay attention." (If anyone happens to know who I can attribute this to, please let me know!)

                    I think it applies here. The value of GTD, in my opinion, corresponds closely with the degree to which someone is paying attention to their own life, and rejecting the unexamined life.
                    Thanks Roger, good post and it's what I've experienced.

                    In a former job I was so busy and constantly overwhelmed that I wasn't paying attention to my career and didn't notice important changes around me, with the result that I eventually found myself out of work.

                    I didn't let this happen in my next job - I've been careful not to over-commit and it's been a successful 5 years. At the end of this week I will move to a new job that is much closer to home and will be better resourced, and it's because I am taking steps to take my life easier. For me, being over-committed takes away the capacity to think clearly and pay attention to what matters.


                    • #11
                      Yes, very good posts @Roger and @PeterW, and very friendly, too

                      Did you notice that bcmyers is off the grid again and has deleted all his posts? I cannot imagine it was because of anything you guys wrote. I worry that maybe I may have had something to do with it. My last post had a bit of a sting to it, perhaps, but it was not really aimed at bcmyers (and I can only pray that it did not appear to be).

                      I think bcmyers often brings up very interesting topics - really worth discussing. Only seldom does anyone bring up more interesting new topics than he does, IMO. He seems to be trying to get to the bottom of GTD and mold it perfectly into his own life, or perhaps vice versa. He already masters everything in the books, I believe, probably more than most, but he wants to go deeper and take it further (and so do I; that's why I find his posts interesting).

                      I can sometimes react strongly to the "creationist" sentiment in this forum - the sentiment that common sense was created in 2001, and there was no evolution before that, that GTD brought new order to the world: David Allen says you must have a purpose and a vision - halleluja, no one ever thought of that before. David Allen says you must figure out what to do, a next action - halleluja, before the advent of GTD everybody probably just floundered around in a daze. David Allen never said any such thing. He himself called it common sense. And that's what GTD is. A very well-made collection of good old common sense, but sometimes a bit unconventional - and that's the reason I like it. And I would like to take that spirit a bit further.

                      If I had anything to do with bcmyers sudden departure or hibernation, I am truly sorry. My edge, if there was one (I tried to be neutral, but wrote it in a haste), was not directed against him. My sentiment was more directed against whoever is opposed to taking GTD a bit further (clarifying, enhancing) and who tries to preserve its current state to the (sometimes ambiguous) letter.


                      • #12
                        It's not you, Folke. It's me.

                        Folke, it's nothing to do with you. I got frustrated with myself. I ran out of things to say awhile ago but that didn't stop me from saying a whole lotta nothing.

                        It's intellectually dishonest of me to regurgitate what you can just as easily get from reading one of DA's books when I can't put together a sustainable GTD system worth a tinker's damn. Until such time as I know what I'm talking about there's nothing for me to talk about.

                        No one else "made" me feel this way. I'm just trying to be honest with myself.

                        You're off the hook.


                        • #13
                          Vision executed!

                          Originally posted by Folke View Post
                          I can sometimes react strongly to the "creationist" sentiment in this forum - the sentiment that common sense was created in 2001, and there was no evolution before that, that GTD brought new order to the world: David Allen says you must have a purpose and a vision - halleluja, no one ever thought of that before. David Allen says you must figure out what to do, a next action - halleluja, before the advent of GTD everybody probably just floundered around in a daze. David Allen never said any such thing. He himself called it common sense. And that's what GTD is. A very well-made collection of good old common sense, but sometimes a bit unconventional - and that's the reason I like it. And I would like to take that spirit a bit further.
                          I haven't noticed any "creationist" attitude in this forum. But someone had to gather best practices in one place and this person happened to be David Allen. You can live your whole life with a purpose and a vision and achieve nothing because of no real action. You can also do hundreds of actions per day and achieve nothing because of no purpose and no vision. GTD book describes methodology that helps to make room for vision and execute it!


                          • #14
                            Deleting posts...

                            Originally posted by bcmyers2112 View Post
                            I got frustrated with myself.
                            I am frustrated a little when you delete your posts. They are great discussion starters and after deleting them the whole thread looks like an abandoned building with broken windows.


                            • #15
                              My point exactly!

                              Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
                              ... someone had to gather best practices in one place and this person happened to be David Allen.
                              Exactly! And he did a great job! Probably the best collection and selection of common sense that has ever been made in this field! And not only that:

                              Among all the common sense that has been floating around, much of which is totally undisputed, some of it is less common and not equally universally accepted. For bringing these "minority common sense" or "disputed common sense" elements to the forefront and making a stand for them, he actively pushes the general common sense in a more productive direction.

                              The elements that are not universally accepted as common sense by everyone I would say are (primarily):

                              1) Generally avoid stringing things up on a timeline or time based sequence (either calendar or priority sequence). Instead, keep it as open as possible and allow the situation (context, energy etc) to influence your selection of what to do now. Record hard (external/objective) facts and dates and sequences only - do not use such measures for mere planning purposes. This is highly controversial. I love it. Many others do, too. Probably even more people in the world distinctly hate it or at least seriously distrust it - this is definitely not an undisputed part of the world's common sense and goes against what time management advocates have been touting for at least half a century.

                              2) Review your stuff not just as a matter of keeping your records up to date, but as an active and regular/reliable part part of your creative planning process. I love it, and so do many others, but it is not undisputed common sense. It goes against the more common inclination to "simplify" the planning process by stringing things up on a timeline etc once and for all and simply sticking to it (and revise it only as needed).

                              The "creationist" tendency that I sometimes feel uncomfortable with is whenever I think I am reading between the lines that all the common sense that GTD represents was somehow "invented" and laid down to us in 2001 and is the ultimate common sense to which no improvements can be made or even be allowed. My personal view is that GTD is only a milestone in an ongoing and never ending evolution. The common sense contained within GTD not only must be clarified and enhanced, it inevitably will be - by someone, somewhere. And it is then essential that the distinguishing parts of GTD's brand of common sense (1 and 2 above) are particularly well clarified and enhanced. I would have preferred it if the GTD community and Davidco were the key drivers of that evolution.