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The GTD Type

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  • The GTD Type

    I dont mean to sound negative here.

    I've been tinkering with GTD for well over a year now and I'm beginning to wonder if I'm really the GTD type. I am very right-brained. Thus, I love the concepts and principles of GTD and think they are very sound. My problem is that I just cant seem to do it. The list keeping and constant processing, organizing, etc. is like slow death to me.

    I think one has to be quite left brained and more of an "A type" personality to pull off GTD, but (as always) I could be wrong.

    What about it?

  • #2
    For me, GTD helps my left brain believe that everything is under control, so it can relax and let my right brain do the disorganized right brain puttering that actually gets work done. So yes, I think GTD can definitely work for right brained people.

    However, some GTD *implementations* are more left (or right) brained than others. Some people use systems that seem to require almost constant maintenance, with lots of rewriting (or copying and pasting) of lists, detailed project codes, precise assignment of priorities, etc. That kind of system is what I was fleeing from when I looked at GTD. Just doesn't work for me.

    Other systems are much more casual. Put your Next Actions on index cards, for example. Paperclip cards for a given context together. When you've done the action, throw the card away. In my system, I throw everything into MindManager (which is a right-brained tool to begin with), then use ResultManager to generate context lists, project lists, and all the rest.

    So you might take a look at your implementation and see if that's the problem rather than GTD itself. You might also take a look at "Organizing from the Inside Out," and "Time Management from the Inside Out," both by Julie Morgenstern. She has lots of good tips to help build a system that matches the way you think.



    • #3
      The GTD Type

      Originally posted by dal1mdm
      I dont mean to sound negative here.

      ...I think one has to be quite left brained and more of an "A type" personality to pull off GTD, but (as always) I could be wrong.

      What about it?
      I was actually just thinking this myself a few weeks ago. While I too love the idea of GTD, I also wonder if it's more suited to certain Meyers-Briggs types than others. I can see ISTJ's thinking they've died and gone to heaven - as an ENFP I continue to struggle with the idea of organizing everything, and sometimes feel like I'm losing my intuitive "edge." That said, I'm not ready to give up on GTD yet - if ever. Two years into it I'm light-years beyond where I was before - I just need to figure out how to keep my creative/intuitive side happy too.



      • #4
        I do professional organizing and am a technical editor. I like to work with "chronically disorganized" people and help them create/maintain systems after we've done the work of finding a clean surface! And I also edit scientific data, occasionally checking lab results for accuracy of significant figures. Which means that I can cater to either side of the brain. (On each test of "hemisphere" preference I've taken, I come out very close to even--whatever THAT means.)

        I feel that GTD can be done in a right-brain-friendly manner, akin to some of the work Judith Kolberg discusses in "Surviving Chronic Disorganization" and "ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life."


        Although David Allen recommends the manila-vanilla folders, many right-brain and/or ADD people prefer and/or NEED color. Examples:

        Green folders for money and financials
        Red folders for legal, emergency, or medical IMPORTANT papers
        Yellow for things that make them happy: kids, pets, hobbies, etc.
        And so forth. (BTW, I can't say how absolutely FRUSTRATED I am that this new bulletin board language doesn't seem to want me to use color in this particular post!) edited to add: found out how, but it took some doing...Grr.

        It might also be helpful to use open-topped file crates, rather than closed file drawers, to make the filing more accessible.


        Why not use different colors of Post-Its for different @ tasks? @phone, @errands, @computer, @spouse, etc. could each be a dedicated color. Or not; whatever helps you out. Stick them into a 3-ring binder (the UCT) w/a separate page for each @.

        When the task is completed, crumple or tear the Post-It to give yourself a physical sense of completion and finality.

        These are just off the top of my head, but I hope to help you get a feeling for GTD and right-brain organization as being Both/And rather than Either/Or.

        Does this help?

        Last edited by CKH; 03-24-2005, 12:39 PM. Reason: to add color and change fonts


        • #5
          [Psychology] Orientations

          Originally posted by dal1mdm
          I think one has to be quite left brained and more of an "A type" personality to pull off GTD, but (as always) I could be wrong.
          Please read my post at



          • #6
            "State" stuff


            I read the link you posted. I dont get it.


            • #7
              Originally posted by ADD GTDer
              - as an ENFP I continue to struggle
              I am an ENFP too. It seems I remember a forum where folks discuss their Myers Briggs profiles. Anyone familiar with that?



              • #8
                Customize, customize, customize

                I think that it is important to remember that GTD is just a tool. You can use that tool in any way that works best for your lifestyle. You can make your system as complicated or as simple as you want it to be. Personally, I very rarely use anything straight out of the box. I always tweak things and use the concepts and techniques that make sense to me. I've read pretty much every time management/personal organization book that's come down the pike. I've found good ideas in all of them, but I've never implemented any author's system exactly as they describe it (including GTD). So, if you don't want to make lots of lists or spend lots of time manipulating them - don't. Use your creative right-brain to find another way to implement the spirit of GTD. Or, perhaps the real issue is that on some level, you are perfectly ok with the way that you currently get things done - at least for right now. I have several unfinished projects, notes for articles that I haven't written yet, and haven't updated my website for far too long. That's fine with me. I know myself enough by now to know that deadlines don't work for me and that I will eventually get everything done that I want to get done, whether or not they are written on any list. If that's the case for you, give yourself permission to be that way and let it go. If you only implement one GTD idea into your current way of doing things, that's fine.

                One more thing I want to add: sometimes people's systems sound more complicated and left-brain than they really are. If I were to describe to you exactly how I use my planner, you would probably think that I lean strongly toward left-brain thinking. However, if you were to actually see my planner, it would become evident that my right-brain is in control. For what it's worth, I am only slightly more right- than left-brain, and I am an INTP.


                • #9
                  State-orientation vs action-orientation.

                  I think it is just brilliant to stry to use a theory such as this to see possible ways in which someone with one leaning or the other might be affected as he or she implements GTD. GTD steps will bring up lots of negative feelings for all kinds of reasons. I donm't think the book really talks about that but you can certainly see that in the post. These dysphoric affects and ideas could be stimulated by the reminders of our unfinished efforts, blurry goals, lack of money for supplies, reminders of past failures, uncertain futures, exisitential issues, etc. So it takes a certain amount of forebearance to keep with it. No one would start GTD if all of well. It may some phases of GTD are easier for a person with one tendancy or the other to implent because they are an extension of an automatic practice. For the state-oriented, aspects of one's inner life (worries, self-doubt or even optimistic thoughts) may begin to crest, but he might be used to this and skilled at integrating them into the larger picture. Or if not handling them well could capture them and put them into current projects or something to think about in the future (SDMB). But, the same state-oriented person may need a little help generating specifc actions ("I don't know what to do first" "I can't do x untial I do Y"). In contrast, the action-oriented may more readily see ways to act and move forward but may need to really struggle with the larger analysis (make an action choice without looking at the bigger picture). He might not easily the relationship between actions cjosen and the higher levels of purpose, or draw upon resources (e.g. philosophy, religion, role models) to refine the thinking. I think that the theory gives you a "place" to look for the sticking point. When any of us gets stuck, we need to do an assessment of what we are doing or not doing and it helps to know where to look. If there is a conflict with some individual tendancy , we can look for ways to minimize that or build on it positively.