Is GTD a flawed?

weklsein

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One of the things that helped me with GTD "implementation" was to realize that items on my @NA lists are simply reminders and nothing more.

Like a previous poster mentiond, GTD doesn't give you any more work than you already had; simply, it just makes you aware of everything that you've already comitted to. If, after doing something like a mindsweep, you feel overwhelmed you should ask yourself if you've overcomitted.

It's funny; what really hit the nail on the head for me was when recently I had a glitch w/my palm where all of the items on my task list got deleted. This did two things:

1). Made me realize, now that I had everything written roadrunner email down and out of my head, how dependent I actually was on the system.
2). Made me realize how much more stressful it was trying to think of and remember all of the the things that I comitted to rather than having it written down somewhere and out of my head.

Realize that no system is going to do your work for you. I found the FC system to be even more frustrating. I'd spend 15-30 minutes each morning "planning" my day, creating my "A, B, C, 1-2-3" list only to go into the office and have my boss completely turn things upside down. Their "just say no" approach to overcomittment isn't really functional in the real world. At the end of the day, I'd have to spend another 15-30 minutes feeling guilty that I didn't get through my list, and "forwarding" every thing that I didn't get to that day. This doesn't happen with GTD. My comittments are there, and if I can get to them I get to them. If I don't I don't; if I don't, they're still there reminding me that I have an open loop out there (I don't have to waste any of my "Psychic RAM" trying to keep tabs on them).

One thing that I will concede with the system that I've had trouble with is installing a sense of urgency to my @NA's. There is nothing, other than my own internal "doorkeeper" to tell me if one item is more important than another. Oftentimes, there will be things that I don't want to do that are important; it's too easy to say "no".
 
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John Ismyname

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items on my @NA lists are simply reminders and nothing more.
I have a @ context called reminder, which shouldn't be a next action. - My GTD platform gave me a reminder this morning to take out the garbage. I made a mental note of this and deleted it.

Like a previous poster mentiond, GTD doesn't give you any more work than you already had; simply, it just makes you aware of everything that you've already comitted to. If, after doing something like a mindsweep, you feel overwhelmed you should ask yourself if you've overcomitted.
I consider this to be the strength of GTD, not the flaw. Its a division of labour - my GTD system shows me all of my commitments. GTD doesn't decide what will happen if I take on another commitment - I decide that.



It's funny; what really hit the nail on the head for me was when recently I had a glitch w/my palm where all of the items on my task list got deleted. This did two things:

1). Made me realize, now that I had everything written roadrunner email down and out of my head, how dependent I actually was on the system.
2). Made me realize how much more stressful it was trying to think of and remember all of the the things that I committed to rather than having it written down somewhere and out of my head.
I feel your pain as in my pen-and-ink 3-ring organizer dayz, I lost my "big binder" - no one claimed the "reward if found". This experience also showed me the sheer quantity of information that I kept in my trusted system instead of "in my head".
I found the FC system to be even more frustrating. I'd spend 15-30 minutes each morning "planning" my day, creating my "A, B, C, 1-2-3" list only to go into the office and have my boss completely turn things upside down.
That is the flaw of the "ABC-123-do-ra-me" system. It worked great for years (decades for me) and then the world got too complicated. GTD addresses the complex nature of modern life better than FC.
Their "just say no" approach to over-commitment isn't really functional in the real world.
GTD's take on this is don't say "no", it's say "defer". I have had to say to my boss or client or spouse or whomever "If I stop doing task A to do task B, there's a switching cost and task A is not going to be done for a while." No one likes to hear this but it is the truth. It's easy to over-commit!, its hard to "say no and smile" :)
One thing that I will concede with the system that I've had trouble with is installing a sense of urgency to my @NA's.
Two things will happen sooner or later;
1. such NAs might develop more urgency and/or more importance and they get "promoted" in the system to a slot on the "sacred calendar" or
2. the NAs might become obsolete/irrelevant and get deleted or someone else does them. This is the beauty of the system - it takes into account the changing and limited shelf life of what we are going to do.
 
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Wilson Ng

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I feel your pain as in my pen-and-ink 3-ring organizer dayz, I lost my "big binder" - no one claimed the "reward if found". This experience also showed me the sheer quantity of information that I kept in my trusted system instead of "in my head".
I've had this frustration as well. I lose my BuJo and will need to buy a new one. Or I forget it at home and I'm left scrambling trying to remember what I wrote down. I've overcome this with a hybrid approaching.

I keep my task manager (OmniFocus) as my storage bin to hold all of my tasks and projects. But then I'll choose 3-5 tasks and one Big Rock project and write those down in my BuJo. Then I work from my BuJo. The BuJo acts as my daily driver. The task manager app acts as my storage container. It's easier for me to work from my to-do list in my BuJo. My task manager has way too much stuff to choose from. Work from your to-do list, not from your task manager.
 

Wilson Ng

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I've done that before. I'd rather not. there's something psychological about seeing tasks on paper. if I see my Today perspective showing all "Today" tagged tasks, I tend to ignore it and will just hide the app.

If 3-5 tasks is not always visible, it's out of sight. I like the physical aspect.I've used the all-digital approach before but paper nudges me more often. If I really need it screaming, I put it on a 4x6 index card and tape it to the side of my monitor.

I think of my task manager as my menu. I order 3-5 dishes from the menu. My task manager acts as my plate. I have all the food I want on my plate. I don't overstuff it.

For some folks, the "Today" list will work. But I've become immune to it after using it for so long. I needed a change of scenery. Thus the BuJo works perfectly for now. Who knows? I might go back to all digital when I get tired.
 

John Ismyname

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there's something psychological about seeing tasks on paper.
You are correct. I wish I knew the psychology behind it. Back in pre-digital pen-and-paper era, my task management to-do list was to put a pen-stroke through tasks as I crossed them out. There is something strangely gratifying about stroking out even the most mundane task. I would suspect the brain release a drop of endorphin when this happens!

There was a pain side to this as for every task I put on my daily list was something I committed to in writing. At the end of the day, as I had to transfer my incomplete tasks forward. This forced to acknowledge that I over-committed. In the digital era, such tasks roll over automatically to the next day automatically. This automation blunts the pain of my over-commitment.
 
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Cpu_Modern

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There is something strangely gratifying about stroking out even the must mundane task
Such a stroke done with a pen has a much higher information density than any digital "checked off as done" symbol. The gesture of striking through also gives you th opportunity to express your emotion "ha, done!" with a body movement. A mouse click or a tab is just that and could be anything, I mean any interaction with the software is the same: just a click; again a lot of information is not included there,
 

Scott Allen

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Can't you apply a "today" tag/label/date to three or five tasks in your task manager and use your "Today" list?
I had a big ah-hah moment when I realized that in the digital world, lists aren't really a "thing". They're simply a view of things with a common attribute. This makes it frictionless to create mini-lists (like "Today") on-the-fly, without having to commit to "creating a new list" to incorporate into your GTD system.
 
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Scott Allen

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Such a stroke done with a pen has a much higher information density than any digital "checked off as done" symbol. The gesture of striking through also gives you th opportunity to express your emotion "ha, done!" with a body movement. A mouse click or a tab is just that and could be anything, I mean any interaction with the software is the same: just a click; again a lot of information is not included there,
I think this is highly individual, perhaps based on cognitive preferences. It also has to be weighed against the dissatisfaction of the wasted effort of double-entry. I tried the daily list on paper, and every single time I transcribed something from digital to paper, I cringed.

I use writing only for capture, and even that, I dislike transcribing from paper to digital. I only do the capture on paper because I find the act of physically writing notes less distracting than typing them. Also, I figure I have to clarify and organize anyway, so I do that as I transfer from paper to digital, and it doesn't feel as inefficient.
 

mcogilvie

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I think this is highly individual, perhaps based on cognitive preferences. It also has to be weighed against the dissatisfaction of the wasted effort of double-entry. I tried the daily list on paper, and every single time I transcribed something from digital to paper, I cringed.

I use writing only for capture, and even that, I dislike transcribing from paper to digital. I only do the capture on paper because I find the act of physically writing notes less distracting than typing them. Also, I figure I have to clarify and organize anyway, so I do that as I transfer from paper to digital, and it doesn't feel as inefficient.
I’m with you on this one. Paper is workable. Digital is better, and getting better all the time.
 

TesTeq

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I’m with you on this one. Paper is workable. Digital is better, and getting better all the time.
Doesn't paper seem more reliable? For example if you have a book on the shelf it seems more real and reliable than an e-book somewhere on the Amazon's servers... A task written in a Bullet Journal seems more real than the task hidden somewhere in the Nozbe, OmniFocus, or Things database... @Scott Allen @Cpu_Modern @John Ismyname @Wilson Ng
 

mcogilvie

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Doesn't paper seem more reliable? For example if you have a book on the shelf it seems more real and reliable than an e-book somewhere on the Amazon's servers... A task written in a Bullet Journal seems more real than the task hidden somewhere in the Nozbe, OmniFocus, or Things database... @Scott Allen @Cpu_Modern @John Ismyname @Wilson Ng
I think the operative word is “seems.” The Internet was designed to be as reliable as possible in the eventuality of nuclear war, and has scaled well. 99.999% uptime is a reality today for modern server farms. I have both wireless and wired connectivity in my home and at work (not relevant now). If I lost internet service, I would only have to pick one device to use as my one source of truth For a while. If I lose electricity for for less than about 10 hours, I’m fine. Compare this to a paper journal. If I leave it at home, I can’t use it until I return to it. If I lose it somewhere, I have to recreate it as best I can. Making changes is painful (for me at least) and refactoring (changing how information is recorded and displayed) is hard.

My own behavior suggests I rely on the Internet more than local storage. I have written around 200 articles for professional journals, conference proceedings, et cetera. When I need to refer to one of my own recent papers, I look it up on the Internet rather than find it on my own computer, which itself is backed up locally and remotely. I don’t bother with paper copies anymore except for editing preliminary versions. I do use both paper and digital books. We have hundreds of books at home, but our rate of acquisition has slowed.

I am not going to deny the reality of anyone’s feelings on this or anything else. If you like or prefer paper, and it works for you, fine. If digital makes you profoundly uneasy, I think you should be concerned about marginalization as the world continues to change. Perhaps the issue of digital versus paper is similar to people saying “I could never live in the city” or “I could never live in the country.” Most of us could do either, or both.
 

TesTeq

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I think the operative word is “seems.” The Internet was designed to be as reliable as possible in the eventuality of nuclear war, and has scaled well. 99.999% uptime is a reality today for modern server farms. I have both wireless and wired connectivity in my home and at work (not relevant now). If I lost internet service, I would only have to pick one device to use as my one source of truth For a while. If I lose electricity for for less than about 10 hours, I’m fine. Compare this to a paper journal. If I leave it at home, I can’t use it until I return to it. If I lose it somewhere, I have to recreate it as best I can. Making changes is painful (for me at least) and refactoring (changing how information is recorded and displayed) is hard.

My own behavior suggests I rely on the Internet more than local storage. I have written around 200 articles for professional journals, conference proceedings, et cetera. When I need to refer to one of my own recent papers, I look it up on the Internet rather than find it on my own computer, which itself is backed up locally and remotely. I don’t bother with paper copies anymore except for editing preliminary versions. I do use both paper and digital books. We have hundreds of books at home, but our rate of acquisition has slowed.

I am not going to deny the reality of anyone’s feelings on this or anything else. If you like or prefer paper, and it works for you, fine. If digital makes you profoundly uneasy, I think you should be concerned about marginalization as the world continues to change. Perhaps the issue of digital versus paper is similar to people saying “I could never live in the city” or “I could never live in the country.” Most of us could do either, or both.
Yes, you're right. I wonder if you've never lost any digital file (or any part of the file) irrevocably. If so I'm impressed. It is of course easy to lose a paper notebook too, no question about it.
And to be specific about reliability: in Things I am still not the master of finding my actions on their default lists (Upcoming, Anytime, Someday). It SEEMS that sometimes Things maliciously hides from me some Projects or Actions. :oops:
 

Oogiem

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I’m with you on this one. Paper is workable. Digital is better,
I'd agree with one additional comment. Paper is only workable for a very short time and results in huge frustrations and wasted effort, at least for me.

The rush of satisfaction from crossing something out on paper is even more satisfying on digital, at least for me. Paper lists get messy and hard to read and the things left to do are hidden among the henscratches. Digital lists are clean and can be reorganized easily, something I find myself doing fairly regularly.

Doesn't paper seem more reliable? For example if you have a book on the shelf it seems more real and reliable than an e-book somewhere on the Amazon's servers... A task written in a Bullet Journal seems more real than the task hidden somewhere in the Nozbe, OmniFocus, or Things database.
Not at all! at least to me they are no more reliable than properly backed up electronic systems. It's far harder, more expensive and time consuming to back up paper. Sure I have a full set of books of everything Charles Dickens and Robert A Heinlein ever wrote. But if my house burns down they are gone forever. My digital versions are backed up in many places including some many miles away so even a regional disaster won't destroy them.
Compare this to a paper journal. If I leave it at home, I can’t use it until I return to it. If I lose it somewhere, I have to recreate it as best I can. Making changes is painful (for me at least) and refactoring (changing how information is recorded and displayed) is hard.
Ease in refactoring is a huge benefit for digital systems. One that those of us who tend to do that can't live without.
If digital makes you profoundly uneasy, I think you should be concerned about marginalization as the world continues to change.
This is an interesting point. It will be interesting to see the changes in society and work after COVID-19 when so many more people have been forced to work in a digital and virtual realm for so long. I think the societal changes will be huge and very disrupting and not even contemplated at this point.
I wonder if you've never lost any digital file (or any part of the file) irrevocably. If so I'm impressed. It is of course easy to lose a paper notebook too, no question about it.
This one made me think. The only digital files I have lost irrevocably are the ones that were in an outdated format or on no longer working media that I forgot to upgrade when I went through a major system change. When our last Bernoulli drive died and was not repairable I did lose a few things on some cartridges in part because I was not done with the conversion when it finally died. Ditto for some 8 inch floppies, some 5 inch floppies and some 3.5 inch floppies. Byt the time I got to WORM and Iomega drives and hard drives with SCSI interfaces I got smarter and made SURE that I had opened every single file and upgraded it if still needed before decommissioning the old system. Similarly I did lose a few of my mother's old MacWrite documents but I still have the data, I just haven't yet found an easy way to read and convert them to newer formats. Some old PDFs are at risk now and I'm working to update those.

There is no easy way to regularly backup a paper system.
 

mcogilvie

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Yes, you're right. I wonder if you've never lost any digital file (or any part of the file) irrevocably. If so I'm impressed. It is of course easy to lose a paper notebook too, no question about it.
And to be specific about reliability: in Things I am still not the master of finding my actions on their default lists (Upcoming, Anytime, Someday). It SEEMS that sometimes Things maliciously hides from me some Projects or Actions. :oops:
To be honest, I haven’t lost much. I don’t think I’ve irrevocably lost anything since I stopped using Microsoft Windows and switched to Macs for personal use some time ago. I understand Windows is much more stable now :rolleyes:, but Mac OS X was built on top of BSD Unix, which is very stable. Of course, it’s much easier today to make multiple distributed backups- if you do it. My graduate students think I’m ridiculously careful about preserving old copies of manuscripts, programs, et cetera. Sometimes they have problems. Recently one student whose thesis committee I was on lost the current version of his PhD thesis, but was able to recover most of it with some help.

Every so often I find Things will stop updating the screen. Killing the program and restarting it has always fixed the problem. I’ve been using Cultured Code’s beta versions for a long time now, so I guess I do get the thrill of life on the edge. :)
 

Gardener

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Yes, you're right. I wonder if you've never lost any digital file (or any part of the file) irrevocably. If so I'm impressed. It is of course easy to lose a paper notebook too, no question about it.
And to be specific about reliability: in Things I am still not the master of finding my actions on their default lists (Upcoming, Anytime, Someday). It SEEMS that sometimes Things maliciously hides from me some Projects or Actions. :oops:
Paper is my ultimate backup. Yes, I could and should strictly manage my digital files, move them from disk to disk, open them in the latest software, etc. But for long-term storage--sufficiently long-term that the software version might change and i might not be able to open files--I'm infinitely more reliable about keeping paper copies.
 

mcogilvie

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Paper is my ultimate backup. Yes, I could and should strictly manage my digital files, move them from disk to disk, open them in the latest software, etc. But for long-term storage--sufficiently long-term that the software version might change and i might not be able to open files--I'm infinitely more reliable about keeping paper copies.
I've still got the file from my college electronics course. If I had continued like that, I would need the public library for storage. We already have books in every room of the house except the dining room, including the basement. With digital, I can keep a lot of stuff I never look at guilt free. The pre-Mac files are pretty much toast, but the Mac stuff is doing fine.
 

TesTeq

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With digital, I can keep a lot of stuff I never look at guilt free. The pre-Mac files are pretty much toast, but the Mac stuff is doing fine.
It's not about guilt or emotions. It's about a lot of work. You have to keep your data readable across different technologies and software versions as @Oogiem does. Or you have to waste a lot of time after 30 years to make it readable if your were not so clever. Paper is always readable since the technology and paper version does not change.
For example I'm trying to use my old music files in Logic Pro X. These files successfully survived 30 years on CD-ROMs and magnetic media. They are in the AdLib's ROL format popular in late 1980s and early 1990s. In the shady corners of the internet you can find the ROL to MIDI converter (with a disclaimer that it's not guaranteed to be virus free). This converter requires PC with MS-DOS. I shouldn't have got rid of all of them...
There's no such problem with all the music that I manually wrote on music paper 30 years ago. I just open one of the notebooks and play... @Gardener
 

mcogilvie

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It's not about guilt or emotions. It's about a lot of work. You have to keep your data readable across different technologies and software versions as @Oogiem does. Or you have to waste a lot of time after 30 years to make it readable if your were not so clever. Paper is always readable since the technology and paper version does not change.
For example I'm trying to use my old music files in Logic Pro X. These files successfully survived 30 years on CD-ROMs and magnetic media. They are in the AdLib's ROL format popular in late 1980s and early 1990s. In the shady corners of the internet you can find the ROL to MIDI converter (with a disclaimer that it's not guaranteed to be virus free). This converter requires PC with MS-DOS. I shouldn't have got rid of all of them...
There's no such problem with all the music that I manually wrote on music paper 30 years ago. I just open one of the notebooks and play... @Gardener
Now we’re getting deep into the issues of what we archive and how. Having chaired my university’s library committee, I know that the issues are not simple, and often driven at an institutional level by considerations I would broadly characterize as short-sighted, random and crazy. The Great Library of Alexandria is gone, and we’re still here.

Professionally, I can get by with ubiquitous file formats: pdf, jpeg and png, and text. TeX is widely used in my field to typeset manuscripts, and is text. Experimental data is a minefield. There are often poorly documented proprietary formats, and there are government mandates for both universal access and privacy to navigate.

Personally, the Idea that I will faithfully upgrade sequentially, version by version to Word 2052, opening and re-saving doc, docx and docx^n files is not happening. Markdown seems useful- we’ll see. Books and music are difficult, because they do involve deep and complex emotions. Anyone who has had to clean up after the death of a loved one knows the emotions associated with some but not all physical stuff. I have about three bookshelves of (paper) guitar music, not EZ chord pop, but complete arrangements across many genres. Because no one else in my family plays guitar at all seriously, the music is there for my own pleasure and that about it. I’m not sure there’s a comprehensive answer, and the technological ground is shifting fast.
 
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