Why GTD Does Not Seem to Work for Me

Over 13 years ago when I began GTD, I thought it was not woking for me. As a corporate real estate investment manager it was missing for me a kind of spontaneity. It found the system complicated. There were too many list. At the very first time I did not understand the system. Nor control, nor horizons nor the reference system. Sincerely GTD was incredibly difficult to get for me.

But I stick to it. Don't ask me why ! I finally, met people who guided me and gave my some advices, answering to my questions. Some had a real influence on my perception and acceptation of GTD (like Romain BISSERET GTD FRANCE, one of my good friends and a great professionnal). They helped me a lot.

Little by little all changed. I understood that my next actions list were not a "ought to do stuff" but "proposal opportunities". I had to make choice. Decide. Project were "results to obtain". Horizons the map to guide "my path in life". So Gtd helps me for doing things better and control my complex life.

I tooks me over 10 years for me to indeed understand this, apply GTD seriously and sometime I confess that I still struggle on some points.

Anyway, the question of doing things when all is structured is sometime touchy. I won't answer because David explained that so many time. See his interview with Davie Edwards on Toutube about engagement, intention and about trusting your heart, gut etc...

At the end of my core learning and many notes, I suddently realised that GTD changed my life. Everything professionnaly, changed. Some incredible things happened and finally thanks to it and a hard work too, things are getting better and better. For example, after years of struggle I finally realised my core dream funding my own company and I am sure that GTD is (big) part of my success.

I understand now that I am 59, that I can't control things or life wich is unpredicable events or even people, but I dont care ! I just do things "the best I can" and see what happens.. For doing stuff I try to lesson to my heart and take space to think and act.

GTD is great because it is just a framework of good habbit to do. It won't make the coffee for you. It wont work for you if you don't stick firmly to the method and observe David's rules but it will be better if you apply only some than without any system. If you go out, GTD just gives you the best tool for controling stuff and guiding you on the path of life and it helps to evoluate. In fact what made david is just incredible and so amazing. he changed life of millions of people (like mine ;)) just giving to each people a good system and most of all, what we all can't buy in life: Time. The ultimate ressource...

Of course everything in life stay impredictable but this is the core system of life and when I feel in trouble I just focus on GTD and things often are getting better and better.

So at last (with H Mac Cormack which taught me the art of selling and negociation), David Allen rules gave me a system and tools great for my daily life witch helps me just to fully live and take opportunities.

Thank you David for all what you done, if anyway you read this, anyway

Love this: “GTD … is just a framework. It won’t make the coffee for you”. Thanks @FocusGuy

Jared Caron

Nursing leader; GTD enthusiast
I think I figured out why GTD has not worked for me. I am curious if you can relate, and also if you have found a way for it to help you even with this dynamic.

When I make spontaneous choices each day based on my memory and my "gut", I feel like I am living from my heart.

When I make choices based on lists, I feel like I am following a procedure and it feels kind of cold and lifeless.

I believe David Allen has written that the making and reviewing of lists can actually prepare you to make spontaneous choices from your memory and "gut", but it hasn't worked out like that for me.

I struggled with this early on also. I learned over time that the key issue was accuracy in the clarifying step. I was putting a lot of things on lists that were better suited to calendar, tickler, or someday maybe.

The mental habit of clarifying takes time and practice to develop, and most importantly it requires slowing down to truly clarify what your inputs mean. I now recognize this same feeling as a symptom of moving too fast. The remedy is to make sure I have enough time to clarify inputs day to day, and to slow down and avoid rushing the process.

Dave Edwards

Lists guide my life. Without them I would be lost.

But that’s not really my point of this post.

GTD has taught me much, but I don’t view it as dogma. I’ve modified some of the techniques so that they work better for me. Nothing major, but the GTD system works for me…I don’t work for the system.