The GTD thing generated far more commentary than it ever did in 5+ years of this blog when I randomly shared workplace performance optimizing tips. Allow me to offer some more insight:
1. You’re most likely going to fail at it. Listen, I don’t make excuses for why I’m fat. I’m fat because I eat crappy food. And while I’ve really turned my life around since I turned 30 and started eating much healthier, I still haven’t met a hot dog I didn’t like. Getting organized – or tidy – is the same. If you’re fighting who you are, that’s all you’ve got – the you and the fight. It works for me because, beyond anything else, I’m a stubborn bastard.
2. Getting things done only works for optimists. It’s not magic. You just throw stuff down on the empty paper, put checkboxes next to it and knock it out. Like any progress – it’s forward looking and optimistic. You will get this done if you follow these steps! Except.. well.. you won’t. Here is a secret. GTD is all about giving you the means to cross the gap from here to there. If you don’t care what’s on the other side then it’s just a futile attempt in justifying why things don’t get done.
3. It’s about the process, not about the result. People always ask me how I can run marathons. Most people, that are in a far better shape than I am, claim they could never do it. Everyone focuses on the 26.2 miles of running, few focus on every step of that journey. Or the process of hydration, or the process of pacing, or the process of managing the route, etc. There is more to it than end game – it’s like deciding to go to college and seek a degree by picking out your outfit for the graduation on your first day there.
4. It’s about the constant challenge. The passion behind GTD isn’t the euphoria you get by getting stuff done. It’s about being able to realize how much more efficient you become as you move yourself forward through the process. Each to-do on my weekly breakdown generates more ideas, more research points, more complications and things to consider. The mere fact that it’s written down means it’s going to be on my mind.
5. What’s on your mind? This is where it all comes together and starts making sense. Most of us have goals. Be promoted. Get a raise. Launch a new product. Buy a Ferrari in every color of the rainbow. Retire at 30. Everyone’s got something. Well, there are steps to be taken from here to there. And if you can use a method that will help keep you focused, more power to you.
Truthfully. Everything is about discipline and we seem to be conditioned to have less and less of it. Some people are naturally disciplined and organized. I’m not one of them. But I know people on both ends. I tend to delegate things kind of like a hobo spends his money on booze. I randomly say stuff that’s on my mind. And I have a person that works for me that somehow documents that, writes it down and then a few days or weeks later without question – just produces results. On the opposite spectrum, I have people who I’ve told stuff over and over to no avail. They get the message, minimize personal stuff and cell phone calls at work. For a week. Then every time I see their computer they are on their personal Facebook and typing away on their cell every time I pass their office. Bottom line: GTD is for the disciplined. It doesn’t do miracles, it doesn’t alter your personality and it will not make you disciplined. All it does is minimize the hills you have to climb and things you have to remember. Thereby making you more efficient.
Everything else is cake, right?