Call it a lack of curiosity, but it took me a while to figure out that the acronym “GTD” referred to Getting Things Done, inspired in part by efficiency expert David Allen’s bestseller Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (pictured above). Now when I see references to personal GTD systems, I know that folks are talking about the tools and techniques they use to be efficient and productive. Usually they involve some type of notebook/journal (such as that pictured below) or digital app.

And all of this makes me very, very nervous.

You see, I’m not a GTD kinda guy. I think by most measures, I’m pretty productive. I meet most deadlines. I’m almost always at a place when I have to be (classes, meetings, social engagements, whatever), and in fact I typically show up early or right at the start. But when it comes to overall scheduling, I usually make it up on an as-needed basis. The thought of having a multi-layered GTD system sends shudders up my spine!

I understand fully how those juggling kids and jobs, or those with any type of military training, might be shaking their heads at my lack of discipline. But even they, too, must admit that their scheduling is largely imposed on them!

So, can one be both very productive and incredibly undisciplined at the same time? I offer myself as proof that the answer is yes, at least sometimes. I’m going to devote the biggest chunk of this afternoon to working in the library. And even though I have yet to decide what I’ll be working on, I think it will be time well spent.

4 responses

  1. I would cry if my datebook looked like that. I’m guessing that some people would find that detailed structure useful or motivating, but for me….if something ran over time (as projects often do) that would throw off the whole rest of the day. I put appointments in my calendar, but just the time and the day, and occasionally I write a to-do list if I need to remember all the projects that are waiting to be done. But that’s it.

  2. David, thanks for validating what I’ve felt for years. Many of my colleagues are GTD people. I could never live that way nor would I want to, but I would say, as you do, that I still get lots of things done despite any over-organized planning and goal system.

  3. Fiona and Andy, I should’ve added that know people who manage to thrive in these systems and are quite happy with them. But different strokes for different folks! It’s just not me! 🙂

  4. Prof. Yamada
    Your post has gladdened my heart!!!
    I don’t understand GTD. I admire persons who do GTD but am totally stressed if I imitate them.
    But I do get things done timeously, attend all my meetings, pay my bills on time and so on. But no I am not a GTD person!!!!


    Ms Pritima Osman
    Snr. Legal Officer
    Child Justice, Children’s Courts
    and Departmental Drug Master Plan
    Dept. of Justice and Constitutional Development
    National Office

    Landline: 012 357 8205
    Fax : 0866402076

    “May you use those gifts you have received.” Saint Theresa

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