What’s Right with GTD: An Answer

Dustin Wax had an article quite some time ago titled The Trouble with GTD. He discusses a lot of points, and I think that they deserve an answer.  I firmly believe in GTD – that is, the techniques expounded in the book Getting Things Done by David Allen – and would like to answer some of his points.  I don’t think that most of them are fair.

For point one, Dustin says: …[GTD] feels like business, and for people whose business is not business – creative professionals, for example – it feels “external” to our real work (and identity).

This is just another example of an old complaint against being organized, which goes something like this: I’m a creative type, and organization stifles creativity.  This is simply untrue.  In fact, a new acolyte is often told (and rightfully so): you must write (or paint – or sculpt) some every day, without fail.  If you schedule your time at the easel or at the writing pad – is this not being organized?

Organization (such as GTD) frees your mind from the daily worries to be more creative, not less.

The second point that Dustin makes is that a solo worker or entrepeneur is somehow different and thus GTD can’t work for them.  One of the chief recommendations given to those who work at home or are self-employed is to separate the home office or work from the home and family.  Without this separation – and the concept of “the office” being separate from the home – productivity goes way down.  GTD helps in either case – it keeps you from forgetting what needs to be done.

The third point is a valid point: GTD does not handle the overall plan, the  life goals – in GTD parlance, the arial view from 50,000 feet.  However, GTD never claims to handle this level, and even suggests that other techniques work for that planning.

Dustin also suggests that the question David Allen poses (“Is this the most important thing I could be doing right now?”) is some how wrong.  However, this question goes much further: it was perhaps first posed (as “What is the best use of my time right now?”) by Alan Lakein in his seminal 1973 work, “How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life.”

I believe in GTD and think that those who keep at it will find that it helps them, no matter how devoted you might be.  The more you implement GTD, the better you will be.

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