Project Space is the REASON for GTD (not an exception to it)

Lifehack.org has an interesting article on what they call “Project Space” which they say is the frame of mind required to tackle the meat of the work of any substantial creative project – writing a white paper, for example. The author contends that “Project Space” is where GTD leaves off and creative thinking begins.

I beg to differ.

Although I do think that the advice in the article is actually excellent as are the tips provided for maximizing your performance over a given period of time that you’ve allotted for your creative effort, it seems to me that that author has somehow understood the nuts and bolts of GTD yet missed the sublime but ultimate benefit. Which is, of course, the fact that your mind is un-cluttered by extraneous thoughts, worries about what you might have forgotten or the nagging feeling that something big got left behind.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that being able to get into your “Project Space” is one of the principal reasons why anyone would employ GTD in the first place. GTD is not about managing time and although it results in increases in productivity because it makes you more organized and efficient it isn’t even truly about productivity. GTD is about freeing your mind from all of the things that can be kept in a trusted system so that your thinking is unfettered by the noise, allowing for a singleness of purpose that enables the “flow” state that the author of the Lifehacks piece refers to.

Flow is the essence of GTD (why do you think David refers to “Mind Like Water”?) once one has achieved a certain degree of freedom from the need to carry everything inside their head. Flow is the “white shining moment” that athletes talk about, where authors find that books write themselves and engineers find that code seems to explode onto the screen correctly formed and bug free.

Far from being the end of GTD getting you into the mindset where flow can be achieved at will is the ultimate “Project Space” and the biggest reward of all for your GTD Efforts.



3 Responses to “Project Space is the REASON for GTD (not an exception to it)”

  1. I agree with the writer of the original article that the moment of flow is the end of GTD, but I would simply argue for an older more true meaning of the word “end.” An “end” in the classic sense is a “that for the sake of which” something exists or in Greek a “telos.” The enemy of the mythic and much sought after “flow” is the “might/would/could/should/oughta” floating in the background while you try to be blissful and at one with your doing. You will never be able to achieve that blissful moment of “flow” if you have psychic ram crammed to capacity. To do in that way in which the doing becomes or approaches being, in which the edges of climber, rock, and the art of climbing begin to blur a little, as it were, you better have an empty head. Heck, beyond making it possible to do “flow,” David would defend GTD’s existence for the sake of being clear when doing nothing- with abandon!

  2. Dustin says:

    To be honest, I totally agree with you, with one big “but” — but Allen seems to have gone out of his way to hide the part about actually *doing* stuff. Yes, there’s a lot of talk about “mind like water” and I think if you listen to him talk about “next actions”, he hints at the idea that a ext action is just a trigger — that you do the next action from your list, and then the next and the next and the next without needing any sort of plan.

    Like I said, though, that’s only hinted at; the number one complaint about GTD (maybe #2, after “I can’t seem to get to the weekly review”) is that aside from those 2-minute “do it now” tasks, there doesn’t seem to be any guidance on doing things. My goal was simply to try to fill that space in, at least a little.

    All that said, I’m comfortable with being off-base here. Like a lot of people — like Allen himself, it seems sometimes — I’m just trying to work all this GTD stuff out. If I missed a bit, that’s fine; I appreciate your taking the time to point it out.

    –Dustin

  3. Destry says:

    At last some rtaoinliaty in our little debate.

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