Is GTD too structured for creative people?

Date: Friday, October 09, 2009 by GTD Times Staff

Is GTD too structured for creative people? Will it work if you don’t like rigid schedules and plans?  Could an artist possibly “do” GTD.

JulieCoach Julie Ireland weighs in:

I tend to rebel against too much structure/planning. At the same time I do need a certain amount of structure, otherwise my creative energy gets drained from the uncertainty of not being clear about what my commitments are. The beauty of GTD lies in putting enough time and energy into what we call “defining our work and responsibilities”, so that when we have discretionary time we can choose very consciously and purposely to work off of our pre-defined lists, or in my case go and play in my art studio. There is real power in making that choice as the most appropriate thing for me to do, vs. attempting to work in my studio because I’m either avoiding my responsibilities or simply haven’t defined them clearly enough.

6 Responses to “Is GTD too structured for creative people?”

  1. Paul Gardner says:

    As I say in my post (when this arose some time ago on Zen Habits) here

    My 2 cents worth is that creative people who think GTD isn’t for them are confusing the methodology of GTD with the various possible implementation and/or tools for implementation. Work out an implementation that suits you and you’ll find your creativity actually increases… a lot!

  2. Todd V says:

    Excellent post! If you are really consistent with capturing *everything* and processing and reviewing these things as needed, it provides much more creative energy and focus for creative work. You cannot be truly creative if there is this gnawing sense that there is something important located in your inbox or you don’t really know every commitment you’ve agreed to. So, properly executed, GTD can make creative people even more creative.

  3. I am adopting the GTD-approach for about 6 months now. I am also a musician. When I do my creative, totally improvised solos, I know I can just fly because of the solid rhythm section that backs me up. The GTD-system is just like that, the solid backbone to live life to the max with a mind like water. Just have it in the background, not center stage.

  4. Nicely put!

    Funny thing is, I don’t see GTD as particularly structured, especially not in comparison to so many other “productivity systems” out there. The artifacts consist of a bunch of lists, really, which can be deliciously low-tech. Many of mine are pieces of paper on a clipboard.

    It’s the way of thinking about those lists–and my work–that makes GTD so powerful, and none of that is insanely structured. What structure that GTD does have (such as the workflow) is amazingly common-sense.

  5. Agree! GTD helps me get the things done that need to be done. Remember: lots of the work we do isn’t creative, even if you’re an artist. But GTD helps me get those things done to free up my mind so I can work on interesting and creative stuff.

  6. Willem Don says:

    I completely agree with the above.
    Just because you can’t force new creative ideas to appear, some (creative) people think you shouldn’t define, or plan, or interfere in any way with the chaos in your head. They fear losing what they think is the source of their inspiration.

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