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Critique of GTD

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  • Critique of GTD

    I'm a GTD fan and follow the Study Hacks blog written by Cal Newport. He describes GTD as appropriate only for "shallow work" because it focuses on "cranking widgets"—simple tasks, not deep thinking. Please see:

    http://calnewport.com/blog/2012/12/2...s-universalism

    What do you think?

  • #2
    Misused GTD is a problem. Cal's problem.

    Cal wrote: "The problem, however, is that this is not the way remarkable things are actually accomplished."

    If someone does not accomplish anything remarkable it does not mean that the method he uses is not appropriate. It may mean that the method is misused.

    I hope Cal is not trying to build his career on questioning everything.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by DougToft View Post
      He describes GTD as appropriate only for "shallow work" because it focuses on "cranking widgets"—simple tasks, not deep thinking....What do you think?
      That he never really groked what GTD is all about. GTD is better suited to handling the deep tasks than it at first appears. Part of that is that initially when you start doing GTD methods all you see are the trees, the small tasks, the tiny things. It's not until those get handled, cleared away by being finished or at least corralled into a place you can deal with them when you need to, that you can start to see the forest and only after that is understood can you see the planet or universe.

      I routinely deal with huge long term projects in my GTD system. Some have taken 5 or 6 years to completion, some are parts of projects that will take decades or my lifetime and maybe never be complete in that there is always more to learn or do in that area. GTD keeps me on track with them as well as it does with the more mundane and obvious tasks.

      The essay reads like someone who tried GTD for about a year or so maybe less and figured that was as far as it went. GTD really is more like a martial art than a productivity system. You really do learn more and more every day and the layers go on forever.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by DougToft View Post
        I'm a GTD fan and follow the Study Hacks blog written by Cal Newport. He describes GTD as appropriate only for "shallow work" because it focuses on "cranking widgets"—simple tasks, not deep thinking. Please see:

        http://calnewport.com/blog/2012/12/2...s-universalism

        What do you think?
        Interesting article, and makes some good points. But I think GTD addresses "deep work" in some of the later books by David Allen. And if you are successfully cranking widgets, that should give you time to also clearly reflect on anything deeper you want to work on.

        I'm not a GTD expert, but in my experience over the last couple of years working with it, there is no objection to GTD that has not been addressed already by David Allen in his writings.

        Every time I've read about alternate systems, or articles explaining why GTD doesn't work, it seems to me that author either (1) has not fully considered or read up on GTD or (2) has not tried to fully implement it. If you've read your GTD books and articles, in some cases it's obvious that a person has no real understanding of GTD or possibly hasn't even read the original book.

        Of course, whether a person likes to use GTD, or whether it really is the right fit for someone, is entirely a personal decision. And there are completely valid alternate productivity systems (like Superfocus) that work beautifully for some people (for example, a young, single adult with an entry-level job and renting an apartment, and a married CEO who travels a lot and is building a vacation home, likely have vastly different requirements for a productivity system and tools, although they could both use GTD). But not fully understanding and really trying out GTD first isn't a good reason to reject the approach.

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        • #5
          It's true that research is fundamentally different from, say, doing travel reports. And of course graduate school should be a time of intense focus and growth. I don't think I really needed GTD as a grad student, and overly emphasizing the mundane at that point in one's career might be a mistake. In my experience, it's when you become an assistant professor that things get out of control: teaching, committees, grants and even, yes, the education of graduate students take away time from research. A big part of GTD for me is handling the routine so I have time and a clear head for things I consider important, as is the capture of ideas, great and small. The distinction between deep and shallow work often seems to me a bit pompous and even narcissistic, traits also exhibited by Cal Newport.

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          • #6
            Different measurements in different fields

            Seems he thinks only ideas have value. In his world, that may be true...but not in mine. I like some of what Cal says, though: his book about not trying to "find your passion" when you're first starting a career should be a must-read for every young person.

            Sorry, Cal. Most of us will need to crank some widgets to stay employed/make clients happy.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Barb View Post
              Sorry, Cal. Most of us will need to crank some widgets to stay employed/make clients happy.
              Yep, that's why so many of us in the work force are cranky.

              GTD on a mission to make the world a crankier place

              DavidCo have my permission to use that if they wish

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by DougToft View Post

                What do you think?
                your question sound strange. At your first post at the forum you post something that criticize. Uhm...

                Comment


                • #9
                  Funny!

                  Originally posted by Paul@Pittsburgh View Post
                  Yep, that's why so many of us in the work force are cranky.

                  GTD on a mission to make the world a crankier place

                  DavidCo have my permission to use that if they wish
                  You're hilarious! Something tells me we won't see that tagline anywhere, though.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    "So Good They Can't Ignore You" - great book.

                    Originally posted by Barb View Post
                    his book about not trying to "find your passion" when you're first starting a career should be a must-read for every young person.
                    I agree. "So Good They Can't Ignore You" is a must-read and I consider it to be a perfect match for "Getting Things Done" by David Allen. It is very unfortunate that Cal doesn't see a connection.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Good questions lead to insightful discussions.

                      Originally posted by clango View Post
                      your question sound strange. At your first post at the forum you post something that criticize. Uhm...
                      Oh, I think that it is a good question that allows us to have an insightful discussion.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by clango View Post
                        your question sound strange. At your first post at the forum you post something that criticize. Uhm...
                        As far as I'm aware, criticism of GTD is welcome here, whether in one's first or hundredth post. That first post didn't actually criticize GTD anyway, but only provided information about a blog post which does.

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