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  • limitations of GTD

    I read David Allen's book last September and was very much attracted by his concept. I still work with the concept although I have realised that it has limitations and needs adaption.
    One of this limitations is - putting it bluntly - that it is a manager's tool. S/he managers and others do the work. Hence the delegate and waiting for slots. The items on my to do list are items I have to do myself. And that counteracts the efficiency of GTD.
    The second limitation is that educational activities do not follow the efficiency rule either. (I'm looking for a new job) More time, can do more things. Learning cannot be compressed.
    Other than that I think toodledoo is a good complementary system. I think I'll use it to remember things, and to think about priorities, structure projects into tasks etc.

    I wonder whether there are similar thoughts and experiences out there.
    Last edited by jakenava; 01-28-2014, 03:46 AM.

  • #2
    The key focus of GTD is to identify the next actions YOU need to take on each project you have. It works just as well for building a treehouse as for managing someone else's project.

    I'm not sure you are really understanding how to use the waiting for list if you think it's only for managers.

    I am not a manager but I find the waiting for list invaluable. For work, there are always things I am waiting for someone to do and need to follow up with or not. I would think that would be true if you are part of any kind of team at all. The waiting for list is not specifically for managing subordinates, it is for managing whatever you are waiting for someone else to do. That could be waiting for Amazon to mail you an order, waiting for your new automobile tags to come in the mail, waiting to make sure the insurance company takes off the car you sold, or waiting for anyone to answer any question you had or send you any information you needed. The value of the waiting for list is it captures all these items and sets them aside where they can be reviewed periodically but are not always either in your face or forgotten.

    If you don't need a delegated list, don't use one, it's not one of the basic recommended elements of a GTD system. It's more of an customizing option for people who have a lot of delegated projects. (ie instead of one projects list, separate them out.)

    I'm not sure what part of GTD you are referring to when you say that learning cannot be compressed - GTD is not a system for compressing activities. (I can't think of anything in GTD that says you can compress the time it takes to do things) It is a system for identifying the projects you want to do and figuring out on the front end what needs to happen for you to get them done. And then by having a complete inventory, you can better choose to do the most important to you. Most people using GTD are doing complex things and while some next actions may be quick others will take significant chunks of time.

    Comment


    • #3
      Work expands...

      Originally posted by jakenava View Post
      One of this limitations is - putting it bluntly - that it is a manager's tool. S/he managers and others do the work. Hence the delegate and waiting for slots. The items on my to do list are items I have to do myself. And that counteracts the efficiency of GTD.
      I use "delegate and waiting for slots" for my interface with other people and organizations - my boss, my spouse, my bank, coworkers etc.

      Doing everything by yourself kills your efficiency - not GTD!

      Originally posted by jakenava View Post
      The second limitation is that educational activities do not follow the efficiency rule either. (I'm looking for a new job) More time, can do more things. Learning cannot be compressed.
      I don't agree. Totally. You can learn more or less efficiently.

      And I don't agree that "more time = more done". Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

      Comment


      • #4
        I have to respectively disagree. Presently, I am working as a contractor and manage no one. However, I make great use of my individual agenda folder and waiting for folder.

        To be honest, I am not understanding to reference to compressing education.

        I am new to the GTD methodology, but find it very useful in managing my personal projects. In fact, my personal use exceeds my professional use at present.

        Also, I have found that each time I re-read a section of Getting Things Done I learn something new or get a different take on a concept that helps me to clarify things. And, remember, GTD is not a time management system.

        Good luck.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by jakenava View Post
          One of this limitations is - putting it bluntly - that it is a manager's tool. S/he managers and others do the work. Hence the delegate and waiting for slots. The items on my to do list are items I have to do myself. And that counteracts the efficiency of GTD.
          The second limitation is that educational activities do not follow the efficiency rule either. (I'm looking for a new job) More time, can do more things. Learning cannot be compressed.
          I strongly disagree on both counts.

          First off GTD is useful for anyone. I'm a small business owner, running a farm, writing code for a flock management package. taking masters classes in college and have many hobbies and outside interests. GTD works very well to keep me on track. True I can't delegate things to the sheep but I can adapt the principles to my own needs. While I don't use the default contexts or lists that are presented in the book I still benefit greatly from the methods and systems that GTD includes.

          As an example: I use waiting for to handle all interactions with others. For example, I have a project to get my personal and business tax materials ready to take to the accountant. Currently it is sitting with an action of Get all 1099 forms organized. Within that as support material is a list of all the places I expect to send em a form and when one comes in I check it off the list and ad it to my Tax Papers folder. I can't proceed until I have them in hand.Once that is done I can proceed with other tasks in the tax project.

          Secondly, on education. You can either be inefficient or efficient in how you learn. For example, I have 2 classes I am taking this semester in addition to all my regular farm work. This semester will also cross our lambing season so I had better be efficient in how I study or I'll fail when things get hectic near the end. So As soon as the syllabus came out and I had the textbooks I spent some time organizing the project of Get a grade of A in both of my 2 classes. It's turned into several projects for each class.

          I have done a quick review of the material to be covered, know based on my previous experience what I am likely to have trouble with, already reached out to the professors to tell them about my time limitations and asked for some additional help to both get ahead and understand what I know I'll have problems with. I track my reading and other assignments in my GTD system. One of the tasks for one class this semester is to write a research paper on one of 4 major topics. I have started a project for that paper. First action is decide which of the 4 possible areas I want to focus on and that has meant I need to do preliminary research on all 4 areas to see what interests me. I know that if I am not interested in the project I won't complete it so getting the right one to work on is critical.

          If you think GTD is only for managers and doesn't apply then I believe you do not yet understand what GTD really is.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by jakenava View Post
            I read David Allen's book last September and was very much attracted by his concept. I still work with the concept although I have realised that it has limitations and needs adaption.
            I've done tons of adaptation. For some things, I've made choices within the wide ranges of flexibility offered by the GTD system (for example he says you can keep lists on paper or on a computer etc.) For other things, I've gone against David Allen's advice and am doing things my own way. Pretty much everybody who uses GTD customizes it to their own use to a greater or lesser extent.
            One of this limitations is - putting it bluntly - that it is a manager's tool. S/he managers and others do the work. Hence the delegate and waiting for slots. The items on my to do list are items I have to do myself. And that counteracts the efficiency of GTD.
            GTD does seem to me to have been largely designed with managers in mind. Perhaps a lot of David Allen's clients happened to be managers as he was designing the system.

            I'm not sure what you mean by a delegate slot; I don't remember that -- but people other than managers can still usually delegate some things: some housework can be delegated to a family member ("could you please buy such-and-such on the way home from work"), some things can be delegated to someone you hire e.g. home renovations, some types of things can be delegated to your supervisor at work ("I think this requires a managerial decision"), etc.

            However -- and I hope you're not overwhelmed by the large number of responses disagreeing with you -- I don't see how that's in any way a limitation. If you have few or no waiting-for's, you can just not use a waiting-for system, or use an empty one that takes about 2 seconds a week to use.

            I don't use a waiting-for system as described by David Allen. What makes more sense to me is to use my tickle file for that purpose. I decide in advance when I'll need to do something about it, e.g. remind someone to do something, (e.g. check whether supervisor has signed a form I need) and put it in the tickle file for that date.

            The second limitation is that educational activities do not follow the efficiency rule either. (I'm looking for a new job) More time, can do more things.
            I don't know what you mean by "the efficiency rule". (Maybe you could provide a quote.)

            Learning cannot be compressed.
            I disagree. Learning can take more time or less time depending on how it's done. Examples:
            • Memorizing takes less time at a few minutes a day than in one long session.
            • Memorizing is more efficient at certain times of day (early morning and just before going to sleep??)
            • Memorizing lasts longer if you get plenty of sleep that night
            • Learning is more efficient if it's done in ways that make it more interesting, and if things are explained in an effective way
            • University summer courses sometimes cover essentially the same material in half the number of days (but same number of hours)
            Many activities (not just education) can be more efficient or less efficient depending on when or how they're done. GTD is one system that can help you use what you already know about the efficiency of various activities and balance priorities to use your time effectively.

            Other than that I think toodledoo is a good complementary system. I think I'll use it to remember things, and to think about priorities, structure projects into tasks etc.

            I wonder whether there are similar thoughts and experiences out there.
            I don't use toodledoo myself. Mostly I use paper. But I think some GTD-ers use toodledoo. Many different software tools can be used for GTD, with different advantages and disadvantages; different things work for different people. It sounds as if you're making a good start.

            Comment


            • #7
              > I read David Allen's book last September and was very much attracted
              > by his concept. I still work with the concept although I have realised
              > that it has limitations and needs adaption.
              >
              > One of this limitations is - putting it bluntly - that it is a
              > manager's tool. S/he managers and others do the work. Hence the
              > delegate and waiting for slots. The items on my to do list are items I
              > have to do myself. And that counteracts the efficiency of GTD.

              I'm not seeing this. Perhaps you're responding to the fact that the system manages the work but doesn't directly address the times when you're doing that work? There are, yes, other systems that address actually doing the work--for example, the Pomodoro system addresses your behaviors while actually working on a task, as well as the planning process that led you to chooes that task.

              But the fact that GTD doesn't do that isn't, to me, a signal that you're not doing the work, it's just a signal that GTD limits its responsibility to planning rather than both planning and execution.

              Whether you're managing other people, or managing yourself, adding a layer of management and planning is useful. I'd say that nineteen out of twenty of the items in my GTD system are items that I have to do myself, and that remaining five percent are more often "Ask blah" than "Delegate to blah." The fact that the system includes a way to delegate doesn't mean that delegation is a major focus.

              For me, "waiting for" is rarely about delegation. It certainly could be "waiting for Joe to finish task X" but it could also be:

              - Waiting for the peas to sprout.
              - Waiting for the W-2 to come.
              - Waiting for that software order to come through. (Arguably delegation, but not manageresque delegation.)
              - Waiting for the next meeting of the project team. (Relevant whether I'm a member of the team or its lead.)
              - Waiting for a package to arrive.

              > The second limitation is that educational activities do not follow the
              > efficiency rule either. (I'm looking for a new job) More time, can do
              > more things. Learning cannot be compressed.

              GTD isn't about compressing your work. Any pursuit, including learning, involves doing things. You spend time reading, writing, thinking. If you're in school, you finish assignments; if you're learning on your own, you probably set yourself tasks.

              Sure, you can't count on completing an action of, "Understand quadratic equations by Thursday," but you can reasonably have an action, "Spend one hour on quadratic equations." And you can have a *goal* of learning a given topic by a given time, and adjust the priorities for other things in a way that makes room for that goal.

              > Other than that I think toodledoo is a good complementary system. I
              > think I'll use it to remember things, and to think about priorities,
              > structure projects into tasks etc.

              That sounds like most of what GTD is intended for. What are you thinking that your plan isn't covering?

              Comment


              • #8
                I don't want to restate what everybody else has said but I encourage you to listen to some of the free podcasts & webinars if you can. Understanding how GTD is a really systematic "approach" and not a "system" in and of itself, is key. I didn't really get this at first (read the book right when it was released in 2002 or thereabouts.) But once I began to see past David Allen's very corporate-sounding approach I was able to understand this is not "all or nothing" - take what works for you and learn to adapt it, even if all you take away is breaking projects into bite-sized pieces.

                Here are some real-life examples of my "delegated" and "waiting for" lists that might help put things into context for you a bit better:

                Waiting Fors:
                1) I am waiting for an email back from Dymo with a shipping label to send back/exchange a defective label maker.
                2) I am waiting for a call back from my mom with her pharmacy phone & prescription number so I can get her medicine refilled. My next action will then be put on my "calls" list to call it in to her pharmacy.


                Delegated:
                1) I have asked my sister to find mom a local podiatrist who accepts medicare
                2) I have asked my husband to return our daughter's library books to the local library by Friday.

                Sometimes I have nothing on these lists for weeks and during my weekly review glance at a blank page week after week. Otherwise everything that needs to get done for my job ( I supervise nobody) or at home is for me and me alone.

                I hope this sheds some light on all of this for you!

                Comment

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