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  • Is GTD REALLY that simple? Am I missing something?

    I love GTD. I discovered it in 2007 and have been using it faithfully. I read the book. As I see it, GTD comes down to this:

    1. Capture everything.
    2. Make a decision of what to do with it.
    3. Get it in your system (which is probably a calendar, tickler, some waiting-for/action lists, with a project list to keep track of bigger things, and some reference areas like an address book, shopping list, and filing cabinet).
    4. Do it.
    5. Repeat steps 1-4.
    6. Weekly review of your inbox & system to make sure you know what's going on in your life, and that you didn't miss anything.

    There's runway-to-mile-high stuff, etc, but to me, those steps are the nuts-and-bolts of GTD. It's really simple. That's what appealed to me. It's so simple, everything"fits" into this process.

    So how did we get from a few easy steps to a book series, web portal, coaching sessions, forums, kits, summits, corporate initiatives, and software? I feel the same way about the Pomodoro technique. Is there something huge I'm missing here?

    (No disrespect meant to David Allen. It just seems like GTD has a life of its own.)

  • #2
    Yes ...

    I agree that not only is it that simple why are we so comfortable resisiting such an effective process?

    Comment


    • #3
      I dismissed GTD about a year ago as too complicated as I was reading free info off the net, left it alone for about 5 months and then for some reason came back to it again (don’t know why, but glad I did.)

      I think GTD "looks" fairy complicated, but really is simple. But in my experience takes a bit of a mind shift and some habit changes before it becomes simple.

      You’ve been into it for a while by your own admission, how did you find it when you first set eyes on it? Or a month down the line, do you still think you would say the same back then? Honestly?

      My point is maybe you’ve probably already had the mind shift in new behaviours. that’s when you look at it and think “rah, its actually fairly straightforward and simple”

      Comment


      • #4
        It is and it isn't

        You're right, it is that simple. Do the simple steps you described and you will find yourself more in controlled state than you were before. But there's a reason why GTD has had analogies to the martial arts (beyond David's personal involvement). When you start with GTD, like you mentioned above, you begin with the basic steps [white belt]. These steps work, but they also give you the building blocks to learn new and more advanced steps - just like the martial arts [green belt].

        For some people, just getting the organization mechanics down is enough for them. They feel more in control, have less confusion in their lives, and are happy at that level. But when you starting discussing some of the psychology of why GTD works, using GTD to push back on the world to say no, or looking at what you do to align your higher levels of focus [black belt]. That's when GTD becomes less easy and more of a learning experience.

        Besides, as David and others on the forum have said before, if this was so easy and straight forward, why aren't we doing things this way already?

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        • #5
          GTD is simple. So is losing weight: eat fewer calories and expend (exercise) more calories.

          However, actually *implementing* it is where it gets complicated. Some people work better with written down tasks, others prefer web-based, others need a software program that will sync across three computers. There are tons of little possible tweaks -- some that are genuinely helpful, and a whole lot more that are just tempting way to procrastinate under the guise of working.

          So, you're correct, but if you are "missing something" then that would be the implementation side of GTD. (I would also personally add that GTD has a number of significant shortcomings that need to be accommodated, like the lack of support for breaking down large tasks with deadlines.)

          Comment


          • #6
            That's the key point!

            Originally posted by MarinaMartin View Post
            GTD is simple. So is losing weight: eat fewer calories and expend (exercise) more calories.

            However, actually *implementing* it is where it gets complicated.
            That's the key point

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            • #7
              Simple, yes. But not easy.

              (Something that is also said of many topics in the martial arts.)

              Katherine

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              • #8
                GTD ideas are simple, implementation takes a lifetime to learn. Or rather a lifetime to fine tune.

                Your knowledge and practice grows over time.

                Like any blindingly simple skill that is also very very hard, martial arts, knitting, spinning, all are easy in concept or initial ideas and all can take a lifetime to perfect.

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                • #9
                  I think we get off track and make it complicated if we fall into the all to trap of thinking that we know how to do GTD better than the 'experts' and try to tweak the system (ie skipping weekly reviews or not capturing EVERYTHING). That is when it gets complicated.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by cojo View Post
                    So how did we get from a few easy steps to a book series, web portal, coaching sessions, forums, kits, summits, corporate initiatives, and software?
                    GTD inspires a lot of love in people. When people love something, they want to share their love. It's still a tiny tiny community and industry compared to things like dog fanciers, hockey fans, etc etc etc.



                    Cheers,
                    Roger

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by cojo View Post
                      So how did we get from a few easy steps to a book series, web portal, coaching sessions, forums, kits, summits, corporate initiatives, and software?
                      1) People learn in different ways. Some don't learn as well from a printed book as from an audio tape, while others do better with one-on-one coaching.

                      2) Theory is not the same as implementation. You can know how to do GTD, but you still need lists, folders, etc., and as DA has demonstrated, some variations of those are more effective than others.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by MarinaMartin View Post
                        (I would also personally add that GTD has a number of significant shortcomings that need to be accommodated, like the lack of support for breaking down large tasks with deadlines.)
                        I think 'lack of support for breaking down large tasks with deadlines' is a very precise definition for an issue that deserves real attention regarding GTD.

                        Mic

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by MarinaMartin View Post
                          I would also personally add that GTD has a number of significant shortcomings that need to be accommodated, like the lack of support for breaking down large tasks with deadlines.
                          There are project management disciplines for planning and executing large coordinated efforts with various constraints and dependencies. GTD was never designed to replace those disciplines. It's designed to put those plans into execution by focusing your attention on the outcome and the next action step required to get you there. "Call Fred" would never show up on a project plan, but it would be a next action associated with a project milestone.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ellobogrande View Post
                            There are project management disciplines for planning and executing large coordinated efforts with various constraints and dependencies. GTD was never designed to replace those disciplines. It's designed to put those plans into execution by focusing your attention on the outcome and the next action step required to get you there. "Call Fred" would never show up on a project plan, but it would be a next action associated with a project milestone.
                            GTD is being used to give you an answer of what to do next. It still doesn't help you with coordinating your efforts with the time limits. GTD leaves that to an 'intuitive call' which is fueled by your weekly review. Many times though, things go faster than that, or need a more structured way to control the 'time loads' of many projects in parallel.

                            Mic

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I think this point is really interesting, because it's something that comes up when I try and "sell" GTD to other people - you say "write down the next actions" and people instantly say, "that's obvious - I make to-do lists already!".

                              Only when you say "but do you have them in an organised system? Labelled by context so you know which ones are physically possible? Do you check them once a week" that the beauty of GTD comes to the fore!

                              A lot of people kind-of do GTD without even realising it - it's only when you read of the formal system it implements that you think "of course, that's so obvious! Why haven't I done that before?!"

                              I think of it like a paper-clip. It's just a simple piece of twisted metal, nothing special, there's no magic in it. But it took someone to THINK of it first before it BECAME obvious.

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