One of the perplexing things I run across in presenting GTD classes is people who want to defend their lack of system as taking less time and effort than the “work” it would take to maintain a system (GTD or otherwise). There are books out now about how organizing is a waste of time because it takes too much time. I do agree, to a point, that spending too much time organizing can be ineffective, but ANY system–and even lack of one–takes work and time. Why not go for the path of least resistance?
Leaving things undecided and stacked in amorphous blobs of stuff–because it would take too much time to decide a next action and put it in a trusted place–is a guarantee to have to reassess, reprocess and redecide what that thing means. I don’t get it. With so many people complaining that they are too busy to maintain things like action lists, how can they afford to NOT have one? If it’s coming in to you, you’re going to handle it at some point. Why not handle it with as little effort as possible when it first shows up?
Believe me, if I could get away with not managing lists and be as effective, I would do it in a heartbeat. Over the years I’ve tried to cut corners in whatever way I can so that the maintenance of all this doesn’t outweigh the benefit of doing. I’m inherently lazy. I don’t maintain lists because I love spending the time doing that. I maintain the lists because it’s faster and easier for me than not having any system at all.
If I can decide my action on an email when it first shows up, organize it in a place other than In, and put that action reminder in a place I know I’ll see, that’s about 10 times faster for me than leaving it undecided, and having it snap at my ankles every time I look at my Inbox–clamoring for my attention with the 200 other actions I also need to handle.
Why do people resist having a system? I’m curious to hear from the GTD community on this one.