GTD is for Creative Types

For those that assume GTD is only about rigid, structured task lists, it could seem like a natural conclusion that GTD is not for creative types.  But if you were to ask a few people you know who are really into GTD, or at least get something out of it, they probably don’t consider themselves to be un-creative people!

We believe GTD enhances creativity.  Some of the most creative, intelligent people are drawn to GTD because they see what’s beyond the lists.  Lists are a means to an outcome.  Consider that the spirit of GTD is about finding and using the most energy-efficient, effective, and least stressful ways of getting things done. That means:

  • Capturing anything and everything that has your attention
  • Defining actionable things discretely into outcomes and concrete next steps
  • Organizing reminders and information in the most streamlined way, in appropriate categories, based on how and when you need to access them
  • Keeping current and “on your game” with appropriately frequent reviews of the six horizons of your commitments (purpose, vision, goals, areas of focus, projects, and actions)
  • So that you can focus clearly, view your world from optimal angles and make trusted choices about what to do (and not do) at any moment.

In our experience, we’ve seen as many ways to work this approach as there are people working it.  If you follow David Allen on Twitter, he recently mentioned a client (well-known creative artist in Hollywood) who felt the most creative way to “do” GTD would be on 3×5 index cards.   Musician Evan Taubenfeld recently did a wonderful podcast with David for our GTD Connect members where he credits GTD with helping him to be more creative in his songwriting process.

Michael Bungay Stanier has done a wonderful series with David on Connect called Creative Questioning, as well as a new one available on Michael’s website.

As we often say, GTD is an approach, not a system.  Dive deeper and you may find that GTD is actually one of the best things you can do to tap into your creativity.

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  1. I couldn’t agree with you more. I work in technology and entertainment business in Los Angeles and know some of the most creative people in the businesses who use GTD.

    In fact, GTD helped me become MORE creative because it helped ensure that I was working on what I needed to be working on. I had always felt a nagging that I was forgetting something until GTD.

    Now when I select a next action to work on, I know I can devote myself to it with full focus and creativity.

    That’s the whole draw of GTD imho. It helped shift my focus from surviving to thriving.

  2. GTD gives me freedom to create. People think I am impulsive with new ideas. But that is only because I track carefully for a little bit each day so I know what already is my commitment.

  3. GTD has helped me so much by freeing me from the confines of rigid process. The left brains of the world don’t always understand us right brainers. They want us to conform to their world of deadlines, tracking details and being on time to appointments (the nerve). GTD takes care of that for me and I can get back to being creative,



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