The Good Book

26 02 2008

Since the turn of the year, as some of you may have noticed, I’ve been somewhat enthralled with David Allen’s Getting Things Done productivity system. Obviously I took a good hard look at how things were getting done, or rather, not getting done, and how I was constantly complaining about never having enough time to do everything I needed to do. Sound familiar?

One of the things I believe to be key to David’s thinking, although I don’t pretend to know the inner workings of the mind of The David, is the notion that most people don’t suffer from a lack of time to get things done. True, some people genuinely don’t have enough time, and those people then need to look at the commitments they’ve made and reassess them. For most of us, though, it’s not a lack of time that’s the problem.

Quite the contrary, the time is there, it’s the management of it, and of the tasks we need to do in it, that isn’t appropriate. A lot of time is wasted on reorganising all the things you need to do as interruptions occur. The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, as the old saying goes. Plans change, they are, by their nature, fickle things. One of the keys, then, to a good organisational system is that it remains as flexible as possible to deal with road bumps, whilst still providing some sort of framework.

There’s no avoiding it any longer, I’m going to have to admit it; I fell off the wagon.

Apparently this sort of thing happens all the time. It starts of small, before you know it you’re snowed under and back where you started, only with the added anxiety of now knowing how things should be. Once you’ve experienced the “mind like water” and find yourself back at “mind like treacle” it’s depressing. To see Nirvana and fall from grace…

Never fear, though, for though the GTD wagon is easy to fall off, it is even easier to get back on, so I hear. Where to start? A mind sweep? Good choice, empty the head, that megalomaniacal receptical that refuses to relinquish control. Yet, no, based on what has helped me that is not what I would recommend (not that I think it’s a bad idea, just not my suggested starting point). My suggestion is start at the beginning. The Book.

Yes, The Book, capital T, capital B. No, not the bible, you dolt. The GTD bible, the one that got all us crazy kids hooked on the idea to start with. The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, remember that bit? Good. Well, re-read it. I did and it’s almost as if I had an epiphany. After fannying about with what I thought was GTD for the past two months I now realise I didn’t “get” it at all. I thought I did but boy was I wrong. Dead wrong.

Reading a passage in the book my mind immediately jumped to a phrase David used when he was speaking to Merlin, over at 43 Folders, as part of the Productive Talk series of podcast interviews. When they were discussing GTD 2.0, David suggested that were he to write “the third book”, the underlying theme would be that “different people have different ears to hear” (or something along those lines, I forget the exact words).

What does that mean? I’ll tell you. On Thursday. The suspense is killing you, isn’t it?


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6 03 2008
Contextual Relations « Textual Relations

[…] 29 02 2008 So what does all this mean for my GTD implementation? Well, I’ve obviously read the book, and I was implementing it. Or at least I thought I was […]

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