I loved most of your post “Why I’ve decided to downsize my system and quit GTD.” It rang true for me, not because there is anything wrong with GTD but because the way some people relate to it is mistaken. Your article echoed my special report “The 6 Surprising Mistakes that GTD’ers Make and also subtler aspects of my book: “Bill’s Im-Perfect Time Management Adventure.”
Outer Game vs. Inner Game
I agree with you here. People need to focus on their inner vs. outer game. Many make the mistake of trying to follow GTD to the letter, rather than focusing on their own system and using GTD as a support. Fact is… the vast majority of people who read the book don’t attempt to implement everything, and instead use it to modify what they were already doing. The wisdom of the crowd.
The goal should never be to win the game of becoming a perfect practitioner of GTD, but instead winning the inner game of being the best you can be. It may include all of GTD or none of it. I agree with you – that’s just not the point.
Following the Inner Game turns GTD into a useful stop on your productivity journey, but hardly the final destination. I read a great quote from Leo Buscaglia that applies: “Those who think they know it all have no way of finding out they don’t.”
Not having a system? Nah!
I might disagree with you that “Having no System is better than (a) system that exhausts your time and energy.” Why?
If you mean that it’s possible not to have a system of habits, practices and rituals then I disagree – everyone has one of those. However, what I think you are saying is that if the commercial stuff doesn’t work it’s better to just follow your own methods – I heartily agree! The more of the article I read, the more I think we are in agreement.
It’s Not Applicable
Once again – I agree completely. If a commercial System doesn’t work for you, it’s not your fault. Unfortunately, I have seen people feel guilty and start to think that there’s something wrong with them when the advertised System doesn’t work for them. The fact is, many sellers of productivity books and programs specialize in giving out ideas and describing new behaviors, but minimize the challenge of proper fit, implementation and habit change. By doing so, they set people up to fail. As any training expert will tell you, implementation of new ideas is by far the hardest step.
I agree that people should use a system of habits, practices and rituals that has just the bare minimum they need. Also, I believe that they are the only ones who can define what this means and looks like for them. I also think that they need to be careful adding in new gadgets because they can also hurt productivity – witness the number of people who text and drive…
As you say, it means going back to basics, or what I call the fundament als in my book. Once we know what they are, it’s much easier to return to them and start building from what you are currently doing. (It’s impossible to return to ground zero as an adult. Too bad. Too late.)
GTD Isn’t Written for Me
You aren’t alone, as you know.
The fact is, there is no one-size-fits-all set of practices that fits everyone. We all need our own thing. But at the same time, there is a reason that we aren’t all trying to design our own cars, planes and helicopters. There are certain design principles to be followed when it comes to putting together a complex system, otherwise it will fail.
We need to spend time teaching people how to design, rather than selling them on a single, Model T-like design. At the same time, if you wanted a black, inexpensive Ford motor car back in the 1930’s – that model was perfect for you! And a few other people. Just not everyone. GTD is no different – it’s one solution for a particular kind of person. People make the mistake of turning it into a one-size-fits-all solution, asking it to become what it can’t.
Time management systems are complex, even when they are minimized to the essentials. It’s just a fact of life today. We see more information in a day than our grandparents saw in a month and we require more complex methods than they ever imagined.
Bojan, you said:
“Ultimately the best productivity solutions are personal. There is always something that grinds our gears, and there is no one size fits all approach. That’s why my three steps are tailored towards you, and revolve around YOUR OWN needs. Not the needs of the system, or the necessity to do something that is creating friction.”
Have you been stalking me, dude? It’s what I keep saying over and over again… I’m glad to be part of this particular crusade! There are a few others who are also saying the same thing, but only a tiny handful…
Why is THAT?
Well, I also speak with a funny accent (although I was born in the USA) but the time I spent living in different countries has helped me see life from different perspectives at the same time. One-size-fits-all thinking, in particular, rubs me the wrong way and I bet it does the same to you. Maybe we just see things differently, and that’s a benefit.
Thanks for the chance to add in my 2 cents worth. Keep doing what you’re doing!
My point of view is embedded in a story / business fable I recently published, now available on Amazon for free, limited time only: “Bill’s Im-Perfect Time Management Adventure.”