Wednesday, November 3, 2010

10 reasons GTD systems are not for me

Watch this.

1. A system is an empty box. What matters is what you put inside it.
2. Systems like this are deceptive. They make you think that you have life and relationships under control. You don't.
3. I enjoy the adrenaline rush of occasionally not being able to find things. It makes me think up creative solutions.
4. Show me someone who has every piece of music is filed neatly and I'll show you someone who can't play without a score.
5. Making and maintaining systems can be a procrastination in itself. Don't make a note that you need to make the phone call! Just make the phone call!
6. Creativity is messy. Did Van Gough have a desk like that? Or Einstein? Or Luther?
7. Systems like this can only be maintained by certain personality types. Others will despair.
8. You will achieve more if you ride the wave of your personality. I manage to keep a pretty tidy house by limiting the amount of stuff I have inside it. The letter box is filled with messy, boring paper that will tell me to do things I don't want to do. The letter box can keep it. So can my pidgeon hole at work. If I'm looking or a bill to pay, I know where to go.
9. ?????
10. ??????

Can you suggest #9 and #10?


  1. You will achieve more if you ride the wave of your personality.

    Do consider that for some people, this means filing everything correctly.

    I am not one of them, generally speaking. But though I don't keep my personal things filed or in the right spot (much to my mother's frustration), I actually find the process of filing and organising my life into systems therapeutic. So when I'm really stressed, that's what I do. I rarely follow any system I might dream up. But on the short-term scale, I'm much refreshed by the (semi-mindless) activity and able to get on with being productive.

    So for me, GTD wouldn't work as a serious endeavour, but it would as a form of escapist recreation. :)

  2. I personally object to number 4, not because I have every piece of music filed, but because not everyone is gifted musically. You should reword it to fit with your title better. This list is about you, not putting others down.

    5. It is not always the right time to make the phone call when you think of it. I frequently think of something I have to do in the middle of cooking tea or when I have some other pressing deadline. Then a note is good.

    6. Is good!

    How about this one?
    9. You have the random element of three children in your house. That has the tendency to wreck any system. Trying to maintain a strict system when there are children in the house is a recipe for strife and/or insanity.

  3. Re: 4: Was at our mutual friend KB's place the other day, I'm pretty sure he can play without a score, and yet, his shelves are neatly lined with music books - and he knows where each one is...

  4. it's pelagianism all over again? another stick to beat ourselves with?

  5. Nathan - re#4. KB would only file stuff composed by the masters. And it's his way of kind of holding WAM and LVB in awe. Not so he can easily find them.

    Michael - yes.

    Wendy - yes to #9.

    Don't take offence at #4. My point was not even about music nec. Just that being 'disorganised' can actually be really freeing. Teaches you that you can do stuff on the fly. Like teachers who meticulously plan every lesson down to the second - often the best thing you can do is throw away their notes and watch them do a much better job. Systems can be a prison. Lose the system and see what happens.

    Anika - yes, for some, systems are natural and wonderful.

  6. For implementing GTD you can use this web-based application:

    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, schedules and a calendar.
    Comes with a mobile version too, and with an Android app.