Thinkers and doers

By Francisco Sáez • March 05, 2012

“Thinkers think and doers do. But until the thinkers do and the doers think, progress will be just another word in the already overburdened vocabulary by sense.” ~ François de La Rochefoucauld

There is a traditional dichotomy that divides people into two groups, thinkers and doers. Thinkers are creative people, always open to new ideas that can change or improve the way things are done. They like to invent and experiment, and are good at starting new projects. Doers are people with the ability to execute actions. They know how to use efficiently the existing processes, and are good at completing projects.

Obviously, this is a somewhat simplistic differentiation. Everyone has a little of thinker and a little of doer, although one of these skills usually dominates the personality of each individual (sometimes in an exaggerated way). Nor do I believe that one approach is better or worse than the other. They are just different styles to deal with issues, and life in general.

Collectively, both skills are needed in any team. Companies must have an appropriate balance so they can be both innovative and efficient. For a project to succeed, there must be people that can define clearly the work to be done and people that can perform it.

And individually, each person must get the right balance between his thinker and his doer side. A great idea that is not done, is not worth anything. And doing things with no previous thinking on the best way to do them, can lead to a great loss of time and even can impede completing them in terms that are acceptable.

To be productive, you must be aware of your weaker side and coach it harder. If you are a thinker, you must structure your ideas into projects and define the first steps required to carry them out. If you are a doer, a busy person having every day a million things to do, you should clarify the origin and purpose of all these tasks in order to handle them effectively.

One advantage of GTD over other methods of personal productivity is that it seeks to achieve this balance. According to David Allen, the greatest challenges in defining your work are, first, to think about what you are doing and, second, to do something about what you are thinking.

Therefore, one the five stages in the GTD method for managing workflow consists of processing everything. It urges you to spend some time thinking about what you are doing with your new commitments. And so there is a list of projects and the weekly review. Having a complete and accurate project list, and reviewing and updating it at least once a week, is essential to achieve a stress-free productivity.

Thinker or doer? Who are you?

About the author

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Francisco Sáez (@franciscojsaez) is the founder and CEO of FacileThings. He is also a web developer specializing in Ruby on Rails who is passionate about personal productivity and GTD as a means to a better life.

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