Do You Need High Tech to Practice GTD?AUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
“There was a time when nails were high-tech. There was a time when people had to be told how to use a telephone. Technology is just a tool. People use tools to improve their lives.” ~ Tom Clancy
Technology is sometimes a double edged sword. While it allows you to do more and faster things it also allows you to do the wrong things easier.
When you practice GTD with high technological tools—software, smartphones, etc.—you end up confusing the tools with the methodology, and when your habits and personal organization starts getting weaker you end up blaming the tools and hence the methodology. It is because of this that the GTD experts tend to recommend to start practicing using pen and paper. By doing so you can concentrate on the work flow as well as the habits and you don’t get distracted with the latest improvements of a determined software, which is likely to have nothing to do with GTD.
Just as David Allen states, it’s possible to implement GTD using low-tech tools such as paper, pens, folders, and post-its. At the end of the day, it’s only about managing lists.
Even though these tools of low technological profile allow you to capture things easily (you only need to take out your notebook when something comes to your mind), they can be quite inconvenient for the rest of the GTD’s work flow—clarify, organize and review—when you already have a few dozen items in your lists.
Therefore, as one starts to get into the GTD practice, inevitably ends up searching technological tools that make life easier. It’s part of the pursuit of a higher personal effectiveness what has led you to find GTD. It’s obvious that you need to spend some time each day keeping your tasks and projects under control, and the correct software can help you reduce the amount of time considerably.
I don’t think that the technological and non-technological worlds are confronted. They can be combined in order to make the most out of each one. When I’m away, there is no better tool for collecting things than a simple notebook, it never fails. However, since I have to spend a considerable amount of time in front of my computer, tablet, and smartphone each day, it’s reasonable to make the most out of these devices and their tools in order to maintain my system organized with less effort. That is also called being productive.
You can use a specific software for GTD or different tools combined, high- or low-tech (email, calendar, folders, etc.) A specific tool will make it harder to divert from the productive pathway, while with a generic tool you will have to make an extra and important effort to define and maintain up to date the necessary structure that will allow you to use GTD correctly, and more importantly, to not do what you should not do (the usual and imperceptible errors that end up leading you to fall off the wagon).
In any case, whichever tool you choose, the important thing to be effective is that you are “doing GTD”, and that’s not any tool’s responsibility but yours.