Productivity and GTD

A higher approach

AUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
"When you're not sure where you're going, you'll never know when enough is enough." ~ David Allen

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One of the reasons for which GTD has achieved wide recognition as a personal productivity system is that it does not trivialize our behavior. It has a psychological or spiritual component that goes far beyond the fact of constantly checking off tasks. While being productive is about doing more things with the least possible effort, we are also human beings and our actions must respond to something deeper.

The traditional time management systems (which are still prevalent in many companies) simplify all our activity on a list of tasks that are given a priority. This priority is a number or letter that we simply write aside the task, and get stuck there forever. It often represents a degree of urgency rather than importance. These systems do not take into account that the importance of things can change, because there show up new commitments that make relative the importance of the previous ones.

A mere list of 74 tasks in which 27 of them have the highest priority makes very difficult and stressful the simple fact of deciding what the next action to do is. In the absence of something that relates these tasks to us as individuals, we will always tend to choose a task that requires five minutes before another one that requires four hours. The low priority tasks (for whom?) always leave undone, until they generate a crisis that cause many problems.

Another alternative, even worse, is to introduce each and every one of our tasks in a calendar and make this calendar guide our life. (Does it sound unbelievable? There are still many people who tell me that their only personal management tool is Google Calendar.) There is a complete lack of context in such lists. Also, if you think about it, it is kind of ridiculous that the course of your life gets established, in a reactive manner, by the urgencies of the moment.

Reality is complex and changing. Let us not handle it with a single sheet of paper. In addition, we are human beings. There are internal forces that drive us, that give meaning to our lives, although we are not aware of them at all times. So if we want to be better at what we do, we must incorporate these forces to our self-management methods.

GTD introduces the context as the main factor for choosing the next action and your personal goals and areas of responsibility as factors for prioritizing your activities. It is not only about work, getting things done and being more productive. It is about giving meaning to our activity. Why do we do what we do? GTD provides a framework that allows you to achieve a deeper understanding of your reality, and only for that reason, it is something worth entering.

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