Is GTD for You?AUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
“The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.” ~ Lewis Carroll.
Many people who approach the GTD methodology (Getting Things Done) don’t really know what it is and how it can benefit them. In this article I’ll try to make that second part clearer.
Neither today’s education, nor traditional time management systems, nor most of the available organizing tools provide us with adequate help to manage the large number of external and internal commitments, which are frequently changing and have different levels of complexity, to which we are exposed in today’s society, where we are hyper-connected and always available.
For that same reason, you will most likely need something else to organize yourself effectively, something that could very well be GTD. But GTD doesn’t work for everyone. There must be some characteristics in your situation, in your motivation, and in your personality that will make this method an incredible opportunity for improvement in your life.
Here, in no particular order, are some of those traits. If none of them mean anything to you, don’t bother trying, because it will be a waste of time. If one or more of them resonates with you — and one of them must be the last one on the list — then you should try it, because it will be worth it.
- You need to find a new way of working and managing your stuff. You are feeling a high level of stress and the feeling of being overwhelmed at work is frequent. You get too many new things to look into every day, there are too many changes and you have too many distractions. You feel that there are not enough hours in the day for everything you need to do. Because of all this, you can’t think straight for most of the time. And you feel that there must be some way to productively manage an overwhelming amount of things to do that allows you to maintain a positive feeling of calmed control.
- You feel there’s no balance in your life. Not only there is an imbalance between your work and your personal activity, but also between different areas of your life. You’re paying less attention to some areas than you should and, at the same time, there are areas you’re paying too much attention to.
- You are open to new ways of working, new ways of thinking, to using new approaches in key aspects of your daily activity, to refining and improving your workflow. You can change your behavior, create new and more effective habits, and eliminate other habits that are proving to be negative.
- Your work is not self-evident. Or, to put it another way, you are the person responsible of defining your work. That doesn’t mean you don’t have bosses telling you what to do. There are jobs in which there are many ways to achieve the result they require of you and, in the end, it’s up to you to establish the path to it (knowledge worker). Sometimes this lack of clarity stresses you out, and you want to improve the way you define and manage your work, be more effective, more focused, more enjoyable and keep a clear head. Obviously, if you work on your own, work from home, have a company or are a freelancer, you are responsible of defining your work.
- You want your life to have a meaning. It’s not just about being busy, completing tasks and earning a salary. You want to do things that matter, that obey certain purposes, principles and values. And you want to have that in mind when you manage yourself. You want to carry out projects that are important to you, and for that you need to bring in a more global mindset in your daily activity.
- You’re curious. You’ve heard of GTD for years, you’ve read some things and you know that there are successful people who believe in this methodology and talk about how it helps them to have everything under control in a positive and relaxed way. So you want to try it out, to see if you can push your personal productivity, your organization and your lifestyle, to new limits.
- You want to grow, be more effective, more productive, get more out of life, your relationships, your career. You want to do the right things, improve the quality of your thinking, get good results and improve your life as a result of them; maybe a promotion at work, a pay raise, more free time to enjoy the things you like and the people you love. You’ve realized that by being more effective, you have more quality time, time better spent, more satisfaction. So you want to get the most out of your personal organization.
- You are a person who focuses more on the essence of things than on the tools you use to get things done. “Doing GTD” is not a one-off, momentary experience, it’s a journey that goes through different stages, in which you acquire knowledge, test what it brings to your life, make improvements, change things, make a few mistakes, establish habits, and achieve success. If you’re more concerned about the tool or software you are using having the latest fashionable nonsense than your personal learning, you will surely fail in the attempt.
- Finally, this trait is absolutely necessary: You are willing to make an effort and probably change some things. You know that the things that are worthwhile can’t be acquired immediately, they take time. You accept that improving any aspect of your self-management will require implementing new processes in your life. It’s not a matter of installing an application on your computer and, bam! your life improves instantly.
GTD becomes, for many, a life-changing opportunity, something that helps them engage appropriately with their world, guiding them to make the best decisions at every turn, and removing distractions and stress from their path.
However, not everyone manages to implement it in their life. According to the feedback I receive from FacileThings users, the main reasons why they leave GTD is that it “requires a lot of effort” or that it “doesn’t fit with their way of doing things”. If you don’t accept that there is a path to follow, that you must learn some things and that, surely, you must unlearn others that right now seem perfectly valid, GTD will not be for you.