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limitations of GTD



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gbehrendt

Posted: Jun 15, 2012
Score: -1



Hello everyone,
I read David Allen's book last September and was very much attracted by his concept. I still work with the concept although I have realised that it has limitations and needs adaption.
One of this limitations is - putting it bluntly - that it is a manager's tool. S/he managers and others do the work. Hence the delegate and waiting for slots. The items on my to do list are items I have to do myself. And that counteracts the efficiency of GTD.
The second limitation is that educational activities do not follow the efficiency rule either. (I'm looking for a new job) More time, can do more things. Learning cannot be compressed.
Other than that I think toodledoo is a good complementary system. I think I'll use it to remember things, and to think about priorities, structure projects into tasks etc.

I wonder whether there are similar thoughts and experiences out there.
Salgud

Posted: Jun 18, 2012
Score: 0



Posted by gbehrendt:

Learning cannot be compressed.


Not sure what you're saying here. Can you elaborate?
hefangdotcom

Posted: Jun 19, 2012
Score: 0



To gbehrendt,

you're not alone ^_^

David Allen is a great manager himself. His methodology is to deal with the real business world. His philosophy is somewhat French, like Henry Bergson.

However, learning, and most types of academic activities, fall out of this scope. So use correct screw driver.
bcmyers

Posted: Jul 17, 2012
Score: 1



gbehrendt and hefangdotcom, I have to disagree. I'm not a manager and GTD works quite well for me. The Waiting For list isn't merely for delegating to subordinates. There are many forms of delegation. You can delegate upwards ("Boss, I need your eyes on this before I can move forward,"), laterally to colleagues, and even to people outside your organization (such as when I send sales proposals to customers and prospects). GTD isn't solely, or even mostly, about delegation anyway. It's about defining inputs and placing them in whatever bucket is correct, whether it's a "waiting for," "next action," a piece of reference, or whatever.

I'm not a GTD evangelist, so please understand I don't personally care if you like or use GTD or not. That's irrelevant to me. I just think you're mischaracterizing it. I think it's important to try to be accurate about anything you discuss. Although I also think it would behoove people not to be overly influenced by anyone typing anything on the Internet, even me. After all, anyone with a PC and an Internet provider can say pretty much anything. I would urge anyone who is curious about GTD to buy the book, try it, and form their own judgment.
Purveyor

Posted: Jul 18, 2012
Score: -2



This post has been hidden because of negative votes. Click to reveal

This message was edited Jul 18, 2012.
bcmyers

Posted: Jul 18, 2012
Score: 0



Post deleted by author.

This message was edited Jul 19, 2012.
petec_

Posted: Jul 21, 2012
Score: 1



It was interesting to read gbehrendt's take on GTD. However I have to agree that his appraisal is somewhat flawed. Especially given the evidence not only from bcmyers, but from my own use of GTD/Toodledo. It could be said that GTD is only for 'procrastinators' - but that would be limiting the actual wider effect/value of GTD in my opinion. Also I'm sure in this 'free society' we all enjoy, it's possible to have a dissenting and (positively) critical view of others pre-conceptions about something - particularly if there's evidence to the contrary.
bcmyers

Posted: Jul 22, 2012
Score: 0



Thanks, petec_. If someone expresses an opinion or makes an assertion with which I disagree, I'm simply going to say "I think you're wrong" and then explain why. I don't feel the need to qualify my thoughts by telling them, "Of course, you have the right to think differently." That should be understood. Now, if I had said to gbehrendt and hefangdotcom, "You're both a couple of idiots and you should keep your mouths shut," then Purveyor's rhetorical question would be relevant. I didn't do that, though. Nothing is stopping them from responding and telling me I'm wrong, as long as they stay within the forum rules as interpeted by the moderators.

I don't know if either of them are still checking in on this thread but I'm curious as to why they don't feel GTD could apply to learning or academic activities. If you're taking a college class, an assignment with more than one component like a research paper would be a project, and each of the steps toward completing that project would be a next action. Those could include things like "go to library and find references about [topic]" or "search web for information about [topic]," followed by "organize notes for research paper," and finally "write research paper" or "write first section of research paper." I'm being a tad simplistic for the sake of time, but the the idea behind what I'm saying is valid.

GTD could also be relevant for an educator. A college professor might have a project such as "prepare for teaching [topic] next semester," and the next action might be "draft lesson plan for [class]." Since I'm not a professor I might be getting the steps wrong but I think the principle is ultimately valid.

I'm a bit confused by gbehrendt's assertion that "The second limitation is that educational activities do not follow the efficiency rule either. (I'm looking for a new job) More time, can do more things. Learning cannot be compressed." There's no inherent reason why next actions have to be quick. In one of my examples above, I gave the example of going to the library to do research as a next action. That's perfectly consistent with the GTD methodology, and it could take hours to complete. There's nothing in Getting Things Done that suggests a next action can't take several hours. The book simply states that a next action is a physical, visible step (in other words, you don't simply "set a meeting," you "CALL to set meeting" or "Email Joe to set meeting") that you can do in one sitting. Spending several hours at the library is consistent with that.

I would be curious as to how gbehrendt and hefangdotcom would respond. If they're still monitoring this thread, I'd be interested in their thoughts.
petec_

Posted: Jul 23, 2012
Score: 0



Thanks bcmyers for a clear explanation of how a persons tasks can be broken down into 'immediate next actions' - as per GTD. As an 'educator' myself, I can fully understand your examples - and they can apply to any walks of life, position, status, category, class, wherever we find ourselves. Because it's (GTD) about simplifying the process of task completion and doing it efficiently.

This thread has me coming to the conclusion that the only limitations of GTD are those imposed by the user and his/her pre-conceptions. In my experience it is a very 'free and open' system, applicable to anything. And Toodledo works very well with it using a similar methodology.

Agreed, sifting through lists/data and juggling software is not everyone's cup of tea. (Ask my wife...)

Each to their own.
Purveyor

Posted: Jul 23, 2012
Score: -1



Posted by petec_:
This thread has me coming to the conclusion that the only limitations of GTD are those imposed by the user and his/her pre-conceptions.
I agree. ;)

There's something else: In discussions about GTD, there's rarely any indication of how effective a person is at getting things done. To me, this is a bit like discussing how to play golf, but nobody knows each other's handicap. Or, discussing how to train for a marathon, but nobody knows whether the participants have ever completed a marathon, and if they have, nobody knows each other's time.

GTD is a skill, and like all skills, it takes conscientious practice to become proficient at it. My practice has been sporadic so my proficiency is average. My GTD "handicap" is about 25, my "marathon time" is about 4 hours.

David Allen has been effective in designing and implementing systems that many people use. It's easy to criticize what he has done but it's hard to deny that he has accomplished a lot. We are all effective in our own ways but, just as in golf and in running marathons, some people are better than others. When I want to learn to be more effective, I pay attention to those people who have demonstrated above-average results. Allen is one those people. Most other people serve as examples of what not to do ...

One more thing: Discussions about GTD are a bit like the blind men and an elephant. There are many different perspectives. The subtitle of Getting Things Done is "The Art of Stress-Free Productivity". I suggest that's the "elephant".


This message was edited Jul 23, 2012.
petec_

Posted: Jul 23, 2012
Score: 0



Posted by Purveyor:
In discussions about GTD, there's rarely any indication of how effective a person is at getting things done.


I think you're right there. GTD seems to be a very personal thing, and its effectiveness is subjective - if it works for 'them/us' then it's effective. If it were the subject of a managment study, I reckon there'd be a wide range of results, varying according to the ability of the user to keep meticulous details and to update them regularly.

To me, this is a bit like discussing how to play golf, but nobody knows each other's handicap.


Yes, what's the benchmark against which to measure it? I don't think there is one - only oneself/one's own opinion. And to start measuring this is like an assessment of productivity, which always threatens more paperwork and perhaps the potential for stress. Thus defeating one of the objects of GTD.


GTD is a skill, and like all skills, it takes conscientious practice to become proficient at it.


Very true. I think proficiency level will be determined by the degree to which practicing GTD makes a satisfying difference to one's organisational skills.


David Allen... ...it's hard to deny that he has accomplished a lot.


I'm sure that he has helped many to alleviate the weight of their stressful lists and procrastinators torment. He certainly captured my attention, and I enjoyed his logical approach to actually coming to terms with the mass of data, information, desires and plans that seem to flood us these day.

I looked up your 'blind men/elephant' reference, not having heard the story - an interesting analogy, though are we all 'blind to the whole concept'? Amusingly, I often use an 'elephant' example when teaching - as in, you can't eat a whole one at once and should take small bites at first until you complete the task. Seems the learning process implies 'blindness' until the whole concept is eventually revealed. Thus awareness and understanding is achieved.
bcmyers

Posted: Jul 23, 2012
Score: 1



Posted by petec_:
This thread has me coming to the conclusion that the only limitations of GTD are those imposed by the user and his/her pre-conceptions.


Indeed. I think my own pre-conceived notions were a significant reason why my past attempts at implementing GTD had failed. GTD goes against conventional wisdom, which teaches us to manage time with daily to-do lists and static priority codes. That's why so many people, even me, can read what is a plainly written and straightforward book and come away with so many misconceptions.

I had actually first encountered GTD via a blog in 2007. I tried to put to work what I'd gleaned from that blog. Of course that was unsuccessful. About 6 months later I bought the book and read it. I tried more than once between 2007 and 2009 to implement GTD and failed. I pretty much gave up in 2009.

This year I started a new job and I felt a need for a system that would enhance my productivity. Something was nagging at me to give GTD a try again and I thought, "Why not?" For whatever reason when I read the book again it was a different experience. It all made sense and I've been much better able to utilize the concepts.

I think my first hurdle was my fixation on lists, and improving my lists, and making them cooler with technology. When I read GTD most recently, I realized that the only function of my lists was to reflect back to me what I needed to know, when I needed to know it. The simpler and easier to use my lists are, the better.

I also realized that my next actions and even my project lists were only part of the whole system. I like to think in terms of a "GTD ecosystem" (David Allen's term, not my own) today. My reference and tickler files, stack baskets, project support material, etc. are all as important as my next action lists.

I also had a tendency to over-engineer projects. I used to have this terrible tendency to over-plan a project, getting so far ahead of myself that I was identifying tasks that in fact were unnecessary or otherwise way off the mark. I realized that for me the entire natural planning model is generally unnecessary, and what I usually need are just one or two next actions. Once those are completed the additional steps usually reveal themselves.

Anyway, that's my story. I'm actually glad I stuck it out. I finally "get" GTD and it's working well. There are still some rough edges but every week it gets a little easier.

Posted by petec_:
And Toodledo works very well with it using a similar methodology.


I've come to that conclusion as well. There are a couple of things that bug me about Toodledo but after trying about 10 - 15 other list managers (not extensively -- for me, if I can't get the hang of it in five minutes or less I don't want to deal with it) and none of them hold a candle to Toodledo. It's strength is in its easy customizability. I can easily suppress the features I don't like and set up the rest in a way that matches my work style. So I've stopped looking elsewhere and will stick with Toodledo.
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