ForumsGetting Things Done®Is GTD making us dumber?
Is GTD making us dumber?
After about 2+ years of doing GTD, I've started to think more and more about the concept that David Allen is teaching us. Definitely it has its merits in helping us become more productive. But I keep hearing this nagging question in the back of my mind, is it making my mind less sharp?
One of GTD's main principles is to remove any "clutter" from your mind and place this into a trusted system that includes next actions, contexts, ticklers and energy levels. The reasoning for this is that we need to free our minds from these "mundane" tasks to allow us to think creatively. Is this really happening though? I've found that the more creative people are actually not the most organized or even the most productive. They just have really great ideas sometimes.
There are stories and movies about how some individual cannot function without their assistant, spouses or planners. They take it to the point where their next action is so dependent on their planner that they just freeze up like a deer in headlights. While it may seem funny in the movie, I feel that this is somehow happening to me as well. Before GTD, I could easily tell you what meetings I have coming up in the week as well as what I did in my last two weeks. Now I don't think I could answer that question without checking my calendar or task list.
Part of me also thinks that using GTD is similar to using a calculator for basic arithmetic as opposed to doing it mentally or on paper. A calculator is obviously going to be faster, but our minds become less sharp in the process. I found this out when I started reviewing for the GMAT. Oh how slow my mind has become.
So in closing, I just wanted to throw this out there to see what opinions others may have and maybe spark a new perspective.
Thanks for reading!
there's a book called "everything bad is good for you"
[amazon.com] http://www.amazon.ca/Everything-Bad-Good-You-Actually/dp/1573223077 wherein the author tries to make the point that things like TV, video games and technology don't make us dumber.
for example :
take an episode of I Love Lucy vs an episode of Better off Ted.
Or Hillstreet Blues Vs. CSI.
what you see is a rise in complexity, and a *corresponding* adaptation by the audience to that rise in complexity.
Using GTD and toodledo lets you put things away where you don't have to focus on them, but you still have access to them. That's unprecedented in human history - well, at the level of complexity that we're discussing now.
seriously. If you know any kids, soon you're not going to be able to program a VCR (do they still make those?) and your kid's cellphone will be incomprehensible to you, but second nature for them.
"is this tool making me dumber" is like "can this fire I built burn me?" well, sure it can - but it'll also keep you alive in the cold, you know?
This message was edited Sep 25, 2009.
That's funny. I was thinking about this just the other day.
I really think you may be on to something. There is a saying that goes something like "There may be nothing on his desk, but there's nothing in his mind either" or "empty desk and empty brain." Something like that.
It may be tempting to achieve a clutter-free mind, to eliminate stress, but I don't think one should make that an ideal. We do need some clutter, just like we need some fat. I guess it's a balance. I need clutter for creativity. But too much will definitely be harmful and end up stifling creativity.
I don't do the GTD method, but I've often worried that my own organization method was affecting my memory. I don't think it is a case about "making you dumber", as it is a case of "out of sight, out of mind". If you put every thought/reminder into a system, it sometimes leads to a false sense of security, and helps facilitate procrastination.
Memory is a muscle that needs to be exercised. However, if you focus on using your system (whatever it is) to make room in your head for remembering the most important things in your life, I don't see a problem. A little clutter is good (IMHO), just make sure it is "important clutter".
And of course, always review the "someday" tasks regularly, or you might as well just forget them.
I feel that GTD is a great starting point. But what works for David Allen might not work for everyone. My system draws on some GTD aspects, but definitely wouldn't get the David Allen stamp of approval. But in the end, it works for me. And that's what I care about.
I don't want to get too caught up asking myself "What would David Allen Do?" that I lose track of what is really important -- GETTING THINGS DONE!
The Brain is far too powerful for this to matter in my opinion.
What GTD or many other methods do is take clutter out of you mind and into a system to free your mind for the creative things. This does not mean you will not remember anything placed in your system, but you free your mind from having to remember them all so that you can focus and be productive.
I won't be dumber because I place a reminder to pick up eggs in my system. If this helps free up the random thoughts in my mind that could clutter my mind from doing far more important things, I think it's a better trade.
I agree with IceHearX on this.
No matter how many things you put into your system to keep the clutter out of your Brain, your brain still has the power to recall these things.
What a system does for you is simply tell the Brain to not worry about extracting this information captured in your memory bank, because I already took the liberty to write it down.
So don't bother Brain, let's use that energy on far more important things.
You could NEVER put everything in your brain into some kind of system where your brain is no longer capable of functioning properly.
One simple test is this:
If you used GTD or something similar to capture the things you need to do. A year later, would you be able to tell me what you have accomplished?
Of course you would.
Just because you put things in a system to keep you productive, does not erase your memory or ability to recall things.
If you can't recall certain task, it's because they where mundane and not important. They still needed to be done, but they where not milestones. I will not be dumber if I can't recall a year later, how many times I had to pick up eggs and milk at the grocery store.
This message was edited Sep 30, 2009.
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