A Modest Reflection of Getting Things Done


I first picked up David Allen’s Getting Things Done a few years ago along with his other work “Ready for Anything.” I did not read them swiftly as a ten-year-old would read a Harry Potter book. I read them slowly and absorbed as much as I could. I was previously exposed to the GTD culture on some of my frequented forums. A fervent following motivated me to investigate the source of this cultish phenomenon for myself. When I finally laid my hands on “Getting Things Done,” I approached it with a consciously-controlled enthusiasm, savoring David Allen’s commandments and enjoying my journey toward productivity enlightenment. My life was going to be okay because of this: my food would taste better and the universe would reveal all its secrets to me. (Okay, I guess that hyperbole was a bit much. What I ultimately mean to say is that I was pretty excited.)
A few years have passed, and my reaction is: damn, where’s the enlightenment?

I adapted my own organization scheme and used a personalised diary for easier purposes, modeling it after his ticklers. I had written down lists and lists of projects, to-dos, and someday/maybes. I had saved a woman from a burning building and converted her to follow this holy path. Where was salvation!? Looking back at the fortress I built up, I realized that yes while I did boost my productivity a little, I did not get my satisfaction. My life actually appeared busier now that my concerns manifested themselves in physical form instead of ethereal imaginings, but my commitment to getting things done had little changed.

David Allen’s system had its positives. His two-minute rule, which instructs the GTD sycophant to tend immediately to tasks that would take less than two minutes or less to perform, would help a plebeian do things like throw out the trash and water his house plants. Ejecting all of one’s worries from the mind helps keep one focused. Also, the many context-sensitive lists like @Work and @Home keep things matter when and where they matter appropriately.

Getting Things Done is not the Productivity Bible. It gave me some kind of structure in my life upon which I can go forth and be fruitful. However, it did not actually motivate me to do things other than get organized. My impression of this book a few years after reading it is that it helps someone get organized, but don’t count on it to fire up your engines to get things done.

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