I’m a GTD kind of guy. But, I got “into” GTD for the complete wrong reasons. I like pens and paper, paperclips, new notebooks, bags, toys, and shit. I like processes and systems and the idea of productivity and efficiency. I re-listened to one of my favorite MoM episodes The Awkward Journey To GTD and began to think of my own journey (that is far, far from over).
Here is my short account.
I re-started college in 2007 after a 4 year “break” where I needed to “find myself” and quickly found that working a little more than part time, commuting 2 hours a day to school (in the northwest Pennsylvania snow belt) and managing a full time course load seemed like too much.
Being into pens and paper, new notebooks, and toys and shit, I started searching for something that could help me get over the dread of having too much work and not enough time to do it. I stumbled onto Merlin Mann, Cal Newport, Leo Babauta, Lifehack, Lifehacker, and other lifehackery types of things.
The beginning of the solution and my fiddliness
Being into all of the toys and systems and shit that surround GTD I fell down the rabbit hole of creating the most awesome Hipster PDA while following this insane workflow (don’t read it!), using it until I switched to Blackberry and Outlook tasks, moving to tools like Remember the Milk, going back to paper with DIY Planner, getting a Mac and switching to OmniFocus, getting pissed that I couldn’t use OmniFocus on a Windows machine at work and school and writing up my workflow on how to use Toodledo for GTD, using just my iPad and iPhone with OmniFocus, move to Things to try out their wicked fast and wicked late cloud sync, and now back to OmniFocus. If you want to see my toolset for this year, you can see it here.
It was a journey to say the least. I got a lot done in that time like graduating from college, got married, got two puppies, a kitty, and a fish, wrote in my spare time for an Android site and now for Lifehack, made some good friends, went from a software engineer to IT manager of a company. But, all this fiddliness is still with me and leading me down the same rabbit holes that I don’t want to go down anymore.
Complicating the simple
GTD is a really simple process; we just tend to complicate it and clog ourselves up with tools and processes. I do this with everything though.
There is something else I learned about software development over the last few months that I can apply to my GTD process (and my life process). Developing software isn’t the reason you develop software; you do it to solve problems. So, if I can solve a problem with a simple, technical solution, that’s what I need to aim for.
GTD is a simple solution for a complex problem. No need to complicate it any more with added processes, analyzation of what contexts to use, how to best organize your projects, etc. We techie types lovvvee to complicate the simple and use new shiny toys and shit.
There is also no need to follow GTD to a “T” and implement every last detail that David Allen suggests. And that is coming from a guy with a GTD Notetaker Wallet and a schedule weekly review on his calendar
When I have figured out the best way to organize a complicated process like retiring two servers from an active Active Directory environment with 80+ users but can’t seem to “remember” to pay my cable bill, I’m not GTDing correctly. The overcomplicating of GTD over the years has slowly eroded my belief in it working for me 100% of the time. I have a hard time trusting my system when I don’t believe it works. But, the reality that I have come to is this: GTD doesn’t make my life complicated; I make my life complicated by complicating GTD.
If you can relate to this, it’s time to step back, utilize your current tools and processes, get out of your own way, and simply get things done.