So, I’m back from Mexico. Thanks to Peter (and Nathan) for doing a great job manning the ship while I was away.

To kick things back off I want to do something I’ve not done a whole lot of here at To-Done–get the reader’s perspective on something. I want to have an honest and open discussion about the whole Getting Things Done/DIY/Lifehack/Productivity movement.

h3. Too Much GTD?

In the last day or so, as I’ve been catching up with feeds, e-mail and such, I’ve noticed that there are many folks out there who feel a bit over- (or under-?) whelmed by the “hype” of GTD online. I mean as Greg pointed out there are GTD and DIY blogs popping up all over the place and while I don’t think they’re all bad, and I’m pretty sure there is some value there, I do agree that it can be a bit overwhelming at times.

Then again, you can’t deny the interest in this stuff. As my poll over Lifehacker shows, it’s on people’s minds. My guess is that there’s value in there somewhere. But where to draw the line?

For the purposes on this site, GTD was never supposed to be the focus. It’s about work/life balance and my hope is to keep the noise level as low as possible. (I know some of you are thinking, “what about that sock post? Well, it was kind of supposed to be funny.) The one thing I can say is that GTD, of itself, has really helped me stay organized and keep track of my ideas, etc. It’s been a great help. I’ve also come across quite a bit of lifehackery that I’ve found useful as well.

I’ll agree with the nay-sayers that the majority isn’t all that useful and there are times when the noise level gets pretty darn high. But, I feel that’s the Web in general and it’s not limited to topics like GTD, DYI and lifehacking. You’ll find the same thing with Web design, health, music, pop culture, etc. To deal with it you need to ignore much of it and try to rely on sources that will editorialize well enough to pull out the diamonds.

But enough of what I think. What do you think about this personal productivity and DIY hype, both on- and off-line? It’s it just a cult that should be ignored, or do you find value in blogs like this one? Do some do it right and others wrong? Lemme know what you think.

12 Comments on Let’s Talk About The GTD Hype

  1. sosa says:

    I like to read this even when I do not identify myself with the philosophy of GTD because you know, I’m a slacker and things go very well.

    Keep going

  2. Yannick L. says:

    But, I feel that’s the Web in general and it’s not limited to topics like GTD, DYI and lifehacking. You’ll find the same thing with Web design, health, music, pop culture, etc. To deal with it you need to ignore much of it and try to rely on sources that will editorialize well enough to pull out the diamonds.

    I agree with you. Just as there are lots of blogs up about GTD the same is true for other topics as well. If we can find a few really good sites that we like then just stick with those and ignore the rest.

    By the way Welcome back Keith. :)

  3. Sara White says:

    Personally, I find all this recent obsession with GTD to be counterproductive at times. I know that when I start spending more time thinking about the best ways to be productive rather than actually doing productive things, something’s got to change.

    That said, I definitely do find value in this blog and some similar ones (lifehacker, etc), I just think the whole trend can be somewhat overrated.

  4. Keith says:

    Sara — That is kind of how I feel. I will say that it took awhile before many of my own personal organization and productivity habits became second nature. That transition time was a bit overwhelming. I can see how people might get stuck there.

    I’ll probably post about this later this week, but by becoming more organized I had not only a better (and less stressed time) on my recent trip, but I was much more equipped to handle things when I got back.

    I think the key is getting a system in place that works for you, and not letting it become an obsession. Let the system take your mind off thinking about it — if it doesn’t it’s probably not for you.

  5. David Acosta says:

    As anything in the net, you can find a lot of rubbish, but the most important thing is that you can find pure gold also.
    So, we just have to deal with the rubbish to find the gold.

  6. patRice says:

    Amen to all that’s been said. Lots of stuff on the net on most subjects – some great, some useless. I’m only half way through the GTD book, but I can already see the potential re my productivity. The most important thing is definitely still to get things done, and not get too caught up in researching/analyzing the system. (I used to spend way too much time on reading about new music equipment, dreaming about which machines I’d like to buy – instead of putting the time into mastering the ones I already owned…)

  7. Michelle` says:

    Yep! I agree with the comments above too. But interestingly, I’ve not heard ANYONE in Australia yet rabbiting on about GTD – at least not on Aussie websites nor in mainstream media. I find this wierd to say the least. I expect it to become the next big thing here, about the same time as many of the US (and beyond sites) start becoming cynical about it.

    But here’s an interesting observation I think: Having become a “convert” to this whole GTD productivity thing since May this year, I’ve “suddenly” learnt a tonne of stuff about blogs, blogging, lifehacking, blog aggregators and I now finally understand what a “feed” is!

    I’ve read stuff I would never have understood nor even known about a mere 4 months ago. I’ve stepped up my own productive processes a thousand fold (well… the bed gets made every morning now… and that’s a big thing around here), and I’ve learnt things about PDA’s that only geeks are supposed to know!

    All this because I happened across a book on the net in April 2005 called “Getting Things Done” by David Allen! I would call that life-changing I think.

  8. Cameron says:

    What a useful post! I can thank the prevelence of GFD-related stuff out there for breaking through my hermity shell somehow to introduce me to the concepts. Hard to see it as all that bad. :)

    As others have noted, though, the focus of discussion seems to shift eventually from the main goal of productivity to a more postmodern examination of whys and hows. That may be an after-effect of having so much time on one’s hands after becoming a 33rd degree productivity maven.

  9. Josh says:

    I think there is value in some of it, but on the other hand, for it to work, you really have to focus on using the GTD system to really GET THINGS DONE, as opposed to just.. having index cards laying all over the place, notebooks crammed full of things to do, etc.

    For a while, I was spending all of my free time reading sites about the GTD system. The irony hit me after about a month.

    Think of all the crap I could have gotten in the time I spent reading (mostly) the same stuff over and over.

    I think the best way to deal with the GTD / lifehack stuff is this: read up on it, get a decent idea of how it all works, and then promptly STOP reading about it. Check in on it all once a month.

    There isn’t going to be some amazing lifehack or new implementation of GTD that’s going to absolutely change your life every day, so why check in on it every day? Instead of spending 15 minutes, 20 minutes, or 2 hours everyday trying to keep on top of all the GTD / lifehack crap, spend that time actually doing something, or, you know… getting stuff done.

  10. Paul says:

    As you said, and most everyone agreed, the wonder of the web is the volume of information available. And the risk of the web is – yes, the volume of information available.

    While every GTD/lifehack/productivity tip won’t help everyone, I think the proliferation of this stuff is a good thing, but there’s some personal responsibility involved. *I* have to be in charge of when I do stuff, and when I read about doing stuff. Maybe that’s a schedule, like Josh mentions, maybe it’s sticking to a handful of reliable sites, or maybe it’s figuring out where some of my sticking points are and doing some research for tips on getting better.

    I think of this information the way I thought of the pubs when I visited England: it’s wonderful that there are so many, I’d love to visit them all, but if I do, then I won’t see (or do) anything else!

  11. ..ak says:

    I find value in GTD blogs that describe how a tool/method has helped them.

    For example: “how organized I became by using a tickler file, before and after thoughts” is a good. The “check out my tricked out HipsterPDA” is a bad post.

    I’ve had methods of getting things done before it was refered to Getting Things Done. After reading the sites, I’ve significantly improved my system based on what others have said.

    I don’t have a need for tickler file but I get motivated to improve my methods up when others have demonstrated improvements.

  12. Denise says:

    Hmmmm. I think it’s a lot like the craze for time management books. A person could spend so much time reading them that they never have time to get any of their stuff done. I think you have to start by knowing yourself. Hone in on the number #1 thing that’s causing you grief…for me it’s following up on work I delegate. I’m lousy at it. So I try not to be distracted by articles on how to file and store my papers. That’s not my problem and I don’t need to change in that area…anything in my office you want, I can put my hands on it, and I spend very little time filing. So I look for advice on following-up on tasks, managingpeople, etc.

    My secondary filter is, once I start reading advice about how I can follow up (or whatver activity I’ve identified as a weakness), I screen out things that require me to buy somebody’s entire audiobook series, special equipment, or make massive changes to the way I do other parts of my work. I look for a system that I can graft on to the rest of my workplan cheaply and simply. So far, I have always been able to accomplish this.

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