Getting Things Done: Part 1 review and impressions

So I have been reading David Allen's Getting Things Done, and so far it seems to be an interesting way to organize the things you have to do in your life. I'm going to be giving it a try, in conjunction with OmniFocus 2 for iOS.

I'd heard of GTD before, but had mentally filed it as "yet another useless self-help trend", something to ignore. Lately, however, particularly as I'm realizing more of myself with my gender transition, I've been thinking that I really am in control of my life. At least, that I can be, and that I can really effect useful change in my situation if I apply myself to the task. I had also heard of people at work using it, and saw that they were more organized and on top of things. So, I decided to give it a try.

Part One

My impressions of the first couple chapters are positive so far. It's not proposing that it is some magical cure-all for your entire life. It's just proposing that there are a few things that you can do, none of which are particularly hard, that can result in you being able to mentally let go of thinking about all the things that you need to do. The idea is that if you reliably and routinely export the organization and prioritization of what you need to do into a system outside of your head, you free yourself up from constantly worrying about them and can focus on doing and on living.

The high-level overview of the system as presented sounds like a very doable thing, with the big challenge being keeping up with the routine. I'm not so good with learning new routines, so that's going to be the big challenge for me. It will be interesting to try though, to see where it all goes.

One thing that will be particularly interesting is going to be integrating this into my process at work, to see if this can result in less stress and more productivity. I've always been relatively adamant about the sanctity of work-life balance, about enforcing a sharp division between my work time and my at-home time. This process, however, encourages you to put everything into one system, and work with the totality of what you have to do as one collection of things to be done. There is the concept of work contexts versus home contexts, but it also acknowledges that we think of new things to do and how to plan out things without regard to where we are at the time. Sometimes personal life things occur to you at work, and sometime work things occur to you at home. There's nothing wrong with that, and this system encourages you to get things out of your head when that happens so you actually think about work less, since you've exported the thoughts into your system.

The third chapter goes into what David calls "the natural planning model", outlining what that looks like and how we do it. He breaks it up into 5 parts, and describes how people can naturally do each. He also goes into various ways that the 5 parts can fail, and what it looks like when they do. Some failures are from not doing the process well, some failures are from trying to do it out of order, and some failures are from completely missing how to do the process at all. This chapter does get a little magical-thinking, throwing pseudo-scientific words around to describe how, for example, merely thinking positively will make you successful. That's actually quite disappointing, I had such hope for this book and process, but if it's all going to end up like that then I may be wasting my time. We shall see.

Coming soon

I'll be reviewing the rest of the book in future posts, but I wanted to go ahead and get this out there. I'll post again after I've finished part 2, and maybe by then I'll have gotten far enough to start trying to actually use it.