Stop Doubting Your Trusted System

A few more thoughts on GTD and how it fits into how we get our work done.

One of the more interesting threads that seems to be growing out of the “great GTD debate” is the questioning of its relevance and importance to the way that each of us does our own work.

To be clear, David Allen’s GTD (or Getting Things Done) is not a requirement for being productive. In fact, the naturally productive amongst us rarely need it. GTD and the entire ecosystem that grew out of it is not geared for the productive. It was created for the unproductive who want to do more. And when it comes to those of us who struggle in this way, there are few who have not at least considered David Allen’s approach. Even those of us who were scared to death by the system and ran screaming from it (hi!) will often find the tools and tactics we settle on rooted in GTD (just as I’m willing to bet that GTD is strongly rooted in the approaches that came before it).

Getting Things Done’s relevance matters little compared to whatever we use to get things done. As we all compare and contrast our approaches to it, as we discuss the tools and tactics we prefer, one thing becomes clear: while similar, no two systems are alike. While many are rooted in the same things, such as GTD, the details always vary. What we use to do our work, we make our own. Our systems aren’t static, they evolve as we do. They ebb and flow based on our needs. They are impacted by the technology available to us. Even those of us who consider our approach to be true GTD are using a system with technology that did not exist at the time that the system was created.

My GTD looks little like the next guys. In fact, it looks little like GTD (perhaps I will call it ADHDGTD). All I know and all I care about is that it is working and that I trust it. I’m getting more done and I feel less anxious in every aspect of my life. My way of getting things done is still a work in progress (as am I), it still has flaws (as do I), but it’s getting better every day (just as I am). It gives nods to guys like David Allen, Merlin Mann, David Sparks and everyone else I’ve ever mentioned on this site, but it is custom tailored to my personality and preferences. But at this point, I care far less about what it is and more about what it is helping me to accomplish.

As your own trusted system evolves, worry less about its origins and more about its effectiveness. Don’t worry if it is GTD enough or not even GTD at all. Worry if it is working. And if you suddenly find it isn’t, don’t destroy it in an attempt to find something better. Tweak what isn’t working and continue to make whatever it is that you choose your own.

How do you get things done?