GTD is sort of a single insight technique. Once you grok what it's saying, (and possibly incorporate its techniques where appropriate) there's only so much else you can say about it before you start repeating things.
I think that's one of the underlying lies of GTD. It's not that we all don't do that but we all do that to all things we do especially those that have a large impact in our lives like a productivity system.
Speaking strictly of Allen's way of repeating the books, it's not that there isn't much to say as much as he's repeating things that people still aren't doing and yet the more he repeats it, the more it becomes less practical and clear because he's not really expanding the system anymore as much as he's constantly recreating the same thesis over and over again...and it still sells because lots of people still don't get "it" so he gets to have the luxury of writing books under the illusions of "why" so that he can recreate the same original problem of people not getting "it" and "why".
I apologize if this sounds redundant but think of it like this: It's one way to go into a forum and discuss which is the best antivirus everytime a new Antivirus goes out and then re-repeat the same quality antivirus that is still the best. That is much closer to what you are saying.
However the reason why GTD's concept is re-buried is that, it isn't the current case (at least for most of the surface discussion and implementation of GTD)
It's more like you helping a person install a security system like an Antivirus and all they have to do is have a weekly updated AV scan and then they don't do that. Is it really valid for them to accuse you of repeating the same advise of doing a weekly scan? More importantly is it really helping them to have this kind of mindset especially when the time comes and their PC finally gets infected?
My only objection to GTD is that, for many people, it becomes an end in itself. It clears space and mind to do something. But many times, GTD advocates can't seem to get beyond cataloguing and planning what they want to do.
I used to think this too. However on further analysis, and you'll mostly see this evidence in the Weekly Review interview series, GTD relies on GTD consultants.
It's one of it's biggest flaws. If you can't seem to get beyond cataloguing and planning using a GTD system, it's because you need someone to tell you to go beyond that. However, most people either don't have that or don't have that right person who understands GTD to tell them to do that.
It's not really complicated but you need someone to tell you, ok - if this is a bad time to do a weekly review: this is the best time to do a weekly review. If you only have 10 min. - let's do this in 10.
It's also ironic. GTD is supposed to be an end in itself and that it's reality. However because of the fantasy of the table of contents portrayal of next actions/contexts/weekly reviews and most importantly "a system that you can trust" and "a personal workspace of your own" the end of GTD becomes twisted into something that's not an end to itself and then when you and I gets exposed to that, we sort of get the tendency that what they are doing wrong is because they think it's an end to itself. Kind of confusing.
Think of it like ehh...Christianity. The end of Christianity is supposed to be follow and spread God's Words. Yet the end of Christianity is also supposed to be "Go to Heaven" "Be charitable" "Convert people to your religion" and then that latter way of thinking is what makes certain people become atheists and agnostics in the sense that they not only don't like that Christians think those latter views are an end to itself but they see that such views are contrary to a developing world and are flaws of a cult-like entity that has permeated towards the global culture of their surroundings.
It's the "doing" part that is the problem for most people. Because once lack of focus and scheduling issues are resolved, the only thing that still remains to hold someone back from "getting things done" is fear and inertia.
Again, the irony of it here is that GTD is supposed to be about fear and inertia more than about scheduling and focus.
It's crazy but because I have a better respect now of certain productivity methods (not for GTD only) on how focus and schedules work - it's much easier to see where GTD is really going about.
In fact Allen could have done something about this in Making it All Work but he basically strawmaned everyone as knowing how to use a calendar and why scheduling is flawed.
It's one of the things that made me smile in that I don't know how to make a calendar work. It's one thing for me to put one or two upcoming items but the way he's talking about calendars - it gives an insight to the environment he is working with and with that comes a clearer view of where his systems' true flaws are. (This is assuming Allen isn't just milking GTD nowadays for his consultation services)
I thing the Buddah may have had something to say about that.
Again, I keep repeating myself and I apologize but it is one of the more ironic things yet again.
GTD IS trying to be Buddhism in the corporate world. It might not be 1 to 1 accurate but it's still alot closer than what most people's idea of GTD is.
Hell, Wikipedia can't even figure out that GTD is not a time management system. (This isn't to say Wikipedia is credible but it just means that the myth of GTD is very inserted into it's followers)
Much like all the other thinker-toys, GTD can save you - or bury you alive if you can't get beyond it.
None of either unfortunately - at least at this point of my thinking. I would have agreed with you originally but the more I look at what I know about it's flaws and the more I look now at what it's strengths and innovations are to productivity the more GTD is just a more compact version of Forster's system. Almost concept for concept even.
Next Action is a sequence for sequence rather than a daily Do It Tomorrow. Sounds kinda obvious in terms of the terms' definition but in terms of the meat of the concept it's a lot like meditation in that you can sit silently in a corner and that's meditation but then you can do a bunch of other stuff and heighten that meditation but all that is worthless if your meditation doesn't bring you much closer towards a mindset of peace as opposed to just a calming exercise that will fail when someone is trying to swing a metal bat to your head.
Similar in terms to how it buries you. It's the core reason why I recommend Getting Things Done Fast and the Weekly Review interviews.
Listening to those things won't save you but I think those two (with Weekly Review being the clearer at emphasizing this for that one GTD concept) will show how to "un-bury" GTD by basically just expanding on "not the why" but the "what" of each of GTD's concepts.
Sigh...again it sounds redundant and I don't know how to explain it without focusing on one concept of GTD only rather than talking about GTD as a whole but most of the confusion of the original GTD was the pretense that it is the "what" "how" and "where" book but fundamentally it's just the "how" book relative to Getting Things Done Fast and the Weekly Review interview series. ONLY because that book could bury you if you treat it's "what" and "where" as dogma as many of the systems try to do when they compact it into a lite two concept system of "do and process" or as you say "thinker-toying".