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Author Topic: Copy-Paste: No new insights in 10 years?  (Read 3469 times)

Paul Keith

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Copy-Paste: No new insights in 10 years?
« on: February 19, 2011, 07:12:58 AM »
Source: http://www.amazon.co...p;tag=&linkCode=

Quote
The original GTD was great because it gave tons of tips to stay organized: determining next actions and keeping them listed by project and context, setting up a tickler file, etc.. This new book is vague, doesn't contain any new tips, and talks about planning at the "10,000 foot level" "20,000 foot level" etc. just like the Stephen Covey books that GTD originally got away from. The original GTD was full of useful everyday tips to stay organized; this book is full of puffery without any discernible tip that will improve my workday. I'm left wondering what David Allen and his company have learned during the past 10 years they've been giving workshops about GTD to probably 10,000 or more people and coaching professionals on staying organized -- couldn't they have found some new nuggets about how to stay organized? Couldn't they have profiled specific people or professions that have put GTD into practice and customized it for their needs? There are probably enough tips alone submitted by GTD fans on [...] forums to make a new book! I was completely disappointed by this book. I kept leafing through it looking for insights I could use and there weren't any I could find.

I'm left literally thinking that David Allen wrote this book to keep his publishers happy or to keep his consulting firm going, to "stay relevant."

Save your money, in my opinion -- just buy the original Getting Things Done

Most of you already know this, most of you probably don't care for this but like I said in my previous post, I was trying to consume everything I could find that is linked to GTD in torrents so that I can finally firmly bury my opinion of it.

This include:

GTD (original)
GTD Weekly Review
GTD Workflow Map DVD
Ready for Anything
Making it All Work

and oh I read Getting Things Done Fast in the past.

So after finishing all these, this review sums it up for me and I think it's finally time to bury anything related to GTD. It was a step forward but everything nowadays has mostly returned backwards and this not only includes those who promote a productivity system but also those who often demand the type of systems like GTD and most of it's innovative concepts are re-buried nowadays.

If you happen to haven't check any of these yet though, here's the ones that are worth reading:

Ready for Anything - If only so you can see how bastardized the online over-simplifications are. Including such books as ZTD and arguably Mark Forster's AutoFocus system. I haven't really checked the other books and I haven't really read or heard anything new that has the same scope as GTD but the core point is - this is arguably a book that reads like 52 blog articles mashed up together and it's also the most useless of the GTD collection I have read. (Useless as in you get the same logic by installing any GTD software anyway and you're bound to either fail with GTD here or most likely be productive from it only because you have a self-esteem problem rather than a productivity problem)

Getting Things Done - As obvious as this sounds, this is still the most important book in the list. Not just for it's practicality like some people are praising it as but because the whys and the hows are all here. It's important to emphasize this because there is still this small dedicated cult opinion that GTD's whys are being explained in the subsequent books but really they're not. The one weakness with this book is that it's deceptively biblical. Take it too literally and you have to experiment with ticklers, paper systems, software, blah blah blah but there's no definite practicality here except for the theory with one exception which is almost laughable - Allen basically goes around the whole thesis but stops at mindmapping as if suddenly they are a critical component and yet he isn't brave enough to vouch for this other than say this is somewhere along the lines of how he processes the process stage. (hence the sort of confusion - you are introduced to great fundamental concepts especially if you know nothing about productivity systems before but it stops midway and assumes you will fill the little gaps on your own or offer your system to objects and locations you can "trust")

The sad part is, this book is also the one that verifies to me that most of the things that has been said later on including most of the interviews Allen makes basically destroyed the potential GTD has of being explained beyond this book and there's sort of a mythical belief now that it's about inbox/next actions/contexts/weekly reviews and it's mostly wrong. The in-basket has a certain concept. The Next Action has a certain meaning and purpose...even in the book if you sort of get "it" there's a sort of basic workflow image that once you see it kind of makes the whole concept feel like one big joke because it's like reading a great novel and suddenly someone shows you the table of contents of that novel and everyone praises what's written on the table of contents and not the actual book. I'm being audacious though as even David Allen doesn't go this far, although he pretty much insulted everyone who couldn't make GTD work in Making It All Work, but it's just the current opinion I have of this and most likely my final one as I'm not sure I will be revisiting GTD again.

I skimmed GTD before. I read many of the blogs about GTD. I tried many GTD programs.

Yet it's amazing how if you separate the book from the hype and try to analyze it - it's like what I originally assumed GTD softwares missed about GTD but increased tenfold.

This is a long paragraph but I just feel it's worth emphasizing because even mouser's GOE 2006 Assignments - I thought it was a sound enough representation of GTD but after looking at this book more closely, I clicked the Day 1 assignment right now and BAM! it's like this is wrong. I'd expand on this further but the reality is that I'm not sure if I could convey this since I'm not a GTD user myself and maybe it'll just come off like some sort of elite way of saying "I get this you don't but it just doesn't work for me but I'll insult your efforts anyway. Ha.Ha.". Also the point of mentioning this is to show how important this book remains still as far as understanding GTD is and how far every other supplemental material whether it be officially written by Allen or made by someone else. I still stand by that if you are truly unproductive, GTD won't make you productive but the concepts there are really like schools of thoughts that can't be captured in one word but could deceptively seem like they make sense interpreted as an outline of titles.

Getting Things Done Fast - As a stand-alone component, it just reads like Making it All Work and all the other "this is the why" not the how. What this has for it though is that if you've been burned out by GTD but are willing to verify still if you are not just misunderstanding the concepts within the first book - this has the gems of filling the gaps of what you might have missed. The con is that it's easy to miss. Literally if you feel like you "get" GTD - you won't appreciate many of the things said here until you re-hear it (the torrent is an audiobook) and it is the least redundant and bravest of all things clarifying what GTD is.

Getting Things Done Weekly Review - This is like a series of commentary by Allen and two women and it's mostly a waste of time. Think of it like a bonus snapshot interview you get from the Blu-Ray or DVD of a movie only there's no movie and there's no structure. Just random talking over each other. What makes this notable though is that this at least makes it clearer than Getting Things Done Fast as far as clarifying GTD (but only for the Weekly Review concept)

What I mean by this is that it at least is brave enough to say: Ok, Weekly Review is not really Weekly Review. Plus the subsequent examples just cements how you need a consultant to best sink in what the school of thought on the Weekly Review is really all about and how it's not what it looks like when people make a software around that concept and it's actually a more powerful version of Mark Forster's AutoFocus but only on the subtler philosophical training level rather than the structural level. (Then again, AutoFocus is basically a To-do list with a purpose)

I'm over-simplifying and exaggerating many of my points but the core idea is, if you misunderstand GTD, these interviews take a while to get to the point but you will at least have one realization where you misunderstood the concept of the Weekly Review if you listened to this interview in it's entirety. (although maybe it's been updated, the torrent only goes up to Review 3 sets)





cranioscopical

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Re: Copy-Paste: No new insights in 10 years?
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2011, 08:24:40 AM »
An interesting overview, thanks.

40hz

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Re: Copy-Paste: No new insights in 10 years?
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2011, 08:59:27 AM »
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.

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.

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.

And fear and inertia are two of the most powerful forces in the human universe from what I've seen.

I thing the Buddah may have had something to say about that.  ;D

Much like all the other thinker-toys, GTD can save you - or bury you alive if you can't get beyond it.

Just my 2¢ anyway.  8)

« Last Edit: February 19, 2011, 09:01:41 AM by 40hz »

cranioscopical

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Re: Copy-Paste: No new insights in 10 years?
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2011, 12:25:27 PM »
Quote from: 40hz
Just my 2¢ anyway

I'll put that on my list of things to think about  :up:

Paul Keith

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Re: Copy-Paste: No new insights in 10 years?
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2011, 07:29:17 PM »
Quote
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?

Quote
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.

Quote
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)

Quote
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)

Quote
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".


« Last Edit: February 19, 2011, 07:48:20 PM by Paul Keith »

40hz

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Re: Copy-Paste: No new insights in 10 years?
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2011, 09:06:27 PM »
@PK -  I'm afraid I'm a little denser than usual today. What exactly is it you're saying in the above? It seems you're commenting or responding to segments of my previous post; but I can't quite follow what it is you're saying.

Are you agreeing, disagreeing, supplementing, questioning, or what?

 :)

Paul Keith

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Re: Copy-Paste: No new insights in 10 years?
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2011, 11:28:53 PM »
Disagreeing but also supplementing how I used to think like you are in the past. (but not all of it)

Also you could say I'm trying to raise questions without asking questions. (minus that one question in my reply)

So basically, all of the above -1.

Mostly though I'm responding more than commenting but it can be kind of rude to respond to a 2cents and then disagree so I'm also mostly just sharing my 2 cents of your 2 cents in case a reader might need to read that kind of perspective.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2011, 11:31:51 PM by Paul Keith »

40hz

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Re: Copy-Paste: No new insights in 10 years?
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2011, 07:47:23 AM »
Mostly though I'm responding more than commenting but it can be kind of rude to respond to a 2cents and then disagree so I'm also mostly just sharing my 2 cents of your 2 cents in case a reader might need to read that kind of perspective.

Ok, I think I see it now. Thx. :)

---------

I'm trying to raise questions without asking questions.

Very Zen-like. I lack that sort of cleverness.  :Thmbsup: