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Special User Sections > The Getting Organized Experiment of 2009

Mini-Review + Survey: GTD Over The Years – What Changed?

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Paul Keith:

“Okay, how can I help?”  For starters, we’ve included a simple poll below.  Let us know how long you’ve been using GTD in your workflow.  Secondly, post in the comments, sharing what you’ve seen change since you first started implementing it.  How has technology changed things?  What has remained the same?  What has time taught you?
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GTD err... Review:

First off I've only found the site now but they sold me on this one review of GTD Implementation Guide.

First off, any site that has a large "Talk to Us" button rather than a Twitter button or Facebook button earns an instant plus from me.

I didn't try it and I know it's not the most traffic rewarding thing to add to a site but as a first time surfer who encountered this button...WOW... I know this is nothing to get giddy about from an innovation side but the whole button blew my mind off and that's why I'm reviewing this site. The fact that it's in big bold button shape while still being at the beginning of a things instantly generate trust and respect from me.

Lay-out and design is something I'm ignorant of and while my initial impressions were good, I can't help but get frustrated that I needed to click a link from another blog article just to spot that GTD Implementation Guide review. I'm not sure if it's the dating or that it's due to being a featured article but in some ways, the mild frustration came from how clear and zen-like everything looks initially.

Assuming the above link is the default reviewing template, it gets a plus from me which you'll see in my copy-paste reply to the survey topic below.

However just to walk over why I have a high opinion of the template.

What it Does - +1, everything should start with this if you have a vast knowledge of what you're reviewing.

What it Doesn’t Do - +1000, this is what sold me to the article. If every self-proclaimed knowledgeable reviewer could add this to their reviews, things would be much easier understood by casual curious readers.

Who Should Purchase This Guide -  :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: It's not going to be popular with many review sites because it's about a reviewer potentially turning customers away from a good product and they often botch up this section anyways but the way it's written gave me a good feeling of trusting this person's reviews. It helps that he had the audacity to bold the key contents of this sub-heading which can be a double edged sword in that it can look like you're focusing on the negative aspects of a product.

What's bad

The app comparison link on the bar is easily spottable and it has just a good balance of not so known and well known apps that it works but the whole vertical check list doesn't work.

It just isn't skimmable. Applications are not antivirus software first of all but this also isn't Wikipedia.

People are not looking for in-depth interpretations of what software has what.

People want to understand as easily as possible how each application stack up relative to their needs of GTD.

They don't want to first memorize which application has e-mail and then scroll down just to see which one has printable lists and then scroll up again. A table like this would be better served as a questionnaire that asks what the needs of the GTD searcher are and then show a list of the results at the end of the quiz and then maybe at the end, you show this table with the needs of the searcher highlighted while the other options are grayed out.

Anyways, that's it. The below is just a copy paste of my reply to the survey in case people don't want to click the link to view it.


Paul Keith:
I'm not a GTD user but what I've discovered primarily over using GTD is that the list is not the most efficient way of making everyone productive.

This may not seem ground breaking but I think a lot of unproductive people with no background who come into GTD get swept by the allure of lists and the way GTD over-stress lists reveals perspectives that few other productive systems eventually lead up to because they don't try to scratch the idea of what a "system" is and often use system just as a way to refer to "sets of exercises" or "sets of non-interconnected actions".

For people who aren't productive with lists including GTD's, this is as good as learning GTD because it allows you to appreciate and search for more ways to dissect a list and in that sense people end up being able to create their own @context system using things like index cards, sticky notes and habit trackers and mold them into something that increases the creation of much more unorthodox productivity hypotheses and the list makers meanwhile are able to work on streamlining GTD and using GTD as the benchmark for how to effectively improve upon a simpler list system by looking at GTD and getting the conclusion that the simpler system makes them more effective than big ole complicated GTD.

From the complexity side, time has revealled that GTD is not as much complicated as it is confusing and vague.

Many people often feel that GTD is complicated because they fail to grasp what @context's value really means and even long term GTD users often settle on the idea that it is just there to separate a long list or categorize a section of your to-do list when contexts' greatest value comes from developing a unified set of folders "from your own needs" rather than a standardized set of folders. (From a computer file system analogy, context is more like your MP3 player's playlist and what you name them rather than Home, My Documents, Downloads, Music, etc.)

Similarly people are confused with Someday/Maybe lists because GTD relies on a process per process basis. Something many productivity-passioned people still find a time to cheat on and skip a step sometimes (like skipping past a to-do list entry to do something you feel like) but this particular category is "complicated" because it's a concept that leans on every other system of GTD from in-basket to task entry insertion to inbox's of Next Actions. Someday/Maybe lists on one side feels like the odd man out of a GTD system. Almost as if it's there just so David Allen can say "here's where you put whatever item I can't think of putting in any of the other system I've described" and yet at the same time, it's a meta-step that raises the question of...What if I can't deal with this? in a time when many people focus too much on what task they can do and forget that elephant in the room when your whole life goes down.

Finally, I love the fact that now some sites like yours are willing to admit some roadblocks of GTD.

To quote your review of GTD Implementation Guide:

"Tip: Setting Up Your Workspace

Don’t share your work area with family members or colleagues."

Finally it's now much more easier to admit that GTD requires a workspace of your own. I know David Allen didn't exactly hide this but it's almost the bane of many unproductive people who tried to fit GTD into their life because they bought the idea that GTD will work for everyone and make them productive at all cost as long as they follow the concepts but it's nice to know such things are now more often emphasized and left out in the open.

Another reality is that GTD is no longer revolutionary as much as evolutionary. In a way it's like Web 2.0. The sheen has rubbed off a bit and the awe is now much more centralized towards how GTD works rather than how "awesome" GTD is that you should make it work for you.

In the context of capture, people understand more why this is an important process and why software is flawed in that regards. Some applications like EverNote even managed to reach mainstream despite reducing their features and alienating their loyal community by going head long and recruiting a new loyal fanbase whose interests are centered on capture.

In the area of thought process, it's much nicer now to see more people "really" think about why their list or system isn't working rather than just extending this step as another "dead" list taking step in order for GTD to work.

In the area of inbox's and next actions, it still has a long way to go before software design can truly portray the severity of displaying this not only correctly but urgently but it's also nice that this has at least ushered in some new software ideas in the area of capture and display.

Notably the two main camps are tag-based notetakers/search-based notetakers and mindmaps.

Unfortunately what has remained is that GTD didn't inspire people to look and alert people more into more complicated systems of making someone productive and in fact it's complexity has caused people to find ways to "over-simplify" the concepts of the system and spread it out as lackluster replacements for things that are in the book and the only one that has benefitted are those who are not necessarily looking to be productive but who wants to become more productive but already possess a previous working/semi-working/just in need of motivation system.
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Based on their review of the GTD Implementation Guide, I've definitely the target audience for it.

Paul, thank you for the review!  Your thorough feedback has helped us shape our upcoming redesign to address some of the issues you've mentioned. 

You'll be excited to hear that we're completely doing away with the current App Comparisons pages to allow a cnet-like filtered search.  For example, if you're browsing cell phone reviews on CNet, it allows you to select attributes of the phones you'd like to see listed.  It filters the list based on your selections, and you can then see key attributes of the remaining options, or compare them side-by-side.

That's what will do with productivity and list-management software for all platforms, coming very soon this summer.

Can I ask how you heard about GTD Reviews?  What other features of the site would make it a more regularly useful resource?

Thanks for your time, Paul.  Have an awesome and productive day!

-Evan (Co-founder of

Paul Keith:
Woah Evan. That was quick.

Oh, I just happened to browse David Allen's forum (I rarely visit there) and saw your review of the Implementation Guide and like I said above, it was well done and very clear and the talk to me button just won me over.

Welcome to this forum btw.

As far as new features, man... unfortunately I have no website design knowledge at all.

I hope the other guys here gives you some feedback because the whole... design and traffic and what a user might want and how realistically it can be implemented is more of their thing.

With no framework, my ideas can shoot from the more ego-feeding but ultimately useless GTD portfolio creator where users can easily fill a profile on how productive they've become with GTD and share it via Facebook and Twitter or even as a blog button for their site to the cliche idea of a social network to the more niche and unlikely ability to stack one's download que so visitors can test several of their preferred GTD applications quickly or have it so all their preferred web app links be easily copied to the clipboard for easy copy and paste reminder or even old style social media way of having a mini-Digg for GTD apps and news but again, I have no real idea which is possible to implement and which if implemented will make GTD users refer to the site more.

I say even as is now, your site looks good and if you continue filling it with the type of contents you're doing now, it's enough to get people interested; marketing and network exposure aside.

If there's one thing I think you can surely do to help traffic, it's to create a mini-site launch after you've updated your site with the new lay-out since that seems to be the fad right now.

I don't know how exactly you can do that effectively over the blogosphere, but the nice thing about DonationCoder's community is they are friendly enough that all you need to do is post the new updated site in the Announce your Software/Service/Product section (subheader for the General Software Discussion forum) and fad or not, they're inclined to give you a piece of their mind if they're interested in the topic.



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