Linda Maye Adams

Soldier, Storyteller

A Right-Brained Experiment with Getting Things Done


In my time management travels, I dabbled a bit with Getting Things Done.  I suppose I had to, because it’s a system that a lot of people talked about.  I’ve been trying to get a handle on my time management because I would like to write full time as a fiction writer, and it’s best to do it now.  I’ve also looked at FlyLady (that was scary!), Julie Morgenstern (who gave me the impression that, “Yes, I know people organize differently, but do it my way”), Autofocus (extremely demoralizing) and a bunch of others that largely said the same thing.

One of the basic problems, I think, is that GTD was written 20 years ago.  The world’s changed a lot.  Email and technology has exploded.  I don’t know about other places, but where I work, having the ease of editing a presentation is NOT a time saver.  People will tweak it to death, all the way up until the last five minutes before it’s given.

There’s also an assumption that the person using the system has a stable schedule.  The culture at my work is the fire hose.  Nearly everything is an emergency because people wait so long to do something that it turns into one.  I try to control what I can, but a lot of is out of my hands.  I cannot schedule more than 2 hours ahead because it is so bad.  Try doing a weekly review on a regular basis with a stream of emergencies.

The third assumption is that everyone is a manager and works on a big project or multiple projects.  This is a source of aggravation for nearly every time management system because they assume everyone’s a manager (hello out there, time management gurus.  You do realize there are employees, right?  We’re the ones you’re telling the the managers to delegate to).

The other area I have trouble with is that it’s not really friendly for really creative right-brained people.  I found this on Asian Efficiency, which fits my reaction to the system:

GTD is not written for you and me. It’s written for “left brained” people who already posses strong level of structure in their lives, and GTD adds them another layer of power and control in their decision making process.

Lists are evil things for most of us creative types.  I don’t even use one to grocery shop, because I invariably don’t get everything on the list, forgot items on the list, and overspend because I’m using the list.  The fastest way I can lose anything important is to put it on a long list.  I don’t even keep my submission records on a spreadsheet because it’s too easy for me to lose track of them.  

Creativity is also a funny animal.  It seems silly to me to put on a list somewhere, “Write Scene 4.”  Maybe my muse wants to write Scene 10 instead.  Maybe it wants to write Scenes 4-8.  I’m a pantser.  I follow the flow of the story.  All I truthfully need to know on the creative side is that this story has a deadline.

The result was that Getting Things Done got a resounding, “Not for me.”

1 Comment

  1. I love Flylady. If it wasn’t for her system, I wouldn’t have finally been able to get my head around organization. I don’t follow everything she espouses, but the “you can do anything for 15 minutes,” and the way she helps set up routines and the daily lists, that helped me immensely. I was not born organized. LOL It really helpd click things home in my head. I tried the GTD and gave it up. Most of those systems only work if you’re born organized to begin with. Flylady helped me learn HOW to build routines, slowly, forgiving myself for my imperfections, when I’d tried tons of other methods with dismal failure.

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