GTD trap and not-to-do lists

GTD is great methodology. It enables you to dump all your plans, targets and desires to a list of tasks, freeing you mind from wasting cycles on planing your targets. It comprehensively accomplishes it’s goal – it really frees your mind. It makes you relax. It makes you think less and do more. But it has a drawback.

Any creative person has a dozen of ideas per day. If you use GTD, you log all the ideas to the task list. Amount of ideas grows, your task lists grow. You got used to implement all the tasks. All your time gets consumed by the tasks you’ve created. More you do more ideas you get more ideas you log less time is left for the remains of your life. In the end you are enslaved by your task lists.

I believe it’s impossible to do everything you want to do – you won’t have enough time for that. And that is the great drawback of the GD methodology – It does not take time as a limited resource into consideration. But it should.

How to be happier using GTD? Before taking idea into consideration, decide whether you really going to implement the deed you planned. Reduce the scope of plans. Concentrate on major and profitable, discard unprofitable and unneeded. Think what you need to achieve and how you are going to achieve it and concentrate on a high priority track.

If you feel you have to discard some activities, but you can not, there is a great idea of not-to-do list. Not-to-do list is a list of activities you do not want to do, you do not have to do, you do not like to do. A list of activities you have considered to be harmful or useless to you or goals. Wise reader would doubt the logic of having extra task list to avoid task overhead. What is the point of having all that written? At first, you will not have a chance to forget what you do not want to do and why. Secondly, having a written document has a great disciplinary effect for the cases when you want to break you rules. Thirdly, it encourages you to block unnecessary activities once you have successfully blocked few using not-to-do list.

Effectively-wise, not-to-do list frees you mind even more than the remains of GTD after task blocking. It reduces the size of GTD lists and makes them faster to be freed from the tasks.

If you have 10+ GTD lists with 10+ task in each, I strongly recommend you to review all the goals you want to achieve, revise them and let most of them go. Choose several main goals and clean you lists from other tasks. Leave inevitable tasks such as shopping, nutrition. Block the rest of the tasks with a not-to-do list. Make sure you will have enough time for completing all your tasks. Be happy.

  • Gareth

    Surely you’re missing the point of things like Inactive Projects and Someday/Maybe lists – that’s where you put all the ideas that you are not ready to action yet. You can review them weekly or monthly and decide whether they need actioning or indeed removing completely.

    • T1

      I’m doing it differently now. If I’m getting any big idea, I document it as detailed as possible and store description to a separate folder in my file system. I come back to it only when I have some free time for implementation.