GTD Is An Attention Management System
I’ve always wondered how best to describe GTD to people. I’ve found that once you get through the hyping up and the fancy wording that David Allen increasingly uses when discussing his methodology, it’s a fairly straightforward system (though of course, understanding it and being able to use it on a regular basis are two entirely different things). However, that doesn’t really help me when somebody comes along and asks what the hell it’s all about.
I’ve noticed lots of people point the puzzled productivity-aspirant to the GTD entry on Wikipedia. That certainly helps explain the methodology and all the various stages and elements that make up GTD, but it doesn’t exactly sum it up in one neat package. And don’t even bother with the official David Allen Company description. Groundbreaking? Sophisticated without being confining? Subtle effectiveness? Its ability to enliven, enlighten, and empower is its magic? Sounds more like a fine wine, a sport car or a dubious drug to me. But I can’t judge. He has the GTD brand to sell and a business to run.
Management this, management that
That just left me with time management, project management… you know, those buzz words. However, a time management tool can technically be a calendar and a project management tool can just be a to-do list. I’d like to think GTD is a bit more than just an advancement of the same-old thinking and the same-old tools, right? Those buzzwords have been around for so long and been used to describe such a wide range of things that their entire meaning has been watered down.
It’s Twitter time
Yesterday I had my weekly Twitter session. Yes folks, Tuesday is my Twitter day (control social media, don’t let it control you)! Anyways, I came across one little tweet that inspired this entire post. It roughly said that GTD isn’t a time management tool, it’s an attention management tool (apparently originally from Lifehack.org, if anybody has a link please share). Ding! Of course, what a great way to sum it up, I thought. Every element of GTD, from the vertical map to the someday/maybe list is designed to capture those things that have your attention and manage them in such a way that they don’t become distractions or drains on your time and energy.
Next time somebody asks me what GTD is all about, I might say it’s an attention management system and go from there. Or maybe not. It occured to me as I wrote this post that anything that has your attention is ultimately just another throught in your head. So… how about GTD being a thought management system? Would really like to read your comments on that. How do you go about describing GTD?