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Fractal Implementation, or, On the Dangers of David Allen's Finger

BnugWiki : GtDBackToBasics

While doing some file pruning yesterday, I ran across a printout of a page I’d visited (and linked to, via del.icio.us) back in January.

In it, BigNosed UglyGuy throws down a sobering bitch-slap on the impulse to tinker endlessly with your GTD system—to try and catch yourself as you start into the inevitably fractal “Cycle of Implementation.” All the better, one hopes, to stop your meta-work before your head slips—completely efficiently, mind you—up your butt. Quoting:

  1. First, understand that the primary focus should always be the projects & tasks at hand, rather than the mechanics of the methodology.
  2. Scrap (or freeze for the time being at least) the extant implementation - trying to retro-engineer is just backward tweaking…
  3. Start again immediately with just tasks — a To Do list (minimal notes) and hard landscape stuff in Calendar…
  4. Only when the basics are working smoothly, start reintroducing the elements of one’s preferred implementation…

Yep. Brilliant, and right on.

This is my stake in the ground about GTD: if you can stay focused on drawing from its best practices to get more of the important things in your life accomplished, then you’ll be a happy kid. For real. But if, like a seeming majority of people I encounter these days, you allow yourself to obsess endlessly over the minutest details of implementation and maintenance—well, you’re screwed. You’re wasting your time.

Not to rely too heavily on the Zen parables here, but keep checking yourself: are you gazing at the moon, or just staring at David Allen’s finger?

Katherine's picture

If you're spending more time...

If you're spending more time tweaking your system than you are actually Getting Things Done, then you have already "strayed from the path." If you have an urge to play and tweak, then play with the stuff people are paying you for.

(Not that I'm innocent in this regard, of course. Physician, heal thyself!)




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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