43 Folders

Back to Work

Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

Join us via RSS, iTunes, or at 5by5.tv.

”What’s 43 Folders?”
43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

Ev Williams: Achieving balance with GTD

evhead: Ten Rules for Web Startups

Ev's ten rules for a startup are all strong, but #10 particularly caught my eye:

#10: Be Balanced
What is a startup without bleary-eyed, junk-food-fueled, balls-to-the-wall days and sleepless, caffeine-fueled, relationship-stressing nights? Answer?: A lot more enjoyable place to work. Yes, high levels of commitment are crucial. And yes, crunch times come and sometimes require an inordinate, painful, apologies-to-the-SO amounts of work. But it can't be all the time. Nature requires balance for health -- as do the bodies and minds who work for you and, without which, your company will be worthless. There is no better way to maintain balance and lower your stress that I've found than David Allen's GTD process. Learn it. Live it. Make it a part of your company, and you'll have a secret weapon.

Right on.

Slightly off-topic, but on my mind...as I commented earlier today, I'm finding myself increasingly uncomfortable framing techniques like GTD strictly in terms of "productivity" (although the ability to be more efficient and productive is definitely a nice perk).

GTD fights stress not by transforming you into a drone or a brainless corporate cog, but by affording a framework for recovering and maintaining smart focus. What you do with that focus is entirely your affair -- clearly people will use it for everything from building a very swell startup to managing their music career and beyond. Gratefully, nowhere does The David say you have to turn into an enormous-toothed White Guy running sales seminars at the La Quinta Inn. In any case, when we're doing GTD right, Ev is right on the money: balance is sewn into every stitch of your week.

Even two years into using GTD, I have to say I'm still pleased -- and sometimes even surprised -- at how well it still works for me. Whenever I fall off the horse, I'm usually just a mini-review away from feeling retuned to my priorities and commitments. I agree with Ev; it's powerful stuff.

I do wonder if there's a better term for GTD's goals and methods than simply "productivity" or even "time management" What do you think? Does it matter?

Marc Orchant's picture

Great question Merlin - I...

Great question Merlin - I tend to agree with most of the sentiments here that casting GTD simply in terms of time management or productivity is to narrow and misses the essential point of the exercise.

For me, it's all about balance and focus. Like you, I often fid myself getting out of balance and a mini-review is usually all that's required to reduce the stress and anxiety and get me back to a comfortable posture. David Allen told me that this is a true sign of black-beltedness - knowing you've gotten out of shape and having the requisite skills to train yourself back into shape.

Having dabbled in too many approaches to count over the years, the reasons why GTD stuck where other disciplines did not has been something I've discussed, written about, and mulled over many times. Ultimately, I keep coming back to the inherent flexibility in DA's approach - technology-agnostic, easily tuned to individual reality, and scalable as your commitments ebb and flow.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


Subscribe with Google Reader

Subscribe on Netvibes

Add to Technorati Favorites

Subscribe on Pageflakes

Add RSS feed

The Podcast Feed


Merlin used to crank. He’s not cranking any more.

This is an essay about family, priorities, and Shakey’s Pizza, and it’s probably the best thing he’s written. »

Scared Shitless

Merlin’s scared. You’re scared. Everybody is scared.

This is the video of Merlin’s keynote at Webstock 2011. The one where he cried. You should watch it. »