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Vox Pop: Implementing GTD for Creative Work?

creativepro.com - Getting Design Done

Interesting article here by our old pal, Keith Robinson, introducing GTD to creative types. This is a fascinating topic for me, particularly since I sometimes find it difficult to "crank widgets" when it comes to anything creative.

Keith's an old hand with this stuff, so it's not surprising that he's developed his own tweaks for Getting Creativity Done. Here's a novel idea:

Create a creative time and space for yourself. Make sure it's free of distraction and get into the habit of going there as often as you can. When there, pull out your @creative lists and get to work. I find this is a great way to tackle smaller creative problems. It's how I come up with -- and get started on -- most of my writing. This article is a result of my @creative time.

That's an interesting way to think about contexts. Ordinarily, you'd think of contexts as representing access to a certain kind of tool or as a physical or temporal limitation, whereas Keith is using it almost like a project.

This is challenging stuff that my buddy, Ethan, and I end up talking about all the time. We both agree that you can use GTD to "clear the decks" for creative work -- to move aside all the mundane workaday tasks that might keep you from focusing on blocks of time for creative stuff. But we, like a lot of people, both struggle with how (or even whether) to put truly creative work into our GTD systems. What do you think?

How are you using GTD for creative work? What do projects and next actions look like for a painter, a screenwriter, or a dancer? What's your best trick for getting creative stuff done?

Jesse Janowiak's picture

I found GTD difficult to...

I found GTD difficult to used when I was in the middle of a creative project for school last semester. I had to create an animated short in approximately 4 months. At the start, GTD worked great. It helped me balance the many, varied tasks that made up a bulk of the project: drawing storyboards, recording dialogue, writing documentation, and so forth.

The problem came towards the end of the semester. For the final few weeks, I had one major task in the project: Animate. It could be broken down a bit -- animate scene 1, animate scene 2, etc. -- but the reality was that animating was ALWAYS on my task list. I couldn't schedule it away, since I couldn't always predict how long it would take. After a while, when I could predict the time required, it simply took all the time I had. Everything else got shifted into my "when I get time" priority. The house didn't get cleaned, the pets barely got fed, and exercising was a joke. By the end of the project, I didn't even bother to look at my to-do list because I knew I'd be animating for every moment that wasn't occupied by my "hard landscape" items like class and meetings.

Even though the project has been finished for months now, I haven't recovered my GTD mentality because it broke so completely. Has anyone else found a way to use GTD to deal with a task that expands to fill all available time?




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