Yes, I gave a one-star rating to Getting Things Done (GTD) on Goodreads.
Probably it is the first such book in my collection.
I am very well aware that it’s against the tide.
You can see that the book is rated by a high number of readers and often rated at 3 or 4 stars.
There are a lot of fans too!
But, please allow me to explain my views.
I tried GTD sometime back but left it after a few pages. I couldn’t proceed further.
A friend now convinced its utility. The book is also on my wish-list of 39 HR-OB books. Again I started reading. I read it with a small reader group. We were reading a daily few pages (7 to 10), and then we discussed it online. And occasionally, we met online to discuss and share our views.
I wanted to understand GTD clearly. So I read it slowly, savoring the substance.
I took notes, and even sometimes made mind-maps of chapter concepts.
But still, I couldn’t relate to the book at all.
One, In my opinion, the writing was not engaging at all. But that is fine; all may not be great writers. But the overall idea also wasn’t appealing. I found it ordinary and common sense. The second -idea is not compact and tight. Still, I persisted and completed the book. Maybe something I was not able to appreciate.
I even found David Allen’s session delivered at Google and watched it.
Instead of compact and tight, it spreads. Too many details and lists. At one point, David talked about 43 containers and several lists, so shall one need one meta-container and one meta-list to manage this all!
There I lost it completely.
Maybe I couldn’t appreciate the book or its idea. I searched for reviews, reports, and videos about GTD. But in vain.
I come across few criticisms—notably one from Cal Newport and one on creativity. I agree with them. GTD may be suitable for shallow work or people in the managerial mindset (Paul Graham’s concept). They have long to-do lists and dynamic schedules. Typically, a doctoral student like me or a creative artist can’t put time-box around his task list. It is challenging to follow GTD.
I remember reading 7 Habits of highly effective people by Stephen Covey. Though I don’t follow his first-things-first system, it is much natural to plan month/week/day more like that.
Moreover, there is an alternative view suggesting one can’t manage time, but need to manage energy. “The Power of Full Engagement” – one more title on 39 HR-OB book-list outlines this.
Such diverse views turmoil-ed the mind. The mind triggered radical thoughts. (For that I must thank my friend ). Do we need to squeeze so much in a day? Do we need a long to-do list? How about getting rid of time management need itself. Maybe we need to focus on essential-ism, or minimalism, or Power of Less – One more on the list of 39 HR-OB books.
Finally, Adam Grant wrote a scathing criticism of the time management technique itself, and he recommended attention management as an alternative. It seems it is time to look at attention rather than managing time.
What do you feel?