17 January 2006

Now ... is GTD really about time management ?

My friend Matt Cornell has recently had another great post. This one is on Is GTD the "Extreme Programming" of Time Management? One which I am glad to see very well received in the blogsphere. Many blogs I regularily read are making reference to it. ... It goes without saying that Frenchmen are, across the pond, expected to be akward. ... so here it goes. One of the key questions in my view is : Now, is GTD really about time management ? The more I am attempting to implement GTD, as a gtd white belt, the more I am wondering. Is it not more about task management or process management, rather than time-management per se. As an academic, I must say that I have found at time difficult to implement it, as most of my core activities, such as carrying out research, writing lectures (writing an hour university lecture can take up to 10 hours, and this is without preparing the powerpoint presentation and matching hand-outs), marking course-work or examination papers, require, as they absolutely necessitate very high concentration, large chunks of quiet time. This fits with what David Allen calls the "hard landscape" but there is little in the way of specific advice about this sort of things in the book. I have read it and re-read it. I have also since Christmas listened, and re-listened, to the GTD Fast CDs. This is something which is primarily a matter of prioritising, making the best action choices and using the "6 level model for reviewing your own work". The longer I have been working at implementing GTD, the more I see myself as a GTD white belt, which is a great lesson in humility. I indeed feel it is vital to be modest and go through the basic moves, which in themselves can already be so very empowering, before thinking of adapting the method. The only exception however, is the way I started adapting Morgenstern's Time Management from the Inside Out recommendations about using a time-map, which allows you to isolate every day a number of time-slots, during which you will not be disturbed and during which the "real" work will be done.


At 1/18/2006 04:46:00 am, Blogger Des Paroz said...

Hi Pascal. Long ago, before I stumbled over GTD, I had the realisation that time cannot be managed.

You see, the truism is that there are 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day. So "1440" is a magical number - the number of minutes a day has. You can neither "manage" to get additional minutes, or less. 1440 is it.

So nothing you can do can manage time. It is a constant, and it is unmanageable.

So what can we do?

We can manage ourselves - our ACTIONS - relative to 1440. We can use our 1440 minutes by doing actions. An action might be sleeping, eating, exercising, working, resting, playing, etc. But they are all actions.

This, I think, is why GTD had instant appeal to me (and I suspect others), and why it forms the basis of my personal productivity system.

Our epitath at the end of our life is really a summary of the actions we took, how we took them, and the results they bore.

At 1/19/2006 01:19:00 am, Blogger Matthew Cornell said...

I like your thinking, and questioning, Pascal - good post. I think the level at which one needs to manage one's time depends on the person. I've never been particularly good at explicitly carving out time for myself (i.e., making an appointment with myself), but recently I've had some success. Specifically, I was having trouble being motivated to program, so I made appointments during my "prime time" (9-11am) to code, and it really helped!

Please keep sharing what you try, and your successes (or not). As we've discussed, I'm especially interested in GTD's application to research.

At 1/31/2006 09:46:00 am, Anonymous Katy said...

I suppose you could say that I use a form of "Time Mapping", the problem I find is that if things overrun it can blow the rest of your day out completely.

However, I do find that blocking out areas of the day and trying to stick to this has made me focus on my tasks more and not procrastinate as much as I used to.


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