Getting Things Done/ Flexible Structure

I recently received a comment form a post I wrote last year, called "Must Always Be So Flexible…". npnn writes:

"Thanks for the post.  I have the same issues with structure.  In many ways they work well for me, but I have a hell of a time sticking to them.

Are you familiar with David Allen's book Getting Things Done?  If so, I'd be interested in your reaction.  It's a productivity book, not an ADHD book, but a lot of the themes of your post (flexible structure, dealing with varying levels of energy, on-the-spot decision making) are things he talks about at length.  And he argues that his method is the best way to deal with them.

I use a GTD approach myself and it's been incredibly useful.  **That said** it doesn't solve my issues with structure.  It itself is a structure and it can hard to stick to.  But when I do it makes flexibly deciding what to do based on my current context and energy level a lot easier."

First of all, thanks for the comments. I love comments everyone! (I'm assuming they are well-considered and not mean!) This might be a boring response if you know me, but here it is. I think that GTD is useful for some people. For others it has some of the pitfalls that I think of as classic in ADHD-land particularly..

  • we get excited about the novelty of the approach
  • we get excited about "solving everything" with a given system
  • we implement all of it at once
  • we can't keep implementing all of it, without help, anyways
  • we get bored of it after a while
  • we get overwhelmed by the amount of structure involved

But maybe that's the cynical side. Because many people I know, coaches and organizers including this organizer I collaborate with sometimes, (we team up and coach and organize with the same client) use GTD with clients and for themselves. Others use elements of it. I guess as with Flylady, which I talked about recently, I would urge people to look at which elements are useful to you, and take them on bit by bit. Don't turn your back on things that are already working for you because you're so caught up in a new shiny system! Don't take on so many changes that you lose sight of what you know about yourself and how you work!

Getting Things Done is worth reading, keeping all that in mind. Here are some good points:

  • It can give you some good ideas, and food for thought, about the flow of information and paper in your life
  • It offers some useful procedures for dealing with that information and paper, which you can integrate into your way of doing things (a bunch of different way of going through papers, filing papers, clearing your desk, etc)
  • It offers some ways of thinking about what you do with your stuff
  • It works this into some ideas about thinking strategically about what you can do with different pockets of time that you have