I talked about some negative misconceptions of GTD in previous posts. GTD often gets a bad rap for the wrong reasons, such as for allegedly driving us towards compulsive hyper-efficiency or for making us the servants of our task lists. None of this is true: GTD can be used in many ways by different individuals, and there is a case for using the methodology to live a more relaxed, care-free life, with a very lean and manageable task list.
But I would like to debunk an opposite form of misconception about GTD: that it is some sort of panacea that will turn our careers around. We are all experienced enough to know that there is no secret recipe for success, and GTD is no exception. It’s sad to think that there are people who cultivate this illusion, surfing the web for that illusory magic bullet! (that’s how the expression “productivity porn” came about).
It makes me think of what a priest once told me “if you and your future wife didn’t choose yourselves well, there is nothing Christ can do about it”! By the same token, if you haven’t chosen your job well – if you have embarked in a professional path that is not in line with your talents or your interests, there is nothing GTD (or any productivity system) can do for you.
You don’t become the next Einstein by doing GTD; and neither the next Abraham Lincoln. Task management, though important, is but a secondary skill next to emotional intelligence, public relations skills, effective writing, a passion for international relations, the ability to navigate the waters of a very structured hierarchy, integrity, loyalty, adaptability etc.
So then why bother with GTD in the first place? For two reasons. The first is that GTD is about “stress-free” productivity, and it’s much better – not to mention healthier – to be successful AND relaxed at the same time! The second is that GTD promotes focus, concentration, and is thus bound to make you more efficient (provided of course you have the other skills to go with it).
To sum up: GTD ain’t no magic bullet; it is no replacement or shortcut for the dirty, tedious hard work of learning and mastering your craft. But it can compliment all that effort by reducing your stress levels and increasing your attention capabilities.