Earlier this month I was forwarded an article by Arianna Huffington regarding what she calls “burnout deniers” focused in particular on Elon Musk’s recent take-over of Twitter and reports of Musk giving “his staffers an ultimatum — they could commit to an “extremely hardcore” version of Twitter, which would require “working long hours at high intensity,” or they could leave” (you can read the full article here).
What struck me whilst reading this was my own experiences and journey with GTD® and how my understanding of “productivity” has changed.
When we deliver our Level One course, our trainers open with something of a “GTD origin story” – the moment we hit a wall, had enough and found focus and freedom in the methodology that changed our lives for the better.
Now whilst the latter is true (I can credit many personal and professional wins to successful implementation of GTD), I always felt just a slight pang of guilt when it came to my turn to speak: you see, you could say that I was already highly productive AND organised – after all I was a librarian – the organisation of information is kind of the basis of the job.
But what GTD did for me was enhance my already existing skill set and supercharge my work projects and career prospects. I was hungry for success and I immediately attracted to any tool or method that purported to increase my productivity.
I worked well into the night most days to make my dream a reality – leading to promotion, recognition, more money and more work – any moment not spent working on my goals was time wasted – Elon would have been proud.
Those unfamiliar with GTD will often moan to me that they don’t want to “get better at working more for their boss or company” and scoff at the idea of attending a course that allows them to “Get Things Done.” Some will even point out that their output already well above the bar set by their employer.
But as we say time and again here’s the twist: “Getting things Done® ISN’T actually about Getting Things Done – it’s about being appropriately engaged with your world and what has your attention.”
Fast forward ten years and I’m still using GTD – but in a very different way. These days, I’m still working hard, but also feeling absolutely no guilt when I’ve switched off, unplugged and find myself idly flicking through a book, having a beer or playing with my kids.
On the Fundamentals level, GTD has given me a system where I can park my Projects and Next Actions, safe in the knowledge that they’ll still be there when I’m ready to engage – rather than be up all night trying to complete EVERYTHING.
On a Higher Horizon level, I have greater clarity on the big picture stuff and what exactly I’m trying to achieve – and why – instead of mindlessly grinding into the early hours in the wrong direction at the expenses of my health and relationships.
It’s a far cry from working until 2am in the morning, and I have no intention of sticking a bed in the office anytime soon – but I’d certainly say that I’m more “Productive” – I just have a much truer understanding of exactly what “Productive” means.