📑 The Rise and Fall of Getting Things Done

Bookmarked The Rise and Fall of Getting Things Done by Cal Newport (The New Yorker)

Cal Newport on the 43 Folders blogger Merlin Mann; the late productivity expert Peter Drucker; the author David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” method; and why G.T.D. doesn’t address the anxiety and inefficiency associated with e-mail overload, a phenomenon that knowledge workers experience in the office.

Cal Newport reflects upon the history of productivity hacks, from Druker’s management by objectives to Merlin Mann’s Inbox Zero, and suggests that individual actions are not enough. As most of us lack the power and control of our processes, we instead require management intervention.

In software development, for example, it’s widely accepted that programmers are most effective when they work on one feature at a time, focussing in a distraction-free sprint until done. It’s conceivable that other knowledge fields might enjoy similar productivity boosts from more intentional assignments of effort. What if you began each morning with a status meeting in which your team confronts its task board? A plan could then be made about which handful of things each person would tackle that day. Instead of individuals feeling besieged and resentful—about the additional tasks that similarly overwhelmed colleagues are flinging their way—they could execute a collaborative plan designed to benefit everyone.

I think the biggest challenge with this is as much about mindset as it is about process. It is interesting to consider this alongside discussions around distributed leadership.

One response on “📑 The Rise and Fall of Getting Things Done”

  1. Another interesting piece Oliver. I always cringe when people are asked in meetings to provide an estimate about how long something will take or how much time they have spent on a particular task. I always feel like we over / under estimate such situations, especially if there is not a requirement to bill the hours.
    Working in a role where I wear multiple hats, support, development and testing I really struggle to keep track of where my time goes. I wonder if the challenge is not only being aware, but also being in control of your time? I think this goes for both home and work.
    I’ve read things like Cal Newport’s piece on getting things done and tried things like batching emails and responses. The problem I have every time I try such strategies is to get others onboard.
    I am left with a question, how much of time is a shared resource? As you suggest, maybe I need to have a go a logging my hours.

    Also on:

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