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The problem with GTD, IMHO, is that it's the organizational equivalent of nuclear fusion. Yes, once it gets going it's self-sustaining and will provide you with clear benefits. But, in my experience, it takes a lot of work in the beginning to spin up GTD and keep it going until it gets to that self-sustaining state. I tried going with the GTD system for two weeks and it felt like I was constantly managing and updating all the various lists that it requires. I could never seem to get to the "promised land" where everything would stabilize and the system would become self-sustaining.

In the end, I just ended up reverting back to keeping a simple to-do list in a text file.

I won't disagree with you. I run my own business, and I probably spent the better part of a week essentially full time setting myself up, plus a decent chunk of the next couple weeks. (Not that it would have to take that long, but I wanted to make sure I considered all my use cases and set up something I would really be able to use to the fullest.) However, the potential benefits are analogous to nuclear fusion as well. I used to use a (synced) text file as well, and having been on this system for about two years now, I'm confident it was worth considerably more than the setup time I put into it.

There's a really good O'Reilly book on this geared towards sysadmins (though I'm sure it applies to dev's etc).


Just following it for a short time made my work & life a whole, whole lot better.

My favourite getting-things-done methodology is still: "If you have more things that you can remember, then you have too many things and you can safely drop some"

I've also noticed that most things I put off, or forget to do, are things are I don't actually want to do anyway and no amount of GTD-ing or tasklisting or anything will ever make me do them. They are just cruft that accumulates.

Better to just let them slip off your viewfinder. One thing I have to improve, though, is doing that consciously. Instead of letting things slip through the cracks, I have to start consciously pushing them through the cracks.

Interesting point, which I partially sympathize with. The core of it, as I hear it, is that you should focus on the most important things first and not worry about the rest. In any case, I think it is nice to write those "less important" things down. If you later renegotiate your commitment to doing them, you can add a tag or note that says, more or less, "This isn't really that important" and take it off your active list.

To make a counter argument to your "methodology": There are "small" things that don't seem important relative to other things, but as you get more organized, getting those "small" things done can be very satisfying. Also the energy needed to do them may be small when you remember them in the right context.

The trade-off is that even if you are always updating the action list, you are supposed to get an overall better peace of mind. You are not spending your time in the shower or in the traffic jam reviewing the list of things you have to do tomorrow, because you know you have offloaded to an external system.

Like any new habit you can't hope to form it in two weeks, you need so sustain the effort for at least a few months.

(To be honest, I have experimented with various GTD systems along the years, and was not able to sustain it as well for longer than a few months. However, during crunch time, I find it an incredible tool)

Its amazing how effective the most basic options are (a text file). I used to use a google doc as my task list. Then we built in tables in to the company database for requests (a very poor idea by a new manager that had joined). Now we are onto Jira. While Jira has benefits, it is still way clunkier to use than a Google doc, and there are many features I miss.

For me the problem with GTD is the lack of good apps for non Apple platform.

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