The boundaries of GTD #

Ton Zijlstra has some provoking thoughts about the limitations of GTD-like systems :Ton’s Interdependent Thoughts: Thoughts on GTD System Weaknesses

In short, Ton highlights the increasing need to apply qualitative (and often social- and/or network-based) approaches to filter the info-glut before you can start putting actions into a GTD-like process.

I think he’s spot on, and it made me think a little more analytically about my personal organisation system, loosely-based on GTD, but heavily reliant on the capabilities of MindManager enhanced by ResultsManager.

ResultsManager adds a project– and action-planning capability to MindManager by allowing any topic in any mind-map to be tagged with task-related metadata, and further, the ability to define “dashboard” maps which cut across the information, pulling together a view based on whatever criteria the dashboard author chooses.

In the most GTD-like aspects of the process, this makes it easy to create a mindmap of “Today’s Next Actions” across all of my projects, but the filtering capabilities are very powerful and allow many other views to be created.

Key aspects of this system which, I think, go some way to addressing the issues Ton raises are:

  • Ability to store, manipulate and interpret information within the context of a given project or concern, yet pull out and record cross-links;
  • Clear signalling of which ideas do not have any current “Next Action”, and which therefore may need further thought to continue developing actionable sense;
  • An easy way top bring in external information sources – for example by using a MindManager map part to import the content of an RSS feed, I can connect this information management system to my wider information-gathering and filtering processes.

Ton’s closing challenge is for a system to present patterns about activity that could in turn become “inbox” items – this definitely needs further thought, but my intuition is that a combination of tagging and feed-derivation could take some kind of a log for re-ingest to the “machine”.

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Julian Elve
Proactive application of technology to business

My interests include technology, personal knowledge management, social change

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