Why do we use GTD?

I’ve blogged a bit over the life of this site about my use of a life-management framework called GTD and how profoundly it’s affected my life. Sometimes when I talk to people about it, a common response is “but why would I want to spend so much time keeping track of what I have to do instead of just doing it?”

The answer is that having everything in those magic lists gives you a kind of ultimate peace of mind that’s, well, hard to describe for those who haven’t experienced it. Now I know that makes it sounds like some kind of hippy-ish drug-induced trip; but really, the simple confidence of knowing all your responsibilities (“agreements” as David Allen, author of GTD calls them) will be there waiting for you when you come back is nothing short of priceless.

As I was reading my blogs today I found a great entry from fellow GTD’er and SQL community member Brent Ozar (blog | twitter). I think the passage below beautifully describes this “mind like water” (another David Allen phrase) state:

At around 5PM, when I’m not on the road, i leave my home office and my tasks behind.  I walk Ernie (our dog), get the house ready for Erika’s return from work, and leave the workday problems behind.  I’ll still check email from my ozone when we’re not doing anything, and I’ll respond to quick questions, but I won’t do work.

And I won’t care.

I won’t stress out about things I have coming tomorrow, won’t get worried about what a client’s server is doing, won’t work late trying to “get ahead” – because there’s no such thing.  As a knowledge worker, I’m going to be behind for the rest of my life.  The better I am at accomplishing stuff, the more work people will give me.  At 5PM, I have to change contexts because I won’t ever be caught up in my home life either.

via GTD: Why Things Have Been Quiet Around Here | Brent Ozar – Too Much Information.

Thanks for helping spread the word Brent. It’s always great to see others having the same experience and speaking eloquently about it to the world.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve been neglecting that @home list of mine.


  1. This is a great post. I’ve had David Allen’s book for a number of years but never implemented the system. Since meeting David at a conference a few weeks ago I’ve been reinspired to really give GTD a decent go.

    If I can get anywhere near the level you seem to have achieved I’ll be really impressed!


  2. @Warwick – thanks! Keep at it, it took me 5 years or so to get where I am, and there is still plenty of room to improve yet.

    That’s pretty cool that you got to actually meet David Allen in person. From what I hear he’s a very friendly and down to earth guy.


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