Zen To Done: Addressing the Shortcomings of GTD

Zen Habits has an incredible and insightful post that outlines a new beefed-up GTD system. It just plain rocks, I tell you.

First off, I should note that Zen Habits is one of my favorite blogs as of late. Plenty of nuggets creating life habits in the archives over there. The writing is simple, yet the concepts are fresh and unique. Alright, enough of the mushy stuff. Let’s get to the goods ;)

The GTD system is a very flexible processing tool that gives structure to wrangling your life’s inputs. However, there are a few shortcomings to the system. First and foremost, it doesn’t really pay attention to your life’s goals. GTD is more what needs to be done right now, with not much love given on how to process your life’s goals. Thanks to Leo, we now have a way to process those as well, wrapped around the GTD system.

If you’ve been having trouble with GTD, as great as it is, ZTD might be just for you. It focuses on the habit changes necessary for GTD, in a more practical way, and it focuses on doing, on simplifying, and on adding a simple structure.

Admittedly, GTD is not the easiest thing in the world to learn. It takes a few times of falling off the wagon before really getting the hang of it. The ZTD system tries to make it an easier system by simplifying more. Almost too simple.

In fact, Leo believes that not trying new task and project tools is key to keeping it simple. A straight pen and paper works best for the ZTD system. While this is mostly true, it’s a little over-simplified. In some cases it just doesn’t make sense to use a paper-based system (like web development). However, he’s spot on: the tool isn’t going to make you any more organized.

It’s all about the system, baby.

Leave a Comment

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • glen April 26, 2007, 11:35 pm

    Good point. GTD allows people to have some extra time, to do the things they want to do. But I think the difference between ZTD and GTD is ZTD focuses on those goals/values, and GTD just has them as a byproduct.

  • Fadzlan April 26, 2007, 9:51 pm

    For me, and I guess from what I understand based on what David Allen said, GTD is more on clearing up the clutter of day to day stuff and become more efficient in dealing with our time(context… etc).

    So once the clutter is clear, now what? To some people, they never have time to think and work on things that they want in their life. Every day is just on survival mode. Perhaps they decide to give it a try to GTD is to survive more.

    As for me, after implementing GTD, I guess I just past the survival mode. I start noticing some other things in my life that I have been missing, due to some extra space that I get for myself.

  • glen April 18, 2007, 11:27 am

    Hey Leo,

    Thanks for the kind words ;)

    I think we both agree: complicated tools suck, no matter what you use them for.

    Great post!

  • Leo April 18, 2007, 4:09 am

    Hi Glen … thanks for the nice mention and the flattering remarks! I think very highly of your blog as well, and have been reading it to steal ideas find inspiration for quite some time.

    Just wanted to clarify my position on tools a bit: while I am an advocate of paper and pen, my real recommendation is that people use tools that are as simple as possible. For some (like your example of web developers), online tools might be better — but even then, I recommend you find very simple online lists rather than ones that require a complicated tagging system or that make entry of new tasks difficult.

    Thanks for letting me clarify that and thanks again for the great post on ZTD!