Never Trust Your Time Management System!

I read an interesting post over at the GTD Help blog, and come up with some different conclusions that are perhaps directly opposed to those in the post below.

Here is the link to the post from the GTD Help blog


Do you REALLY trust your system?As I continue to grow in my use of GTD®, I’m discovering just how important the trust factor with your system can be.  David Allen says that you need to really trust your system for it to work.  You can say you trust it all you want, but that’s irrelevant.  When it comes down to it, a trusted system works and a semi-trusted system doesn’t.

So what does it mean to really trust your system?  I have a few thoughts.

Trust it like a Christian should trust God
You may or may not believe in God, but the point still works.  Andy Stanley gave a great analogy for how a Christian should trust in God.  He held up the stool he was sitting on and said to trust in it.  To trust in the stool means to sit ON it.  Not on the edge.  Not with your feet on the ground a little bit.  On it with your full weight.  You might be nervous at first, but over time you’ll learn to trust the stool completely.

Trust it like you should trust your spouse
If you’ve been married, you can understand this.  Saying you trust your spouse is one thing.  Really trusting your spouse is another.  For a marriage to really work, you need to completely trust in your spouse.

GTD is the same way
If you don’t really trust the system, then you can never have a “mind like water”.  I’ve found that as I’ve learned the system works and I can trust it, anything I put into it is instantly out of my head.  Getting the junk out of your head is the key to focusing on the task at hand, and GTD is a great way to get it done.  Whether you use software, a website, your PDA or just pen and paper, make sure you use a system that you can trust completely.


Here are my thoughts…

1. Distrust Your System!!!

A time management system should never be trusted to produce the same results over time.  Many things change — technology advances from year to year, people undergo life changes such as promotions, having children, getting married etc.  The time management system you developed and used last year might not work this year given a change in jobs.

We need to be vigilant for the times when our systems need to be overhauled, and always be on the lookout for upgrade possibilities.  (If you have ever met someone who designed a time management system in the 1950’s and is still using it, you’ll understand what I mean.)

2.  Make Sure It’s a System You Can Upgrade

I’d say it’s better to make sure that your system has an upgrade path, otherwise be prepared to be stuck in something like Windows 95.  Thankfully, Microsoft tries (and sometimes succeeds) in putting out good upgrades, and it would be weird for them to announce that they have perfected Windows, and as a result no further upgrades will be required.

If your time management system cannot be upgraded, then you have a real problem.

3.  Understand that Your System is Fallible

While the idea of everyone following the same system in the same way is attractive to some, I imagine that most people aren’t interested in trusting any particular system to the point where they believe that it can’t be improved, or is somehow without shortcomings.

The fact is, time management systems are human creations that were invented to fulfill human needs that only exist in this world.  According to Einstein, time doesn’t even exist as an absolute phenomena, much less the systems that we put together made up of habits, practices and rituals in order to try to manage it.

(Turns out, we can’t really even do that…  See my post on the reasons why “time management” is a misnomer.)

A car is also a man-made system and its performance has little to do with how much we trust, or semi-trust it.

Time management systems are no different.

In a nutshell, it’s a vain person who thinks that his/her time management system is perfect.


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