Taking Responsibility for a Design Revolution

revolution_home.jpgI have been reading a few blogs lately that have been critical of GTD®, Franklin Covey and other popular time management systems.

A few of the articles include Beyond GTD: How to Keep Productivity Simple, 9 Reasons Why GTD Sucks and GTD – The Backlash.

They are all interesting, and make valid points in terms of how difficult many people find it to implement GTD in particular, especially after “learning” it in 1-3 days  in a seminar or whizzing through the book in a few hours.  They point out the fact some of the specific techniques used by the author were developed over a period of years, before they were packaged into a single set of new practices that many (and probably most) just cannot digest in anything less than several months.

The cure is not to toss these systems away wholesale, or to defend one and attack the other.

Instead, there is revolution in the air.  A shift is occurring from the widespread use of time management systems designed by someone else, to systems designed by ME… the user.

Some would say that this is what has been happening all this time, and I agree.  I know that thousands of people have been sitting through time management classes pretending to agree with everything, but quietly knowing that there are some things they know they’ll never do. Instructors have played along, presenting complex systems that they know their students could not possibly use in full.

It’s just that there is a big difference between something happening  quietly and unconsciously, and the same thing happening overtly and explicitly.

That’s the revolutionary part.

The shift is taking place:


  • time management systems designed by someone else TO time management systems designed by me (the user)


  •  a focus on following the rules TO a focus on individual experimentation


  • feelings of guilt at not “doing something the right way” TO a knowledge that there is no right way


  • a sense of failure TO a sense of ownership


  •  trying to change my habits all at once TO changing the habits in my system gracefully and peacefully


  • criticism of GTD, Covey and other systems TO a search for the underlying principles that can be learned and adapted from each of these systems


  •  feeling bad because we are different from others TO an acceptance of what makes us different, and using that as a starting point for designing our own time management system

The revolution is coming just in time to assist us in dealing with the fallout of the financial crisis taking place in the major global economies.  Clearly, trusting in the advice of others when it comes to investments has proven to be a mistake for some.  I imagine that people will work harder to craft their own approach to their investment strategies in the future.

We also might be looking for ways to take control of our productivity, starting with our time management systems. And straining to follow someone else’s system in total just won’t work for us anymore.

Instead, the revolution is on, and the impetus to self-design has begun.  Is anyone up for writing a Declaration of Independence?

P.S. See my  article  written after this post — Time Management 2.0