Sunday, May 13, 2012

ToDo or not ToDo - is that the real question ?


David Allen´s GTD promise of stress-free productivity suggest that lack of productivity is our main source of stress. Too much focus on productivity is stressful by itself.  Are we trapped into thinking about intellectual work using old models inherited from Adam Smith and manufacturing ?


I will rather go for plain creativity.


I´ve been a sucker for productivity and ToDo apps and tried many of them (Gtasks, Omnifocus, Evernote, OneNote, GoogleTasks including the yellow notes on my iPhone that is still a dear friend). I have read David Allens Getting Things Done, and it introduces some very useful ideas, but there is still something with this whole ToDo paradigm that gives me a creepy feeling.

First of all it suggest a premise that productivity is all about getting things done. If I cannot tick of my lists I´m not productive. Secondly and more important, it does not deal with other sources of stress; lack of autonomy, aggressive managers or colleagues, lack of job security etc. (I assume David Allen have been self-employed for the last 20 years). Anyway, my point is not to denigrate Dave Allen and GTD - I do use it to some extent, and it introduces some powerful concepts.

Personal productivity using GTD or To Do lists is not the holy grail - it is just one tool that may help you reduce stress. It assumes that it is possible to keep up, and that you can do your own priorities. You may work in an organization where it´s not possible to keep up - no matter how productive you are. You may have a boss that is never satisfied with your work. Some stuff will stress you - regardless of where you put it; on a piece of paper, inside an App or simply in your brain.  Just opening the App will induce the negative feelings.

My own well-being is more boosted by a sense of creativity rather than productivity. So my search for tools have shifted focus from personal productivity to personal creativity. The key to creativity is


to capture ideas and relevant information immediately

David Allens core idea still rules - you cannot rely on your own brain to remember the stuff, you need a trusted repository. The cell phone is of course vital because it is with us at all times. The alternative is to always bring pen and paper - most people don't do that anymore.

Although some of the Apps I mentioned do address the domain of creativity, (e.x Evernote and Springpad ?), I am still at a level where ideas and information is scattered around my own phone : In yellow notes, photos, Gtasks - in a fairly unsystematic way. In addition I use Instapaper to keep track of the URLs I need to store. My next post will contain my wish list for a Personal Creativity App.
Are you focused on productivity or creativity - or none ?
How do you capture your own ideas ?
Let me know.

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