Declaring GTD Bankruptcy


The Brazen Careerist blog today takes a step beyond declaring email bankruptcy to declare GTD bankruptcy. Writer Penelope Trunk says a computer failure on an un-backed up computer – was the last straw for her.

“I was also adhering to the GTD holy grail of the empty inbox. But the empty in box, I confess, made me crazy. I found myself deleting emails in the name of that cause, and not because I had actually dealt with them. Also, I was filling in my Outlook calendar religiously, by moving emails directly into my schedule. But I was not looking at my calendar religiously. So I often missed meetings.”

Post-computer crash, she didn’t pick up where she’d left off:

“I think my situation was like inadvertently declaring GTD bankruptcy, and it was marvelous. I slept well. I opened up a gmail account, and I had an empty email box all the time – maybe because I also had no record of email addresses, so my outbound mail slowed down significantly.”

I hate the idea of losing my documents, my contacts and my emails. I couldn’t be as blase as she seems to be about her lost data. I can understand her being happy to leave GTD behind if it wasn’t working for her though. I’m of the view that if a system doesn’t work for you, you shouldn’t force it. Unless it makes sense and solves the problems you need solved, why would you stick with it?

Forget email bankruptcy; try Getting Things Done bankruptcy [Brazen Careerist]


  • I don’t think she was saying that she was giving up GTD forever, only that she could start afresh and decide how to do things better.

    I wonder how closely she was following GTD… I’m not a strict GTDer, but I did read the book, and I don’t remember anything about A, B and C lists, in fact those are ideas from older systems which are somewhat contrary to GTD. I suspect there are a lot of supposed GTDers in the world who never actually read the book.

    An important thing in GTD is simply dropping or deleting those tasks you don’t need to do… you don’t have to file every email, read every letter… A big part of having an empty inbox is the delete key.

    You certainly don’t need an overly complicated email folder system either. That is what search is for. If you are spending half a minute per email deciding which folder to put it in, you are wasting a lot of time.

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