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GTD Debate – Writing Everything Down

GTD and many other productivity systems advocate lists, and writing down all your thoughts, next actions, and todos. However this can bring some people from one extreme of being forgetful and disorganized to the other of having every single action planned out and written down.

Here are my beliefs on the “writing everything down” aspect of GTD. I believe that GTD is a great way to remove the stress of overbearing ideas, thoughts, and tasks when you are overloaded. If you have a demanding job, or you are sick and fall behind, that stuff can really get in the way of your life. The problem is, some people write down and plan so much, that it goes to the other extreme, and interferes in their life by being too planned.

For me, my todo list is something that I try to keep as small as possible, trying to eliminate or complete items on it all the time. Because less todo items and stress means more time to spend living! As Lifehacker puts it, “Don’t live to geek, geek to live”.

What are your thoughts on this? Please drop a comment with your opinion, or write a blog post with a trackback to continue the debate!

Follow The Debate:


Ian’s Messy Desk: Taking a Brain Dump

The Daily Saint: The Simplist Habit of All

HDBizBlog: Don’t try to Remember Everything

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  5. Vitalist, possibly THE best GTD app out there

5 Responses to “GTD Debate – Writing Everything Down”

  1. Howlbeck says:

    I like online to-do-lists because things simply don’t get lost. I use them because I have all those hard-to-remember-things always available, regardless of where i am.

    I totally agree with you in one point – I’m using it to eliminate my weak point: my brain. sometimes it simply says: STOP ! OVERLOAD !!! that’s when tdl’s came in, at first on paper (which was never available when needed) – nowadays on the web. I’m happy.

  2. Writing down things is good but you should not overdo it. I have caught myself writing too much and taking not too much action.

    The core of every success and achievement is action. So writing is just a tool, but not the real thing. I am trying to keep my todo lists simple and write as less as possible. This a hard task. :( (


  3. Howlbeck says:

    Via my Blackberry and Rememberthemilk. I keep returning to RTM because it comes closest to my top favourite Todoist which is sadly missing the one or other feature at the moment fpr daily use. But i hope & believe this will be fixed soon ;o)

    My problem simply was that I never ever managed to keep every information & reminder synchronized on all machines I use – RTM solved that for me.

  4. [...] Great minds think alike (/wink, nudge): Mike St. Pierre and Geoff are thinking about this too. > I Follow” title=”Leave a Comment and get the Link Love!!” [...]

  5. [...] do you spell relief? Take a mind dump and write everything down. Geoff at Gearfire tagged me with the question of writing things down.  In the GTD mindset, getting things out of [...]

  6. [...] couple of weeks ago, Geoff from tagged me for an interesting discussion on writing everything [...]

  7. I love making lists and swear by them. If I have a prospective employee that I’m interviewing I grill them on how they keep track of open items. It’s mandatory they have a process in place, or I can’t work with them – if you’re disorganized you just can’t be productive.

  8. Lists are priceless. I can’t do anything wihtout them and 3M (for the post it notes).