When your life gets hectic, you need to get organized.
It’s a simple fact of life that the less clutter you have, the more efficient you’ll become (Albert Einstein not included).
But not just clutter- remembering dates, appointments, and events can clog your memory and degrade your performance.
To fix the problem we have techniques such as the Get Things Done, Mind Mapping, and the 4-Hour workweek.
But before you jump on the bandwagon, you should keep in mind that despite their popularity, these methods aren’t as useful as you may think.
Getting Things Done (GTD)
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Getting Things Done is a revolutionary organization technique outlined in a book by David Allen. This technique has swept the internet by storm. You can find programs and online web applications that organize your life with a few clicks of a mouse: sounds simple enough, right?
While we hate to go against the grain, there are some aspects of the GTD principle that hinders efficiency. Sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it? Well, indeed it is true- GTD is far more complex than it needs to be. GTD operates on five distinct principles: collect, process, organize, review and do.
The bulk of the problem lies within the organization and review principles.
In the organization principle, it is stated that a proper filing of events should be observed, complete with a note on the side that outlines when the event should be completed. It sounds easy in essence, but actually going about organizing upcoming events can detract from efficiency.
Look at it this way: if you were busy articulately organizing your life by dotting every I and crossing every T with poise, you aren’t necessarily doing anything productive. With the 20 minutes you spent adding details, dates, and events you could have instead been maintaining good work ethic.
More importantly we have the review principle- which states that every single item that needs to be taken care of should be reviewed each day. Just like the organization principle, we find it contradictory to efficiency when you are spending 20 minutes reviewing events and committing them to memory- and every day, no less.
Using GTD is still beneficial, but it’s flawed- unless you have the spare hour each day to review and organize every aspect of your life.
The Mind Mapping Technique
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If you are more of a picture person, mind mapping may be more appealing that GTD. Yet still, mind mapping is just as oxymoronic as GTD, in the respect that it degrades efficiency in the process of improving it.
Mind mapping revolves around the simple idea of grouping like objects and linking them to other objects of similar interest. It is commonly used for brain storming, note taking, and organization. Don’t bust out your pen just yet, however.
The problem with mind mapping lies within its sense of practicality. Is it practical to write down notes, draw a bubble around them, and then link them to other bubbles? Sure, it may help in grouping similar objects, but it does nothing more.
The concept doesn’t have easy support for large subjects, unlike objects, or even timing. And what’s worse, you may lose friends over the amount of trees you kill (or heaven forbid- sleep!).
The 4-Hour Workweek with Timothy Ferriss
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A four hour work week probably sounds appealing to you. In fact, it’s safe to say you’re probably intrigued, ready to shell out big bucks to find out how you can maximize profits and get by on four hours of labor every seven days. While we would agree, that sounds like a paradise, the four hour work week proposed by Timothy Ferriss just doesn’t make sense.
Ferriss has a lot of room to brag, we will admit. He is the entrepreneurial type that can make a hundred dollar bill magically appear out of a one dollar bill. In his travels around the world as an entrepreneur, Ferriss claims he developed the four hour work week to share with everyone how he survived the onslaught of disorganization.
So far, it sounds like the four hour work week is a sure shot plan.
But that is where the good sense ends, and the questionable begins.
Ferriss claims that you should only check your email once a week.
He’s a big advocate on the theory that internet addiction, constant checking of email, and even reading the news are a waste of precious time. Instead of keeping updated on your surroundings, you should keep your nose to the grindstone and labor away. In fact, he claims you shouldn’t even save for retirement- saved money is a low blow to potential profit.
We could just sit back and let these statements speak for themselves, but that’d be too easy. What if a CEO of a major corporation emails you something urgent- something that could cut you a deal that pushes you into the entrepreneur hall of fame? Guess what- you only check your email once a week and probably missed out, touch luck. We’ll admit internet addiction is a problem, but it isn’t something that should be quit cold turkey. If you aren’t aware of your surroundings, you probably aren’t learning much.
Events in life shape who and what we are. If your nose is indeed glued to the grindstone, you’ll miss everything else.
And lastly, who still saves for retirement anyways?
If you are part of the majority of the population, you still do. It’s easy for Ferriss to say retirement money is unnecessary- he has enough money to retire twenty times over! What about all the rest of the people who can’t afford to take risks, to ensure a happy lifestyle when they aren’t able to work anymore? If you aren’t a gambler, you can no doubt agree this is a bad decision.
A lot of people simply say, “Man up, remember what you need to do and do it.” Of course they probably haven’t experienced the world of business or even deadlines.
It’d be great to simply remember everything and work without relent. Sadly, it just isn’t applicable and people instead switch to the fore mentioned techniques- so what are you alternatives?
Buying special (and expensive) organizational software and books is unnecessary. You may instead invest in what thousands do every year- a sticky note. Keeping a simple notebook and a pen around has known to work wonders as well. And when you get to the top of the corporate ladder, you can always hire someone to do the dirty work- or depend on others to remember appointments and deadlines.
We realize GTD and other similar techniques are incredibly popular at present day. We aren’t proposing a boycott, but perhaps a change in how things are developed. If you are perfectly fine with spending an hour a day on organizing and reviewing tasks- you have nothing to worry about. For everyone else, you can patiently wait in line for another innovator to bring us the next generation of organization. And stay tuned for our post on Alternatives to GTD.
[tags] gtd, mindmaping, 4-hour workweek [/tags]