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The Rise and Fall of Getting Things Done

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Posted by xtabber
Nov 21, 2020 at 07:50 PM


This article by Cal Newport in the New Yorker Magazine may be of interest to some in this forum.



Posted by jaslar
Nov 21, 2020 at 09:55 PM


Thanks for posting this very interesting piece. The essential point is correct: knowledge worker autonomy is a myth. Creative energy really is a limited resource, and the challenge of “frictionless” demands on your time via email is an obstacle to productivity. In my previous job, I could see that email was sapping my will to live. I worked out some coping strategies, but a larger, systemic response does seem necessary.

The heart of the article, I thought, was this:

“Consider instead a system that externalizes work. Following the lead of software developers, we might use virtual task boards, where every task is represented by a card that specifies who is doing the work, and is pinned under a column indicating its status. With a quick glance, you can now ascertain everything going on within your team and ask meaningful questions about how much work any one person should tackle at a time. With this setup, optimization becomes possible.”


Posted by Ken
Nov 21, 2020 at 10:00 PM


xtabber wrote:

>This article by Cal Newport in the New Yorker Magazine may be of
>interest to some in this forum.
> >https://www.newyorker.com/tech/annals-of-technology/the-rise-and-fall-of-getting-things-done
> >

Thanks for posting the link.  I respect Cals’ work, but this piece, IMHO, was long on history and short on some practical solutions.  Cal makes a lot of assumptions about large organizations and how they operate, but much of what he described does not apply to my work environment in a large municipal government.  It is great to talk theories and give workers ideas about how to look at their work, which I do believe is helpful if you have an open mind to the situation at hand, but at the end of the day, the work still needs to get done.  I also believe it is important to always be open minded to improving the flow of work, but there are limits.  Personally, I am happy that we have so many choices, even if I will not use many of them.  At least it allows me to match the app or program to the task at hand, rather than try and make one program do everything.  Do I still CRIMP, yes.  Do I still use paper, yes.  have I fallen in love with an app of late, no.  But perhaps the searching and trialing helps alleviate some of the drudge of the work?  I often say that I wish for my beloved ECCO, but I suspect what I am really saying is that I wish for the days when I was not constantly bombarded with endless email messages, but link to SharePoint site and folders.  I take heart in that a Microsoft worker I know mentioned that he and his teams never used SharePoint; they were constantly moving from project to project and they would have ended up being on far too many sites as time passed.



Posted by Luhmann
Nov 22, 2020 at 08:01 AM


Another, related article, from the LA Review of Books:

Hard Times: Martin Hägglund’s “This Life” and the Pomodoro Technique
By Alexa Hazel



Posted by satis
Nov 22, 2020 at 03:25 PM


Great example of cherrypicking quotes and characters and data to build an unsupported claim, namely that workers need to be told more what to do.

Merlin has always been a smart, clever, neurotic, hard-charging, opinionated guy who has repeatedly burned out on various theories and plans and websites. (He must have a dozen separate abandoned topic sites besides 43Folders.)

I was disappointed by Newport’s polemic.


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