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Simplifying David Allen’s Complicated GTD Setup

Every Monday is Productivity & Organization Day at Zen Habits.

Take a look at the setup on the right. It was published in a recent CNNMoney article on David Allen and GTD, and it outlines The David’s GTD setup.

It’s way too complicated.

That’s just my opinion, of course, but the master of GTD is a living example of how GTD is a great system that has great concepts, but can get way too tool-heavy and complicated when implemented.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

There’s no reason GTD has to be so complicated. I’ve written about this topic before, of course, but I thought I’d use the graphic here as an illustration of complications, and how it can be simplified.

Let’s do a David Allen vs. Leo Babauta comparison:

David’s Tools


Leo’s Tools

That’s it. I don’t carry a briefcase, a cell phone, a Palm organizer, traveling file folders. I do have a single-drawer filing system, but I don’t use it anymore. Soon I will purge the files or put them in storage. I don’t need a desktop organizer because I don’t have a bunch of stuff to organize. I certainly don’t use PowerPoint.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that David Allen’s life and mine are completely different — he’s got a lot more going on than I do, most likely. But that’s my point — if you simplify your life, you don’t need all those tools.

Am I saying I’m better than David Allen, or that my setup is better? No. He uses what he needs to use, and so do I. But when you look at these setups, who do you think spends less time maintaining his system, and who do you think gets less stress from all of it? That’s debatable, of course, but I submit that it’s me.

The point of this exercise is to recommend that we all take a look at what setup we’re using, and see if it’s worth simplifying the setup. At the very least, give it some thought.

If you’re looking to simplify your system and tools, here are some suggestions:

What are your thoughts on this? Is your setup complicated or simple? Is there value in simplifying your setup? Let us know in the comments.
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