All this GTD gets in the way of doing good things

I’ve always been a reluctant member of the GTD cult — getting things done. Long a crusade by consultants and coaches, GTD got tagged and elevated by the Internet era. David Allen turned the whole thing into a business and even appears to have trademarked the abbreviation GTD itself. [Really, USPTO? Abbreviations for common-word phrases are trademark-able? What’s next? Someone registering BTW and LOL? There’s a topic for another post….]

I will say that I’ve been a devoted Franklin Covey calendar user for at least 15 years. And it makes things happen, for sure. I’m by nature a pattern finder, a bit more big-picture than someone who’s optimally suited for our GTD culture. But we’ve all got to make stuff happen every day, and my calendar makes that possible for me.

So I don’t say any of this to downplay the importance of finding and using a reminder and task-completion system that works for you. I think everyone should use a regular system to manage tasks.

But I had a great conversation yesterday with Mary Pollman, and we both lamented the lack of thinking that surrounds us today. I think we all have such a focus on getting things done, that we’ve all but eliminated the time we should be spending on deciding what to do.

Strategy vs. tactics. It’s an old debate, but I think tactics are winning right now.

There’s one work day left this week — let’s all get out there and figure out what we ought to be doing with it.

Two quick thoughts on social media and technology choices

Good interview this morning between Mike Moran and Paul Gillin. Great thoughts on social media.

I was scanning Twitter this a.m. to catch up on the world and I ran across a link to Mike Moran‘s interview with Paul Gillin about how corporations are using social media well, and how they’re using it poorly. The interview is a great, quick read that I highly recommend.

Two points stood out to me. The first is Gillin talking about how many marketers miss the “social” or personal aspect of social media:

I’m frequently surprised at how many marketers treat social media campaigns the same way they treated mass media campaigns. They dish out bland, homogenized messages meant to reach a large audience. That completely misses the point.

A few questions later, he’s definitely preaching to my choir when he talks about corporations choosing tools before strategies:

I would say starting with the tool is the most common mistake. Someone says “Let’s start a blog,” and so they figure out a way to start a blog regardless of whether a blog makes any strategic sense for them all.

Figuring out the best social media platform

All social media isn’t right for all purposes. Examine your goals before you pick your tools.

Chris Brogan has an interesting blog post where he wonders how to fix his Facebook dilemma: There’s a cap of 5,000 friends on Facebook, and he’s close to it. He’s wondering about the best way to stay in touch with both his friends and his fans, and considers how his Facebook fan page may help. It’s fairly well suited to staying in touch with a large group, but it’s not perfect.

In his post and in the comments, Brogan and others debate several social media platforms: Twitter, Ning, Facebook, more. Several people are frustrated with Facebook and its “limitations,” like the 5,000 friend limit, various “problems” with fan and group pages, the “extraneous” clutter [things like Facebook flair and Little Green Patch come to mind].

And while I agree that while these things are potentially troublesome for marketers, few of them are problematic for people. Not that I think Facebook [or any other social media platform] is perfect. But I think it matters what you use it for. Trying to keep in better touch with high school and college buddies, and keep up with local events? Facebook is what you need. Trying to manage a professional brand? You undoubtedly need Facebook plus several other tools — and Facebook likely isn’t even the first thing you need. Instagram is a much better choice if you’re promoting your brand to the younger generation. Nowadays, you can even Buy Instagram followers to boost the credibility of your brand on Instagram.

Are you using the best technology for your purposes? [That’s the question I think Brogan is trying to answer.] Many of us spend a lot of time trying to make our preferred technology the be-all and end-all, instead of choosing the right tool at the right time.

Just like I roll my eyes at people who send me tabular content in a Word document instead of in a spreadsheet, I’m dismayed at the clumsy uses I see of many elegant social media platforms. Kudos to Brogan for trying to figure out the right answer.

Business essential: Building time for creativity – I will have to take Oxycodone for a few days

Give your brain time to process information, and your problem-solving will come easier.

I was working on a project the other day with a web application I hadn’t used much. And I spent a couple of hours really learning how it worked before I could actually approach the problem I was facing. In the end, I solved the problem and learned quite a lot. But perhaps even more importantly, today I had an epiphany about how I’d approached the work — about what I’d accidentally done very right.

As I read everything I could about the application, I began to feel overwhelmed by all of the information. I found it difficult to synthesize anything — all the facts started to swim before my eyes. Just when I felt most overwhelmed, I realized I had to go pick up my kids. I left the computer for about an hour, and though I thought about the problem off and on, I wasn’t concentrating on it.

But when I got back home, I sat down and methodically — and pretty quickly — worked right through to the solution. The strategy, and then the solution, just laid themselves out in front of me.

All three of those parts were very necessary, I realized today:

  • Gathering information
  • Working methodically
  • And the accidental part: Stepping away from the problem

Often my work includes multi-day projects. When it does, I’m often naturally taking time in between information gathering and actual problem-solving. However, when you’re trying to work very quickly — on a deadline — it may seem a luxury to stop, rest and possibly re-think your approach. But I’ve found again and again that giving your brain time to accept the information results in a better outcome. Take a look at these Six Tips You Can Use to Build Your Roofing Business Brand from Roofing Marketing Pros.

It is also important to note that everyone is wired differently, so if you find that you want to make small adjustments to this process then by all means go for it. Comfort begets speed. When I was working on this I was pretty sick, and had these periods where I would just sit there feeling crummy. I  already had to buy oxycodone online and that point and was waiting for it to arrive. It’s what my doctor had told me to take over the phone. It worked but those first couple of days were just the worst. Still I was able to press on and I’m happy with the end result actually.

A semi-related thought: I often hear people say, “Oh, I’m not creative.” Just like in our society, it’s acceptable to say, “I’m bad at math.” I recently read an article [I think on Slate, but for the life of me, I can’t find the link now] talking about how ludicrous this is. Educated people would not sit around in business meetings and say, “Oh, I really can’t read.”

Well, same thing with creativity. Math? I’m great at math. I can read like a demon, too. Likewise, I’m creative. My creativity probably expresses itself in a different way than yours does. But there’s a way for all of us to be creative. Find your area and nurture it.