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Getting Nothing Done: An Open Response

A blogger named Z.D. Smith recently posted an entry to his blog titled “GND” (which, I can only assume, means “Getting Nothing Done”) where he (eloquently, albeit with a healthy dose of bitterness) lambastes GTD/productivity bloggers, as well as GTD, itself. From the post:

How have we come up with an entire caste of productivity gurus, each with their own foolproof 13 step ‘how to get things done’ system? Who, more to the point, would possibly put their faith in some idiot on the internet whose only demonstrable labor is utterly useless blog posts?

It gets much better from there, believe me :)

His apparent contention is that all we productivity bloggers do is foolishly squander our time (and terribly limited intellect) on the futile pursuit of “hacks” that don’t actually simplify our lives, but instead give our employers even more of our collective souls. Another quote:

What waste of human potential feeds this particular industry, whose chief value in life is productivity, who every day refresh their newsfeeds for new ways that their employers can squeeze more work and money out of them, being as they are obviously good for very little else?

Well, Mr. Smith, I’d like a word with you :)

First of all, I’m not stupid. Most of the other folks that fit into the category of “productivity blogger” aren’t stupid, either. All of the five-dollar words in the world won’t change that. You can consider our efforts to be a waste all you like, but accusing people of being idiots just because they don’t spend their spare time in a manner that suits you… that, my friend, is dumb.

Second, I care. While you may think that I spend every non-work moment of my life dreaming up dumb little things to do (and blog about), most of the things I blog about here are things I actually do/use in my actual life. If you are blessed with the ability to never forget anything and don’t see any reason to try to improve and streamline your life, well I guess I envy you (on that level, anyway).

Last, I won’t sit here and tell you that I think everybody who doesn’t prescribe to some sort of productivity methodology (such as GTD) is hopelessly doomed to a life of running into walls and forgetting to pick up dinner on the way home. Like most other situations in life, there is no silver bullet. I (and several others) have just found this particular way of doing things to be helpful. And, because there exists in us a desire to share what we learn, we post to our little blogs. Most of the time, the little shortcuts we discover aren’t life-altering or even terribly impressive. But, hey, we like this stuff and, judging by the number of readers some of these blogs enjoy, others do too.

I noticed on your blog that you spend time “fiddling” with your font collection. I might ask, how is this any different? What people do for fun and relaxation is hardly a bar by which to measure their effectiveness as human beings.

Anyway, not trying to start some epic battle or anything, but I hope you can distinguish “idiots” from people who just enjoy different things than you do. I’d love to hear your thoughts, please leave a comment or contact me.

Oh, and I have to ask – why is Merlin Mann the exception? By all accounts, he’s probably the best-known GTD blogger on the web. Yet, you have no problem with him? I find that curious…


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