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Deep Work, No Work, and GTD

Sometimes GTD is criticized by people who believe it’s not good for deep work. The kind of work where you basically only work on one thing, really drill deeply into this one thing, letting the outside world fall away.

Other times, it’s criticized by people who perceive it as sort of productivity cult, encouraging people to always be productive and work work work, never really taking the time to do “nothing”.

But you know what’s really good for both deep work and “no” work?

Being able to place a bookmark in what the world asks of you or in what you wanna ask of the world. That’s what GTD lets you do. Like, once you get good at sorting out urgent from non-urgent then yeah, you can pause daily reviews or weekly reviews for a while and just work on that one “deep” project. Things come in, you note them as less important as the deep project, and let that inbox stack up.

That said, it can be really, really de-stressing and nice even within in a deep project to occasionally take a few hours to review the things that have come in. Just leaf through them quickly and be like “Yep! These, these, these and these can wait until the Deep Work thing is done, but this one thing I’ll just knock out and then get back to the Deep Work.” I’m not talking about procrastination level stuff like sorting your pens, I mean things like paying your rent.

Learn to Break it Down

Also for deep work it can sometimes be really nice to break things down in detailed subtask and sometimes really great to not have to do that—that kinda choice is also enabled by GTD, where the granularity is ever-adapting to what you need in the moment.