I’ve been playing around with OneNote, Evernote, SkyDrive and some note-taking apps on the iPad2. And, gennelmen and ladies, I’ve discovered that using these tools does not necessarily result in greater productivity! Why not?

  • First, there is the time it takes to learn to use these tools effectively (although that’s true for almost any endeavour)
  • B, it’s easy to lose sight of the goal, and the goal is not to become more proficient at using these tools! They are tools: means to an end. What is the end? It’s so easy to lose sight of that.
  • D, sometimes the tools start dictating what you spend your time doing, instead of the other way around. Here’s an example – use Evernote to keep track of every one of your Tweets instead of them all disappearing forever into the maw of Twitter’s unsearchable archive. Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should.
  • Four, (tho see B, also), getting  everything into your in-tray is impossible, at least for me: as I’m writing down one idea, I get 2 or 3 more. Getting everything down, emptying your mind, needs to be combined with, and preferably preceded by, what Dave Allen calls the view from 50,000 feet. However, I don’t mean this kind of advice on the GTD website. This is just more of the same: chasing the rainbow. You can make yourself insanely busy dealing with stuff at runway/ground-level or 10- or 20,000 feet, stuff that you would simply drop if you could take a look from 50,000 feet. From 50,000 feet, for example, improving my “operational responsiveness” doesn’t show up on my radar. Not even close. I’d be having too much fun looking at the view. Another way of looking at it is, if today were your last day on earth, would you be spending it the way you are? (“This life is worth more than the most precious jewels. Yet you are spending it as though it wasn’t worth a penny.”)
  • So I disagree with this advice: “taking care of those runway items and 10,000 foot items through the GTD system will allow you to think about and consider the items on the higher levels.” Not in my experience it won’t – you usually end up with a permanent inability to see the wood for the trees.
  • Sometimes, quietly listening to one’s own inner voice can bring great clarity and help sort out one’s priorities. But you can’t always hear it if you’re listening to your iPod while reading your favourite blogs and noting down all the cool quotes in Evernote (then exporting them all to OneNote, for backup), then madly surfing the web or Skyping friends to learn how to unfreeze your Kindle.
  • Finally, you can’t take it with you.

You Can't Take It With You