Getting Nothing Done

There have been some posts on Hacker News lately about various systems for GTD (getting things done), both endorsing and adjacent to the official GTD method. There have been productivity apps, note taking and bookmarking browser extensions, and more. All of it promises a way forward for organizing all of the tasks in your life and making sure they get completed effectively and in a timely fashion.

This is not necessarily a post about why I think it's all bullshit, or why I'm a serial procrastinator and none of this will ever work for me, or even why I might prefer whatever ad hoc method I have for getting things done over these meticulously manicured systems. It's not any of that. The point of this post is to admit something about why these systems kind of miss the point for me completely.

I don't have anything to get done.

I mean, I have a full time job, and through various methods that I've learned over the years, including keeping a tidy inbox, I manage to get most things done most of the time, for things at work.

But otherwise, I can't help but wonder what everyone is filling up these todo list apps with. Because I don't have a list of tasks that demand my attention in my free time. Certainly none with any specific deadlines. Sure, I'm working on an open source project for Wikipedia. I could always be writing music. I could update my list of the best albums in the universe which I did recently convert to be served concurrently as a Gemini site.

So yeah, I have the odd side project here and there that I could be working on. But none of it has any urgency or deadlines, so why bother organizing it into GTD task boards?

Thinking cynically, I can't help but imagine that all of these todo apps are filled with people's aspirational goals and dreams that quite frankly will never happen. Maybe they've taken the first step by writing down that they want to write a short story, or start a blog, or start selling things on eBay, or whatever. But is it going to happen? All the same mechanisms are at work that keep you from doing those things whether they're written down in a trendy app or not. Lack of motivation, enthusiasm, know-how, mentorship, etc.

I guess I just try not to buy into the Protestant work ethic thing, that hard work and “accomplishments” define our existence. And if my goal is to play some video games or even sit quietly on the couch and do nothing, do I really need a GTD app to write that down in?