The general thrust of the martial arts metaphor regards the art of calm in the midst of conflict. How do we maintain equilibrium when external forces militate against it? The metaphor breaks down, I think, in the training aspect. Karate is practiced in deliberately artificial settings: kata (choreographed forms) and kumite (sparring) are designed to teach control within chaos, shedding light on more general life skills vis-a-vis these particular exercises.Originally Posted by Instigase
The dojo of the modern office is anything but an artificial setting. GTD practitioners are constantly learning and using the system while dealing with new inputs throughout the day. Few have the luxury of taking an academic approach to productivity. Just holding back work long enough to complete a weekly review can be a challenge. If you're busy enough to have been attracted to GTD or a similar system, you'll probably have to chip away at your skills incrementally. If DA is, say, a 10th Dan, it's because productivity is his metier. He gets to spend his work time studying workflow, its bottlenecks and its best practices.
The rest of us have to optimize our work within other fields of endeavor, so the art of work is a constant negotiation between theoretical frameworks and the feedback from our own experience. I guarantee you that no matter how much DA advocates handing off work by email, that would never fly in my office, where email and voicemail are checked haphazardly, and the exception of my own behavior is regarded as a personal organizing fetish instead of a set of learned habits. Like the Time/Design system DA reengineered into his own, GTD has an implicit "knowledge worker" focus that doesn't apply to all situations.
Perhaps the reason you see so much discussion of personalized, "my way" GTD is that there's not much content to work from otherwise. There's the main book, a slim supplementary volume (Ready for Anything), and an out-of-print seminar recording (fortunately, a new 2-day seminar recording is in production). The best way to guard against possible misinterpretation is to reread the books, listen to GTDF or, if they're affordable options, attend a seminar, hire a coach or subscribe to GTD Connect.
If optimizing GTD matters enough to be something you're willing to dedicate time to working on it exclusively, make it a project, figure out what aspects of your system need improvement and get next actions on them.